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IRAQ to SEPTEMBER 2003 (1 of 7)

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Iraq to September 2003

Saddam Hussein Destroys His Weapons | Iraq During the Clinton Administration | President Bush Considers another Gulf War | Congressional Approval and Demonstrations, October to December 2002 | Claims and Debates, January to March 2003 | The Invasion Begins | Liberation versus Iraqi Sovereignty, to September 2003

Saddam Hussein Destroys His Weapons

The 1991 Gulf War ended with Saddam Hussein's Iraq suffering a military defeat. His regime accepted the conditions for a cease fire expressed in the UN's Security Council Resolution 686. Iraq agreed to accept in principle its liability for any loss, damage, or injury arising in Kuwait as a result of its invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

The war ended in March. In April the UN Security Council passed its next resolution, Resolution 687, demanding that Iraq destroy, remove and render harmless its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers. This disarmament was supposed to be done "under international supervision." 

Saddam Hussein agreed to Resolution 687. Economic sanctions had been imposed on Iraq since Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and interviews with Iraqis described in the Duelfer Report suggest that Saddam Hussein wanted to comply with the UN resolutions in order to lift the economic sanctions. But he did not want to leave the impression with Iran's Shiite rulers that his regime was weak militarily and to see opportunity for revenge. He wanted potential enemies to believe that he still had fearsome weapons. He spoke of fear of his weapons as having stopped coalition forces going all the way to Baghdad to overthrow his regime. He believed that in the 1980s his chemical shells had repelled Iran's "human wave" assaults and that his missiles had broken the will of Iran's leaders.

Rather than fully comply with Resolution 687, Hussein chose to destroy his weapons of mass destruction surreptitiously. An estimate in the Duelfer Report suggests that in 1991-92 Hussein destroyed biological weapons and  chemical weapons. He had a few dozen scud missiles, capable of reaching 600 miles – more than the 150 kilometers allowed by the Security Council resolution. According to interviews described in the Duelfer report he hoped some day to develop more long range ballistic missiles, but for the time being such weapons were not planned for production and his nuclear program was not progressing.

Hussein complained to the world that the monitoring and verification plans adopted by the Security Council were unlawful. He campaigned to end the sanctions while UN weapons inspectors were in Iraq. His conflict with the UN grew. The Security Council resolved that Iraq "end its repression" against all Iraqi citizens, and the Security Council created a no-fly zone to protect the Shiite population in southern Iraq and to provide a buffer between Hussein's regime and Kuwait.  Hussein responded with a veiled threat about danger to coalition aircraft and pilots.

The governments of the United States and Britain remained hostile toward Hussein. US Secretary of State James Baker announced on 20 May 1991 that the U.S. was not interested in supporting a relaxation of the sanctions against Iraq" as long as Hussein was in power." Britain and the US remained hostile through 1992, and relations did not improve in April 1993 when it was alleged that the Hussein regime had attempted to assassinate the former US president, George H. W. Bush, while he was visiting Kuwait as a private citizen. The new president from January 1993, Bill Clinton, ordered US ships to launch Tomahawk missiles against the headquarters where it was thought the Iraqis had plotted the assassination. 

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