Last updated on: 6/18/2009 10:20:00 AM PST
What UN weapon inspections occurred in Iraq between 1991 and Mar. 19, 2003?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
CNN issued the following timeline on CNN.com (accessed Feb. 6, 2009):

"February 24, 1991: The Persian Gulf War ends, liberating Kuwait. Iraq agrees to end weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to U.N. inspections.

October 29, 1997: American members of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection team are expelled from Iraq, only to return November 20.

January 13, 1998: Iraq temporarily withdraws cooperation, complaining the inspection team has a disproportionate share of U.S. and British members. A week later inspectors are refused access to presidential sites.

February 20-23, 1998: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan secures full Iraqi cooperation and access for inspectors.

October 31, 1998: Iraq ceases cooperation with the U.N. Special Commission but allows inspections to resume 14 days later.

December 16, 1998: The U.N. Special Commission removes all staff from Iraq after inspectors conclude Iraq is not fully cooperating.

June 30, 1999: Richard Butler completes his two-year term as executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission.

December 17, 1999: The United Nations replaces the U.N. Special Commission with the U.N. Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Iraq rejects the resolution.

March 1, 2000: Hans Blix becomes executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission.

November 2000: Iraq rejects new weapons inspections proposals.

August 1, 2002: In a letter from the Iraqi government to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Hans Blix is invited to Iraq for discussions on disarmament issues.

August 6, 2002: Secretary-General Kofi Annan writes to the Iraqis, pointing out that their proposal is at odds with U.N. resolutions and asking that Iraq accept inspections.

September 12, 2002: In an attempt to build a global coalition for action against Iraq, President Bush pushes for a new U.N. Security Council resolution and for action within weeks but doesn't lay down any deadlines for returning weapons inspectors to the country.

President Bush tells the United Nations it must rid the world of Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear arsenals, or stand aside as the United States acts.

September 16, 2002: Iraq unconditionally accepts the return of U.N. weapons inspectors."


Feb. 6, 2009 - CNN 

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, and Paul Kerr, Research Analyst, both with the Arms Control Asssociation, wrote in a July 2003 article titled "Disarming Saddam - A Chronology of Iraq and UN Weapons Inspections" on www.armscontrol.org:

"Prior to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1441 in November 2002 giving Iraq a “final opportunity” to comply with its disarmament requirements under previous Security Council resolutions. At issue was Iraq’s failure to provide an adequate accounting of its prohibited weapons programs or to convince UN inspectors that its weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed as Baghdad claimed.

UN weapons inspectors worked in Iraq from November 27, 2002 until March 18, 2003. During that time, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) conducted more than 900 inspections at more than 500 sites...

Following is a summary of the major events of the decision to pursue, then abandon, UN weapons inspections in Iraq.

January 29, 2002: ... Several [top US] officials question the ultimate worth of arms inspections and advocate the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as the only way to guarantee that Iraq will not develop weapons of mass destruction in the future.

March 7, 2002: Iraqi officials meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and... UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix to discuss arms inspections for the first time since 1998. UN officials fail to win the return of inspectors at this meeting or two subsequent ones that occur in May and July...

September 16, 2002: Baghdad announces that it will allow arms inspectors to return 'without conditions.' Iraqi and UN officials meet September 17 to discuss the logistical arrangements for the return of inspectors and announce that final arrangements will be made at a meeting scheduled for the end of the month.

November 27, 2002: UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections begin.

December 7, 2002: Iraq submits its declaration 'of all aspects of its [weapons of mass destruction] programmes' as required by Resolution 1441...The resolution requires the declaration to be 'currently accurate, full, and complete,' but UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors tell the UN Security Council on December 19 that the declaration contains little new information.

December 19, 2002: Following IAEA and UNMOVIC briefings to the UN Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell states that the Iraqi declaration contains a 'pattern of systematic…gaps' that constitute 'another material breach' of Iraq’s disarmament obligations...

February 24, 2003: The United States, United Kingdom, and Spain co-sponsor a new Security Council resolution saying ' Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it by Resolution 1441' ...

March 7, 2003: UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix tells the Security Council that Iraq’s cooperation with the inspectors in providing information about past weapons activities has improved, although Baghdad has not yet complied with its disarmament obligations. UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors had stated during briefings to the Security Council on January 27 and February 14 that Iraq was gradually increasing its cooperation with the United Nations. Yet, both deemed the cooperation insufficient...

March 17, 2003: ... Annan announces that UN weapons inspectors will be withdrawn from the country. Bush announces that Hussein and his sons have 48 hours to leave Iraq or the United States will initiate military action.
March 18, 2003: UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors leave Iraq.

March 19, 2003: The United States commences military action..."


July 2003 - Daryl Kimball 
Paul K. Kerr 

George A. Lopez, PhD, Director of Policy Studies at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and David Cortright, PhD, President of the Fourth Freedom Forum, wrote in an article titled "Containing Iraq: Sanctions Worked" in the July/Aug. 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs:

"The United Nations sanctions that began in August 1990 were the longest running, most comprehensive, and most controversial in the history of the world body.

Most coverage of the weapons inspections that began after the Gulf War (1990-19991) focused on Baghdad's efforts to stall, evade, and obstruct UN monitors. But despite Saddam's recalcitrance, the record now shows that the UN disarmament program -- which Vice President Dick Cheney dubbed, 'the most intrusive system of arms control in history' -- decapitated Iraq's banned weapons programs and destroyed the infrastructure that would have allowed it to restart clandestine programs.

From 1991 to 1998, the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) identified and dismantled almost all of Iraq's prohibited weapons. In conjunction with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it conducted hundreds of inspection missions at weapons sites and documentation centers, systematically uncovering and eliminating Iraq's nuclear weapons program and most of its chemical, biological, and ballistic missile systems. After four months of further inspections from November 2002 until March 2003 -- which included 237 missions to 148 sites -- the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) confirmed the depleted state of Iraq's capabilities.

When UN inspectors returned to Iraq in late 2002, they noted 'a surge of activity in the missile technology field.' UNMOVIC determined that the Al Samoud II missile exceeded the permitted range (150 kilometers) by 30 kilometers and discovered large chambers that could be used to produce missile rocket motors. But when UNMOVIC officials demanded that the missiles and the chambers be destroyed, Baghdad yielded: eradication was underway when the U.S. invasion began."

July-Aug. 2004 - George A. Lopez, PhD 
David Cortright, PhD 

Jeffrey Richelson, PhD, Editor of the National Security Archive at George Washington University (GWU), on Feb. 11, 2004 submitted an edited version of "National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 80: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction" on GWU's National Security Archive website:

"In the aftermath of Iraq's [1991] defeat, the U.S.-led U.N. coalition was able to compel Iraq to agree to an inspection and monitoring regime, intended to insure that Iraq dismantled its WMD programs and did not take actions to reconstitute them. The means of implementing the relevant U.N. resolutions was the Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). That inspection regime continued until December 16, 1998...

Subsequent to George W. Bush's assumption of the presidency in January 2001, the U.S. made it clear that it would not accept what had become the status quo with respect to Iraq - a country ruled by Saddam Hussein and free to attempt to reconstitute its assorted weapons of mass destruction programs. As part of their campaign against the status quo, which included the clear threat of the eventual use of military force against the Iraqi regime, the U.S. and Britain published documents and provided briefings detailing their conclusions concerning Iraq's WMD programs and its attempts to deceive other nations about those programs.

As a result of the U.S. and British campaign, and after prolonged negotiations between the United States, Britain, France, Russia and other U.N. Security Council members, the United Nations declared that Iraq would have to accept even more intrusive inspections than under the previous inspection regime - to be carried out by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - or face 'serious consequences.' Iraq agreed to accept the U.N. decision and inspections resumed in late November 2002. On December 7, 2002, Iraq submitted its 12,000 page declaration, which claimed that it had no current WMD programs. Intelligence analysts from the United States and other nations immediately began to scrutinize the document, and senior U.S. officials quickly rejected the claims.

Over the next several months, inspections continued in Iraq, and the chief inspectors, Hans Blix (UNMOVIC) and Mohammed El Baradei (IAEA) provided periodic updates to the U.N. Security Council concerning the extent of Iraqi cooperation, what they had or had not discovered, and what they believed remained to be done."


Feb. 11, 2004 - Jeffrey Richelson, PhD