4 February 2004

Why the UN had it right on Iraq

'We were all wrong,' says weapons inspector David Kay. Actually, no. There was one group whose prewar estimates of Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological capabilities have turned out to be devastatingly close to reality - the U.N. inspectors. Consider what Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear agency, told the Security Council on March 7, 2003, after his team had done 247 inspections at 147 sites: 'no evidence of resumed nuclear activities ... nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any related sites.' He went on to say that evidence suggested Iraq had not imported uranium since 1990 and no longer had a centrifuge program. He concluded that Iraq's nuclear capabilities had been effectively dismantled by 1997 and its dual-use industrial plants had decayed. All these claims appear to be dead-on, based on Kay's findings.

Regarding chemical and biological weapons, the U.N. inspectors headed by Hans Blix conducted 731 inspections between November 2002 and March 2003. Despite claims by the U.S. government of the existence of specific stockpiles of weapons and active weapons programs, they found no evidence of either. In his reports to the Security Council, Blix was always judicious. "One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist," he said. "However, that possibility is also not excluded."

The tinfoil brigade who believe that the UN was wrong, no matter what, are now happily claiming that everyone, including the UN, believed in the existence of WMDs. That is simply untrue. UNMOVIC had found nothing beyond the enhanced al-Sammoud rockets.

The war, we were told, had to be fought immediately. In 9 months all the ISG achieved was to confirm UNMOVIC's tentative view. Why then, did the coalition hurry to war? And when will Bush, Blair and Howard apologise to Blix?

More on this when tonight's 7:30 Report is available online.

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