We consider the shift in UK policy towards Iraq in early 2002, and the Government’s subsequent decision to take stronger action to enforce Iraqi disarmament, against that background.
MARCH – SEPTEMBER 2002
THE POLICY CONTEXT
We have described in the previous Section how the Government’s thinking developed in the period from 1998 to early-2002. President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ speech of 29 January 2002, supplemented by reporting of comments made by a range of US interlocutors of emerging thinking within the US Administration, and coupled with the sense of a ‘creeping tide’ of proliferation described at the end of the previous Section, provided the background to inter-departmental advice to Ministers in early March 2002.
Officials restated the Government’s objectives towards Iraq: Within our objectives of preserving peace and stability in the Gulf and ensuring energy security,our current objectives towards Iraq are:
the reintegration of a law-abiding Iraq,which does not possess WMD or threaten its neighbours,into the international community. Implicitly, this cannot occur with Saddam in power; and
hence,as the least worst option,we have supported containment of Iraq,by constraining Saddam’s ability to re-arm or build up WMD and to threaten his neighbours.
Subsidiary objectives are:
Preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq;
improving the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people;
protecting the Kurds in northern Iraq;
sustaining UK/US co-operation,including,if necessary,by moderating U policy; and
maintaining the credibility and authority of the Security Council.
They set against those objectives an analysis of whether the policy of containment had worked, drawing heavily on JIC assessments, concluding that: Since 1991,the policy of containment has been partially successful:
Sanctions have effectively frozen Iraq’s nuclear programme;
Iraq has been prevented from rebuilding its chemical arsenal to pre-Gulf War
Ballistic missile programmes have been severely restricted;