At the end of the first Gulf war, the United Nations Security Council passed a series of resolutions aimed at eliminating Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons capabilities, and programmes covering ballistic missiles with ranges in excess of 150 kilometres. These established the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in pursuit of this goal. UK support to UNSCOM and the IAEA was provided as a cross-departmental initiative through a new organisation within the Defence Intelligence Staff known as Operation Rockingham.
From 1991 until the end of 1998, Rockingham was responsible for briefing some of the personnel who formed part of UNSCOM and IAEA inspection teams. It processed information received as a result of the inspections, and acted as a central source of advice on continuing inspection activity. Rockingham also advised FCO and MOD policy branches on the provision of UK experts from government and industry to work with UNSCOM and the IAEA as members of inspection teams. Rockingham included an officer detached to Bahrain to staff an organisation known as GATEWAY to co-ordinate briefings to, and debriefings of, inspection team members as they deployed to, and returned from, Iraq.
With the withdrawal of UNSCOM from Iraq in December 1998, Rockingham was reduced to a single member of staff. It continued to maintain a watching brief on matters related to possible future United Nations inspections in Iraq. GATEWAY was closed.
Rockingham was expanded again to provide UK support to UNMOVIC. Unlike UNSCOM, UNMOVIC inspectors were United Nations employees, and did not deploy in a national capacity. As a result, no official feedback from UNMOVIC was offered, nor expected. Rockingham did not brief or debrief individual inspectors. It did, however, continue to provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA with all-source UK intelligence assessments of the extent of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes, and information about sites of potential significance. Rockingham also assisted in the briefing of senior UNMOVIC staff and responded to a number of requests from UNMOVIC for specific information to assist its work. It acted as the focus for the work tasked by the JIC on the analysis of the Iraqi declaration of 7 December 2002.
After the second Gulf war, Rockingham became the UK focal point for intelligence support to the work of the Iraq Survey Group. In that role, Rockingham receives and distributes reporting from the ISG, and provides additional guidance and support to the ISG and UK customers, as required.
About 30 separate pieces of intelligence from human sources and satellite imagery, covering 19 sites in all, were involved in the leads provided to the inspectors. UNMOVIC visited seven of those sites, made a partial examination of one more and subjected one further site to examination by ground-penetrating radar. In terms of the results:
At two sites, United Nations inspectors found relevant material – 223 Volga engines for Al Samoud missiles at one, and at the other documents on the Iraqi nuclear programme dating from 1991.
At one site, inspectors found conventional munitions (they were also aware of conventional munitions concealed at another site that they did not visit, and found conventional munitions near a site they planned to visit).
At three sites, inspectors found no evidence of either prohibited or conventional Iraqi programmes. (The inspection by ground-penetrating radar of one site also