On December 7, Iraq presented its declaration of weapons of mass destruction capabilities to the United Nations. The United States and other permanent members of the Security Council have also received copies of the nearly 12,000-page document, which should detail every element of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. Meanwhile, UN weapons inspectors have been on the ground in Iraq since November 25 and Iraq has generally cooperated with their efforts.
The details of Iraq’s declaration could be a key determinant of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, passed November 8, Iraq must provide “an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure” of its programs to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.
Iraq has repeatedly denied that it possesses any weapons of mass destruction, and initial reports suggest that its declaration does not indicate any new evidence regarding Iraq’s proscribed weapons. Once the UN inspectors and the members of the Security Council have studied the Iraqi declaration, it will be up to the Bush administration to decide whether Iraq has complied with its obligations under the new resolution, or if Iraqi omissions constitute a “material breach,” which the U.S. government may consider a reason for military action.
The United Nations is now beginning the process of reviewing the documents submitted by the Iraqi government and determining whether Baghdad is telling the truth about its weapons programs. By December 12, preliminary reactions from the United States and other key members of the international community may be available.
Three Brookings experts and a former UN weapons inspector will discuss the release of the report and the implications for U.S. policy, and take questions from the audience.