[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 3, 1998]
[Pages 501-507]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With 
United Nations Security Council Resolutions
April 3, 1998

Dear Mr. Speaker:   (Dear Mr. President:)
    Consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against 
Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and as part of my effort to keep the 
Congress fully informed, I am reporting on the status of efforts to 
obtain Iraq's compliance with the resolutions adopted by the United 
Nations Security Council (UNSC). This report covers the period from 
February 3, 1998, to the present.


    For much of the period covered by this report, Iraq was engaged in a 
serious challenge to the authority of the UNSC and the will of the 
international community. As documented in my last report, Iraq refused 
to allow U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors to carry out their 
work at a number of sites last December; Iraq's refusal to cooperate in 
spite of repeated warnings continued until the signing of the Memorandum 
of Understanding (MOU) between U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and

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Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on 
February 23, and the enforcement of this agreement by the UNSC on March 
2 when it adopted UNSCR 1154. Both the MOU and UNSCR 1154 reiterate 
Iraq's commitment to provide immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted 
access to UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 
UNSCR 1154 also stresses that any further Iraqi violation of the 
relevant UNSC resolutions would result in the severest consequences for 
Iraq. Iraq's commitment is now in the process of being tested. A series 
of UNSCOM inspections of so-called ``sensitive'' sites in early March 
proceeded without Iraqi interference. On March 26, UNSCOM inspections of 
the so-called ``presidential sites'' began under the arrangements agreed 
to by UNSCOM Chairman Richard Butler and 
Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. The team of 60 UNSCOM 
inspectors, accompanied by 20 diplomatic observers, is conducting 
inspections of the so-called ``presidential sites'' through April 5. 
Chairman Butler traveled to Baghdad in mid-March for discussions with 
Iraqi officials concerning Iraq's missile and chemical weapons programs.
    Throughout the crisis created by Iraq's refusal to cooperate with 
U.N. weapons inspectors, the objective of my Administration was to 
achieve effective inspections, preferably through a diplomatic solution. 
Our vigorous diplomatic efforts were backed by the credible threat to 
use force, if necessary. I consulted with our allies in the region as 
well as with the other members of the U.N. Security Council. Secretary 
of State Albright, Secretary of 
Defense Cohen, U.N. Ambassador 
Richardson, and other Administration 
officials also pursued our objectives vigorously with foreign 
governments, including several trips to the region and to relevant 
capitals and at the United Nations. Our military forces responded 
quickly and effectively to support our diplomatic efforts by providing a 
credible military option, which we were prepared to use if Iraq had not 
ultimately agreed to meet its obligation to provide full access to 
UNSCOM and the IAEA.

U.S. and Coalition Force Levels in the Gulf Region

    As a demonstration of U.S. resolve during the recent crisis with 
their accompanying battle group combatant ships, and additional combat 
aircraft have remained in the region. United States force levels in the 
region now include land- and carrier-based aircraft, surface warships, a 
Marine amphibious task force, Patriot missile battalions, a mechanized 
battalion task force, and a mix of special operations forces deployed in 
support of USCINCCENT operations. To enhance force protection throughout 
the region, additional military security personnel are also deployed. 
These U.S. forces were augmented by the HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and accompanying 
ships from the United Kingdom.
    In addition to the United Kingdom, a number of other nations have 
pledged forces to our effort to compel Iraq's compliance with its 
commitments. Although all of the members of this international effort 
seek a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the crisis in Iraq, all have 
shown their resolve to achieve our common objective by military force if 
that becomes necessary. Without this demonstration of resolve to both 
use military force and impose the severest consequences on Iraq for any 
further Iraqi transgressions, it is unlikely that the MOU and UNSCR 1154 
(see below) would have been achieved.
    Twenty nations have deployed forces to the region or have readied 
their forces for contingency deployment. Those countries currently 
represented in the Gulf include Australia, Argentina, Canada, the Czech 
Republic, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, and the United 
Kingdom. Another 12 nations have offered important access, basing, 
overflight, and other assistance essential for the multi-national 
effort. Still others have identified force contributions that are being 
held in reserve for deployment should the need arise. United States and 
Allied forces in the region are prepared to deal with numerous 
contingencies, either conventional or weapons of mass destruction-
related. UNSCR 949, adopted in October 1994, demands that Iraq not use 
its military forces to threaten its neighbors or U.N. operations in Iraq 
and that it not redeploy troops nor enhance its military capacity in 
southern Iraq. In view of Saddam's record of 
brutality and unreliability, it is prudent to retain a significant force 
presence in the region to deter Iraq. This gives us the capability to 
respond rapidly to possible Iraqi aggression or threats against its 
    Until Iraqi intent to comply with the MOU is verified, it will be 
necessary to maintain our

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current augmented force posture in the region. The ongoing inspections 
of the so-called ``presidential sites'' mark the next critical phase in 
the UNSCOM inspections process. Once Iraqi compliance is assured, we 
will consider whether we can reduce our present force posture.

Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch

    The United States and coalition partners continue to enforce the no-
fly zones over Iraq under Operation Northern Watch and Operation 
Southern Watch. In response to a series of Iraqi no-fly zone violations 
in October and November 1997, we increased the number of aircraft 
participating in these operations. There have been no observed no-fly 
zone violations during the period covered by this report. We have 
repeatedly made clear to the Government of Iraq and to all other 
relevant parties that the United States and coalition partners will 
continue to enforce both no-fly zones, and that we reserve the right to 
respond appropriately and decisively to any Iraqi provocations.

The Maritime Interception Force

    The Maritime Interception Force (MIF), operating under the authority 
of UNSCR 665, vigorously enforces U.N. sanctions in the Gulf. The U.S. 
Navy is the single largest component of this international naval force, 
but it is augmented by ships and aircraft from Australia, Canada, 
Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Member 
states of the Gulf Cooperation Council support the MIF by providing 
logistical support and shipriders, and accepting vessels caught 
violating sanctions.
    Since my last report, the MIF has intercepted 15 sanctions violators 
in the Gulf for a total of over 25,000 metric tons of illegal Iraqi 
petroleum products. Ships involved in smuggling have often utilized the 
territorial seas of Iran to avoid MIF inspections. We have given 
detailed reports of these illegal activities to the U.N. Sanctions 
Committee in New York.
    The level of petroleum smuggling from Iraq appears to be decreasing. 
There are indications, still preliminary, that the Government of Iran 
may be takings steps to curb the flow of illegal petroleum products 
through its territorial seas. While it is too early to tell if Iran will 
completely and permanently stop this illegal traffic, we are hopeful 
that Iran will help enforce the provisions of UNSCR 661 and other 
relevant UNSCRs. In this regard, we note that the Iranian government has 
recently played a helpful role in enforcing the sanctions of air travel 
to and from Iraq by requiring that planes wishing to enter Iraq obtain 
the appropriate approval from the U.N. Sanctions Committee before 
overflying Iranian territory.
    Recent actions by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will greatly 
enhance our efforts to halt illegal exports from Iraq. After diplomatic 
consultations with the United States and our MIF allies, the UAE has 
significantly increased its level of cooperation with the MIF. These 
efforts have resulted in a significant increase in the number of ships 
caught with illegal cargoes. In addition, the UAE has prohibited the use 
of tankers, barges, and other vessel types to transport petroleum 
products to UAE ports and through its waters or to store such products 
there. While it is still too early to determine the full effect of these 
measures, we are hopeful that these actions will deal a significant blow 
to sanctions-busting activity in the region.
    While Iran and the UAE are taking positive steps, Iraq continues to 
improve loading facilities in the Shatt Al Arab waterway, which gives it 
the potential to smuggle even larger quantities of gasoil and fuel oil. 
The U.S. Government will seek to address this problem in the context of 
the expansion of the ``oil-for-food'' program approved under UNSCR 1153.

Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction: UNSCOM and the IAEA

    Iraq's refusal to cooperate fully and unconditionally with UNSCOM 
and the IAEA, which are tasked with tracking down and destroying Iraq's 
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, was once again at the heart 
of the latest crisis between the U.N. and Iraq.
    On February 23, the United Nations Secretary General signed the MOU with the Government of Iraq reiterating 
Iraq's obligation to cooperate fully and unconditionally with 
inspections by UNSCOM and IAEA for weapons of mass destruction. The 
agreement stipulates that Iraq will provide UNSCOM and IAEA weapons 
inspectors with immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any 
suspect site inside Iraq, including presidential palaces, and provides 
for specific procedures for inspections at eight clearly identified 
presidential sites.

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    The recent crisis with Iraq was only the latest chapter in the long 
history of efforts by the Iraqi regime to flout its obligations under 
relevant UNSC resolutions. Iraq has persistently failed to disclose 
fully its programs for WMD. Iraq has admitted, when confronted with 
incontrovertible evidence, that it has repeatedly and consistently 
concealed information from UNSCOM and the IAEA and has moved significant 
pieces of dual-use equipment that are subject to monitoring in violation 
of its obligations. Without full disclosure and free access to all sites 
UNSCOM and IAEA wish to inspect, the ongoing monitoring and verification 
mandated by relevant UNSC resolutions, including Resolutions 687, 707, 
and 715, cannot effectively be conducted.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1154

    On March 2, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 
1154, which welcomed the MOU and reiterated that Iraq must cooperate 
fully with UNSCOM and the IAEA. In the clearest possible terms, the 
Council warned Iraq in UNSCR 1154 that it will face the ``severest 
consequences'' if it fails to adhere to the commitments it reaffirmed in 
the MOU. This resolution is one of the strongest and clearest statements 
the Council has made in 7 years with regard to what Iraq must do to 
comply with its obligations, and what the consequences of failing to 
meet those obligations will be. This strong language of UNSCR 1154 is 
critical to ensuring that UNSCOM and IAEA can do their job and that Iraq 
is held accountable to its agreement. We welcomed Resolution 1154 and 
agreed with Secretary General Annan that, if 
respected, honored, and sustained, the agreement ``could constitute one 
of the U.N.'s most important steps in addressing the consequences of 
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 7 years ago.''
    Iraq's compliance with the agreement is now being tested. Since the 
beginning of March, UNSCOM has pursued an intensive agenda of 
inspections, including inspections of so-called ``sensitive'' sites and 
``presidential sites'' to which the Iraqis had previously blocked 
access. Iraq has not significantly obstructed access to any sites UNSCOM 
and the IAEA wished to visit since the MOU was signed. This may mean 
Iraq will comply with the relevant UNSC resolutions, but the testing 
process must continue until UNSCOM and the IAEA are fully satisfied. We 
have consistently stressed that full, unconditional, repeated access by 
UNSCOM to all sites, personnel, equipment, documents, and means of 
transportation provides the only means by which the world can make 
certain Iraq does not maintain or develop WMD. We have full faith and 
confidence in UNSCOM and its Executive Chairman.

Biological and Chemical Weapons

    Iraqi biological and chemical weapons remain the most troubling 
issues for UNSCOM. This is due to the innate dual-use nature of the 
technology; it can easily be hidden within civilian industries such as, 
for biological agents, the pharmaceutical industry and, for chemical 
agents, the pesticide industry. UNSCOM is still unable to verify that 
all of Iraq's SCUD missile warheads filled with biological agents--
anthrax and botulinum toxin--have been destroyed.

Nuclear Weapons and Delivery Systems

    The Iraqi regime contends that UNSCOM and the IAEA should ``close 
the books'' on nuclear and missile inspections. But there are still many 
uncertainties and questions that need to be resolved. Iraq has never 
provided a full and accurate account of its indigenous efforts to 
develop nuclear weapons and prohibited long-range missiles. Among the 
many problems, Iraq has failed to answer critical questions on nuclear 
weapons design and fabrication, procurement, and centrifuge enrichment; 
failed to provide a written description of its post-war nuclear weapons 
procurement program; and failed to account for major engine components, 
special warheads, missing propellants, and guidance instruments that 
could be used to assemble fully operational missiles. Until Iraq 
complies with its obligation to provide a full accounting of these and 
other relevant aspects of its program, the questions must remain open.

Iraq's Concealment Mechanisms

    The U.N. Special Commission's work must include vigorous efforts to 
expose Iraq's ``Concealment Mechanism.'' During the last 60 days, but 
before signature of the MOU, UNSCOM launched two special inspection 
teams that once again targeted this mechanism in order to ferret out WMD 
programs and documents that UNSCOM--and we--believe Iraq stubbornly 
retains. Unfortunately, it became clear that the Iraqi government had no 
intention of cooperating with these inspections as specifically called

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for in the most recent UNSCRs on the topic--resolutions 1134 of October 
23, 1997, and 1137 of November 12, 1997. The teams were stopped en 
route, denied access, and prevented from videotaping equipment movement 
or document-destruction activity at suspect sites.
    In accordance with relevant UNSC resolutions, UNSCOM and the IAEA 
must be allowed to continue to investigate all aspects of Iraq's 
prohibited programs until they can verify that all relevant components 
have been destroyed under international supervision, and that all 
remaining capabilities have been eliminated. Without such verification, 
Iraq could quickly develop the ability to strike at any city in the 
region--and perhaps even as far as Europe--with weapons of mass 

Dual-Use Imports

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1051 established a joint 
UNSCOM/IAEA unit to monitor Iraq's efforts to reacquire proscribed 
weapons. Iraq must notify the unit before it imports any items that can 
be used in both military and civilian applications. Similarly, U.N. 
members must provide timely notification of exports to Iraq of such 
dual-use items.
    We continue to be concerned that Iraq's land borders are extremely 
porous. Iraq continues substantial trade with its neighbors. There is 
significant potential for evasion of sanctions by land routes, giving 
additional weight to our position that UNSCOM must have full and 
unconditional access to all locations and be allowed to inspect and 
monitor Iraqi compliance over time.

The U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program

    On February 20, the Security Council adopted resolution 1153, which 
expands to $5.2 billion the amount of oil Iraq is authorized to sell 
every 6 months. The previous amount was $2.0 billion every 6 months. 
Resolution 1153 states that the nutritional and health requirements of 
the Iraqi people are the top priority and allocates $1 billion to 
rebuild hospitals, schools, water, and sanitation facilities. My 
Administration's support for resolution 1153 is fully consistent with 
long-standing U.S. policy. Since 1990, at the height of the Gulf War, 
the United States has held that the international community's dispute is 
with Iraq's leadership, not its people. We proposed an ``oil-for-food'' 
program in 1991 (UNSCR 706/712), which Iraq rejected. A similar program 
(UNSCR 986) was eventually accepted by Iraq in 1996. We supported the 
expansion of the oil-for-food program under UNSCR 1153 because it will 
provide additional humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, under 
strict U.N. supervision, without benefiting the regime.
    Since the beginning of the oil-for-food program, we have 
consistently worked with the U.N. and other U.N. member states to find 
ways to improve the program's effectiveness to better meet the 
humanitarian needs of Iraq's civilian population. Iraq, however, has 
frequently failed to provide the full cooperation necessary to ensure 
that the program functions smoothly. For example, during calendar year 
1997, the Government of Iraq refused to pump oil under UNSCR 986 for 
more than 3 months, all the while blaming the U.N. and the United States 
for disruptions in the flow of food and medicine that it had caused. We 
will be watching closely to determine how the Government of Iraq 
performs under UNSCR 1153. The Iraqi government refused to provide 
appropriate input to the Secretary General's report of January 30 on 
Iraq's humanitarian needs, which provided the basis for determining 
allocations under UNSCR 1153. On February 5, Iraq sent its official 
``observations'' on that report to the Secretary General, rejecting many of its proposals and recommendations to 
alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people without stating whether or 
not the Government of Iraq would ``accept'' the resolution. The U.N. 
Secretariat continues to work to reach agreement with Iraq on 
implementing UNSCR 1153.
    Among its other provisions, UNSCR 1153 calls for an independent 
assessment of Iraq's oil infrastructure to ascertain whether it can 
export enough oil to cover the $5.2 billion oil export ceiling. Based on 
this report, the Secretary General will recommend 
to the UNSC whether repairs to Iraq's oil infra-structure will be needed 
to meet the new export target. The United States is prepared to support 
only those oil infrastructure repairs needed to fund the expanded 
humanitarian program.
    The U.N. must carefully monitor how Iraq implements resolution 1153. 
The Iraqi government continues to insist on the need for rapid lifting 
of the sanctions regime, despite its record of non-compliance with its 
obligations under relevant U.N. resolutions. Saddam Hussein has exploited the suffering he himself has imposed on 
his people to build sympathy for Iraq and

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its government and to create pressure to lift the sanctions. In the 
meantime, he has continued to build lavish palaces that benefit only the 
elite within his regime.

War Crimes and The Human Rights Situation in Iraq

    The human rights situation throughout Iraq continues to be a cause 
for grave concern. U.N. Special Rapporteur for Iraq, Max Van der 
Stoel, is investigating credible reports 
from numerous independent sources that the Government of Iraq may have 
summarily executed hundreds--perhaps thousands--of political detainees 
in November and December 1997. According to these reports, many of those 
killed were serving sentences of 15-20 years for such crimes as 
insulting the regime or being members of an opposition political party. 
Families in Iraq reportedly received the bodies of the executed that 
bore, in some cases, clear signs of torture. In addition, the 
possibility that the government used humans as experimental subjects in 
its chemical and biological weapons programs remains a grave concern.
    In southern Iraq, the government continues to repress the Shi'a 
population, destroying the Marsh Arabs' way of life and the unique 
ecology of the southern marshes. In the north, the government continues 
the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds from Kirkuk 
and other cities. The government continues to stall and obfuscate, 
rather than work in good faith toward accounting for more than 600 
Kuwaitis and third-country nationals who disappeared at the hands of 
Iraqi authorities during or after the occupation of Kuwait, and the 
nearly 5,000 Iranian prisoners of war taken prisoner by Iraq during the 
Iran-Iraq war. The Government of Iraq shows no sign of complying with 
UNSCR 688, which demands that Iraq cease the repression of its own 
people. The U.N. Special Rapporteur 
reported to the General Assembly his particular concern that 
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the practice of 
torture continue to occur in Iraq.

The INDICT Campaign

    The INDICT campaign continues to gain momentum. Led by various 
independent Iraqi opposition groups and nongovernmental organizations, 
this effort seeks to document crimes against humanity and other 
violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Iraqi 
regime. We applaud the tenacity of the Iraqi opposition in the face of 
one of the most repressive regimes in history. We take note of, and 
welcome, Senate Resolution 179 of March 13 expressing the sense of the 
Senate concerning the need for an international criminal tribunal to try 
members of the Iraqi regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
    March 16, 1998, marked the tenth anniversary of the Iraqi military's 
devastating chemical attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja. As 
many as 5,000 civilians were killed. More than 10,000 were injured. The 
Iraqi regime never expressed remorse for Halabja. In fact, the regime 
defended its use of chemical weapons in its war with Iran by claiming, 
``every nation has the right to protect itself against invasion,'' even 
though a 1925 Geneva Protocol, to which Iraq is subject, outlaws the use 
of chemical weapons. Ten years after the massacre, the people of Halabja 
still suffer from the effects of the attack, including much higher rates 
of serious diseases (such as cancer), birth defects, and miscarriages. 
The sympathies of the United States are with the people of Halabja and 
other victims of Iraqi chemical attacks as we remind ourselves and the 
international community that the U.N. must remain vigilant to stop Iraq 
from reacquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Northern Iraq

    In northern Iraq, the cease-fire between the Kurdish parties, 
established in November 1997 as the result of U.S. efforts, continues to 
hold. Both Massoud Barzani, leader of the 
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have 
made positive, forward-looking statements on political reconciliation, 
and talks between the two groups have commenced. We will continue our 
efforts to reach a permanent reconciliation through mediation in order 
to help the people of northern Iraq find the permanent, stable 
settlement that they deserve, and to minimize the opportunities for 
Baghdad and Tehran to insert themselves into the conflict and threaten 
Iraqi citizens in this region.

The United Nations Compensation Commission

    The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), established 
pursuant to UNSCRs 687 and 692, continues to resolve claims against Iraq 
arising from Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The UNCC 
has issued

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almost 1.3 million awards worth $6 billion. Thirty percent of the 
proceeds from the oil sales permitted by UNSCRs 986, 1111, and 1143 have 
been allocated to the Compensation Fund to pay awards and to finance 
operations of the UNCC. To the extent that money is available in the 
Compensation Fund, initial payments to each claimant are authorized for 
awards in the order in which the UNCC has approved them, in installments 
of $2,500. To date, 457 U.S. claimants have received an initial 
installment payment, and payment is in process for an additional 323 
U.S. claimants.


    Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I 
remain determined to see Iraq comply fully with all of its obligations 
under U.N. Security Council resolutions. The United States looks forward 
to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and 
law-abiding member.
    I appreciate the support of the Congress for our efforts and shall 
continue to keep the Congress informed about this important issue.

                                                      William J. Clinton

 Note: Identical letters were sent to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the 
House of Representatives, and Strom Thurmond, President pro tempore of 
the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press 
Secretary on April 6.