Iraq: Thirteenth quarterly report of the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC (S/2003/580)

from UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
Published on 30 May 2003
Note by Secretary-General

The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the Security Council the thirteenth quarterly report of the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which is submitted in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999 (see annex).

I. Introduction and salient points

1. The present report, which is the thirteenth submitted in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), covers the activities of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) during the period from 1 March to 31 May 2003. The present introduction highlights some of the events and experience of the Commission.

2. During the period under review, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC briefed the Security Council on 7 March (on the twelfth quarterly report), on 19 March (on the draft work programme required under resolution 1284 (1999)) and on 22 April 2003 (on the Commission's readiness to return to Iraq to resume inspections). He also maintained his practice of meeting each of the respective Presidents of the Security Council. The Secretary-General and his senior staff were kept informed on a continuing basis of the activities of the Commission.

3. On 18 March 2003, UNMOVIC suspended its inspection activities following the decision of the Secretary-General to withdraw all United Nations staff from Iraq. The armed action started on 19 March 2003, and the Coalition has organized units to identify any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and other proscribed items and to engage in the task of disarming Iraq, which was formerly pursued by UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

4. Following the withdrawal from Iraq, UNMOVIC staff drawn from the roster were sent home and contracts for services, such as transportation by fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, were ended or assigned to other United Nations operations. UNMOVIC headquarters staff have been and remain engaged in analysis of the inspections performed and in the updating of site files, subject files and other documentation in the light of the inspection reports. A thorough review is also being undertaken of the voluminous information provided by Iraq, not least during the period under review in the present report. In the months to come, it may also be desirable that UNMOVIC headquarters staff engage in summarizing and digesting the unique experience gained in such areas as defining dual-use materials and monitoring the export/import of dual-use items.

5. The findings and experience of the relevant units established by the Coalition have not been made available to the Commission except through public media reports. Nor have those units or the Coalition requested any information or assistance from the Commission.

6. In resolution 1483 (2003) of 22 May 2003, the Security Council reaffirmed the importance of the disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the eventual confirmation of the disarmament of Iraq. In paragraph 11, the Council reaffirmed that Iraq must meet its disarmament obligations, invited the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America to keep the Council informed of their activities in that regard, and underlined its intention to revisit the mandates of UNMOVIC and IAEA as set forth in several earlier resolutions.

7. Since the Commission's work on disarmament in Iraq, which began on 27 November 2002, has been suspended, and since a significant phase of that work has been concluded, the present report provides more detail than previous reports. In addition, the report does not restrict itself to reviewing information from the period 1 March to 31 May 2003 but in a number of places adopts a wider perspective.

8. In the period during which it performed inspection and monitoring in Iraq, UNMOVIC did not find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programmes of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items from before the adoption of resolution 687 (1991).

9. Inspections uncovered a small number of undeclared empty chemical warheads which appear to have been produced prior to 1990. Those and a few other proscribed items were destroyed.

10. Following a determination by the Commission that the Al Samoud 2 missile system exceeded the range limits set by the Security Council and hence was proscribed, the Commission implemented a programme for destruction. Some 70 missiles and associated equipment were destroyed under Commission supervision before its operations were suspended. At that time, a decision by the Commission was pending as to whether the Al Fatah missile system also exceeded the ranges set by the Council.

11. Inspections and declarations and documents submitted by Iraq, not least during the period under review, contributed to a better understanding of previous weapons programmes. However, the long list of proscribed items unaccounted for and as such resulting in unresolved disarmament issues was not shortened either by the inspections or by Iraqi declarations and documentation. From the end of January 2003, the Iraqi side, which until then had been cooperative in terms of process but not equally cooperative in terms of subsistence, devoted much effort to providing explanations and proposing methods of inquiry into such issues as the production and destruction of anthrax, VX and long-range missiles. Despite those efforts, little progress was made in the solution of outstanding issues during the time of UNMOVIC operations in Iraq.

12. For example, as described in the present report, extensive excavations undertaken by the Iraqi side and witnessed by inspectors showed that a large number of R-400 bombs declared to have contained biological agents and to have been unilaterally destroyed in 1991 were in fact destroyed. While it was valuable in suggesting the credibility of some information provided earlier, the operation could not verify the total quantities of biological agents destroyed, still less the total quantities produced.

13. Again, with respect to anthrax, the Commission, as it reported, had strong indications -- but not conclusive evidence -- that all the quantities produced had not been destroyed, and that hence even today such quantities could remain. While the Iraqi side continued to claim that no documentary evidence remained of the destruction operation, it took two different steps in an effort to prove its declaration that all had been destroyed. As described in the present report, the Iraqi side undertook a chemical analysis of soil samples from the site where a quantity of anthrax was declared to have been dumped in 1991. While the results of the analysis were consistent with the declaration that anthrax had been dumped at the site, the study could not provide evidence of the quantities destroyed. The other step taken by the Iraqi side was to supply lists of the persons who in 1991 had been engaged in the operations to destroy anthrax. Regrettably, those lists were received only shortly before the suspension of inspections and the Commission did not have the opportunity to embark on a series of potentially important interviews.

14. By the time inspections were suspended, the Commission had performed a number of inspections to try to verify, as described in the present report, intelligence information that Iraq had mobile units for the production of biological weapons. The Iraqi side denied that any such units existed and provided the Commission with pictures of legitimate vehicles, which they suggested could have been mistaken for mobile units. However, none of the vehicles in those pictures resembles the trucks recently described and depicted by the Coalition.

15. As also described in the present report, the Commission was not able, before the suspension of inspections, to complete its inquiry into the Iraqi programmes of remotely piloted vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles, notably to establish whether any of them were designed for the dissemination of chemical or biological weapons or had a longer range than was permitted. Extensive Iraqi information on the programme was sent to the Commission as late as 19 March 2003.

16. At the end of the present report, the Commission's readiness for resumed inspection activities is described. Until the Security Council revisits the mandate of the Commission, the resolutions which guided its work until the armed action will continue to be implemented to the extent that they are still relevant and have not been rendered obsolete by resolution 1483 (2003). It is clear that most of the work which the Commission has performed to date relating to the Oil for Food Programme will be phased out, and that as a result some staff will be released. A readiness for possible resumed work in Iraq, for example to confirm findings that may have been made since the end of the Commission's inspections and/or to perform the task of ongoing monitoring and verification, can be maintained with a somewhat smaller staff than the Commission currently has at its headquarters, thereby reducing costs. However, it would be inadvisable to undertake any drastic overall reduction in the current cadre of staff, which is fully acquainted with the database and vast archives of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and UNMOVIC and has broad knowledge of programmes, sites and relevant contacts in Iraq, as well as the logistics of inspection operations.

II. Inspections in Iraq

A. General

17. From the day of the first inspection in Iraq on 27 November 2002 until the day of the withdrawal of all United Nations personnel on 18 March 2003, UNMOVIC conducted 731 inspections, covering 411 sites, 88 of which had not been inspected before. The sites had either been declared by Iraq during inspections or through their semi-annual declarations, or had been selected by UNMOVIC on the basis of outside information. Aerial inspections were also conducted using UNMOVIC helicopters.

18. During the first several weeks of inspections, the focus was on re-establishing a baseline for the sites, that is, to assess the current activities and equipment at the site, determine the changes made since 1998 and identify existing key personnel. Sites visited included previously known sites and new sites for the most part identified through Iraq's newly provided declarations. Almost all inspections were undertaken without notice to Iraq. Visits of sites followed no order in terms of nature of site, apparent importance and location. The early inspections provided knowledge about Iraq's current programmes and about the main state companies involved in such activities. As information became available from a study of Iraq's recent semi-annual declarations and its "currently accurate full and complete declaration of 7 December 2002, a number of inspections were undertaken to verify or clarify various matters in these documents.

19. The second period, from mid-January until the suspension of activities in Iraq in mid-March 2003, was characterized by reinspection of some of the sites, with a more investigative approach. During those inspections, a thorough assessment was made of both dual-use capabilities and the amount of time that would be needed to reconfigure specific installations to perform proscribed activities.

20. Figure I illustrates the number of UNMOVIC site inspections made per week during the inspection period. The figure shows the initial period of build-up of the inspection teams until the middle of December and the high intensity of inspections over the rest of the period. Figure II illustrates the distribution of the inspection effort over different types of sites. The largest effort was expended on industrial and research and development sites, followed by military sites, including military depots. The distribution of inspections among the missile, chemical, biological and multidisciplinary teams is shown in figure III, while the geographic distribution of inspected sites throughout Iraq is shown in figure IV. As can be seen from figure IV, the relatively large concentration of inspections in the Mosul area underscores the rationale for establishing a regional office there. By the time of the withdrawal, UNMOVIC had not established a regional office in Basrah.

B. Biological inspections

21. Biological inspections were made of university laboratories, pharmaceutical factories, munitions stores, military sites, warehouses, vaccine production and food-processing facilities, breweries, research institutions and agricultural sites. A biological analytical laboratory was established at the Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Centre (BOMVIC) for sample processing and screening.

C. Chemical inspections

22. Chemical inspections covered pesticide and organophosphorus-related facilities, the petrochemical industry, fertilizer plants, munitions storage and military sites, research and academic institutions, warehouses, chemical production equipment and chemical engineering sites.

23. During the first period of inspections, from December 2002 to mid-January 2003, priority was given to inspections of key sites. Those inspections enabled UNMOVIC to develop an overview of the current status of the chemical industry and related services in Iraq.

24. During the same period, the chemical laboratory was brought up to its full capacity and there was an increase in the number and quality of samples analysed. A large number of on-site analyses, such as alloys identification, were carried out. In addition, the planning process started for the future use of the laboratory for monitoring.

D. Missile inspections

25. Inspections in the missile area involved key missile production and research and development sites.

26. For the first weeks of missile inspections, the focus was on checking, tagging and re-tagging of equipment, particularly of the Al Samoud, Al Fatah, SA-2 and Frog missiles. In addition, inspections were carried out of all static test stands for both solid and liquid propellant rockets, and one flight test of a modified missile was monitored.

27. Later in the inspection period, while tagging activities continued, inspections concentrated on four areas: known sites that had not yet been visited; sites for assessing Iraq's capability in missile guidance and control; assessment of Iraq's capability in solid propellant rocket technology; and assessments of sites for the most effective way of implementing future ongoing monitoring and verification. 28. Following the UNMOVIC conclusion that the Al Samoud 2 missile and two previously destroyed but refurbished casting chambers were prohibited, Iraq was requested to present those items for destruction. Most inspections carried out during March involved making an inventory of related items and observing the destruction activity. The destruction of all items of the Al Samoud 2 missile system was not fully completed until 18 March 2003. In addition, inspections were carried out following the release by Iraq of items and materials connected to indigenous Scud engine manufacture.

E. Multidisciplinary inspections

29. Multidisciplinary inspections were performed at many different types of site. However, the emphasis was on non-chemical, biological and missile sites, such as central customs offices; engineering companies and military nuclear, biological and chemical defence facilities; military vehicles design and construction sites; presidential sites; and private homes. The regional office in Mosul served as an important base for conducting inspections in northern Iraq that otherwise could have been visited only after long road trips or utilizing air-transport capabilities.

30. Inspection of ammunition storage areas was an important part of the work of multidisciplinary teams throughout the inspection period. Munitions experts, utilizing both visual recognition techniques and appropriate detectors, conducted in-depth searches of munitions production, storage and disposal areas, which resulted in the detection of (empty) munitions that might have gone unnoticed if the searches had relied solely or primarily on technical means to detect toxic or infectious material.

31. A further aspect of the multidisciplinary team's activities was the support provided by explosive ordnance disposal specialists to the other disciplines. Those specialists performed a vital safety function at many military sites and, when needed, provided expertise for all munitions-related inspections, drilling and sampling.

32. Lastly, a number of sites were inspected by the multidisciplinary teams following information provided by Governments or derived from open sources.

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