Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 1998
There is one message totalling 187 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. US law blocks weapons inspectors, violates treaty
US law blocks weapons inspectors, violates treaty
[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]
Double standards for inspection
Saddam Hussein is not the only one stretching the rules
Thursday February 12, 1998
Who will inspect the inspectors? Baghdad has been condemned
widely for objecting to the nationalities of some members
of the UN arms inspection team looking in Iraq for weapons
of mass destruction. The argument against allowing such
objections is based on the principle that nationality is
submerged in service to the UN. There is also the practical
point that, if challenges to individuals were allowed, this
would open the door to endless delay and provide the target
of inspection with a very useful means of dragging out the
process - perhaps while vital evidence is concealed.
All this seems reasonable enough. Yet as the report we
carry from Washington indicates today, the issue is not
quite so simple either in principle or practice. The
Chemical Weapons Convention, which the US finally ratified
last spring just before the deadline, is based on the
principle that inspection will not be resisted, though it
does allow for objection to individual inspectors on the
list of qualified experts to be made under certain
conditions. This is not just a theoretical option. The US
has already struck out the names of Cuban and Iranian
nationals from an inspection team due to visit US chemical
weapons facilities. Washington may of course regard such
inspectors as hostile to its interests - but that is
precisely the same argument used by Baghdad about the
preponderance of US - and British - inspectors on the team
now in dispute. The Senate has empowered the President to
go even further, approving an act which would allow him to
deny any request to inspect a facility on the grounds that
such inspection may pose a threat to national security
interests. Again, this is not so different from the right
claimed by Saddam Hussein to exclude certain installations.
On the issue of biological weapons inspection under the
1972 Convention, President Clinton in his State of Union
message last month announced new proposals to strengthen
enforcement and inspection under the treaty. This was
clearly linked to the pressures created by the Iraq crisis.
But administration officials have explained that the new US
proposal does not allow for unconditional routine or random
inspections. It is no secret that both the Defence and
Commerce Department have been resisting measures which they
regard as too "intrusive." Apart from considerations of
defence secrecy, there has also been strong pressure from
the US pharmaceutical lobby to protect it from outside
It may be argued that these situations are not comparable.
Saddam Hussein is resisting inspection under UN resolutions
imposed on Iraq as the result of his own act of aggression.
The problems with US treaty implementation are different in
kind. This is not a sufficient reply. Even if the question
of principle is discounted, the impression remains of
double standards being applied. And it is particularly
strong where it does most damage - in the Middle East.
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc 1998
US law blocks weapons inspectors
A bill shielding the Pentagon's chemical arsenal from the
eyes of any unfavoured international monitor awaits the
nod. Ed Vulliamy in Washington reports
Thursday February 12, 1998
The United States, preparing to wage war with Iraq over its
blocking of international weapons inspections, has crafted
legislation on the inspection of its own chemical arsenal
in such a way that the president can refuse admission to
The draft legislation also allows the president to pick and
choose inspectors and to deny access to individuals from
certain countries without giving reasons, with no court
redress against his decision.
Thus the two details in the code of inspection over which
the US is threatening war against Iraq are both
Expressing "very serious concerns" at these provisions,
Senator Joseph Biden warned when they were debated with
almost no publicity: "With few exceptions, denial of a duly
authorised inspection would violate the [chemical weapons]
Yesterday, Amy Smithson, who waged a one-woman campaign for
US ratification of the convention, said: "We are in
violation of the treaty, and it is so ironic that we are
about to engage in hostilities against Iraq over the matter
of weapons inspections, because Saddam Hussein has
registered the same exceptions as we have done."
The Guardian has learned that two inspectors, one Cuban and
one Iranian, have already been struck off by the US.
The draft legislation, contained in an implementation bill
to bring US law into line with the convention, has been
passed by the Senate - despite concerns from some Democrats
- and is awaiting final approval.
There is unanimous agreement that Washington's enthusiasm
and leadership will be crucial to the effectiveness of the
chemical weapons treaty. But clause 307 of the US bill,
headed National Security Exception, stipulates: "The
president may deny a request to inspect any facility in the
United States in cases where the president determines that
the inspection may pose a threat to the national security
interests of the United States."
In another section entitled Not Subject to Judicial Review,
the legislation specifies that "any objection by the
president to an individual serving as an inspector . . .
shall not be reviewable in any court".
There are other provisions exempting private companies from
inspection, and by-product toxins.
Ms Smithson's concern is that with the National Security
Exception clause in particular, the US has "undone a treaty
which took two decades to conclude, and this is sheer
folly. If the US tears up the treaty, so will all the other
Mr Biden echoed her view during the debate, saying: "Even
if the president never exercises this authority, the mere
inclusion of this provision in the legislation will
encourage other countries to deny inspections on national
The background to the exemptions is a long and fierce
backroom tussle within the Senate and between the Senate
and White House, during which the proposed bill
implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention in the US was
a scrambled compromise between what the convention requires
and a large rightwing Republican faction which wanted no
part in the treaty at all.
The convention was negotiated for the US by presidents
Reagan and Bush, and signed last month by President
Clinton. Since its ratification by the Senate and its
foreign relations committee, more than 20 inspections of
the US chemical arsenal have gone ahead.
But the US last year rejected two employees of the
Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons, one Cuban and one Iranian. Both countries are on
the state department's list of terrorist states, which also
includes Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Libya and Syria.
Nevertheless it would be absurd to suggest any equivalence
between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the United States, as one
Republican source said yesterday.
"Whatever you think of Bill Clinton, he is not Saddam
Hussein and the US has not recently been gas-bombing ethnic
minorities, so far as I know. We are a rather more
fortunate kind of international citizen."
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc 1998
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 1998