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Context of 'October 8 and 11, 2002: Iraq, UN Dispute Conditions of Inspectors’ Return'

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The House International Relations Committee drafts House Joint Resolution 75, which states that if Iraq refuses to allow UN inspectors to investigate freely in Iraq, the refusal will constitute an “act of aggression against the United States.” The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Porter Goss (R-FL), and Henry Hyde (R-IL). A different version of this resolution is passed by the House on December 20 (see December 20, 2001). (Dougherty 12/11/2001; Library of Congress 1/15/2006)

House Joint Resolution 75 is passed by the House and sent to the Senate where it is referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. It is not as strongly worded as the initial draft (see December 4, 2001), which included a provision stating that the refusal to admit inspectors would constitute an “act of aggression against the United States.” The final version instead reads: “Iraq’s refusal to allow United Nations weapons inspectors immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to facilities and documents covered by United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions presents a mounting threat to the United States, its friends and allies, and international peace and security.” The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Porter Goss (R-FL) and Henry Hyde (R-IL). (Library of Congress 1/15/2006) This bill will die in the Senate. The congressional bill that conditionally authorizes Bush to take military action against Iraq is not passed until October 11, 2002 (see October 8 and 11, 2002).

After a two-day meeting, UN and Iraqi officials agree to resume weapons inspections according to the terms that have been outlined in previous UN resolutions. “Iraq and the United Nations agreed today that inspectors would be given unfettered access to a range of sites, including sensitive areas like the Defense Ministry and the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard,” reports the New York Times. Iraq agrees to “technical details covering transport, communications, security and accommodation for UN inspectors, except for flights by UN aircraft into the no-fly zones” and agree “to allow UN inspectors to open regional offices in Basra, the southern capital, and Mosul in the north,” reports the London Times. UN Resolution 1154, which requires inspectors to warn Iraq before inspecting presidential sites and to conduct such inspections in the company of Iraqi diplomats, is not revoked as the Bush administration has insisted. The Iraqis also provide the UN with monitoring reports for suspect sites and items, covering the period between June 1998 and July 2002, as has been requested. Amir Al Sadi, the head of the Iraqi negotiation team, tells reporters, “We expect the advance party to arrive in Baghdad in about two weeks.” (Kole 10/1/2002; Landler 10/1/2002; New York Times 10/2/2002; Beeston et al. 10/2/2003)

Chief UN inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, send a letter to the Iraqi government, which lists conclusions they had drawn from the October 1 meeting with Iraqi arms officials (see October 1, 2002). The letter asks that Iraqi officials respond with a letter confirming these conclusions. But the inspectors’ letter actually includes additional conditions not discussed during the October 1 meeting, such as the right of inspectors to conduct interviews and choose “the mode and location” for them as well as the right for UN member states to fly U-2 spy planes over Iraq. (Leopold 10/12/2002)
Iraqi Response 'Another Example of Evasion' - Iraqi officials respond to the request on October 11 with a letter signed by Amir Hammudi al-Saadi, an adviser to Saddam Hussein. The letter agrees only to the conditions that were agreed upon during the October 1 meeting. (Preston 10/12/2002; Leopold 10/12/2002; New York Times 10/12/2002) The Bush administration seizes on the Iraqi response, calling it another example of evasion. “We are not surprised that once again the Iraqis want to delay and deceive.… We’ve had 16 resolutions and 11 years of playing this game, and it’s time the Security Council takes action,” says Richard Grenell, spokesman for US Ambassador John Negroponte. (Preston 10/12/2002)
Threat from White House - When Blix and ElBaradei discuss the issue with Vice President Cheney, he will threaten to ‘discredit’ them if they do not support the US position (see October 11, 2002).

Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, meet with White House officials to discuss the status of the UN inspections of alleged Iraqi WMD stockpiles (see October 8 and 11, 2002). The White House opposes further inspections, while the UN and IAEA feel further inspections could be valuable even in light of Iraqi duplicity. Blix will later recall that he and ElBaradei were surprised that they met first with Vice President Cheney before meeting with President Bush. Blix assumes that the meeting with Cheney is “sort of a courtesy call.” Instead, Cheney lays out the US position in stark terms. As Blix will later recall: “Much of it was a fairly neutral discussion, but at one point [Cheney] suddenly said that you must realize that we will not hesitate to discredit you in favor of disarmament. It was a little cryptic. That was how I remembered it, and I think that’s also how Mohamed [ElBaradei] remembered it. I was a little perplexed, because it was a total threat, after all, to talk about the discrediting of us. Later, when I reflected on it, I think what he wanted to say was that if you guys don’t come to the right conclusion, then we will take care of the disarmament.” (Murphy and Purdum 2/2009)

A team of 26 UN inspectors arrive in Baghdad. On the tarmac of Saddam Hussein International Airport, UNMOVIC Weapons Inspection Chief Hans Blix tells reporters, “We have come here for one single reason and that is because the world wants to have assurances that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The situation is tense at the moment, but there is a new opportunity and we are here to provide inspection which is credible… We hope we can all take that opportunity together…. There is a new opportunity and we hope that opportunity will be well-utilized so that we can get out of sanctions. And in the long term, we will have a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.” Hans Blix and Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei then head to Baghdad where they meet with Iraqi Gen. Amir al-Saadi and Hussam Mohammed Amin, the head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate. (CNN 11/19/2002; Smith and MacAskill 11/29/2002)


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