Examining a marmalade store hoping to find weapons of mass destruction is the style of the UNMOVIC team which balances between its masters at the United Nations HQ in New York and the influence of Washington.
For Iraq, the weapons inspections are a means to prove that the country does not have a WMD programme and therefore the first and necessary step towards lifting sanctions. For the UNO, the inspections are intended to verify whether or not Iraq has these weapons and if they are found, to destroy them. For the United States of America, the inspections are seen by the hawks as a nuisance, an impediment to war, and by the doves, as an excuse to wage it.
Amid much speculation as to the real causes behind the aggressive stance taken by Washington is the phrase by Nelson Mandela “Bush wants to get his hands on Iraq’s oil” and the notion that the clique of lobbies which surrounds the White House, the energy lobby, to which many key figures are linked.
However, for the time being at least, Washington has reluctantly been forced to comply with the UNO, its hand forced from the outset by Russia, which defends a multi-lateralist world based upon equality of rights and always using the UNO as the proper forum for debate. It is in the interpretation of the UN Security Council resolution 1441 where lies the crux of the issue.
Part 3 states that Iraq is required to list in minute detail any prohibited weapons that have ever been produced, stores or documented, which includes the intellectual and industrial capacity to fabricate such weaponry in future. Part 5 governs the unrestricted access to Iraqi scientists believed to be involved in the weapons programmes, and gives the inspectors the right to interview these scientists outside Iraq, accompanied by their families.
The document does not state what “families” means. Does this include grandparents? Does it include an elder cousin who performed the role of motherhood in the event of an absent mother? Or an aunt who took charge of an orphan? As usual, as in any sphere of activity, there has to be goodwill for an arrangement to work.
Goodwill involves an objective approach based upon inspections, evidence and hard facts. What Washington arrogantly pursues is a policy of bad will, based upon insinuations, suspicion and a few overheard ambiguous messages picked up by its intelligence services, satellite pictures and recordings of conversations. This is the material which will be presented to the UNO on February 5th.
It is this material with which Washington will try to convince its partners in the Security Council that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda are linked. The opinion of the weapons inspectors, that there is to date no evidence whatsoever that Iraq has WMD programmes, is irrelevant. This is an approach based upon bad will, not goodwill.
Bad will creates the suspicion that chemical plants, machine-tool factories, stores, laboratories, hospitals, alcohol-production facilities, medical institutes, flour warehouses and the like could be “dual-use facilities”, producing fertiliser today but capable of producing VX gas tomorrow. The same argument could be applied to any automobile manufactures, which could modify its production capacity to produce armoured vehicles.
Bad will sends the message to the international community that such practices are not a possibility, or even a likelihood, but are a fact. If the UNMOVIC team cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction, it is because Saddam Hussein has hidden them. This is the dangerously simplistic approach taken by the Bush administration, some of whose members are intelligent enough to present a better argument.
Bad will sees the Iraqi document handed to the UNO hijacked by the US authorities, which only allowed access to the full document for the five permanent members of the Security Council some hours later and distributed an abridged version to the other ten members. Bad will is demonstrated by the US secret services which claim to have evidence that Iraq has links with terrorist organisations, but has to date presented nothing.
Bad will is when the US authorities insinuate that Iraq could have mobile laboratories hidden in vans producing bio-toxins, that missiles could be hidden under schools, that chemical warheads could be buried deep under the desert. Satellite photographs of movement outside production facilities will be presented as evidence that materials are removed and subsequently hidden.
Even if these materials are in fact baby milk. Washington may have a tremendous amount of bad will at present but it is the responsibility of the international community to show goodwill, basing its reactions upon actions and not speculation.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru