Iraq Weapons Inspections and Double Standards

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  • by Anup Shah
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"When asked on US television if she [Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State] thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children [from sanctions in Iraq] was a price worth paying, Albright replied: "This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.""

John Pilger, Squeezed to Death1, Guardian, March 4, 2000

A major issue around the 1998 crisis had been that Iraq shouldn't complain (and rightly so) about who was on the UN Weapons inspection team. However, the USA and Russia2 and other powerful nations were able to get away3 with it when the UN attempted to inspect their weapons as the highlighted by the previous link, and the following:

"The United States, as a signatory to various international treaties banning the testing, manufacture and development of chemical and biological weapons, is required by law to open its weapons facilities to UN inspectors to verify treaty compliance. In defiance of the treaties' provisions, the United States Senate passed a bill in 1997 allowing the president to deny international inspections of U.S. weapons facilities "on the grounds of national security."" (Emphasis is original) -- Associated Press, February 27, 1998, quoted from Derailing Democracy, by David McGowan, (Common Courage Press, 2000), p.182

Does Saddam Hussein's disgusting use of chemical weapons on his own people4 justify equally harsh treatment in Iraq? (Like Saddam's actions, this has hurt the Iraqi people5, leaving Saddam unaffected) Or anywhere else? It sends a message that while USA, UK etc are more powerful than Saddam Hussein, they are otherwise similar6 when it comes to the respect of other's lives. The quote above from Madeline Albright does not do much to disprove the point.

Since the September 11, 2002 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the resulting "war on terror" U.S. President George Bush has accused Iraq of being part of an "axis of evil". Amongst various criticisms levelled at Iraq has been the apparent threat of weapons of mass destructions from Sadam Hussein. While a lot of Europe seem skeptical about this claim, George Bush and Britain's Tony Blair seem agreed that there is a threat. However, as John Pilger points out:

"Few countries have had 93 per cent of their major weapons capability destroyed. This was reported by Rolf Ekeus, the chairman of the United Nations body authorised to inspect and destroy Iraq's arsenal following the Gulf War in 1991. UN inspectors certified that 817 out of the 819 Iraqi long-range missiles were destroyed. In 1999, a special panel of the Security Council recorded that Iraq's main biological weapons facilities (supplied originally by the US and Britain) 'have been destroyed and rendered harmless.'

As for Saddam Hussein's "nuclear threat," the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iraq's nuclear weapons programme had been eliminated "efficiently and effectively". The IAEA inspectors still travel to Iraq and in January [2002] reported full Iraqi compliance. Blair and Bush never mention this when they demand that "the weapons inspectors are allowed back". Nor do they remind us that the UN inspectors were never expelled by the Iraqis, but withdrawn only after it was revealed they had been infiltrated by US intelligence."

John Pilger, How dare George Bush preach peace to Israel when he's meeting Blair to plan war on Iraq7, April 5 2002

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