Weapons Inspectors and Spying: Theexperiment interviews James Paul

In 1999, weapons inspectors spied on Iraq for the US. When inspectors finally return to Iraq next week, US personnel will comprise the largest part of the new teams. The executive director of the Global Policy Forum has some disconcerting views on the possibility of a repeat performance: “The Bush administration will not pay any attention to any objections to their action, however just, legal or compelling and from whatever party.”


United Nations arms inspectors are scheduled to begin work in Iraq on November 27. This is a crucial time to review what the major media outlets appear to have forgotten since inspectors were last in Baghdad.

In 1999, the Washington Post reported that US members of the UNSCOM inspection force had used their access to strategically sensitive areas of Iraq to gather data which was subsequently used in Operation Desert Storm. An activity accurately described as spying:

“United States intelligence services infiltrated agents and espionage equipment for three years into United Nations arms control teams in Iraq to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military without the knowledge of the UN agency that it used to disguise its work, according to U.S. government employees and documents describing the classified operation.”
— From “U.S. Spied on Iraq Via UN,” Washington Post, March 2, 1999: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/daily/march99/unscom2.htm

Not alone in this assertion, the paper quoted no less an authority than U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on the same subject:

“U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has obtained what he regards as convincing evidence that United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime, according to confidants who said he is deeply alarmed by the implications of the relationship for the world body.”
— From “Annan Suspicious Of UNSCOM Role,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 1999: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/iraq/stories/unscom010699.htm

The average reader of this not so distant history may wonder how these facts affect the current weapons inspectors’ mission.

The Institute for Public Accuracy has quoted Susan Wright ( http://www.umich.edu/~spwright, http://www.thebulletin.org/issues/1999/mj99/mj99wright.html ) on the subject:

“A major challenge for Hans Blix, the chairman of UNSCOM’s successor, the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission ( UNMOVIC ), will be to avoid both the reality and the perception that this new agency is being similarly hijacked by the United States. Blix has said that UNMOVIC has 30 inspectors from the United States, more than any other country.

“If the Iraqis detect that the UN inspection organization is being used for espionage once again, the inspections place Iraq in a double bind. If Iraq goes along, it would know that its defenses are being scrutinized. If it resists, its resistance may be used as a trigger for war by the United States government.”

— From “Will Inspectors Be Used for Spying on Iraq Again?,” IPA, November 18, 2002: http://www.accuracy.org/press_releases/PR111802.htm

With Iraq apparently trapped in a classic Catch-22, we here at theexperiment began to wonder if this particularly nasty–if entirely predictable–situation was foreseen and/or addressed in the current UN legislation.

For answers we turned to James Paul ( http://www.globalpolicy.org/visitctr/jpbio.htm ), executive director of the Global Policy Forum, which monitors policy-making at the UN.

theexperiment: According to the wording of the UN resolution currently being acted on by
weapons inspectors, would Iraq have grounds for objection to any spying
they may believe is occurring?

James Paul: There is nothing in the resolution that gives any rights to the Iraqis on
this or anything else. But presumably Iraq could register a protest before
the court of international public opinion! By that time, though, Iraq will
be invaded by the US and the matter will be moot.

te: Is there an existing or planned for forum for the expression of any
suspicions of espionage that may arise? Or would Iraq’s only alternative
be to halt the inspections and thus risk attack by the US?

JP: Iraq’s best move here would be to present the evidence to the international
media and hope they would investigate. Halting inspections would not be a
wise idea.

te: In your opinion, is the US administration likely to heed any such
complaints issued by Iraq? Or is it more disposed to cite such questions
as a sign of recalcitrance on the part of Iraq, as justification for an

JP: The Bush administration will not pay any attention to any objections to
their action, however just, legal or compelling and from whatever
party. They are planning to go to war to seize the oil of Iraq and they
have no intention of stopping just because someone says they are behaving
unfairly, nastily or illegally!

We found Mr. Paul’s responses as disconcerting as they were brief. If you feel similarly, please consider participating in the international mobilisation against the Bush administration’s war on Iraq.

You can join ANSWER’s major public effort at:


And don’t forget to use the weapons Bush fears more than nerve gas: free speech and critical thought.

Read the materials below, talk to your friends and family (even, and especially, that uncle in the military industrial complex), and spread the word by disseminating this and any other useful information you come across in your efforts.

Author: Gabriel Voiles

News Service: Theexperiment.org

URL: http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1889

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