Checking Saddam’s list

By Gordon Prather

Saddam’s been making a list and checking it twice. Soon we’ll find out whether – during the four years since U.N. inspectors were last in Iraq – he’s been naughty or nice.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 required of Iraq an “accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programs to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons,” including the precise location of “any holdings” of such weapons and “related materials.” The declaration was to be submitted to the U.N. Security Council by Dec. 8, 2002.

The UNSC warned Saddam that he will “face serious consequences” if his declaration is not accurate, full and complete.

Who judges Saddam’s declaration? The UNSC, based upon information supplied by Chairman Hans Blix of the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission (MOVIC).

That’s bad news for the warhawks. They’ve been searching for an excuse to hang Saddam Hussein from a sour apple tree ever since the Bush the Elder neglected to do so. The warhawks hoped that UNSCR 1441 would allow them to judge Saddam’s declaration.

You see, the warhawks know that Saddam’s declaration will almost certainly be not complete. Iraq is required to declare “all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programs, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material.” That means Saddam must declare – among other things – every bakery and microbrewery in Iraq. Saddam’s list is expected to be more than 7,000-pages long.

The warhawks claim to have “intelligence” on Iraqi chem-bio programs that either escaped the U.N. inspectors’ attention four years ago, or would now. They’ve been keeping this “intelligence” from Hans Blix and MOVIC, hoping and praying that Saddam wouldn’t admit to these “secret” Iraqi programs.

As soon as Saddam submits his declaration, if these “secret” Iraqi programs aren’t listed, the warhawks intend to sandbag him.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld set the stage last week:

    The United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The U.K. knows that they have weapons of mass destruction. Any country on the face of the earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

    It is not for some country to go in and give them a clean bill of health; it is for Iraq to give itself a clean bill of health by saying,

    a) Here’s honestly what we currently have;

    b) here’s where it is;

    c) here’s what we’ve done;

    d) please destroy it for us.

But, under applicable UNSC resolutions, a crock of wheat smut – a fungus – qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction. Wheat smut reduces crop yield and imparts to the grain a foul, fishy odor. In the late1980s, Saddam made tons of the stuff, and there is probably no accounting for it.

President Bush has repeatedly stated that U.S. policy with respect to Saddam’s declaration is “zero tolerance.” That, of course, is not UNSC policy.

Does that mean the U.S. – if not the U.N. – will go to war with Iraq if Saddam leaves a crock of wheat smut off his 7,000-page list? The warhawks would if they could, of course. For them, any excuse will do. But they realize that for all you soccer-moms, there will have to be something worse than a foul, fishy odor to your Cream-o-Wheat.

Suppose, for example, warhawk “intelligence” has it that Saddam has 1,800 gallons of liquid anthrax hidden in a certain specified brewery in Baghdad. Saddam made tons of it in the late 1980s and there is probably no accounting for it. The warhawks will count on you soccer-moms not knowing that even freshly brewed anthrax in liquid form poses little threat to you and yours.

Now suppose that Saddam’s list doesn’t include that alleged 1,800 gallons of liquid anthrax. The warhawks will go running to the UNSC next week, crying “material breach” of UNSCR 1441.

Well, the UNSC is not going to authorize the use of all necessary means over a vat of liquid anthrax that may not exist. So the UNSC will ask Blix to take a drive over to the specified brewery and check out the quality of warhawk “intelligence.”

If Blix doesn’t find a vat of anthrax, the warhawks will have to recall the Enola Gay. If Blix does find a vat of anthrax it will be up to the UNSC to decide what to do about it. Either way, President Bush will have put teeth in U.N. nuke and chem-bio arms-control conventions, and that’s probably a good thing.