THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER 2002
Donald Anderson, in the Chair
DR JOHN CHIPMAN, Director, MR STEVEN SIMON, Assistant Director, and DR GARY SAMORE, Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation, International Institute for Strategic Studies, examined.
(Dr Chipman) On my right is Dr Gary Samore, who is Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is an American national and was formerly, for some six years, a senior director for non-proliferation in the US National Security Council, and President Clinton's principal advisor on issues of proliferation. It is worth noting that in addition to his many general responsibilities in that position, he was one of the chief negotiators of the agreed framework between the United States and North Korea. To my left is Mr Steven Simon, Assistant Director at the IISS. He was also in the US National Security Council, as Senior Director for Global Issues, and took charge of much of the inter-agency discussions at that time on counter-terrorism questions.
(Dr Chipman) I will begin answering that question, and then hand over for a little bit more detail to my colleague to the write, who was the editor of the dossier. We certainly relied on every available source to us to relate the story from the early 1970s, through to 1998, but we did not stop at 1998. We took the view that in 1998 the UN inspectors left Iraq and stopped working, but that there was a safe presumption that since Saddam Hussein was staying in Iraq, he himself would continue working. What we therefore did in our piece from 1998 to 2002 was first rely on some of the publicly-available information that did exist for the period after the inspectors left - and there are reports from the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies that do relate to assessments that were current in 1999/2000/2001, and we draw on those open sources. We equally drew on sources available to us from interviews that we conducted with people who had access to current information, but there was inevitably a degree of speculation in some of our assessments, and I would dare say there was a degree of speculation also in the information provided by the governments.
(Dr Chipman) The net assessment of us and the government and the CIA are pretty close, in fact. Where there are differences, I think they are within the normal bounds of areas of judgment. The first difference is that we make a bolder prediction about how soon Iraq might be able to construct a nuclear device if it had access to fissile material: we say within a matter of months; the government says between one and two years, and others say within a year. I think we are pretty much in the same ballpark on chemical and biological weapons. On ballistic missiles, in the body of our report we say the worst case analysis is that the Iraqis might have retained several dozen al-Husseins with a range of 650 km, but our sense is that they probably have a small force of about a dozen. The government report says there may be up to 20 al-Husseins, but perhaps not all are operational. To my mind, that sounds like about a dozen potentially, so I do not think there is a big difference there. However, the government report confirms what we speculated on, that the Iraqis will have extended the range of their al-Samoud missiles beyond 150 km to 200 km. They also talk about more ambitious ballistic missile production facilities that may be being created in order to develop ballistic missiles with a range of up to 900 km. Perhaps Gary might want to add a few words on that.
(Dr Samore) We certainly mention the UAVs as a possible delivery vehicle for chemical and biological weapons, and that is carried forward in both the British Government and the CIA dossier, in terms of mentioning that as a possibility. I do not think anyone knows for sure what the capabilities are and, if so, what the numbers are. The main thing I would point out is that the Institute's dossier speculates that since 1998, since the end of the inspections, Iraq has probably moved to reconstitute its capabilities, and both the British Government dossier and the CIA dossier provide some details to confirm that assessment on our part. Both the British and the CIA dossiers assert that Iraq has begun fresh production of chemical and biological weapons agents, and both provide information, obviously based on classified information, to indicate that Iraq has put in place plans to revive their nuclear weapons programme, to produce fissile material through the gas centrifuge method, and to ultimately try to achieve a longer-range missile delivery capability, with ranges up to 900 km.
(Dr Samore) Yes, I agree with that.
Mr Bill Olner
(Dr Chipman) UNSCOM always benefited partly from information provided to it by intelligence sources and partly, as you say, from defector information. As they always remind people, it was only when they received crucial defector information in 1995 that they were able to discover the extent of the biological weapons programme that up until that date the Iraqis had denied existed. For UNMOVIC, if it were to re-enter Iraq, it would depend essentially on the same two primary potential sources of information. The degree to which the United States and others might be willing to provide information to UNMOVIC to assist it in its work, and the degree to which there might still be available relevant and reliable defector information on which they could act, are two important points that would no doubt guide the inspectors.
(Dr Samore) I think that is exactly right. I think one of the key provisions in the draft resolution that is currently being discussed in New York would allow the inspection organisations the option of giving Iraqi scientists a safe opportunity to talk about information without fear of retaliation by the Iraqi authorities. How that is exercised in practice will require a lot of detailed work that will have to be handled by the inspection agencies, but the concept, the principle of making it possible for the UN inspection agencies to interview Iraqi scientists in a way that will allow them to give free and accurate information is very important if we are going to ensure the best possible chances for the inspection organisations to be successful.
(Dr Samore) It depends fundamentally on how prepared the Iraqis are to co-operate. I am assuming -
(Dr Samore) I am assuming that they will not in fact be prepared to fully co-operate. I think it will be unlikely, or the inspectors will find it very difficult to discover small amounts of chemical and biological weapons, or small numbers of missile and missile components that have been hidden in Iraq. What the inspectors can do within thirty days is begin to establish a strong baseline for known facilities, to make sure that those known facilities are not used for producing weapons of mass destruction. But in terms of getting to the bottom of whatever amounts of chemical or biological weapons or missiles the Iraqi regime is hiding, I think that is very likely to take longer than thirty days.
(Dr Samore) In my judgment, their greatest weakness right now is lack of expertise. That is something that they will have to develop, both in terms of drawing fresh recruits who have that expertise, from member governments that are prepared to make those people available, but also just time on the ground. With any inspection organisation - and this was true with UNSCOM at the beginning - it takes a while to learn the trade-craft necessary to carry out successful inspections against the Iraqi regime, which has a lot of practice fooling inspectors and hiding things. I think that over time they will gain that experience, but in the beginning it is likely to take them some time to learn how to handle it.
(Dr Samore) My understanding is that the way the resolution is structured now is that the Iraqis have to make a declaration within thirty days of passage; then the inspections start within 45 days of passage, and then Hans Blix, Head of UNMOVIC, Mohamed El Baradei, the head of IAEA, will give a status report to the Security Council within 60 days of starting the inspections. It is not my understanding they have to declare that they have been finished in those sixty days; they just have to tell the Security Council what the status is of their efforts.
Sir John Stanley
(Dr Chipman) The mind of Saddam Hussein is a very crowded place, but I will do my best. Saddam Hussein's programme for weapons of mass destruction, like that of other leaders, has been motivated by a desire for prestige that is thought to be conferred on states that hold weapons of mass destruction, and particularly the greatest prize of all, the nuclear weapon. Secondly, I believe that he feels that in holding WMD he would be able more effectively to secure his regional ambitions, and at least to re-vivify some of his intentions with regard to his regional ambitions, behind the cover of a secure WMD capacity that might make it more difficult for friends and allies of those in the region who he might attack to come to their defence, if they could credibly be deterred by weapons of mass destruction and particularly a nuclear weapon. I think those are the two core motivations.
(Dr Chipman) There are two points there. The first is that if there were hostilities in the Gulf and if the United States with some allies were intent on overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime, it would really be imprudent to rule out the possible use of some weapons of mass destruction. Forces operating in theatre would need to operate on the presumption that some biological or chemical weapons might be used. and that, equally, neighbouring states would need to be prepared for the possible launch of a ballistic missile on their territory. I think it would be absolutely necessary to plan for that contingency, and it would be imprudent not to do so. Secondly, while I think one conventional wisdom is that Saddam Hussein would certainly use weapons of mass destruction if the purpose of a military operation was regime overthrow, it is not necessarily the case that an order given by Saddam Hussein to launch chemical or biological weapons would be followed by commanders in the field if those same commanders felt that there would be reprisals personally against them by the inevitably victorious power once the military operation is ended. One can imagine a dialogue whereby Saddam Hussein instructs a field commander to use weapons of mass destruction and the field commander radios back after thirty minutes, saying, "I fear I am having some technical difficulties". I would not be absolutely certain that all commanders would necessarily follow that order, but I would find it strange if all risk of using WMD could be eliminated.
Mr Eric Illsley
(Dr Chipman) That has also been one of the reasons why, in the eyes of the Bush administration there is a need to take a robust approach now to Saddam Hussein's regime. It is not that the Bush administration does not think that deterrence is today a credible policy; it is that they do not want to be deterred by Saddam Hussein. They would worry that a mature WMD capacity might make it more difficult for the United States to defend its friends and allies in the region if they were threatened. Certainly today, in the event of a possible attack against Iraq, there are obviously contingency preparations for a possible use of a ballistic missile conventionally armed, or perhaps tipped with chemical or biological weapons, against the US's major ally in the region, Israel.
(Dr Samore) Saddam's game is clearly to delay, at least past the current fighting season. In order to do that he is going to have to demonstrate sufficient co-operation with the inspectors so that he does not provide a clear case of non-compliance, which would be a clear causus belli for the United States and its allies. So whether or not he is capable of doing that remains to be seen. I think that Blix and El Baradei will be prepared to report to the Security Council that they are not getting co-operation or compliance if in fact they feel that their efforts to gain access to facilities or access to individuals for interviews are not being met. Therefore, they have a very strong bargaining position with the Iraqis in terms of demanding co-operation, or else they will report to the Security Council, which the current resolution allows them to do. It remains to be seen whether or not both Blix and El Baradei are given the kind of information necessary for them to take a very aggressive approach. I would hope that Western governments would provide them with the kind of intelligence information that would allow them to seek access to undeclared facilities, to individuals and to documents, which would put the Iraqis on the spot to either demonstrate co-operation or to fail to co-operate and therefore provide a clear causus belli for military action. For the United States, the Bush administration has put itself in a position where, whatever its preferences are, it is difficult for it not to allow the UN inspection process to be given some decent opportunity to succeed or fail.
Mr David Chidgey
(Dr Samore) North Korea certainly has been willing to sell its missiles; that is one of its main sources of hard currency. It has shown no reservation about selling missiles. As far as I know, there is no indication of the North being willing to sell or export nuclear technology or nuclear materials. At least for the time being I think the nuclear material available to North Korea will be so scarce and valuable that it is unlikely to be willing to share it, for practical reasons alone. I would be concerned over time if the North Koreans can accumulate larger amounts of nuclear material - and we may see that happening if the agreed framework falls apart, which I fear is very likely. At that point, I would become much more worried about North Korea possibly being willing to sell nuclear material to other countries, although the problem may by then be resolved - talking about a couple of years from now.
(Dr Samore) If Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons within six months, I do not think we would be talking about invasion. If Iraq had nuclear weapons, I think it would make the invasion option extremely costly and very difficult to contemplate.
Mr John Maples
(Dr Chipman) First of all, your assertions are correct, but Gary Samore used to work for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, so he is better placed to give a technical answer to some of your questions.
(Dr Samore) I agree with everything you have said. The key choke point for the Iraqi nuclear weapons programme is access to fissile material. We know that they were working on a design in 1991 that would have required about 20 kg or so of highly enriched uranium, which is a fairly small amount, but quite difficult to produce. All of the assessments that have been made assert that it would most likely take them several years to be able to build a facility that could produce that amount of highly enriched uranium; and only if they can get access to foreign equipment and materials. In terms of getting access to foreign supplies of fissile material, all of the dossiers mention this as a wild-card, as a possibility. As far as we know, no group or country has been able to obtain any large amount of weapons-grade material from the black market from foreign sources; but it is important to mention it as a possibility, and in particular people have been concerned about the security of stockpiles in Russia and some of the former states of the Soviet Union, where it is known that there are fairly large amounts of weapons-grade material, and where the accounting and security of that material is in some cases lower than Western standards.
(Dr Samore) That is correct.
(Dr Samore) I think it is very unlikely we would know.
(Dr Samore) Yes. I assume that if Iraq did have a nuclear weapon, it would make that known in a way to try and deter an attack when the time came.
(Dr Samore) Presumably.
(Dr Samore) Yes. In 1991 they were very close to being able to design a device. It would have been far too large and heavy to deliver on the missiles that were available to them, but they were close enough to having something that would produce a nuclear yield, so we assume that if they continued to do that kind of work over the last decade, which they could probably do without high risk of discovery - by now, ten years later, we assume they have been able to finish the last bits and pieces, and they would be able to construct something that would be deliverable at least by an aeroplane.
(Dr Samore) This is very speculative, but I would say with the basic kind of design that they were working on, it is unlikely that they could make it small enough and light enough to be deliverable by the existing missile we know they have, which is the al-Hussein missile, a modified scud, 650 km. That requires quite a small size, which would be difficult for them to achieve with the basic design they are working on.
(Dr Samore) It depends on how big the bomb is. Making a bomb deliverable by aircraft is much easier than a bomb deliverable by a missile of the type they have, because it has a rather small diameter and it would be difficult for them to squeeze the design into that.
(Dr Samore) Sure, it is conceivable. Presumably, Iraq would want to demonstrate its capabilities through some kind of test, and that would be the most convincing way of demonstrating to the world that they have nuclear weapons.
(Dr Samore) The dirty bomb is a very different sort of proposition because there is a much wider range of materials that can be used, with varying degrees of radioactivity, and Iraq has some radiological materials in-country that are used for civilian purposes - for medical purposes or food irradiation and so forth. In principle, I do not think you can stop Iraq from having a crude radiological weapon, but I also think that the kind of damage such a weapon can do is very, very limited. It depends a great deal on the type of material, how much there is of it and how effective the dispersal is, but in general it is many magnitudes of order less than a nuclear explosive.
(Dr Chipman) I agree that this falls into the "how long is a piece of string?" category. As all of our dossiers state, Iraq has now mobile biological weapons production facilities that move around the country, which are very difficult to detect. Any one of dozens of civilian industrial bases could be used for the production of biological agents, and accounting down to the last litre of biological agent would be extremely difficult.
(Dr Samore) I agree with that. It is extremely unlikely that any inspection system, no matter how rigorous, can give you high confidence of accounting for small quantities of biological weapons.
(Dr Samore) As I say, I think you have to understand what inspections can do for you and what inspections cannot do for you. Inspections can give you a high confidence in some areas, but if you expect them to account for every drop of biological and chemical weapons in Iraq, I do not think they can succeed.
(Dr Samore) The problem in the biological area is that a substantial amount could be a thousand litres of anthrax, and I do not think inspections can reliably detect production of a thousand litres of anthrax.
(Mr Simon) Not that I know of.
Sir John Stanley
(Dr Chipman) It is worthwhile going back to what the premise of inspections was in April 1991 and what the premise of inspections should again be. The inspections were never originally conceived as a detective operation; the inspectors were forced to become detectives because of the denial and concealment strategy used by the Iraqis. Indeed, on April 3, 1991, the Security Council called on the Iraqis to give within 15 days a full account of their WMD, and presumed that within 120 days after that UNSCOM would have verified simply those declarations and then moved the Security Council towards a lifting of sanctions and the bringing of Iraq back into the international community. This time around, the United States will be ever more vigilant to any sign of non-compliance. Indeed, there is talk now about their potential declaration being used as a kind of perjury clause, whereby if they declare an amount that is clearly not true, that that already would be an act of non-compliance with the new Security Council resolution. The issue is, who judges that act of non-compliance. I know that that is a question this Committee has often asked, amongst others to the Foreign Secretary. The debate now is whether the United States alone, on the basis of its own national technical means, could assert that this declaration is not true, then find Iraq in non-compliance and pursue the serious consequences that the current resolution contemplates.
Mr Bill Olner
(Mr Simon) I think that an American attack against Iraq would confirm the belief of many in al-Qaeda, and many potential recruits, that the US and its friends were engaged in a systematic war against Islam, with the aim of conquering the Muslim world. To the extent that that is true, recruitment will probably see an upsurge. The answer is that the war against terrorism will be complicated to some degree by military operations against Iraq.
(Mr Simon) The texts that are very influential among al-Qaeda types and recruits to the organisation, texts that can be found on the Internet or in broadsheets or in bookstores in the Middle East, already postulate a world-wide infidel conspiracy against Islam. The United States may bear the brunt of responsibility, but it is seen as part of a larger challenge, consisting of, depending on what you read, the UN, the EU, NATO and the Freemasons for that matter. As odd as that sounds, they have a prominent role in much of this conspiracy thinking. I do not think that the United States would be the sole target of the additional resentment that might be felt in the Muslim world.
(Dr Chipman) While there is no question that likely al-Qaeda recruits are not interested in the niceties of multilateral diplomacy, the moderate Muslim community in some important countries would feel more capable of explaining the reason why the United States might be engaged in this and gain more credibility within their own societies if any action against Iraq was seen to have a multilateral colouration to it.
(Mr Simon) It must be said, though, that these very governments have no credibility with the people we are worried about.
(Mr Simon) They do believe that.
Mr David Chidgey
(Mr Simon) Let me weasel out of this one, if I may, by saying that the underlying concerns are indeed socio-economic in nature. They are also political, in the sense that the socio-economic complaints are aggravated by what we might call a very low grade of popular political participation in the systems that might be in a position to do something about these socio-economic conditions. The problem is that these concerns, for reasons having to do with the political systems in these countries, find expression in religious terms. Once that happens, the issues become transformed into religious issues and are therefore not subject to negotiation or bargaining. Once this process takes place, the result biases outcomes in the direction of violence.
(Mr Simon) It is a very bleak prospect actually.
Sir John Stanley
(Mr Simon) There is no question that there are many al-Qaeda personnel in Iraq. Many Iraqis went to Afghanistan and many Iraqis returned. These have mostly settled in the north, in the areas under Kurdish control. They have established or strengthened links with the regime in Baghdad that seeks to use them to destabilise anti-regime Kurdish parties in Kurdistan; so there is a bit of a marriage of convenience. I have no doubt that al-Qaeda representatives have tried to get chemical and biological weapons out of the Iraqis. This group, al-Qaeda, has been all over the world trying to find material like this. They have not been very successful over the past decade, but they have been very assiduous in their efforts. I also do not have a hard time believing that there have been various - as the DCI was saying - senior al-Qaeda people circulating through Baghdad over the years. Baghdad is an entrepot of many nasty characters of many different stripes. I will stop there.
(Dr Chipman) Certainly, IISS publications have analysed the presence of people with known connections to al-Qaeda in northern Iraq in the Kurdish areas,to which Steve Simon referred. This is pure speculation, but I expect the reticence of the British Government on this point derives from questions they have about the degree of collaboration that might sometimes be asserted between al-Qaeda and Iraq, as opposed to the intensity or otherwise of occasional contact between al-Qaeda individuals and the government of Iraq.
(Dr Samore) I agree with my colleagues; the more conservative view makes sense to me. I would also add that it seems to me that if Saddam wanted to deliver chemical or biological weapons through unconventional means, he might very well choose his own intelligence apparatus, rather than run the risk of giving it to some group that he does not have complete control over.
Chairman: Time is up, alas, but if there are matters that you would like to comment on further, it would be of great assistance to the Committee if you were to write. Thank you very much indeed.
PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER GREENWOOD, Professor of International Law, LSE, and PROFESSOR IAN BROWNLIE, Chichele Professor Emeritus of Public International Law, University of Oxford, examined.
Chairman: We welcome you both to the Committee and look forward to hearing your weighty opinions in respect of the international law aspects of the war against terrorism.
Mr John Maples
(Professor Brownlie) It is a great honour to be asked to give evidence to this Committee. I am now Chichele Professor Emeritus and my main public role in international law is as a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations. There are at least two cases of some relevance, which have been heard in fairly recent times in the International Courts. The famous one is the Nicaragua v. United States case. That, I do not think is of enormous assistance. The complaints by Nicaragua concerned the mining of Nicaraguan harbours at a time when there was no state of war between the two states, and also the question of United States covert assistance to Nicaraguan rebels, some of them working from outside Nicaragua, from Honduras, and others within Nicaragua. I have to say that I was counsel for Nicaragua, and Nicaragua did obtain quite a strong judgment in its favour. I do not feel the need to pursue that case because I do not think it provides material assistance on issues of self-defence. There is another case currently before the court, brought by the Congo against Uganda, in which the pleadings are quite well advanced. I have to confess that again I am counsel for Uganda - this is the sort of world I work in. Uganda has advanced some quite developed legal justifications precisely on the basis that over a period of many years, but particularly in the recent past, the Congo harboured armed bands which raided regularly into Uganda. Again, there will not be a judgment for some time - the pleadings are not yet closed. For that reason, and because of my involvement, I do not think I need pursue that either. I leave it to Chris to add anything on relevant cases.
(Professor Greenwood) I am also honoured to be asked to give evidence before you again. The short answer to Mr Maples's question is that there are no cases in recent times that have considered this. The Nicaragua case has a lot to say about self-defence, but the court expressly stated that it was leaving open the question of anticipatory self-defence because it simply did not arise on the facts of that case. As far as the underlying issues are concerned, I entirely agree with the suggestion that was put to us that there must be a right of anticipatory self-defence and that in assessing its limits one has to take account of military developments since Carolyn. That involved the risk of a group of men with rifles crossing the great lakes and shooting people in parts of British Canada. What we are looking at at the moment is the prospect of a nuclear weapon being dropped on somewhere, or a chemical or biological weapon being detonated perhaps by terrorist means. It is much more difficult to detect and much more difficult to determine the timescale, and much more damaging if the threat is allowed to materialise.
(Professor Greenwood) I do not think it would on these facts because what is at issue here is not the conventional cross-border invasion that you saw in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, but more the possibility of a missile attack and more states than just Kuwait are within range of missiles that Iraq has retained; or there is the possibility of an attack using terrorist means, which would be just as likely to materialise in New York as it would in Kuwait city.
(Professor Greenwood) That was condemned unanimously by the Security Council as unlawful, not on the ground that there was no right of anticipatory self-defence but rather on the ground that the risk was too distant, too far in the future. Of course, that was an attack on a reactor which might have been used to produce a nuclear weapon at some stage in the future, which weapon might at some stage beyond that have been used against Israel. It is a lot further down the road than the sort of risks we are talking about at the moment.
Mr John Maples
(Professor Brownlie) I will answer that question, but can I revert to the anticipatory self-defence question? As Christopher will expect, I do not agree with him on that. The governing rules are in the UN Charter, and the UN Charter, I regret to say, is not often quoted verabatim in public documents these days. Article 51 reserves the right of individual and collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs. There is a margin of situations in which an armed attack has almost certainly occurred without the border of the target state having been crossed, where the aggressor state has made her intentions unequivocally clear, and its naval vessels or its missiles are on the way. There has always been, even under the concept of armed attack, a margin of situations which would allow for sensible reaction. However - and this would be my main point, but I fear I may not be asked this question - the question is, how do you classify the problem? It is probably the first lesson you try to give any student. First of all, you classify the problem. You have to ask the right question. It is my view that the public papers available in the form of speeches by President Bush and by other relevant statesmen, simply do not refer to any form of pre-emptive action in the way in which those words are normally used, either by lawyers or by politicians. What is envisaged is compulsory disarmament of Iraq, with a future reach of course, enforced by one or more member states of the United Nations, perhaps with or perhaps without the benefit of a Security Council resolution. I do not see what is proposed as any form of pre-emptive attack; it is simply the imposition of a compulsory regime of disarmament. It is not only related to weapons which Iraq may now possess; it is directed to preventing Iraq producing weapons in the future. It is a long-term regime. I am not suggesting on that basis it would be illegal. I am simply saying that if you are going to consider the legality, or otherwise, of what is proposed you have to classify the situation accurately in the first place. I really do not see how the law relating to self-defence or anticipatory self-defence can be helpfully applied. What that means, if I am right, is that only a Security Council resolution could justify, could provide a proper legal basis for the type of action proposed. Thank you.
(Professor Brownlie) With respect the difficulty is I do not believe that the drafters of the Charter had such a loose regime in view. The phrase, "if an armed attack occurs" was really carefully chosen by the draftsman. Could I point out that in the heady days of the Cold War in 1962, when the US had intermediate range ballistic missiles in Turkey, and possibly Italy, and the Soviet Union was in the business of placing them in Cuba, if the presence of ballistic missiles, no doubt already targeted at one of the parties, on any view any attack could be launched on any day on the basis that anticipatory self-defence was necessary. This is the problem. President Bush himself in I think the speech he made on 1 June did say that the right of what he called pre-emptive action should not be abused.
(Professor Greenwood) Might I pick that up briefly before turning to the questions about the Security Council resolution. It may surprise Professor Brownlie if I say that I agree with much, although not all, of what he said. I agree that one has to start with Article 51, and you will find the text of it in paragraph 21 of my memo. That is a provision that has to be interpreted in the light not only of what went before and the intentions of the draftsman but also in the way it has been interpreted by states since 1945 and in the light of common sense. As Judge Roslyn Higgins said in her book on Problems and the Process of International Law, "Common sense cannot require one to infer for it is an ambiguous provision in a way that requires a state passively to accept its fate before it can defend itself". Where I agree with Professor Brownlie is that the right of anticipatory self-defence only applies where there is an imminent threat of an armed attack it could not be used as the basis for some kind of longer term programme of disarmament. That is why I responded to the question about the Iraqi reactor. I think there is a danger here of confusing two different elements in what is being said in public. The disarmament aspect relates to Iraq's obligations under Security Council Resolution 687, where the Council has prohibited Iraq from possessing weapons it would otherwise be entitled to possess, as well as repeating the prohibition on weapons that it is not allowed to have. That can only be enforced through the medium of the Security Council or the under the authority of the existing Security Council resolutions, it is an entirely separate matter from self-defence. At the same time if there is evidence of an imminent armed attack emanating from Iraq against Britain or one of its allies then I think the right of anticipatory self-defence does come out into play. One needs to separate out those two strands in what we are discussing.
(Professor Greenwood) The position is that the existing Security Council resolutions 678 and 687 remain in force. They require Iraq to take certain disarmament steps as a necessary means of restoring international peace and security in the area and Iraq has plainly not taken those steps. If the Security Council determines maybe in another resolution or maybe by way of presidential statement or in some other form that there is an on-going violation by Iraq, that that violation threatens international peace and that peaceful means have failed to resolve the situation then I do not think the Security Council needs to go further than that and actually adopt a new authorisation of military action. I think if those conditions are met it would be legitimate to rely on the existing authority in Resolution 678.
(Professor Brownlie) Very briefly, I really do find, and I know a lot of people who find, that interpretation of those two resolutions to be very problematical. The situation we are dealing with now is very difficult to tuck under the umbrella of the former conflict between Iraq and Kuwait. If I were writing an opinion for a third state not involved in the situation directly I would say that the evidence of the meaning and application of those resolutions would include the views of Member States generally and in particular the views of Member States who are neighbours of Iraq. As reported in the Times in the recent curious conference involving the Security Council and the non-aligned movements. Kuwait itself opposed any idea of a pre-emptive strike outside the terms of a resolution.
(Professor Brownlie) With respect, I think the difficulty is the connection between finding a trigger or an excuse, if you like, a reason, to launch military action against Iraq with the apparent objective of occupying Iraq and installing an occupation regime and the actual objective. The actual objective, as I understand it, and I personally have no great objections to the concept, is compulsory disarmament with some kind of forward reach. If that type of regime is applied symmetrically to other countries presenting similar threats it seems to me perfectly sound in terms of public order. There has to be some visible link even at the level of public relations between the triggering reason for taking armed action on a massive scale and the legitimate public order objective, which is imposing a disarmament regime of an effective kind on a country.
(Professor Brownlie) With respect I think the short answer is that, if there is not a clear link between the public relations element and the ultimate objective then the public relations element is weakly presented. There is a connection between the ultimate, legitimate, public order objective and the reason given for launching military action in the first place.
(Professor Greenwood) I must say I read Resolution 687 rather differently from the way my colleague does. I do not think it is for either of us to tell this Committee what is presentationally attractive or not. Resolution 678 was not just about Kuwait, it was Kuwait that triggered the whole thing but by 29 November 1990 there were real concerns about Iraq's threat to peace and security going far beyond Kuwait, there were threats to its other neighbours, the threat it had already made explicit of military action against Israel, its record of the attacks on Iran during the war with Iran during the 1980s. It seems to me quite clear that the terms laid down in that resolution for an authority to use force to liberate Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the area. Resolution 687, the armistice, the cease-fire resolution, the Security Council said, this is what is necessary to restore peace and security in the area and because you are going to do this the fighting will stop. They have not done it. It is not simply a case of a breach today. Iraq have never at any time since 1991 been in compliance with Resolution 687. Although I would not put it in quite the terms of the analogy with the armistice of 1919, because the law has changed since then as a result of the Charter, the underlying point is the same, the Security Council laid down these terms, Iraq has not complied with them. Its non-compliance is a threat to international peace. It does not comply with other requirements as well, for example the return of Kuwaiti property or repatriation reaction or cooperation about missing persons, which is a vital issue but not one that goes to peace and security in the area. So long as the Security Council find that it is in breach of international peace and security in this way then I think Resolution 678, the authority to use force, remains in being. I do think it needs to be triggered by a determination on the part of the Security Council, that is the case.
(Professor Brownlie) These are binding resolutions under Chapter 7. There is still a difficulty because if action is taken on the basis of 687 and the reimposition, if you like, of an effective cease-fire that, presumably, is limited by the needs of the case. It is not clear that what is envisaged for Iraq - like a semi-permanent occupation with a supreme commander acting like the supreme commander in occupied Japan - it is not clear what the link would be between reimposing, as it were, demands of 687 and the long-term objectives of governing Iraq from the outside.
(Professor Brownlie) I think if there were a resolution which was more tailor-made and which had adequate contemporary support from the international community, both the law and the public relations would be better served.
(Professor Greenwood) Can I answer that, Chairman, because I had a part in something similar when I acted for the Government of Spain in the Pinochet proceedings in another place. It is immensely desirable that it should happen, in my opinion, but the difficulty with it is two-fold. There is no international court which would have jurisdiction. Milosovic is standing trial before a tribunal that is specifically designed for a jurisdiction over crimes committed in Yugoslavia. It has no jurisdiction over what has happened in Iraq. The International Criminal Court will not have a retrospective jurisdiction so its jurisdiction will not cover the events that we have been talking about. The only tribunals that exist at the moment that have jurisdiction would be domestic courts and so long as Saddam Hussein remains the head of state, under a recent decision of the International Court of Justice, there will be real problems about whether he would be entitled to sovereign immunity. General Pinochet, of course, was a former head of state and that is what made his immunity more restricted.
Sir John Stanley
(Professor Brownlie) I have a rather more conservative view than my friend and colleague Professor Greenwood, but even on his view there was always a concern that it should not become a purely subjective matter. The Caroline incident, which was mentioned by Christopher, is very important but it is still question-begging. It simply says there has to be absolute necessity which you cannot ignore, but it is still rather circular and begs the question as to what the level of necessity should actually be. This is the difficulty because the fact is, of course, that only relatively strong states within a given region will have this privilege of using such a loose doctrine and, as I have said before, even President Bush is careful to say that a broad doctrine of pre-emptive action would be open to abuse and should not be abused. The fact is that in the Cuban missile crisis I think I can say the states concerned did show considerable care in handling the situation. My feeling is that it would be much better not to invent some new umbrella of subjective action which would have a pseudo-legality which could be used on almost any occasion providing the acting state was powerful enough. It would be much better to be honest and say what we need to do and what we intend to do, and if that is enforcing the compulsory disarmament of a state, which has happened before - it happened after the Second World War, in some form at least - it is much better from the public order point of view to be clear about the objectives and not to disguise those objectives under some form of expanded self-defence.
(Professor Greenwood) I do not take as pessimistic a view about the ability of the existing law to respond to the situations that Sir John has just outlined. First of all, the Security Council has the power to take or to authorise action whenever it determines there is a threat to international peace. You do not have to look here at imminent threats of armed attack. The Security Council's responsibilities and its powers go far broader than that. So within the framework of the Security Council it is certainly possible to impose a regime of disarmament upon a state which has violated international order in the past. It is certainly possible to organise a pre-emptive military action. The imminent armed attack rule is one which applies only where a state acts on its own under the rubric of self-defence. There I take the point entirely that we have to steer a course between, on the one hand, the rock of too loose a definition, which means that every state can use this as a charter for action and, on the other hand, the whirlpool of a definition which is so restrictive it does not fit the conditions of today. That is why I suggested that when you come to assess what is a threat of an imminent armed attack, what you have to look at includes the nature of the threat, the method of delivery, and the gravity of that. Obviously a mere possession of a weapons capability is not sufficient; one has to have some indication of an intention to use that. Of course that indication can come in part from a state's past record and the fact that a state has itself been involved in activity of this kind. If you look at chemical weapons for example, Iraq has made very free use of chemical weapons during the 1980s. That gives you some indication of what its intentions might be at the moment.
(Professor Brownlie) The International Court was asked to give an advisory opinion on the legality of the threat of use and even the possession of nuclear weapons. It did not speak clearly on all aspects of those matters but in 1996 it did not regard the mere possession of nuclear weapons as unlawful. That, as far as I know, is quite a general view. Chemical weapons have been prohibited per se, bacteriological weapons way back in 1972 were prohibited per se, but nuclear weapons have not been prohibited per se.
(Professor Brownlie) I think, though, there is a special element here which is not really appreciated sufficiently, if I may say so, which is that here non-regional powers are purporting to act, so to speak, on behalf of Kuwait. Kuwait and other neighbours of Iraq have not accused Iraq of an imminent attack and that is a central reason we have to stay close to commonsense. I accept that all the circumstances must count, but those circumstances must surely include the attitude of Iraq's neighbours, not least that of the original victim of Iraqi aggression - Kuwait.
(Professor Brownlie) I accept that there are breaches of 687, that is self-evident. What I find difficult is the link between the trigger, the arguments about a breach of the cease-fire where it might be there is a need for anticipatory self-defence, and the nature of the permanent disarmament regime which emerges from at least some official statements from various governments. The problem I have is the link between the trigger, the reason for the armed action that might be taken, and the long-term objectives which, are not linked clearly, for my money, to a simple restoration of the cease-fire regime.
(Professor Brownlie) Yes I am.
(Professor Greenwood) I think there is a danger of over-complicating the issues if we are not careful. The Security Council authorised action to remove Iraq's threat to peace and security in 1990. In 1991 it said, "Alright, the fighting will cease on the condition that you remove all ballistic missiles with a capacity of more than 150 km; you remove all chemical and biological weapons and all the means of manufacturing them; and you remove any nuclear capability; and that you submit yourself to independent verification that you have done all these things." We know that Iraq has not complied with that so the question becomes if disarmament of this character - and it is only a partial disarmament, it still leaves Iraq with vast armed forces - is what the international community has decided is necessary for international peace and security, how are we going to achieve it? I do not think it can reasonably be said that the international community has not been patient with Iraq over this. This dispute has now been going on for eleven and a half years.
(Professor Greenwood) As a general proposition I think no. In this case provided the Security Council on behalf of the international community determines that there is a continuing threat to international peace posed by Iraq's violations then those states that were given the authorisation in 1990 still have that authorisation. It would require some kind of Security Council determination on that.
(Professor Greenwood) I take that point entirely. It would be fair to say we would disagree for a lot longer than the time allotted if we get on to the subject of humanitarian intervention. Professor Brownlie and I have been on opposite sides of that debate for some time. The point about humanitarian intervention as it was espoused in the Kosovo case and indeed in earlier cases, including two interventions in Iraq, was that it was to be used only in the most extreme case where there was an immediate pressing humanitarian emergency. Of course self-defence already gives you on the analysis I suggested the right to use force where there is an immediate, pressing threat to your own people. I do not see the dichotomy between the view of humanitarian intervention that the government took in 1999 over Kosovo and the view of self-defence which the government has always taken but it includes the right of anticipatory self-defence but limited.
(Professor Brownlie) I had to be somewhere in Africa at the time but I did burden the Committee with a very extensive opinion on the question at the time. Occasionally lawyers should be dogmatic. I think it was clearly illegal.
(Professor Brownlie) The action in Kosovo. I think the ultimate Foreign Office position was a very straight forward work one, they said they would work in the future to establish the legality of humanitarian intervention, which seemed to me to be some kind of an admission that perhaps it had been questionable at the time.
Sir John Stanley
(Professor Brownlie) There is a small paper from myself.
(Professor Brownlie) The first point I would make is that international law is often, as it were, treated as though it is going to be a source of solutions, it is not always a source of solutions, no more than national law. After September 11 disaster Michael Howard wrote in the Times - he is a man of great common sense as well as being a leading historian. Michael Howard said the main answer to the problem of terrorism was better criminal investigation. That is a matter both for national law and international law. I do not think international law has any easy answers in this area areas as it does not on other matters, like drug enforcement, and so forth. I would point out that international law is now in two gears, there is the geo-political catastrophe gear but there is also the gear I spend much of my time, and so does Christopher, settling disputes peacefully. There is another gear and because that is boring and involves lawyers and diplomats, people who wear ties, the press are not really interested in that side of things. Thank you.
(Professor Greenwood) I could never concede what lawyers do is boring. I agree there are no easy answers. I do think, however, in respect of International terrorism the existing framework of international law and the use of force and international humanitarian law is capable of adapting the change in circumstances. I do not think it is necessary that we throw up our hands in horror and say after 11 September we need a wholly new legal system. We cannot have a wholly new legal system therefore we have to work within the realms of what we have. That is perfectly capable of delivering an effective solution.
Chairman: I reach two key conclusions, one the Committee, as before, is extremely grateful to you both. Secondly, when we come to an International crisis we must choose our professor carefully. Thank you very much indeed.
LORD WRIGHT OF RICHMOND and SIR HAROLD WALKER, examined.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) Chairman, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me to appear. It is 11 years since I last appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee and it is very nice to be here again. If I can take your second point first. I do not actually yet believe that the case has been made for a military invasion of Iraq. Mr Mackinlay said in the previous session that we were no longer talking about regime change but, with respect, a lot of people are still talking about regime change. The first point I would like to make is that, to me at least, the objectives of the United States administration are still very unclear. I hope it is right to say that their first objective is disarming Iraq of dangerous weapons. I personally believe that that should be the absolute priority. There are still a lot of noises coming out of Washington, not necessarily from the President himself, but suggesting that there are people still in the administration who think that the aim should be to remove Saddam Hussein. I think a very clear case has to be made if the Americans and their allies, including the British government, are going down that route and I do not actually believe that case has yet been made.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I would regard any evidence of an attack, imminent or otherwise, against Britain or the United States or our allies, our western allies, as a good case for it. The dossier produced by the British Government gave me no evidence whatsoever that there was such likelihood of an attack. I think I am right in saying the dossier showed no evidence at all of links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. I know there has been talk, and this was mentioned in the IISS interview, there has been talk from the United States of various activities by Al-Qaeda in Iraq; interestingly in the north of Iraq, an area over which Saddam Hussein has no control and contacts with people from whom Saddam Hussein has very little sympathy. I think it is unlikely, it is possible but I think it is unlikely, that Saddam Hussein would want to enter into a collaboration with Islamic extremists over whom he has no control. Perhaps the greatest internal threat to Saddam Hussein is precisely from that sort of Islamic extremist. I think it is very unlikely - Sir Harold Walker is a former Ambassador to Baghdad and I would defer to his views - that Saddam Hussein is willing to enter into collaboration with Al-Qaeda. I also think that the dossier did not produce any evidence that Saddam Hussein has collaborated with or supported, let alone armed, extremist Palestinian groups. I notice that the Foreign Secretary made a slightly different point in his last evidence to you; but the dossier itself, I think, produces no evidence that Saddam Hussein has supported "terrorists" in Palestine.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I do not think it is. Of course it is offensive that he should behave like that. But there is a very widely felt feeling in the Arab world that the Palestinians are being severely discriminated against and ill-treated. Perhaps you may not approve of it, but it is an entirely understandable public relations exercise on Saddam Hussein's part.
(Sir Harold Walker) I agree with all of that. I think it is worth stressing that it seemed to me at the time extremely unlikely that the Iraqi regime would be behind 9/11 because at the time the Iraqis were doing rather well by their lights in seeing sanctions crumble, in getting on better terms with regional people, including the Syrians, so why on earth should Saddam risk everything by being caught out in an operation like that. As Lord Wright said, Saddam is seen by Al-Qaeda and the Muslim world as a totally bogus Muslim, if I may say so. He has led a secular regime in a secular way and he raises the Islamic flag purely for PR reasons. (Continued) I do not like to say things that could be interpreted as in favour of this regime, which is a really wicked regime, but I do think the claim that there are significant contacts between Al-Qaeda and the regime in Iraq is a very murky area. The Ansar Islam, or whoever they are, as I think Lord Wright said, are in northen Iraq, they are not under Baghdad's control, and senior Iraqi spokesmen have twice claimed - and I do not know whether anybody has disputed it - that the Iraqi regime have actually helped the Kurds defeat the incursions of Ansar Islam. Despite what Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has said, one needs to be a bit careful about associating Saddam's regime with this particular bunch of terrorists, although there is plenty of historical evidence of links with terrorists.
(Sir Harold Walker) My position is really rather a simple one, that the record of the Iraqi regime in actually developing weapons of mass destruction, in actually using them and actually going on developing them (using incredible devices to deceive the inspectors and so on) demonstrates that in the long term, as the IISS witnesses indicated, Saddam regards developing weapons of mass destruction as an integral part of his regime, for prestige and for imposing his will on the area as he would like. President Bush has said that we are "faced with a grave and growing danger" - I think those were the words. I entirely agree it is growing but I do not agree it is grave at this moment. I think it is a medium-term problem, not an immediate problem, but one can readily see why the world, the American world in particular, faced with 9/11, should suddenly realise that there are new threats out there, and one of the good things, surely, that the American response has done is to force the Security Council to face up to responsibilities it ought to have addressed five or more years ago.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) Can I answer a slightly different question first because, going back to the Security Council resolutions, I also heard that very interesting exchange with the lawyers? But leaving aside the legal arguments, perhaps I do not need to remind the Committee that today is United Nations Day. I do think it is very important, whatever the legal arguments and justifications, that there is a Security Council resolution which explicitly authorises military action against Iraq, if that is what the United States and her allies decide to do ultimately. Although there clearly are some lawyers who argue that the existing Security Council resolutions are enough, I do not believe that politically or in terms of public credibility that is adequate.
(Sir Harold Walker) I might add to that - it is no doubt something that you will come on to, Chairman - that a firm Security Council backing for any action could have a significant effect on the reactions in the region, amongst governments perhaps, not amongst people. I think that is another important realpolitik reason why we should have another Security Council resolution, regardless of the law.
Sir John Stanley
(Lord Wright of Richmond) The first point I would like to make is that this very much depends on the public perception, and the perception in the Middle East and in the Islamic world, of what the objective of military action is. With great respect to Mr Mackinlay, I do not believe that is yet clear. It is certainly not clear to me what the Americans expect to follow military action. There has been rather wild talk about General Tommy Franks becoming Governor of Iraq. One can dismiss that perhaps, but it is very unclear to me how the Americans expect to settle Iraq, as they say, as a democratic country as a result of a military operation. I think the perception in the Middle East of what the Americans, and with Security Council authority what the Americans and the rest of us are going to do, depends very much on what the objective is and how clearly that objective is set out.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I think it is very different. There was widespread opposition to the Taliban, it was authorised by a Security Council resolution, and it had wide international support. Whatever other Arab states may feel privately about Saddam Hussein, they have all expressed openly opposition to military action. If I could go to Sir John's second point on what are the implications of this. I think that if military action takes place (and I should have said in parenthesis that I believe that the immediate objective and the sole objective at this moment is to get the weapons inspectors back into Iraq and I think that should be the overriding aim of any Security Council resolution, as indeed we have seen in the press today in the text of the resolution tabled yesterday) the response in the region will depend very much on the "success" of any operation to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq or to neutralise them and it will depend most particularly on the speed, because I think that if it is a quick, clean action - and I have no idea how that can be achieved - then I believe that the regional response can probably be held under control; but I think there is a serious danger of real problems on the streets of the Middle East and perhaps more widely. You may have seen Mahathir Mohammed of Malaysia quoted as saying that war against Iraq would lengthen the anti-terrorist campaign and that it would cause anger in the Muslim world where there would be more willing recruits to the terrorist ranks. I think that is a danger and I think it is a danger that the United States need to take very carefully into account before any launch of military action. Can I just make a few points about this? We need to remind ourselves that there is a widespread view in the Arab world that the first priority should be to tackle the Arab/Israel problem. When I say the Arab/Israel problem, I am not just talking about the Palestinian problem, I am talking about the occupied Golan and Syria and Southern Lebanon. There is an almost universal feeling in the Arab world, both on the streets and among Arab governments, that the priority is wrong. They are really asking the question you asked Mr Olner, "Why are the Americans focusing on Iraq when in the view of the Arab world, and I am bound to say the view of the British Government, much more priority ought to be put on trying to solve the Arab-Israel problem?" I must say I very much welcomed the passage in the Prime Minister's speech in the House of Commons on the day of the emergency debate and what he said about Arab/Israel; compared with that, I am afraid I found the few lines in President Bush's speech in the General Assembly rather inadequate. I would like to see the United States putting much more effort at a high level into the Arab/Israel problem. Secondly, I think there are fears in the Arab world and among Arab governments about this talk of "democratising" the region. It may be an admirable aim; but I am blowed if I know how the United States is going to achieve that by occupying Iraq. I am sorry, Mr Mackinlay, I am probably going into fantasies which I believe you think do not exist, but I actually believe that in the Arab world they are paying attention to these various speculations in Washington about what the purpose of military action would be.
Sir John Stanley
(Sir Harold Walker) Of course, you are not going to find a cigarette paper between us, Chairman!
(Sir Harold Walker) It seemed to me that Sir John put his finger on a most significant point, which is that he said he could not expect us to tell you what is going to happen because there are multiple uncertainties in the contemplation of military action against Iraq - the level of resistance in Iraq, the level of casualties we will have to take, the form of a new regime, how do you introduce a new regime, what will be the effect on oil, what will be the economic cost, what will be the effect on the world economy, on which we all have views - but I think we should be honest and say that we do not know and anything we say should be regarded with an equal degree of scepticism according to our experience. It is important because you are contemplating sending young men and young women to die and it is not right that they should go if the situation is very uncertain. I noted down what Donald Rumsfeld said in an article in the Daily Telegraph on 25 February: "If ... you are going to put people's lives at risk, you had better have a darned good reason." All these uncertainties are not an ultimate reason for putting war out of the window, but they are a reason for saying it should be a last resort and not a first resort. In amplification of what Lord Wright said about reaction in the Arab world, I think that there are a great many variables and if action were taken with a Security Council resolution the chances are that the Arab world, the governments, would actually breath a huge sigh of relief (they would not say so but they would breath a huge sigh of relief). I do not think that the people of the Arab world will like ti whether it is with a Security Council resolution or not. They will see it, wrongly, as one of a series of American assaults on Muslim people, forgetting that the Americans have helped Muslim people in, for example, Kosovo. However, that is the way see it. The big unknown there is: so what will the famous Arab in the street do? Will he rise up and overthrow his government? He has not done anything about Afghanistan, he has not done anything about the current oppression of the Palestinians, so why should he rise up about this further assault on an Arab country, or would it be the straw that broke the camel's back? We do not know but we have to note that Arab leaders have used pretty powerful language in forecasting disaster. I noted that President Mubarak of Egypt on 27 August said: "If you strike Iraq ... while Palestinians are being killed by Israel ... not one Arab leader will be able to control the angry outburst of the masses." The Omani foreign minister talked of plunging the world into chaos. In public at least some responsible Arab leaders see a very bad situation. Many commentators think, and I think I am one of them, that the Arab man in the street in this context is a busted flush - that is not the right expression - and will not do anything significant. We can go into great detail about why. The only place I would really worry about would be Jordan, depending on what the King was perceived to have done in helping an American assault. If he just said search and rescue, fine, but if he was caught out, as it were, allowing his territory to be used for American and British Special Forces there could be serious trouble in the streets. As I say, this is one man's view.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) Sir John Stanley very kindly said that he would not expect us to talk about military operations. Can I talk about military operations for a moment? I am not a military expert, but I have very strong doubts whether the Americans are likely to find an invasion of Iraq as smooth as the ejection of Iraqis from Kuwait was. Whatever their real feelings about Saddam even the Shia Iraqis would be defending their own homeland. None of us needs to be reminded of the difference between people defending their own homeland, however badly they think it is governed, and taking part in an operation to occupy their neighbour. Many of us have memories of the appalling brutality of the Iraqi Revolution of 1958. I think there is a real danger of street fighting in Iraqi cities and the likelihood of heavy casualties and presumably the risk of Saddam at last being provoked to use the weapons of mass destruction that he is believed to possess. On that point can I just remind you, I think the IISS were asked to look into the mind of Saddam Hussein as to why he has these weapons of mass destruction? One aspect which was not mentioned was deterrence. Remember, that his main enemy Israel has all of the weapons of mass destruction that he is believed to possess or is developing and I think many Arabs would argue that it is reasonable for Saddam Hussein to supply himself with a deterrent.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) Absolutely.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) In talking about the absolute priority to be given to disarmament and compliance, I nevertheless think that it is right to back that up with credible threats. Whether Saddam Hussein believes those credible threats is a very difficult question to answer Sir Harold is much better placed to do that than I am. As he reminded me earlier today, Saddam Hussein has very little understanding of the great outside world. He has hardly travelled abroad at all, if at all, in his life. As diplomats you would expect us to sympathise with your suggestion that it is a pity that there is not diplomatic contact with Saddam Hussein if only to get messages across directly.
Chairman: Sir John Stanley will now take over to ensure that everyone has a good say.
In the absence of the Chairman, Sir John Stanley was called to the Chair
(Sir Harold Walker) It is a very good point raised by Mr Mackinlay. We all know that Saddam Hussein is not a travelled man and he is surrounded by sycophants. It is extremely difficult to know how he makes decisions. It does point to an important point about diplomacy, you need to get people he regards as in some sense friends to warn him. I think it is more important that the French, Russians and the Chinese speak to him and say you had better do this or else than it is to get a message over the airwaves from the Americans or the British. That is the stuff of diplomacy, you think how best to get your message across. If I can again add one man's view on the war, I think personally that the regular armed force of Iraq will crumble when they are invaded. But there are somewhere between 500,000 and one million people very dependent on Saddam for their standard of living in the security forces, in the republican guard and in the umpteen security services and I think that a considerable number of those people would see that they hang together or separately and there would be people who would fight with Saddam out of severe self-interest on top of the unknowable business of people rallying round a leader when your country is invaded. It should not be thought that the military victory will be a walkover, although undoubtedly it can be won.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) That still leaves the question of "what afterwards"?
(Sir Harold Walker) One more point I think is worth making for a Committee with this wide scope. IISS witnesses quite rightly said that Saddam has his weapons of mass destruction for prestige and for securing his regional ambitions and Lord Wright added that he lives in a dangerous world. It should be noted that in recent decades in modern history it is not possible to construct a security system in the Gulf area using solely local ingredients because you have a powerful Arab country, Iraq, always at loggerheads with a powerful Iranian country and underneath countries with strong social societies with lots of money but they are weak military and in terms of population. So you have needed an outside power, which since 1971 has really been the US or the US using the Shah as a policeman, to construct some kind of balance of power, and I do not see how in the long run you are going to have a security situation other than a regional one. In the long, long run you are going to have to have a regional security situation in which these powerful people are taken care of, otherwise you are always going to have to have intervention from, as it is now, a superpower.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I would not contest what you say at all about the effect on the relationship if we were to draw back. But the logic of what I have described and others have described as the absolutely essential point - that any operation is done through the United Nations and on the basis of a Security Council resolution - is a point which I would hope the Prime Minister has stressed again and again to President Bush. I would hope that President Bush has drawn the conclusion that without that -
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I have very little doubt as to what the answer would be from Number 10 Downing Street, but I would hope that some discreet warning could be given now to President Bush, not publicly because nothing should be done to reduce the pressure on Saddam Hussein, but I would hope that there could be some discreet warning to the United States. The Prime Minister will find it very difficult indeed - and it is not for me to talk about domestic political problems - to go along with him without the backing of the Security Council resolution.
(Sir Harold Walker) May I just say in one sense in advance, just as a world citizen, that I do think it is terribly important that the authority of the United Nations Security Council be maintained because the history of mankind is a history of groups identifying themselves in opposition to other groups, fighting, and human nature is never going to change. We have to try very hard to have systems in the way of international law, treaties and institutions like the UN to control our aggressive impulses. It would be very much away from the interests of even the superpower if, following the League of Nations, the UN goes just because of American action. But in answer to your question, we have no alternative.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) If I can, first of all, talk as a former Deputy Political Resident in Bahrain, where we were responsible for all the Arab states in the Lower Gulf. I think there is still a feeling amongst the Gulf states that Iran poses them just as much of a threat as Iraq. I think they are mistaken and I think that is actually a wrong view, but never under-estimate the potential for conflict between Arabs and the Iranians.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) No, I think the Gulf states will probably be too complacent about the risk of weapons of mass destruction from Iran.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) They are complacent about a potential attack from Iraq.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) Iraq has had certain weapons of mass destruction for a long time, as we all know, and we do need to ask ourselves why, if they have not used them yet, should they use them unless they are provoked by an attack from the United States?
rather than aggressive, expansionist mode?
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I think politically undoubtedly they want to dominate the region.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) But I do not believe that there is an imminent threat they are going to use those weapons of mass destruction.
(Sir Harold Walker) I do not know if the Committee has covered this point separately but the present debate of course in the world is about military invasion or not.
(Sir Harold Walker) I do not know whether the Committee has considered it but what is wrong with deterrence in the region? The then American Secretary of State in the Gulf War gave a warning to the Iraqis that if they used weapons of mass destruction a terrible fate would befall them, and they did not. I do not understand why the same technique should not now be used.
(Sir Harold Walker) That was the bit of the IISS's evidence that surprised me.
(Sir Harold Walker) I have not thought it through but it just surprised me. I would still maintain that deterrence which worked in a different context with the Soviet Union, which was a much bigger enemy, and worked in the Gulf War, really ought to be able to work with Iraq now.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) That is why we want weapons inspectors.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) The history of the weapons inspectorate is not one of total failure.
(Lord Wright of Richmond) But I would question whether an invasion is any more likely to be able to find them.
Mr Chidgey: There is a conundrum.
Sir John Stanley
(Lord Wright of Richmond) I think that is a perfectly credible idea. It is undoubtedly true that staff on the ground are always going to be inadequate to cope with disasters of this sort. As you know the consular presence in Bali was one honorary consul. Although Baroness Amos extended her apologies for the slow response, in fact staff were sent from Jakarta and elsewhere quite quickly. I am not suggesting that it was adequate; it was not. Even since I finished being Permanent Under Secretary 11 years ago the number of British resident abroad and travellers abroad has increased exponentially. I have a two year old figure of 56.7 million British travellers abroad each year. Most of the British casualties were, probably all of them, travellers not residents. As you will remember very well, Sir John, the British residents in Saudi Arabia when I became Ambassador - I think you were my first official guest in Riyadh - totalled 30,000, and I suspect it is not much less now. It is a happy situation that we are so well spread round the world but it does obviously pose very considerable problems for consular staff. I think one problem which I tried to get across publicly when I was Permanent Under Secretary, and that is consular staff are not travel agents, they are very often asked to do things that are quite inappropriate for government officials serving broad. I think the Foreign Secretary has said that he will examine the possibility of a sort of flying squad, in a sense I think what you need is a flying squad of counsellors, not foreign offices councillors, but people who can counsel the victims and their relations and that is a very specialised task which I would see as being quite a difficult one for foreign office officials to conduct themselves. You might need trained physiologists to do it. I certainly would not exclude the idea of a Flying Squad. What I am absolutely certain of is that staff on the ground are never going to be adequate to cope with the likely figures given the enormous number of British citizens who travel abroad.
Sir John Stanley: Lord Wright and Sir Harold Walker thank you very much for the benefit of your expertise and experience. Thank you very much indeed.