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Letter From White House To Congress On Iraq

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 2, 1999

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE

August 2, 1999

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and as part of my effort to keep the Congress fully informed, I am reporting on the status of efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). My last report, consistent with Public Law 102-1, was transmitted on May 19, 1999.

Overview

We are convinced that as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, he will continue to threaten the well-being of his people, the peace of the region, and vital U.S. interests. We will continue to contain these threats, but over the long term, the best way to address them is by encouraging the establishment of a new government in Baghdad. To this end, we continue to work intensively with the Iraqi opposition. In May, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) Interim Presidency Committee met with the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and several Members of Congress in Washington. The Department of State has been assisting the INC in its preparations for a National Assembly meeting. Also, the Department has been working with other non-governmental organizations to develop projects to assist the Iraqi opposition and the Iraqi people in their efforts to achieve a regime change. In June, delegations from the two main Kurdish parties traveled to Washington to discuss the next steps in implementing the reconciliation agreement they signed in Washington last year.

During the last 60 days, we have also been working with members of the UNSC to build support to adopt a resolution that would reestablish an effective disarmament and monitoring presence inside Iraq, better meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, and increase pressure on Iraq to account for those missing from the Gulf War, and return Kuwaiti property. The Security Council is currently continuing its discussions on these matters.

The United States continues to support the international community's efforts to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the oil-for-food program. On May 21, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1242, extending the program for another 180 days.

U.S. and Coalition Force Levels in the Gulf Region

Saddam Hussein's record of aggressive behavior necessitates the deployment of a highly capable force in the region in order to deter Iraq from threatening its neighbors, reconstituting its WMD program, or moving against the Kurds in Northern Iraq. We will continue to maintain a robust posture and have established a rapid reinforcement capability to supplement our forces in the Gulf, if needed.

Our forces are a balanced mix of land and carrier-based aircraft, surface ships, a Patriot missile battalion, a mechanized battalion task force, and special operations units. To enhance force protection throughout the region, additional military security personnel are also deployed.

Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch

Aircraft of the United States and coalition partners enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq under Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch are regularly illuminated by radar and engaged by anti--aircraft artillery, and occasionally, by surface-to-air missiles.

As a result of Iraq's no-fly zone violations and attacks on our aircraft, our aircrews continue to respond with force. United States and coalition forces are fully prepared and authorized to defend themselves against Iraqi threats while carrying out their no-fly zone enforcement mission and, when circumstances warranted, have engaged various components of the Iraqi integrated air defense system. While threats to our aircraft continue, actual Iraqi aircraft violations of the no-fly zones have declined.

The Maritime Interception Force

The multinational Maritime Interception Force (MIF), operating in accordance with Resolution 665 and other relevant resolutions, continues to enforce U.N. sanctions in the Gulf. The U.S. Navy is the single largest component of the MIF, but it is frequently augmented by ships, aircraft, and other support assets from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Kuwait, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the UAE, and the United Kingdom. Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) provide logistical and personnel support to the MIF, and accept vessels diverted for violating U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

The smuggling of refined petroleum products through the Gulf has remained at a low level since Operation Desert Fox. The MIF, and our ability rapidly to augment it, will continue to serve as a critical deterrent to both the smuggling of petroleum products out of the Gulf and the smuggling of prohibited items into Iraq.

UNSCOM/IAEA: Weapons of Mass Destruction

There has been no United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) or International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presence in Iraq since December 15, 1998. UNSCOM informed the Security Council on June 1 of the status of UNSCOM's chemical laboratory, biological room, equipment, and components in the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC). The Canal Hotel houses UNSCOM offices along with those of other U.N. activities in Iraq, such as the Office of the Iraq Programme, which implements the oil-for-food program. UNSCOM has analytical equipment and materials it would like to see removed in a straightforward technical operation as a precaution. The samples include less than one kilogram of seized Iraqi mustard agent. There are no immediate safety concerns. In June, UNSCOM recommended to the Security Council that UNSCOM send a team of experts to destroy the conventional lab chemicals, chemical standards, and biological samples, and request that Iraq cooperate. In July the U.N. Secretariat, in consultation with UNSCOM, deputized a team of experts to decommission the lab. UNSCOM provided an operations plan for the mission to the Secretariat. UNSCOM and U.S. experts trained the U.N. team in Bahrain. The U.N. team consisted of an UNSCOM administrator, a biologist from a German university, and four experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Dual-Use Imports

Resolution 1051 established a joint UNSCOM/IAEA unit to monitor Iraq's imports of allowed dual-use items. Iraq must notify the unit before it imports specific items that can be used in both weapons of mass destruction and civilian applications. Similarly, U.N. members must provide timely notification of exports to Iraq of such dual-use items. Since the withdrawal of UNSCOM and IAEA monitors, only some limited monitoring in certain sectors is being conducted by the U.N. Office of the Iraq Programme inspectors. This situation has presented new challenges for the U.N. Sanctions Committee and is a factor in the contract approval process. As a precautionary matter, the United States has placed holds on a number of dual-use contracts that might otherwise have been approved.

The U.N. Oil-for-Food Program

We continue to support the international community's efforts to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the oi1-for-food program. On May 21, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1242, extending the program for another 180 days. As in phase five, Iraq is again authorized to sell up to $5.2 billion worth of oil in the coming 180 days. Because of the increase in world oil prices and increased exports, Iraq may reach the ceiling during this phase. As of June 14, U.N. reporting indicates that since the start of the oil-for-food program, 5,375 contracts for humanitarian goods worth over $7 billion have been approved with 389 contracts worth $351 million on hold and approximately 1,000 contracts in various stages of processing in the United Nations.

Within the oil-for-food program, Resolution 1242 maintains a separate program for northern Iraq, administered directly by the United Nations in consultation with the local population. This program, which the United States strongly supports, ensures that when Iraq contracts for the purchase of humanitarian goods, 13 to 15 percent of the funds generated under the oil-for-food program are spent on items for northern Iraq. The separate northern program was established because of Baghdad's repression and disregard for the humanitarian needs of the Kurdish, Assyrian, Yezidi, and Turkoman minorities in northern Iraq.

Humanitarian programs such as oil-for-food have steadily improved the life of the average Iraqi living under sanctions while denying Saddam Hussein control over Iraq's oil revenues. Currently, the ration basket provides over 2,000 calories per day per Iraqi. We will continue to work with the U.N. Secretariat, the Security Council, and others in the inter-national community to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are met while denying political or economic benefits to the Baghdad regime. In addition, we are working with the United Nations and other Security Council members to mitigate the effects of the current drought in Iraq.

Northern Iraq: Kurdish Reconciliation

In June, delegations from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) traveled to Washington to discuss the next steps in implementing the accord they signed in September 1998. Consensus was achieved on a number of confidence-building measures, including opening party offices in major cities throughout northern Iraq, eschewing negative press statements, countering the divisive influence of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), beginning the return of internally displaced persons, and creating a voter registration commission for upcoming elections. The delegations discussed other issues, such as revenue sharing, internal security, and the formation of an interim joint regional assembly and administration. They will continue these talks in northern Iraq and seek to implement steps that were agreed.

The Human Rights Situation in Iraq

The human rights situation in Iraq continues to fall far short of international norms, in violation of Resolution 688. That resolution explicitly notes that the consequences of the regime's repression of its own people constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region. It also demands immediate access by international humanitarian aid organizations to all Iraqis in need. However, for over 7 years the Iraqi government has refused to allow the U.N. Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur for Iraq, Max Van der Stoel, to visit Iraq. U.N. human rights monitors have never been allowed into Iraq.

Severe repression continues in southern Iraq, as the regime works toward the destruction of the Marsh Arabs' way of life and the unique ecology of the southern marshes. The regime has repeatedly ignored appeals by Max Van der Stoel and others for access by human rights monitors to investigate these reports. The human rights monitors have asked to investigate the alleged assassination of three of Iraq's most senior Islamic clerics: Ayatollah Mohammed al-Sader in February 1999, Ayatollah Borujerdi in April 1998, and Ayatollah al-Gharavi in June 1998.

In the north, outside the Kurdish-controlled areas, the government continues the forced expulsion of ethnic Kurds and Turkomans from Kirkuk and other cities.

The Iraqi Opposition

We are deepening our engagement with the forces of change in Iraq, helping Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq to become a more effective voice for the aspirations of the people. We will work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people, a government prepared to live in peace with its neighbors, and respects the rights of its citizens. We believe that a change of regime in Baghdad is inevitable, and that it is urgently incumbent on the world community to support the Iraqis who are working to ensure that change is positive. These Iraqis include the resistance inside the country, and those free Iraqis now in exile or in northern Iraq, who seek to improve the chances that the next government of Iraq will truly represent, serve, and protect all the Iraqi people.

The INC has stepped up its activities since the April 7-8 meeting of the Executive Council at Windsor. The Interim Presidency Committee visited Washington from May 24 to May 28 for meetings with the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and several Members of Congress. In a demonstration of the growing cohesion among the Iraqi opposition, the INC leadership was accompanied by other key Sunni opposition leaders. The INC also sent a delegation to the United Nations in May to discuss humanitarian and human rights issues.

Over the last several weeks, the INC Executive Committee met again in London and the Interim Presidency Committee has worked on preparations for their National Assembly. The Department of State assisted the INC in these efforts by funding conference planning services with Economic Support Funds. Using these same funds, the Department of State worked with other nongovernmental organizations to develop projects to assist the Iraqi opposition and the Iraqi people in their efforts to achieve regime change.

The United Nations Compensation Commission

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), established pursuant to Resolutions 687, 692, and 1210, continues to resolve claims against Iraq arising from Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The UNCC has issued over 1.3 million awards worth approximately $10 billion. Thirty percent of the proceeds from authorized oil sales are allocated to the Compensation Fund to pay awards and finance UNCC operations. The UNCC Governing Council has determined that certain small claims by individuals will receive initial payments of $2,500, before paying larger claims of either individuals or businesses and government agencies. In June, the Governing Council established the rules for making payments on the remaining small claims and the larger individual, corporate, and government claims. To date, the U.S. Government has received funds from the UNCC for initial installment payments for approximately 2,288 U.S. claimants.

Conclusion

Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I remain determined to see Iraq fully comply with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member. I appreciate the support of the Congress for our efforts and shall continue to keep the Congress informed about this important issue.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

# # #


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