Was the Iraqi government cooperative with the UN weapons inspectors in 2002 and 2003?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association (ACA), and Paul K. Kerr, Analyst in Nonproliferation in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), 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...

Although Iraq was cooperative on what inspectors called 'process' - allowing inspectors access to suspected weapons sites, for example - it was only marginally cooperative in answering the questions surrounding its weapons programs. Unable to resolve its differences with Security Council members who favored strengthening and continuing weapons inspections, the United States abandoned the inspections process and initiated the invasion of Iraq on March 19 [2003]."

July 2003 - Daryl Kimball 
Paul K. Kerr 

PRO (yes)

Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq at the time of the quote, stated the following in a Mar. 24, 2003 speech on Iraqi state television:

"We have always complied, even with what is illegitimate and unjust among the demands and allegations of the evil ones, in the hope that the world would awake and lift the sanctions against our people and so that we avoid the evils of war. "

Mar. 24, 2003 - Saddam Hussein  

Hans Blix, PhD, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) at the time of the quote, wrote in a Feb. 14, 2003 brief to the President of the UN Security Council:

"In my 27 January [2003] update to the Council, I said that it seemed from our experience that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on process, most importantly prompt access to all sites and assistance to UNMOVIC in the establishment of the necessary infrastructure. This impression remains, and we note that access to sites has so far been without problems, including those that had never been declared or inspected, as well as to Presidential sites and private residences."

Feb. 14, 2003 - Hans Blix, PhD 

Mohammed al-Douri, PhD, Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations at the time of the quote, at the Feb. 5, 2003 UN Security Council meeting, stated:

"...I want to say that the obvious goal behind the holding of this meeting and the presentation of false allegations by the Secretary of State of the United States was to sell the idea of war and aggression against my country, Iraq, without providing any legal, moral or political justification. This was primarily an attempt to sway United States public opinion - and world public opinion generally - in favour of launching a hostile attack against Iraq.

In return, Iraq offers security and peace and reiterates before the members of the Security Council our commitment to continue our proactive cooperation with the inspection teams in order to make it possible for them to complete their tasks as soon as possible so as to verify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction, lift the unjust sanctions imposed against us, ensure respect for our national security and guarantee regional security by ridding the whole Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, including Israel’s huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991)."

Feb. 5, 2003 - Mohammed al-Douri, PhD 

Ian Davis, PhD, Consultant on Transatlantic Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), wrote in a Feb. 5, 2003 Guardian blog titled "The Unanswered Questions":

"Inspections are going remarkably well. They should go even better with access to US intelligence. Inspections are more sophisticated, and receiving more cooperation from the Iraqis, than previous Unscom inspections, and Unscom destroyed more chemical and biological weapons facilities than the Gulf war. No evidence that Colin Powell has presented today suggests we need to rush headlong into war."

Feb. 5, 2003 - Ian Davis, PhD 

Stephen Zunes, PhD, Chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, wrote in a Sep. 8, 2003 article titled "Bush's Speech: The War in Iraq Is Not Over and Neither Are the Lies to Justify It," available on his website www.stephenzunes.org:

"It is true that Iraq openly defied or otherwise failed for twelve years to live up to demands of the UN Security Council regarding its destruction of and accountability for weapons of mass destruction, certain delivery systems, and other proscribed materials. However, once Iraq allowed the UN inspectors into their country for unfettered inspections last fall [2002] and ceded to UN demands regarding aerial reconnaissance, interviews with Iraqi scientists, and other means of insuring full Iraqi accountability several weeks later, one could argue that Iraq may have finally been in compliance with most, if not all, of those outstanding resolutions at the time of the U.S. invasion."

Sep. 8, 2003 - Stephen Zunes, PhD 

CON (no)

Paul Wolfowitz, PhD, US Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time of the quote, stated in Mar. 11, 2003 remarks to Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC:

"U.N. weapons inspectors have been thwarted at every turn. They have been forced to play a game of hide and seek in a country the size of the state of California, chasing after mobile biological labs that were designed to be hidden, and seeking weapons hidden in chicken farms and garages. The inspectors have been subjected to intimidation. And perhaps most important, they have been denied full and free access to Iraqi scientists, who know where the weapons are, but who have been threatened with death and worse, if they cooperate with the inspectors."

Mar. 11, 2003 - Paul Wolfowitz, PhD 

Ari Fleisher, White House Press Secretary at the time of the quote, stated at a Jan. 27, 2003 White House press briefing:

"...[T]he inspectors have been there for two months... It's clear from today's important reporting date [a Jan. 27, 2003 UN Security Council update on inspections by UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, Dr. Hans Blix] that Iraq has failed to comply, that Iraq continues to have weapons of mass destruction that they have not accounted for, and that Iraq's failure to comply has led to a situation where the inspectors are getting the runaround...

Well, I think there's no telling how long it will take because nobody knows whether Saddam Hussein will ever cooperate or not. By all experience, he has not cooperated."

Jan. 27, 2003 - Ari Fleischer 

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted on Nov. 8, 2002, contained the following:

"Deploring the fact that Iraq has not provided an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure, as required by resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction...

Deploring further that Iraq repeatedly obstructed immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to sites designated by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), failed to cooperate fully and unconditionally with UNSCOM and IAEA weapons inspectors, as required by resolution 687 (1991), and ultimately ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA in 1998...

Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991)."

Nov. 8, 2002 - UNSCR 1441 (58 KB)  

Colin L. Powell, MBA, US Secretary of State at the time of the quote, stated at the Feb. 5, 2003 UN Security Council meeting:

"...General Sa’di has been the Iraqi regime’s primary point of contact for Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei. It was General Sa’di who last fall publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary, Sa’di’s job is not to cooperate. It is to deceive - not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they learn nothing...

Everything we have seen and heard indicates that, instead of cooperating actively with the inspectors to ensure the success of their mission, Saddam Hussain and his regime are busy doing all they possibly can to ensure that inspectors succeed in finding absolutely nothing...

As the examples I have just presented show, the information and intelligence we have gathered point to an active and systematic effort on the part of the Iraqi regime to keep key materials and people from the inspectors, in direct violation of resolution 1441 (2002).

The pattern is not just one of reluctant cooperation. Nor is it merely a lack of cooperation. What we see is a deliberate campaign to prevent any meaningful inspection work...

The issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction, but how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq’s non-compliance before we, as the Council, we, as the United Nations, say: 'Enough. Enough.'"

Feb. 5, 2003 - Colin Powell, MBA