News Release

Will Inspectors Be Used for Spying on Iraq Again?


As UN weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad, Reuters reported that the head of the inspectors, Hans Blix, said he “could not rule out the possibility that there might be spies on his team. He added that any intelligence agents would be ordered off the group.” The following are portions of the public record and some analysts available for interviews:

“U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has obtained what he regards as convincing evidence that United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime, according to confidants who said he is deeply alarmed by the implications of the relationship for the world body.”
— From “Annan Suspicious Of UNSCOM Role,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 1999

“Have we facilitated spying? Are we spies? Absolutely not.”
— Richard Butler, former head of UNSCOM, quoted in the Boston Globe, Jan. 7, 1999

“United States intelligence services infiltrated agents and espionage equipment for three years into United Nations arms control teams in Iraq to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military without the knowledge of the UN agency that it used to disguise its work, according to U.S. government employees and documents describing the classified operation.”
— From “U.S. Spied on Iraq Via UN,” Washington Post, March 2, 1999

Editor of the newly-released Biological Warfare and Disarmament: New Problems/New Perspectives, Wright authored the article “The Hijacking of UNSCOM” in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. She said today: “One of the major problems that plagued the inspections carried out by the UN Special Commission on Iraq before it left the country in December 1998 was the suspicion on the part of the Iraqis that it was being used for espionage by the United States. This was indeed confirmed by several journalists early in 1999 … A major challenge for Hans Blix, the chairman of UNSCOM’s successor, the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), will be to avoid both the reality and the perception that this new agency is being similarly hijacked by the United States. Blix has said that UNMOVIC has 30 inspectors from the United States, more than any other country. If the Iraqis detect that the UN inspection organization is being used for espionage once again, the inspections place Iraq in a double bind. If Iraq goes along, it would know that its defenses are being scrutinized. If it resists, its resistance may be used as a trigger for war by the United States government. To avoid a crisis of this kind, it’s essential that the organizational lines between the mandate of the UN inspectors and the interests of individual states, especially the United States, be kept pristinely clear.”
More Information
More Information

Naureckas is editor of Extra!, the magazine of FAIR, which recently released a document titled “Spying in Iraq: From Fact to Allegation.”
More Information

Paul is executive director of the Global Policy Forum, which monitors policy-making at the UN.
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167