On the same date, the Foreign Secretary gave a more detailed statement of the legal position in his letter to both Houses of Parliament which included a note summarising Iraq’s record on non-compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 (reproduced at Annex D).
5.8 WHAT HAS BEEN FOUND IN IRAQ SINCE THE WAR
In the period immediately following hostilities, there was much disorder and looting in Iraq. Coalition activities were initially directed to mopping up outlying resistance, establishing internal security and repairing public utilities. Although the 75th Exploitation Task Force was set up to find and destroy chemical or biological weapons deployed on the battlefield or stockpiled in position near Iraqi military units, circumstances on the ground made their operations very difficult.
During this period, much potential evidence about prohibited Iraqi weapons programmes may have been destroyed. The systematic destruction of computers and other forms of records at some sites suggested that it was not the work of looters but was part of a scheme of orchestrated destruction. There was also evidence of sanitisation of sites which may have been used for research.
Iraqi concealment activities may also have hidden evidence from Coalition forces. Items were buried. A complete fighter aircraft was, for example, dug out of the sand by US Air Force troops after the end of military action. It would not have been difficult to conceal in this way a complete Al Hussein missile. It would have been even easier to conceal such missiles if they were broken down into components, as some intelligence suggested.
We were told that the volume of biological and chemical agents unaccounted for at the time of UNSCOM’s departure, even if they were all held together, would fit into a petrol tanker. If they were dispersed and hidden in small quantities, they would be even harder to discover; and they could be concealed in containers bearing an innocent description which would not raise suspicion if they were standing in the open.
The Security Council also decided in Resolution 1441 that,if Iraq faile d at any time to comply with and co-operate fully in the implementation of Resolution 1441,that would constitute a further material breach.
It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of Resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.
Thus,the authority to use force under Resolution 678 has revived and so continues today.
Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been intended. Thus,all that Resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by t he Security Council of Iraq’s failures,but not an express further decision t o authorise force.