[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 5, 1998]
[Pages 1986-1992]
[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
November 5, 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 
September 3 to the present.

[[Page 1987]]


    On October 31, Iraq announced that it was ceasing all cooperation 
with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) including monitoring 
activity. This announcement represents a serious escalation of Iraq's 
August 5 decision to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM and the 
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On October 31, the UNSC 
issued a statement condemning Iraq's decision as a ``flagrant violation 
of relevant Council resolutions and of the Memorandum of Understanding 
signed between the Secretary General and the Deputy Prime Minister of 
Iraq'' last February. Iraq's action followed its receipt of a letter 
from the UK (as President of the Security Council) indicating a 
willingness to conduct a comprehensive review, but only after Iraq 
returned to full compliance. Since the October 31 statement, UNSCOM has 
been able to conduct only very limited monitoring activity.
    Earlier, on September 9, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 
1194, which condemns Iraq's August 5 decision as a ``totally 
unacceptable contravention of its obligations,'' demands that Iraq 
rescind its decision and resume cooperation, and suspends bimonthly 
sanctions reviews until UNSCOM and IAEA report that they are satisfied 
that Iraq has done so.
    The resolution also notes the Council's willingness to hold a 
comprehensive review of ``Iraq's compliance with its obligations under 
all relevant resolutions once Iraq has rescinded its . . . decision [to 
suspend cooperation] and demonstrated that it is prepared to fulfill all 
its obligations, including, in particular on disarmament issues, by 
resuming full cooperation with the Special Commission and the IAEA . . 
    On September 23, the P-5 Foreign Ministers issued a statement 
reiterating that Iraq's actions are ``totally unacceptable,'' and 
confirmed that ``Iraq must respond immediately to Security Council 
Resolution 1194 and resume full cooperation.'' The statement also noted 
that the prerequisite for a comprehensive review was Iraq's 
``unconditional resumption'' of cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA.
    Tariq Aziz spent several days at the United Nations in New York at 
the end of September discussing the comprehensive review with Security 
Council members and the Secretary General. The Secretary General's 
Special Representative Prakash Shah is engaged in discussions in Baghdad 
on the subject. Despite Iraq's lobbying efforts, the Secretary General 
and all Council members remain united in judging Iraq's actions 
unacceptable; all 15 Council members supported the Council President's 
letter to the Secretary General that said Iraq must rescind its August 5 
decision and resume cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. We continue to 
work with the Council to convince Iraq to reverse course, but we have 
not ruled out any option should the Council fail to reverse Iraq's 
    We continue to support the international community's efforts to 
provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the 
``oil-for-food'' program. On May 27, 1998, Iraq presented a distribution 
plan for the implementation of Resolution 1153, which had been adopted 
on February 20. Under phase three of the ``oil-for-food'' program, which 
ran from December 3, 1997, through June 2, 1998, $1.2 billion worth of 
humanitarian goods were approved for export to Iraq. Under the current 
phase, phase four, which began in June, the U.N. Sanctions Committee has 
approved the purchase of over $1.2 billion worth of humanitarian goods. 
United States companies can participate in the ``oil-for-food'' program, 
and over $185 million worth of direct contracts for U.S. firms have been 
approved since the program began.
    Recent developments in northern Iraq demonstrate once again the 
power of persistent diplomacy. On September 17, leaders of the two main 
Iraqi Kurdish parties, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, met together 
for the first time in over 4 years to sign a forward-looking joint 
statement committing their parties to reconciliation. Their talks, held 
at the Department of State under U.S. auspices, followed 6 months of 
intensive discussions and close consultation with the Kurdish parties 
and with our Turkish and British allies. The statesmanlike achievement 
of the Iraqi Kurdish leaders signals a hopeful new chapter for all the 
people of northern Iraq.
    On October 31, I signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. 
Work also continues on the existing opposition program to help 
opposition groups unify politically, and the new Radio Free Iraq service 
began broadcasting in late October. These new programs will help us 
encourage the Iraqi people to build a pluralistic, peaceful Iraq that 
observes the international rule of law and respects basic human rights. 
Such an

[[Page 1988]]

Iraq would have little trouble regaining its rightful place in the 
region and in the international community.

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

    Saddam's record of aggressive behavior forces us to retain a highly 
capable force presence in the region in order to deter Iraq and deal 
with any threat it might pose to its neighbors. The United States and 
allied forces now in the theater are prepared to deal with all 
contingencies. We have the capability to respond rapidly to possible 
Iraqi aggression. We will continue to maintain a robust force posture 
and have established a rapid reinforcement capability to supplement our 
forces in the Gulf when needed. Our cruise missile force is twice the 
pre-October 1997 level and can be augmented significantly within days. 
Our contingency plans allow us the capability for swift, powerful 
strikes if that becomes necessary.
    Our forces in the region include land and carrier-based aircraft, 
surface warships, a Marine expeditionary unit, a Patriot missile 
battalion, a mechanized battalion task force, and a mix of special 
operations forces deployed in support of U.S. Central Command 
operations. To enhance force protection throughout the region, 
additional military security personnel are also deployed.

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. There were no observed no-fly zone violations during the 
period covered by this report. We have made clear to Iraq and to all 
other relevant parties that the United States and coalition partners 
will continue to enforce both no-fly zones.

The Maritime Interception Force

    The Maritime Interception Force (MIF), operating in accordance with 
Resolution 665 and other relevant resolutions, vigorously enforces U.N. 
sanctions in the Gulf. The U.S. Navy is the single largest component of 
this multinational force, but it is frequently augmented by ships, 
aircraft, and other support from Australia, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, The 
Netherlands, New Zealand, the UAE, and the United Kingdom. Member states 
of the Gulf Cooperation Council also support the MIF by providing 
logistical support and shipriders and by accepting vessels diverted for 
violating U.N. sanctions against Iraq.
    The MIF continues to intercept vessels involved in illegal smuggling 
into and out of Iraq. In late August, the MIF conducted stepped-up 
operations in the far northern Gulf in the shallow waters near the major 
Iraqi waterways. These operations severely disrupted smuggling 
operations in the region. A new round of stepped up activity took place 
in mid-October. Since the beginning of the year, over 40 vessels have 
been detained for violations of the embargo and sent to ports in the 
Gulf for enforcement actions. Kuwait and the UAE, two countries adjacent 
to the smuggling routes, have also stepped up their own enforcement 
efforts and have intercepted and detained vessels involved in sanctions 
violations. Although refined petroleum products leaving Iraq comprise 
most of the prohibited traffic, the MIF has also intercepted a growing 
number of ships in smuggling prohibited goods into Iraq in violation of 
U.N. sanctions resolutions and the ``oil-for-food'' program. Ships 
involved in smuggling frequently utilize the territorial seas of Iran to 
avoid MIF patrols. In September, Iran closed the Shatt Al Arab waterway 
to smugglers and we observed the lowest level of illegal gasoil 
smuggling in 2 years. Iran apparently reopened the waterway in October. 
Detailed reports of these smuggling activities have been provided to the 
U.N. Sanctions Committee in New York.

Chemical Weapons

    Iraq continues to deny that it ever weaponized VX nerve agent or 
produced stabilized VX, despite UNSCOM's publicly stated confidence in 
the Edgewood Arsenal laboratory finding of stabilized VX components in 
fragments of Iraqi SCUD missile warheads. Tests by France and 
Switzerland on other warhead fragments have been conducted to help 
UNSCOM estimate the total number of warheads loaded with VX. On October 
22 and 23, international experts from seven countries met to discuss all 
analytical results obtained in the course of UNSCOM's verification of 
Iraq's declarations related to VX activities. Ambassador Butler reported 
to the U.N. Security Council on October 26 that the international 
experts ``unanimously concluded'' that ``all analytical

[[Page 1989]]

data'' provided by the United States, Swiss, and French laboratories 
involved were considered ``conclusive and valid.'' Ambassador Butler 
continued, ``the existence of VX degradation products conflicts with 
Iraqi declarations that the unilaterally destroyed special warheads had 
never been filled with CW agents.'' The experts recommended that UNSCOM 
ask Iraq to explain the origin and history of the fragments analyzed by 
all three laboratories and the presence of degradation products of nerve 
agents, and to explain the presence of a compound known as VX stabilizer 
and its degradation product.
    Iraq still refuses to turn over the UNSCOM the Iraqi Air Force 
document found by UNSCOM inspectors that details chemical weapons 
expended during the Iran-Iraq war. We understand that UNSCOM believes 
the document indicates that Iraq's official declarations to UNSCOM have 
greatly overstated the quantities of chemical weapons expended, which 
means a greater number of chemical weapons are unaccounted for then 
previously estimated.

Biological Weapons

    Iraq has failed to provide a credible explanation for UNSCOM tests 
that found anthrax in fragments of seven SCUD missile warheads. Iraq has 
been claiming since 1995 that it put anthrax in only five such warheads, 
and had previously denied weaponizing anthrax at all. Iraq's 
explanations to date are far from satisfactory, although it now 
acknowledges putting both anthrax and botulinum toxin into some number 
of warheads. Iraq's biological weapons (BW) program, including SCUD 
missile BW warheads, R-400 BW bombs, drop-tanks to be filled with BW, 
spray devices for BW, production of BW agents (anthrax, botulinum toxin, 
aflatoxin, and wheat cover smut), and BW agent growth media, remains the 
``black hole'' described by Ambassador Butler. Iraq has consistently 
failed to provide a credible account of its efforts to produce and 
weaponize its BW agents.
    In response to a U.S. proposal, the Security Council agreed on 
October 13 to seek clarification from Iraq of statements made by Iraqi 
officials on October 7 concerning the existence of additional 
information on biological weapons still in Iraq's hands, and about 
Iraq's refusal to turn over the Iraqi Air Force document on chemical 
weapons expended in the Iran-Iraq War.

Long-Range Missiles

    While Iraq continued to allow UNSCOM to witness flight tests of 
nonprohibited Iraqi missiles with range under 150 km (this cooperation 
has not been tested since the October 31 decision), there has been no 
change in (1) Iraq's refusal to further discuss its system for 
concealment of long-range missiles and their components, (2) Iraq's 
refusal to provide credible evidence of its disposition of large 
quantities of the unique fuel required for the long-range SCUD missile, 
or (3) Iraq's continued test modifications to SA-2 VOLGA surface-to-air 
missile components, despite written objections by UNSCOM (reported to 
the Security Council). These areas contribute to an Iraqi capability to 
produce a surface-to-surface missile of range greater than its permitted 
range of 150 km.
    While UNSCOM believes it can account for 817 of 819 imported Soviet-
made SCUD missiles, Iraq has refused to give UNSCOM a credible 
accounting of the indigenous program that produced complete SCUD 
missiles that were both successfully test-flown and delivered to the 
Iraqi army.

Nuclear Weapons

    The nuclear weapons situation remains as it was on August 11, 1998, 
when IAEA Director General El Baradei wrote to the President of the 
Security Council that Iraq's August 5 suspension of cooperation with 
UNSCOM and the IAEA allows only ``limited implementation of its ongoing 
monitoring'' and ``makes it impossible . . . to investigate . . . 
remaining questions and concerns . . .'' In its 6-month report to the 
U.N. Security Council on October 7, the IAEA stated that it had a 
``technically coherent'' view of the Iraqi nuclear program. There are 
remaining questions, but IAEA believes they can be dealt with within 
IAEA's ongoing monitoring and verification effort.
    But the report also stated that Iraq's current suspension of 
cooperation with the IAEA limits the IAEA's right to full and free 
access. The IAEA is currently unable to investigate further aspects of 
Iraq's clandestine program or to ensure that prohibited activities are 
not being carried out in Iraq, free from the risk of detection through 
direct measures.

Dual-Use Imports

    Resolution 1051 established a joint UNSCOM/IAEA unit to monitor 
Iraq's imports

[[Page 1990]]

of allowed dual-use items. Iraq must notify the unit before it imports 
specific items that can be used in both weapons of mass destruction and 
civilian applications. Similarly, U.N. members must provide timely 
notification of exports to Iraq of such dual-use items. Given Iraq's 
current decision to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM/IAEA, we remain 
constantly vigilant for evidence of smuggling of items usable in weapons 
of mass destruction.

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

    We continue to support the international community's efforts to 
provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the 
``oil-for-food'' program. Under the last phase of the ``oil-for-food'' 
program, which ran from December 3, 1997, through June 2, 1998, $1.2 
billion worth of humanitarian goods were approved for export to Iraq. 
United States companies can participate in ``oil-for-food,'' and $185 
million worth of direct contracts for U.S. firms have been approved; 
millions of dollars more have been earned through subcontracts. Since 
the first deliveries under the ``oil-for-food'' program began in March 
1997, 7 million tons of food worth over $2.25 billion and $336 million 
worth of medicine and health supplies have been delivered to Iraq.
    Iraq is authorized to sell up to $5.2 billion worth of oil every 180 
days, up from $2 billion in previous phases. Although Resolution 1153 
was adopted on February 20, Iraq did not present an acceptable 
distribution plan for the implementation of Resolution 1153 until May 
27, 1998; the plan was accepted by the U.N. Secretary General on May 29. 
The U.N. Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) has recently released new 
estimates of the amount of oil revenues that will be available during 
this phase of the program. Citing declining world oil prices and the 
state of Iraq's oil industry, OIP now estimates that income for the 6-
month period ending in December will be around $3.3 billion. Discussions 
are under way within the Sanctions Committee and OIP as to how best to 
meet the most immediate needs of the Iraqi people in light of this 
projected shortfall in income.
    Under the current phase (four) of the ``oil-for-food'' program, 622 
contracts for the purchase of humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people 
have been presented for approval; of these, 485 contracts worth over 
$1.2 billion have been approved and 80 are on hold pending clarification 
of questions about the proposed contracts. With regard to oil sales, 58 
contracts with a total value of over $2 billion have been approved so 
far during this phase.
    UNSC Resolution 1153 maintains a separate ``oil-for-food'' program 
for northern Iraq, administered directly by the United Nations in 
consultation with the local population. This program, which the United 
States strongly supports, receives 13 to 15 percent of the funds 
generated under the ``oil-for-food'' program. The separate northern 
program was established because of the Baghdad regime's proven disregard 
for the humanitarian needs of the Kurdish, Assyrian, and Turkomen 
minorities of northern Iraq and its readiness to apply the most brutal 
forms of repression against them. In northern Iraq, where Baghdad does 
not exercise control, the ``oil-for-food'' program has been able to 
operate relatively effectively. The Kurdish factions are setting aside 
their differences to work together so that Resolution 1153 is 
implemented as efficiently as possible.
    The United Nations must carefully monitor implementation of 
Resolution 1153. As the current phase anticipates, infrastructure 
repairs in areas such as oil export capacity, generation of electricity, 
and water purification present increasing challenges to the U.N. 
monitoring regime.
    The Iraqi government continues to insist on the need for rapid 
lifting of the sanctions regime, despite its clear record of 
noncompliance with its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions. 
Although the Iraqi government maintains that sanctions cause widespread 
suffering among the Iraqi populace, the Iraqi government is still not 
prepared to comply with UNSC resolutions and thus create the conditions 
that would allow sanctions to be lifted. Even if sanctions were lifted 
and the Government of Iraq had complete control over oil revenues, it is 
doubtful that conditions would improve for the Iraqi people. The Iraqi 
government has for a number of years shown that meeting civilian needs 
is not among its priorities. Humanitarian programs such as ``oil-for-
food'' have steadily improved the life of the average Iraqi (who, for 
example, now receives a ration basket providing 2,000 kilocalories per 
day; a significant improvement in nutrition since the program began) 
while denying Saddam Hussein control over oil revenues. We will continue 
to work with the U.N. Secretariat, the Security Council, and others in 

[[Page 1991]]

international community to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the 
Iraqi people are met while denying any political or economic benefits to 
the Baghdad regime.

Northern Iraq: Kurdish Reconciliation

    On September 16 and 17, Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan 
Democratic Party (KDP), and Jalal Talabani, Chairman of the Patriotic 
Union of Kurdistan (PUK), met for the first time in more than 4 years in 
talks held at the Department of State. Secretary Albright, welcoming the 
two leaders, congratulated them on the courageous step they were taking 
on behalf of their people. She expressed the United States deep concern 
for the safety, security, and economic well-being of Iraqi Kurds, Shias, 
Sunnis, and others who have been subject to brutal attacks by the 
Baghdad regime. She also made it clear that the United States will 
decide how and when to respond to Baghdad's actions based on the threat 
they pose to Iraq's neighbors, to regional security, to vital U.S. 
interests, and to the Iraqi people, including those in the north.
    While in Washington, Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani signed a joint 
statement committing themselves to a timeline to improve the regional 
administration of the three northern provinces in the context of the 
1996 Ankara Accords. Over the next 9 months, they will seek to unify 
their administrations, share revenues, define the status of their major 
cities, and hold elections. A key component for the success of this 
program will be continued meetings between the two leaders. To make this 
possible, both parties have condemned internal fighting, pledged to 
refrain from violence in settling their differences, and resolved to 
eliminate terrorism by establishing stronger safeguards for Iraq's 
    The Washington talks followed 6 months of intensive diplomatic 
efforts including a visit to northern Iraq by Principal Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of State David Welch and consultations in Ankara and London by 
both Kurdish parties. Since the Washington talks, we have continued to 
work closely on these issues with the Iraqi Kurds and with Turkey and 
Great Britain. Both leaders met with U.N. officials in New York and they 
were together hosted by members of the House of Representatives 
Committee on International Relations.
    The United States firmly supports the unity and territorial 
integrity of Iraq. Supporting the rights and welfare of Iraqi Kurds 
within Iraq in no way contradicts this position. In their joint 
statement, the Kurdish leaders clearly enunciated this principle. The 
United States is committed to ensuring that international aid continues 
to reach the north, that the human rights of the Kurds and northern Iraq 
minority groups, such as the Turkomen, Assyrians, Yezedis, and others 
are respected, and that the no-fly zone enforced by Operation Northern 
Watch is observed.

The Human Rights Situation in Iraq

    The human rights situation throughout Iraq continues to be a cause 
for grave concern. As I reported September 3, the regime increased its 
security presence in predominantly Shia southern Iraq after the 
assassinations of two distinguished Shia clerics--deaths widely 
attributed to regime agents. Since that time, the Iraqi army has 
conducted a series of repressive operations against the Shia in Nasiriya 
and Amara Provinces. In particular, the government continues to work 
toward the destruction of the Marsh Arabs' way of life and the unique 
ecology of the southern marshes. These events expose a callous disregard 
for human life and the free exercise of religion.
    Summary, arbitrary, and extrajudicial executions also remain a 
primary concern. Baghdad still refuses to allow independent inspections 
of Iraqi prisons despite the conclusion of U.N. Special Rapporteur for 
Iraq, Max Van der Stoel, that ``there is strong evidence that hundreds 
of prisoners (were) executed in Abu Gharaib and Radwaniyah prisons'' 
late last year. The U.N. Human Rights Commission in April issued a 
strong condemnation of the ``all-pervasive repression and oppression'' 
of the Iraqi government. Nevertheless, sources inside Iraq report 
another wave of executions in June, with about 60 people summarily 
killed. Preliminary reports indicate that the killings continued into 
July and August.
    In the north, outside the Kurdish-controlled areas, the government 
continues the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds and 
Turkomen from Kirkuk and other cities. In recent months, 545 more 
families were reportedly expelled from Kirkuk (al-Tamim province) with 7 
new Arab settlements created on land seized from the Kurds. Reports from 
the Kurdish-controlled areas where the displaced persons are received 
indicate that they are

[[Page 1992]]

forced to leave behind almost all of their personal property. Due to a 
shortage of housing, they are still living in temporary shelters as 
winter approaches.
    The government also continues to stall and obfuscate attempts to 
account for more than 600 Kuwaitis and third-country nationals who 
disappeared at the hands of Iraqi authorities during or after the 
occupation of Kuwait. It shows no sign of complying with Resolution 688, 
which demands that Iraq cease the repression of its own people.

The Iraqi Opposition

    It is the policy of the United States to support the Iraqi 
opposition by establishing unifying programs in which all of the 
opposition can participate. We are working to encourage and assist 
political opposition groups, nonpartisan opposition groups, and 
unaffiliated Iraqis concerned about their nation's future in peacefully 
espousing democracy, pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law for 
their country. These committed Iraqis hope to build a consensus on the 
transition from dictatorship to pluralism, convey to the United Nations 
their views on Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. resolutions, and compile 
information to support holding Iraqi officials criminally responsible 
for violations of international humanitarian law.
    On October 31, I signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. It 
provides new discretionary authorities to assist the opposition in their 
struggle against the regime. This Act makes clear the sense of the 
Congress that the United States should support efforts to achieve a very 
different future for Iraq than the bitter, current reality of internal 
repression and external aggression.
    There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These 
include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to 
eliminate Iraq's prohibited weapons and missile programs and economic 
sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute 
those threats to international peace and security. United States support 
for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those 
policy objectives as well. Similarly, U.S. support must be attuned to 
what the opposition can effectively make use of as it develops over 

The United Nations Compensation Commission

    The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), established 
pursuant to Resolution 687 and 692, continues to resolve claims against 
Iraq arising from Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The 
UNCC has issued over 1.3 million awards worth approximately $7 billion. 
Thirty percent of the proceeds from the oil sales permitted by 
Resolutions 986, 1111, 1143, and 1153 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, 
the United States Government has received funds from the UNCC for 
initial installment payments on approximately 1435 claims of U.S. 


    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 
November 6.