Disarmament of Iraq: Dark Period Ending

Although military force succeeded in ending the Saddam Hussein regime, and with it the dire threat it posed, many challenges lie ahead in completing another primary objective – the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. But why were such weapons not used and so difficult to find during the military campaign?

The World Today Published 1 May 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

Olivia Bosch

Former UNSCOM weapons inspector and a Senior Research Fellow, New Security Issues Programme, Chatham House

The intent to acquire and produce weapons of mass destruction and their command and control disappeared with the Iraqi government. But the need to account for and destroy such weapons remains, though political and economic reconstruction is a higher priority.

Monitoring and verification would not only prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction and vindicate the use of military force, but also provide an opportunity for the ‘new’ Iraq to come to terms with what Dr Hans Blix, head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and others have referred to as a long dark period in Iraq’s history.

Some insight into how this might be conducted was given to the US Senate by Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith in February. He stressed the importance of an international approach in plans to redirect some dual-use facilities and scientific and managerial talent to legitimate civilian activities.

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