Between the 1991 Gulf War and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Iraqi regime faced a cheater's dilemma: how much should it reveal of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities when each additional revelation made it less likely that the country would be rewarded, while continued denial also prevented the lifting of sanctions. The Iraqi leadership struggled to resolve this dilemma, as elites pursued competing policies and subordinates did not consistently obey Saddam Hussein's orders. These difficulties reflected principal-agent problems that were aggravated by the leadership's initial attempts to deny and cover up Iraq's WMD capabilities. Together, the cheater's dilemma and principal-agent problems explain a range of puzzling Iraqi behaviors that came across as calculated ambiguity to the outside world. These findings offer insights into the incentives and constraints that shape how other authoritarian regimes respond to external pressures to eliminate their WMD, and the extent to which they are willing and able to disclose information about past programs and their past efforts to conceal this information from the outside world.


The cease-fire resolution ending the 1991 Gulf War demanded that Iraq completely and verifiably destroy and not reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers. Iraq did disarm, but it failed to convince other states of this fact. Even after the Iraqi leadership instructed subordinates to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors working to verify Iraq's disarmament, these subordinates dragged their feet. Unable to convince the rest of the world that it did not still have WMD, Iraq was subjected to crippling UN sanctions, and in 2003, a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Iraqi regime.1 After the war, David Kay, the initial head of the coalition inspections team sent to Iraq to search for WMD, reported in January 2004 that those who believed that Iraq had concealed WMD had been “almost all wrong.”2

To explain why Iraq did not do more to show that it no longer had WMD, scholars have pointed to causes ranging from dysfunction to a strategic policy of deterrence through ambiguity. Newly available primary sources show, however, that Iraq's policy and behavior changed across three stages and that the Iraqi leadership struggled with implementation at each stage.

First, the Iraqi leadership's initial reaction, after the cease-fire resolution passed in April 1991, was to deny and conceal the full scope of Iraq's WMD capabilities and programs. When inspections began and these deception efforts were detected, the Iraqi leadership secretly destroyed caches of chemical and biological weapons (CBW), along with proscribed missiles, rather than admit it had lied. Second, after the unilateral destruction of these caches, in the summer of 1991, the Iraqi leadership admitted to more and more programs as UN inspectors uncovered Iraq's WMD capabilities; nonetheless, it continued to deny certain aspects of these programs as well as its own attempts to cover these up. Third, after the defection of Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamil in August 1995, Iraqi officials made additional disclosures about Iraq's past WMD programs to UN inspectors (and, ironically, revealed much more than Kamil did).

This article identifies the central dilemma confronting the Iraqi leadership from 1991 to 2003 and explores its effects on decisionmaking and implementation related to its WMD capabilities and programs. The analysis is based on extensive primary sources, most of which have not previously been accessible, including the personal archives of senior officials in the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); records captured from Iraq and translated in the former Conflict Records Research Center; published and unpublished memoirs by Iraqi scientists; and interviews with senior officials from the former Iraqi regime, UN inspectors, and ambassadors in the UN Security Council.

I argue that the Iraqi leadership struggled to resolve its “cheater's dilemma”—specifically, how much it should disclose about its past WMD capabilities and cover-up efforts when every additional disclosure undermined the prospect that sanctions would be lifted in the future.3 The Iraqi leadership did not, as is widely believed, try to create a deterrent effect through calculated ambiguity as to whether Iraq no longer possessed WMD; instead, the apparent ambiguity reflected the regime's difficult trade-offs between the risks and benefits of additional disclosures about past WMD programs and its concealment efforts. Such revelations made it less likely that the UN Security Council would lift sanctions, despite Iraq's efforts to demonstrate increasing cooperation, while continued denial prevented the lifting of sanctions. When international pressure mounted, the leadership ordered subordinates to provide additional information about Iraq's past programs and cover-ups and to hand over any concealed documents or items, but many did not comply.

This article explains the implementation problems that the Iraqi leadership experienced as a series of principal-agent problems. These problems intensified after the leadership decided to disclose remaining secrets about its WMD programs and past cover-up efforts to the UN in mid-1995: neither the leadership nor officials down the chain of implementation had reliable information about the other's intentions and actions. The result was disobedience, shirking behaviors, and mistakes by Iraqi scientists and guards interacting with UN inspectors on the ground.

I develop these arguments in three sections. First, I revisit existing explanations for Iraq's reluctance to cooperate with UN inspectors to verify its WMD disarmament and then outline how new sources and principal-agent theory can facilitate analysis of this behavior at the micro level. Second, I examine Iraq's cooperation with UN inspectors from 1991 to 2003, focusing on changes in the regime's policy regarding its cooperation with the inspectors and on the growing discrepancy between policy and behavior from mid-1995 onward. Third, I explore what scholars and policymakers can learn from these findings for understanding disclosure dilemmas in the context of WMD disarmament.

Existing Explanations, and a New One

Scholars and analysts offer conflicting interpretations of why Iraq did not do more to cooperate with UN inspectors seeking to verify its WMD disarmament efforts.4 Here, I examine four explanations of Iraqi behavior and its causes (see table 1). Using new sources, I then outline how principal-agent theory helps describe and explain the inconsistent implementation of the regime's policies.

Table 1.

Summary of Previous Explanations for Iraqi Cooperation with United Nations Inspections

Deterrence BluffInformation ProblemsRegime SecurityDeception
What factors explain Iraq's level of cooperation with UN inspectors? The Iraqi leadership could not credibly commit to disarming itself of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because of Iraqi security concerns (regional and domestic). Regime officials were uncertain about the scope of Iraq's WMD disarmament, and/or they did not believe that the United States would go to war. Regime officials feared that inspectors reported sensitive information about the regime to hostile states. The Iraqi regime concealed and/or moved WMD before the 2003 war. 
What are the observable implications at the micro level? The leadership would design declarations and statements to be ambiguous on military capabilities, regime debates would cite need to deter as the rationale. The leadership would try to clarify this to subordinates to coordinate behavior, content of Saddam's statements and private communication and briefings from scientific advisers to Saddam. The regime would deny inspectors access to sensitive sites (but not other sites), and limit intrusive monitoring (e.g., overflights). Iraq coordinated efforts to evade inspectors to conceal WMD for storage or export. 
Does the explanation account for change in cooperation over time? Efforts might increase as conventional capabilities deteriorated and Iran's nuclear program advanced. Cooperation might deteriorate further as U.S. and Iraqi officials had less contact, and as Saddam withdrew and relied on relatives as key advisers. Cooperation problems would increase if inspections targeted more sensitive sites. Efforts might intensify prior to 2003 war. 
Deterrence BluffInformation ProblemsRegime SecurityDeception
What factors explain Iraq's level of cooperation with UN inspectors? The Iraqi leadership could not credibly commit to disarming itself of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because of Iraqi security concerns (regional and domestic). Regime officials were uncertain about the scope of Iraq's WMD disarmament, and/or they did not believe that the United States would go to war. Regime officials feared that inspectors reported sensitive information about the regime to hostile states. The Iraqi regime concealed and/or moved WMD before the 2003 war. 
What are the observable implications at the micro level? The leadership would design declarations and statements to be ambiguous on military capabilities, regime debates would cite need to deter as the rationale. The leadership would try to clarify this to subordinates to coordinate behavior, content of Saddam's statements and private communication and briefings from scientific advisers to Saddam. The regime would deny inspectors access to sensitive sites (but not other sites), and limit intrusive monitoring (e.g., overflights). Iraq coordinated efforts to evade inspectors to conceal WMD for storage or export. 
Does the explanation account for change in cooperation over time? Efforts might increase as conventional capabilities deteriorated and Iran's nuclear program advanced. Cooperation might deteriorate further as U.S. and Iraqi officials had less contact, and as Saddam withdrew and relied on relatives as key advisers. Cooperation problems would increase if inspections targeted more sensitive sites. Efforts might intensify prior to 2003 war. 


The conventional wisdom argues that the Iraqi regime sent mixed signals about whether it was in full compliance with its disarmament commitment because Saddam feared that exposing the regime's lack of WMD—when Iraq's conventional military capabilities were eroding—would increase the regime's vulnerability vis-à-vis Iran and other regional adversaries. These mixed signals, reflected in the regime's incomplete declarations, deceptive measures, and inconsistent statements about its WMD and its progress on disarmament, were supposed to achieve a deterrent effect by creating uncertainty among external and domestic audiences.

In seeking to explain why the regime was unwilling to reveal its WMD disarmament efforts, scholars describe a difficult balance between overt noncompliance—which risked war, crippling economic sanctions, or both—and full compliance, which could reveal the regime's vulnerability.5 According to the war coalition's final WMD report, submitted by Charles Duelfer in September 2004, the regime never resolved this dilemma.6 Scholars offer various interpretations for Iraq's ambiguous signals, including that (1) despite the risk of war and sanctions, the regime was attempting to maintain deterrence against regional adversaries, notably Iran, to compensate for its military weakness;7 (2) the regime wanted a deterrent against domestic adversaries;8 and (3) Saddam wanted to strengthen his standing visa-à-vis regime hard-liners.9


An alternative explanation for why the Iraqi regime was unwilling to disclose its WMD disarmament efforts focuses on information problems and misperception in the shaping of the regime's decisions and behavior. Scholars highlight two ways in which bias and misperception affected Iraqi decisionmaking and behavior in the lead-up to the 2003 war. First, the regime may have underestimated the risks of war because it based its assessment on outdated beliefs about the United States.10 Second, Iraqi officials were themselves uncertain about the status of their country's WMD programs, or advisers may have misled the leadership (intentionally or unintentionally).11 The sources of bias or misperception are attributed to persistent beliefs among elites and military commanders that Iraq still possessed WMD,12 to lower-level officials' fear of reporting unwelcome news.13


A third explanation holds that Iraq's reluctance to give UN inspectors access on the ground was the result of the regime's concerns over its own security.14 According to this argument, the regime feared that the UN inspections might provide foreign intelligence agencies with information or access (through the inspectors or through penetration of their communications networks) that they could use to plan covert action or military strikes against the regime. As Gregory Koblentz shows, the regime primarily obstructed inspections that targeted sensitive facilities such as presidential facilities and those in the intelligence apparatus complex, while allowing access to most other inspections.15


A less common explanation is that the Iraqi regime successfully hid its WMD or moved them to Syria. The 2004 Duelfer report noted claims that Iraq moved WMD to Syria before the 2003 war, but it found the evidence of such claims in-conclusive.16 After the 2003 invasion, the U.S. military discovered caches of more than 4,990 chemical munitions (some filled, others unfilled) in Iraq.17 Only a small fraction were viable weapons (e.g., 27 out of 420 in one cache).18 Iraq's chemical weapons had been designed to be produced on demand, because they were of low quality and could not be stored for long without losing their effectiveness. These weapons may have been forgotten or misplaced, rather than deliberately hidden. No clear evidence has been found that the Iraqi regime made WMD shipments to Syria.19


In this article, I offer a new explanation for the implementation problems faced by the Iraqi leadership from 1991 to 2003: the leadership experienced principal-agent problem. Leaders (principals) rely on agents inside the state apparatus to translate their policies into actions that are consistent with the leadership's preferences. Fundamentally, however, principals and agents may have different interests and may possess only limited understanding of the other's preferences; additionally, the leadership lacks oversight to ensure that agents act according to its preferences. Below, I describe how these problems manifested inside the Iraqi state. I identify information asymmetries and monitoring difficulties, as well as the poor processing of information from agents (lower-level Iraqi officials and employees of state organizations) to regime principals (Saddam and senior officials). For an overview of these mechanisms, see table 2.

Table 2.

Mechanisms Shaping Policy Implementation and Feedback

Top-Down Mechanisms (principal → agent) 
1. Nurturing internal ambiguity (principals)
  • Principals preferred verbal orders for highly sensitive matters making it more difficult for agents to understand their intentions.

  • Principals withdrew orders retroactively which made agents reluctant to embrace departures from established practice, or purged those who embraced policy proposals intended to identify potential dissent.

  • Principals devolved policy implementation to senior agents which led to inconsistent interpretations.

  • Principals compartmentalized information about cheating on some parts of the UN resolution (missiles) such that senior agents had different information about regime policy.

  • When principals told improvised and obviously fanciful stories to UN inspectors, instead of truths, this fed internal uncertainty.

2. Policy competition (senior agents)
  • Senior agents promoted different interpretations of leadership WMD disarmament policy to subordinates.

  • Senior officials punished some behavior that was consistent with regime policy which increased ambiguity.

  • Competing factions shielded subordinates from punishment after mistakes.

3. Disobedience (agents)
  • Complacency in implementing orders led to embarrassing discoveries by UN inspectors.

  • Individuals ignored orders by keeping items and documents in their own possession, despite explicit orders to hand these in, for future personal gain.

4. Drift (agents)
  • Individuals perceived that the incentives for their behavior were not aligned with the regime's stated policies and incentives for its own behavior; this led to distortion and displacement of the objectives they pursued (such as prioritizing their career prospects and reputation over the regime's stated goals).

5. Honest incompetence (agents)
  • Individuals lacked clear guidelines for behavior and implementation, leading to botched implementation.

  • Lower-level officials assumed the available information was not the full picture of the regime's intentions.

  • Lower-level officials relied on past observations rather than new instructions as guides to principals' intentions.

Down-Up Mechanisms (agent → principal) 
6. Hedging (agents)
  • Clarification questions were avoided, leading to mistakes in declarations and interactions with UN inspectors.

  • Individuals failed to report suspected cheating upward in the regime, leading to mistakes.

  • Lower-level officials did not offer informed assessments of the consequences of policy decisions made by principals, even when they believed the consequences would be severe.

Top-Down Mechanisms (principal → agent) 
1. Nurturing internal ambiguity (principals)
  • Principals preferred verbal orders for highly sensitive matters making it more difficult for agents to understand their intentions.

  • Principals withdrew orders retroactively which made agents reluctant to embrace departures from established practice, or purged those who embraced policy proposals intended to identify potential dissent.

  • Principals devolved policy implementation to senior agents which led to inconsistent interpretations.

  • Principals compartmentalized information about cheating on some parts of the UN resolution (missiles) such that senior agents had different information about regime policy.

  • When principals told improvised and obviously fanciful stories to UN inspectors, instead of truths, this fed internal uncertainty.

2. Policy competition (senior agents)
  • Senior agents promoted different interpretations of leadership WMD disarmament policy to subordinates.

  • Senior officials punished some behavior that was consistent with regime policy which increased ambiguity.

  • Competing factions shielded subordinates from punishment after mistakes.

3. Disobedience (agents)
  • Complacency in implementing orders led to embarrassing discoveries by UN inspectors.

  • Individuals ignored orders by keeping items and documents in their own possession, despite explicit orders to hand these in, for future personal gain.

4. Drift (agents)
  • Individuals perceived that the incentives for their behavior were not aligned with the regime's stated policies and incentives for its own behavior; this led to distortion and displacement of the objectives they pursued (such as prioritizing their career prospects and reputation over the regime's stated goals).

5. Honest incompetence (agents)
  • Individuals lacked clear guidelines for behavior and implementation, leading to botched implementation.

  • Lower-level officials assumed the available information was not the full picture of the regime's intentions.

  • Lower-level officials relied on past observations rather than new instructions as guides to principals' intentions.

Down-Up Mechanisms (agent → principal) 
6. Hedging (agents)
  • Clarification questions were avoided, leading to mistakes in declarations and interactions with UN inspectors.

  • Individuals failed to report suspected cheating upward in the regime, leading to mistakes.

  • Lower-level officials did not offer informed assessments of the consequences of policy decisions made by principals, even when they believed the consequences would be severe.


Information problems are prevalent in authoritarian regimes, and may be especially acute in personalist regimes (i.e., authoritarian regimes characterized by an extreme concentration of power in the hands of an individual leader and by weak state institutions). In the Iraqi regime, the principals (Saddam and his most senior officials) infused governance practices with ambiguities by promoting competing policies, providing vague instructions and contradictory messages, and occasionally backtracking on orders issued by senior officials (e.g., Hussein Kamil) without Saddam's explicit approval (mechanisms listed in category 1 in table 2). Such practices, termed “robust action” in studies of personalist leaders in premodern states, are crucial for the long-term survival of principals in regimes with an extreme concentration of power.20 Personalist leaders cannot shift the blame for flawed policies to other elites inside the state, precisely because executive power is so concentrated in the leader's hands. Instead, leaders nurture ambiguity. This “multivocality” enables different factions to find support in their leader's vague statements and behaviors.21 Iraqi leadership elites (i.e., those in the circle closest to Saddam, including presidential advisers and senior ministers—for example, Hussein Kamil, Tariq Aziz, and Gen. Amer Rashid—and less prominent ministers and leaders of the military industrial complex who occupied the outer circles of influence) promoted competing policy options (“flexible opportunism,” described in category 2 in table 2), while the leader avoided committing explicitly to one policy over others for as long as possible.

In this environment, the agents (lower-level officials and employees of state organizations) become accustomed to hedging and assume that they lack a complete understanding of the regime's intentions and capabilities; they there-fore act in a manner that they believe is consistent with their principals' past and current preferences, which may or may not match the principals' actual preferences (see table 2, category 6). Agents may ignore or only partially implement orders to change their behavior, assuming that earlier policies reflect the true preferences of the principals. The implementation of policy changes thus becomes especially difficult. These information problems lead to drift (table 2, category 4), honest incompetence (table 2, category 5),22 and disobedience (table 2, category 3). Some agents act according to what they believe their principals want, but fail to update their assessments when information about these preferences emerges in the form of new orders and instructions. Others make mistakes because they receive vague instructions, or they exploit the regime's limited monitoring by pursuing their individual interests, even as these undermine the regime's goals (e.g., by hiding or stealing sensitive documents for future personal gain despite orders to hand these over to authorities).

Saddam and his senior officials recognized many of these problems and tried to solve them. Doing so was difficult, however, because of the leadership's limited monitoring capacity. In the past, the Iraqi leadership had struggled to adequately oversee its WMD programs. During the late 1970s, for example, key staff in the chemical weapons program at the Al-Hasan research foundation were found guilty of mismanagement and fraud;23 and during the late 1980s, Hussein Kamil violated Saddam's explicit orders not to import sensitive equipment for Iraq's nuclear weapons program.24 Moreover, the regime had no meaningful oversight of the cottage industry of small projects that had emerged outside the main BW program.25 Information about the WMD programs was highly compartmentalized. In the case of the BW program, for example, Kamil's senior deputy, Amer al-Saadi, received information about program activities such as animal testing only if Kamil was away. Staff in the BW program avoided reporting activities to al-Saadi, allegedly to evade evaluation of program activities (an evaluation in the 1970s led to the closure of the Al-Hasan research foundation).26

My argument is consistent with an emerging body of research examining the fundamental information problems inside personalist regimes.27 It also adds nuance to some of the key arguments in the literature on authoritarian regimes. Although it is true that personalist leaders such as Saddam are less constrained in institutional terms than other autocrats, this extreme concentration of power comes with its own constraints, as Milan Svolik argues.28 Drawing on insights from sociology, anthropology, and political science, I suggest that it is the concentration of power in these regimes that requires personalist leaders who are intent on long-term survival to engage in “robust action,” such as sending mixed messages and encouraging competing policy tracks, to avoid being associated with blunders or policies that result in failures. Personalist leaders are reluctant to commit to new policies, unless they perceive the changes to be necessary for their own survival; the expectations of their agents thwart sudden policy changes.

For principals and agents in authoritarian and personalist regimes, assessing the preferences of the other is difficult. Specifically, principals have strong incentives to obfuscate their underlying preferences, whereas agents face considerable risks if they reveal their true preferences and beliefs. As Timur Kuran observes, “Preference falsification”—misrepresenting one's true preferences in response to social expectations and pressures—is acute in authoritarian systems.29 Lisa Blaydes demonstrates the immense difficulties that the Iraqi regime faced in assessing the preferences of its citizens.30 These broader dynamics intensify the basic problem confronting agents seeking to communicate policy preferences while also wanting to signal loyalty to their principals.31

The problems examined in this article are not unique to Saddam's Iraq. Authoritarian systems erode information processing, sometimes to the point of absurdity. In the Soviet Union, bureaucrats regularly told lies that were presented as facts. Both the sender and the receiver understood these to be nonfacts, but pretended to ignore this shared understanding.32 In Hafiz al-Assad's regime in Syria, which resembled Saddam's regime in several respects, citizens and bureaucrats similarly engaged in clearly absurd behaviors and issued nonfactual statements to demonstrate their submission to the regime's domination over social and political life.33

These arguments underscore why authoritarian leaders struggle to widen their circle of advisers, officials, and other stakeholders in nuclear and other WMD decisionmaking. As Elizabeth Saunders argues, authoritarian leaders who seek to expand their nuclear decisionmaking circle face difficult trade-offs.34 When Saddam enlarged his decisionmaking circle on WMD disarmament in mid-1991, this intensified problems such as competing preferences, introduced new information problems, and made coordination more challenging.

Disarmament Policy and Implementation in Three Stages, 1991–2003

This section identifies and analyzes three stages of Iraqi WMD disarmament policy and implementation: (1) denial and a cover-up (April–July 1991), (2) a mixed strategy of concessions and concealment (July 1991–August 1995), and (3) increasing cooperation (August 1995–December 1998, when UN inspections were discontinued after Operation Desert Fox, and when they resumed during November 2002–March 2003).


The cease-fire resolution that ended the 1991 Gulf War—UN Security Council Resolution 687—demanded that Iraq undertake complete, verifiable, and permanent disarmament of its WMD and ballistic missiles with ranges of more than 150 kilometers, as well as implement a host of other measures to compensate for the damage caused by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in the late summer of 1991.35 UN inspectors would verify this disarmament, and, once they reported Iraq as having complied, the Security Council could lift sanctions that effectively banned trade to and from Iraq (including oil, until a mechanism for limited oil sales overseen by the United Nations emerged in 1996), with the exception of medicine and humanitarian items. The sanctions prevented the Iraqi regime from improving the economy while eroding its conventional military capabilities. At this time, the true scope of Iraq's WMD capabilities—the production and deployment of biological weapons, its progress in developing more advanced chemical weapons and ballistic missiles, and the fact that Iraq's nuclear weapons program was on the verge of a crucial breakthrough—was largely unknown to the outside world.

The UN inspections and sanctions presented the Iraqi leadership with a dilemma: How much of its WMD capabilities should it reveal? The head of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, Jafar D. Jafar, and deputy head of its Military Industrial Corporation (MIC), Amer al-Saadi, approached Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamil, who was head of MIC, and recommended that the regime declare everything and offer to prepare the WMD declarations.36 Kamil disagreed, insisting that Iraq should declare only what the UN and the IAEA already knew about (i.e., Iraq's possession of chemical weapons and missiles, though the Iraqis initially substantially underreported how much they possessed in these categories) and deny everything else (i.e., Iraq's BW program, its nuclear weapons program, and details of its CW and missile programs).

The implementation of Kamil's directive led to a rushed concealment of documents, samples, and equipment from Iraq's WMD programs.37 Following a phone call from Kamil, the biological weapons program started destroying BW agents in May 1991.38 The residual liquid was poured into the ground; munitions were crushed and buried; and some unfilled test munitions were thrown into the Tigris.39 Those carrying out the destruction were ordered not to document this activity.40 The Iraqis also had to develop alternative explanations for their past activities and the purposes of WMD-related sites.41 The coordination challenge associated with this effort was momentous. Iraqi security agencies were concerned that creating cover for WMD facilities created risks, by mixing civilian Iraqi workers with those associated with Iraq's past WMD activities, and that over time these facilities would not be able to perform their cover functions at a convincing level, which could lead to detection by UN inspectors.42 Some documents from the nuclear program damaged in raids during the war were burned. Another 100,000 nuclear documents were removed and placed on trains.43 A box with highly sensitive information about the nuclear weapons program was misplaced; some of these documents were discovered by inspectors in September 1991. Iraq's security apparatus took charge of equipment from the nuclear program without compiling an inventory, while the leaders of the nuclear weapons program did not know what happened to the equipment.44 The chaotic destruction and concealment effort was still ongoing when the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA carried out field inspections in the spring and summer of 1991.

Senior Iraqi officials lacked insight into these activities and into the leadership's calculations, which led to a number of bizarre statements and declarations. For example, when the Iraqi ambassador to the IAEA, Rahim Alkital, met with senior IAEA officials in Vienna on April 15, 1991, to discuss the implementation of the resolution, Alkital could not describe Iraq's interpretation of how the resolution would be implemented: “We still have difficulties in communicating with Baghdad. I requested information on Tuwaitha [the main nuclear research center in Iraq], but received no answers. The people in the Foreign Ministry are certainly much more aware of the Resolution problems than I am here. The only co-operation I can offer is to transmit messages, if any, to and from Baghdad. I am not aware, for the time being, of the interpretation of my Government on the exact terms of the Resolution.”45

Alkital also stated, implausibly, “I am sure that Iraq has no nuclear facility or equipment that I don't know about.”46 In a letter to the IAEA dated April 17, 1991, Iraq claimed that it had “no industrial and support facilities related to any form of atomic energy use which have to be declared.”47 These claims were clearly false: Iraq had previously declared to the IAEA holdings of highly enriched uranium (HEU) under safeguard. Ten days later, on April 27, Iraq declared safeguarded nuclear material and a uranium concentrate production plant, but denied having had a uranium enrichment program.48

UNSCOM and the IAEA carried out its first inspections from May 15 to May 21, and from June 22 through July 3, 1991. Inspectors reported that sites had been extensively cleared of items and documentation; in one case, even the floor had been replaced.49 They discovered further discrepancies on site, and then received corrected explanations from their Iraqi counterparts.50 On June 23, inspectors observed “hectic activity involving trucks, forklifts and heavy equipment. It was hard to avoid the impression that the Iraqi conduct had the aim of concealing objects and activities from the inspection team.”51 On June 28, inspectors barred from entering the Falluja transportation facility observed 60–90 trucks leaving the site. Iraqi guards fired shots into the air as the inspectors watched the trucks depart. The items that the inspectors saw on the trucks indicated that the Iraqis were hiding equipment from an undeclared uranium enrichment program.52

To resolve this crisis, the Security Council sent a high-level mission to Baghdad (June 29–July 3), which included the head of UNSCOM, Rolf Ekéus; the head of the IAEA, Hans Blix; and the Undersecretary for Disarmament Affairs, Yasushi Akashi. On June 28, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ahmed Hussein wrote to the UN secretary-general that Saddam had issued an order to all Iraqi agencies concerned to cooperate fully with the high-level mission “and to solve all bureaucratic problems that may arise in the course of such cooperation.”53

The Iraqi leadership's reaction to this crisis was to destroy undeclared CBW and missiles. Rather than admitting to having concealed these weapons from the UN, the Iraqis tried to cover this fact up by destroying them in secret.54 In late June and early July 1991, they clandestinely destroyed missiles with ranges of more than 150 kilometers (and declared only a small number to the UN for subsequent destruction); items from the still undeclared nuclear weapons program; and undeclared caches of CBW (Iraq had declared a substantial number of chemical weapons to the United Nations, but not all, and denied producing biological weapons). The Iraqi leadership would not admit until March 1992 that chemical weapons had been unilaterally destroyed; it subsequently made misleading declarations about what kinds and how many weapons were destroyed; and it did not document what was destroyed and how. Why the regime conducted this destruction in this manner remains a major puzzle. New sources give important insights into its decisionmaking and implementation processes.

The unilateral destruction removed what was left of Iraq's military WMD capabilities. Iraq destroyed biological weapons (25 missile warheads and approximately 134 aerial bombs); 83–85 missiles (in addition to the 48 declared missiles destroyed under UN supervision in July 1991); some 130 warheads (conventional and chemical); 8 missile launchers (destroyed in October 1991); and support equipment.55 Two other missiles were destroyed later in 1991.56 The regime continued its efforts to remove traces of the BW program and denied as much of its past nuclear weapons program as possible (as well as some of its capabilities in the chemical weapons program).

This effort ran over several stages and campaigns. Officials who were ordered to destroy the BW were given only forty-eight hours to do so, while scientists hid vials with live BW strains in refrigerators in their homes.57 Iraqis demolished the Salman Pak BW site and covered it with soil shortly before a UN inspection in August 1991, while other sites continued under civilian cover.58 From mid-1991 to March 1993, organizations received orders to turn over “know-how” documents to the security apparatus for concealment.59

The Iraqis told a high-level UN delegation in early July 1991 that a “decision had been taken that nothing should be retained that was in contravention of Resolution 687. Actually, equipment belonging to the Atomic Energy Commission of Iraq had been transferred to the military, some of it to be used in the reconstruction work in Iraq, other equipment to be destroyed.”60 They did not explain that the equipment included CBW and missiles or how they had determined that certain items contravened Resolution 687. The Iraqi regime did not admit to the unilateral destruction until after the UN inspectors had identified discrepancies in their initial declarations (after compiling material balances based on information from other states, including imports and numbers of missiles targeting Iran during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War). When pressed by inspectors in March 1992, Aziz admitted to the clandestine destruction of missiles and CW but not of BW warheads.

Iraqi officials offered different explanations for why the unilateral destruction took place. For example, they told UN inspectors that the unilateral destruction was intended to eliminate items that would “prolong the process” of verification and “complicate matters.”61 Iraqi scientists believed that the political leadership did not understand the implications of its initial false declarations about not having these weapons.62 In 1996, Aziz told UNSCOM Chairman Ekéus that a committee chaired by Aziz had decided to destroy missiles and weapons unilaterally in 1991 to prevent the United States from discovering them and using the discovery as a pretext to attack, but at the time, he had not understood the implications of this act for verification.63 Saddam told senior officials—perhaps seeking to save face—that he had ordered the unilateral, clandestine destruction to spare Iraqis the humiliation of having to destroy these weapons in front of inspectors.64

The unilateral destruction contravened Resolution 687 and created a cascade of problems for disarmament verification and Iraqi credibility. The cover-up produced new information problems inside the Iraqi regime. Senior officials did not know the details of how various weapons had been destroyed and were not prepared to ask security services questions about their handling of concealed items. There were no records documenting what had been destroyed, creating lingering uncertainty among Iraqis and outsiders about what had been destroyed and what might still be concealed.


After the intensifying clashes in the initial inspections, the Iraqi leadership adopted a more coordinated approach to its interactions with UN inspectors, which was overseen by a senior committee excluding Kamil, and continued to conceal information and items from its WMD programs. The approach was an example of flexible opportunism: the Iraqi leadership sought to maintain its WMD options to hedge against an uncertain future, as it did not know how much of its capabilities the inspectors would dismantle or how long the inspections and sanctions regime would last. The leadership was uncertain about whether Iraq could preserve any of its WMD capability or only the option of reconstituting the WMD programs more or less from scratch at some future stage. Iraqi officials and scientists, even at senior levels, lacked reliable information about the regime's intentions regarding future reconstitution, and about how much know-how and capability the regime had preserved through its highly secretive deception campaign.

Views inside the Iraqi regime differed about how to implement this new, mixed strategy. One group, led by Tariq Aziz, preferred increasing cooperation with the inspectors to improve the prospects of the sanctions being lifted (but limiting disclosures about what the inspectors uncovered). Another group, associated with Kamil, favored a more restrictive approach of seeking to have the sanctions lifted while preserving the option of reconstituting the WMD programs. There were rivalries within as well as between these groups—a feature of the Iraqi military-industrial complex in general. Indeed, as officials left meetings with Saddam, Kamil told them to disregard his father-in-law's instructions, admonishing them to follow his own policy instead. In so doing, he revealed himself to be as selective about complying with Saddam's orders as he had been before the 1991 Gulf War.65 He also objected to efforts by other senior Iraqi officials to comply with UN instructions to identify, for destruction, machines for the production of ballistic missile engines.66

Saddam created a high-level committee to oversee and manage Iraq's cooperation with the inspections after the June 28 Fallujah incident. Led by Aziz, then deputy prime minister, the committee included senior leaders from the intelligence services, among them, Saddam's son Qusay; the supervisors of the Special Republican Guard, the Republican Guard, and the Special Security Organization; Foreign Minister Ahmed Hussein; and Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, who would later become foreign minister.67 Seeking to create a more structured and informed process, the committee consulted with technical experts and members of the regime's security apparatus.

Aziz and his committee established four guiding principles for Iraq's dealings with the UN inspectors.68 First, Iraq would minimize its disclosures of previous violations of international agreements (i.e., it would not reveal more than the UN inspectors could prove in terms of Iraq's past WMD capabilities and achievements). Second, Iraq would shield resources that could have future civilian applications, by not disclosing these to the inspectors. Third, it would not identify its international suppliers. Fourth, it would not reveal the role of the Special Republican Guard in Iraq's WMD concealment efforts (hiding and destroying items and documents handed over by the scientists), nor would it reveal to the inspectors any sites related to Saddam's office (part of the network of so-called presidential sites).

At the same time, a separate and highly secretive effort to hide Iraqi WMD was supervised by the Concealment Operations Committee, headed by Qusay, with Kamil acting as a senior adviser. The effort appears not to have been closely coordinated with the Aziz committee. Even Qusay apparently did not know the details of Kamil's efforts to preserve know-how from Iraq's former WMD programs.69 According to recollections of Iraqi officials, Kamil stated in 1993 that the programs could be reconstituted after the UN inspections ended.70 He lacked the technical expertise, however, to assess how realistic future reconstitution was (and experts did not volunteer their views). As the UN inspectors steadily dismantled Iraq's capabilities, Iraqi technical experts did not know how much documentation and other items remained concealed.


The Iraqi leadership preferred to issue orders verbally when dealing with sensitive issues, including procurement for WMD programs, and Aziz reported verbally from key meetings.71 The desire for verbal communication about sensitive information and decisions made the leadership's information and policy preferences opaque to those outside Saddam's closest circle. The different preferences and lack of coordination between senior figures such as Kamil and Aziz, who held pivotal roles in formulating Iraqi cooperation with UN inspectors, created difficulties for those charged with implementing the regime's policies. The mechanisms in categories 1 and 2 in table 2 (nurturing internal ambiguity and policy competition) fed into categories 4 and 5 (drift and honest incompetence).

The leadership was aware of these issues. For example, as a result of Iraq's implementation problems, UN inspectors made discoveries on several occasions that the regime had wanted to keep hidden. Two such episodes in the second half of 1991 reveal how Saddam and his senior associates discussed and responded to these problems. In September 1991, UN inspectors found documents from Iraq's nuclear weapons program, including a report from the weaponization project focusing on nuclear warheads and missiles.72 Kamil ordered an investigation into why this trove contained such sensitive documents. A committee was set up, and eleven officials were imprisoned for eighteen days during the investigation. General Amer, who led the investigation, concluded that the reason was simply administrative error. The imprisoned officials were demoted a rank, but did not suffer more severe penalties.73 During 1991, Saddam and senior officials discussed the fact that other Iraqi officials had followed Kamil's instructions to disclose to UN inspectors Project Babylon, a “super-gun” project designed to launch satellites into space or deliver weapons. Incensed, Saddam pointed out that Resolution 687 did not cover this project, revealing his surprisingly detailed understanding of the UN's demands placed on Iraq. He asked, rhetorically, whether Iraqi officials were simply “a herd that moves aimlessly without guidance.” And he warned, “Oh, these things will create problems for us.”74 When Saddam suggested that the Iraqi scientific and technical staffs were not taking their work seriously, Aziz protested: “Oh no, by God, by God, just to be fair to them, they work—[interrupted].” Saddam asked, “Are they any good?” Aziz responded “By God, they work hard, Your Excellency. They are very efficient, really.” Saddam then concluded that the scientists were “in such a psychological state that made them rush in this matter.”75

These episodes illustrate the effects of honest incompetence: lower-level officials did not understand how to interpret ambiguous and sometimes contradictory instructions from two different committees headed by powerful regime elites. Asking for clarification was risky. According to Mahdi Obeidi, the head of the defunct centrifuge program: “Everything was confidential unless stated otherwise. Opening one's mouth could only lead to trouble.”76 Furthermore, the concealment operation was under tremendous pressure, because UN inspectors were in the country as these activities were ongoing. This pressure led to mistakes, but the political leadership accepted these as errors. These observations contradict the established view that no senior official dared give Saddam bad news.77 Although Iraqi officials faced severe punishment—including imprisonment and torture—if they were accused of wrongdoing or disloyalty, there was some room for the admission of mistakes. As Aziz's comments show, senior officials did sometimes shield those who committed what were characterized as errors resulting from pressure and stress.

To reduce the risk of similar incidents, the regime increased its internal monitoring and took steps to prepare sites and documents prior to inspection.78 External observers and UN inspectors noted these activities with suspicion, interpreting them as indications that the Iraqis were not truthful. In October 1991, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Iraqi noncompliance “almost certainly is driven more by a desire to preserve future options than it is by a fear of revealing past indiscretions.”79 This became a firm assumption in the U.S. intelligence community over the next few years.80 The available evidence suggests, in fact, that the regime sought to achieve both objectives, but that the balance between them shifted over time.

The regime's recalcitrance was also motivated by a desire to demonstrate resistance in order to mobilize support among both domestic and regional audiences. In a meeting in September or October 1991, Saddam stated: “We should instigate, instigate problems. We should give others excuses. The others are on the sidelines. I mean, they are saying: ‘Why should we involve ourselves in this matter?‘ … Iraq should not be at their mercy asking whether they will approve or disapprove.”81 Obeidi later noted that as the Iraqi nuclear program was being dismantled, deceptive efforts were primarily a pushback against foreign pressures and less intended to preserve the program.82


Saddam was pessimistic about the prospects that the United States would agree to lift sanctions in return for Iraqi cooperation. In a meeting in August 1991, he warned that U.S. leaders had not given any indication that they would “decrease their harm” to Iraq; he said that they are becoming “worse” and that this means “they will bring the regime they want and will give it to the person they want.”83 Saddam told Iraqi officials: “I have given them everything. I mean, I have given them everything, the missiles, and the chemical, biological and atomic weapons. They didn't give you anything in exchange, not even a piece of bread.”84

As this statement reveals, Saddam had concluded as early as August 1991 that Iraqi compliance with UN demands would not necessarily be rewarded. At least, this was the conclusion he signaled to his senior advisers. At the same time, the effects of the sanctions were so dire that the regime increased its cooperation in the hopes they would be lifted. By “muddling through”—cooperating to the extent that WMD capabilities were dismantled and programs disbanded, while concealing information and items that would reveal the full scope of Iraq's past capabilities to the outside world—the regime believed that it could achieve sanctions relief in the longer term.

How did the regime see the risks and gains of further concessions at this stage? At a meeting in mid-December, senior officials told Saddam that Iraq's verification problems were essentially the result of past concealment activities. Saddam expressed doubt that the sanctions and inspections regime would be viable in the long term: “They will eventually get tired. We have become more conscious and more capable of charting our own path, and we firmly believe that the siege will gradually corrode. There is no connection between what they term as commitment to the resolutions and their own real intentions behind these resolutions.”85 Saddam instructed his officials that, to signal resolve at home and in the Middle East more broadly, they should not surrender equipment to UN inspectors.86

In this meeting, a senior Iraqi official offered an analysis of the UN Security Council session on December 3, 1991. Describing Ambassador Ekéus, the UNSCOM head, he said: “We expected him to present a fair report. I do not mean to take our side, but to be neutral and fair in his report…. It seems they [the Security Council] were expecting this latest committee to plant a new mine [a new obstacle], so that they can make a decision [to continue the sanctions].”87 The same official described Ekéus's report as a prism for how the UN viewed Iraq: “We can analyze this report and see, based on it, the remaining pretexts that they can use against us, so that we may work based on this. At least, we can draw up our plan to face up to this situation.“88

A week or so later, Saddam and his closest circle of advisers and ministers discussed the sanctions. Saddam's trusted adviser Izzat al-Duri (vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council) asked what their strategy should be: “My question is what is our plan towards the sanctions? Are we not supposed to be fighting against the sanctions? Where is our plan? We have to stop this disaster immediately, because the sanctions are killing us.”89 Saddam asked what could be done. The public could blame the regime for the sanctions and their deleterious effects.90 Aziz warned of a deteriorating situation: “Do not think that we are improving for the better by months. What would I know? However, if my comrades know something else, which I do not know about, then please inform us, because in reality, Iraq is collapsing.”91 He cautioned that state institutions were “disintegrating” and that “corruption and bribery [were] out of control.”92

Over the next three to four years, UN inspectors uncovered many aspects of the missile, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs that the regime tried to conceal, as well as the existence of a biological weapons program. The Iraqis reluctantly admitted to certain capabilities and past activities as the inspectors uncovered discrepancies and supporting evidence, yet they also sought international support for lifting or weakening the sanctions. By early 1995, Iraq was still withholding information about the crash program to develop nuclear weapons that it established after the invasion of Kuwait, its use of chemical weapons, its research focusing on nerve agents, and the production of biological weapons. Senior officials intervened to streamline cooperation with the UN inspectors. They instructed security officers “not [to] cause problems” and to prepare sites before inspections. Intended to ensure cooperation, these efforts instead made the inspectors suspicious.93


In early 1995, UN inspectors were uncovering further evidence of Iraq's offensive BW program (including imports of growth media and fermenters suited for BW agent production), which the regime still denied. Saddam met with his senior advisers on February 5 to discuss how to respond. He highlighted the fundamental problem: if Iraq again admitted to having concealed information about past programs, the inspectors might question Iraqi compliance across all areas.94 This is the essence of the cheater's dilemma: admitting to more concealment decreased the likelihood that Iraq would be rewarded, whereas nonadmission risked being caught making another deceptive move. Admission could unify the Security Council against Iraq, General Rashid noted, because the regime had deceived not only the inspectors, but also Iraq's allies France and Russia, concerning its former WMD capabilities and disarmament. As a result, there would be no hope of getting the sanctions lifted.95 At the same time, Aziz noted, resolution of the remaining questions about the BW program was the only issue standing in the way of France's support for lifting the sanctions.96

In the meeting, Aziz told Saddam that, although Iraq had paid a heavy price for cooperating with the inspectors, these costs necessitated continuing cooperation. He elaborated: “We played the rules of the game, and we paid the price, Sir. We paid the price. In 1991, our weapons were destroyed. We destroyed the whole nuclear program and they also destroyed it. We also destroyed the missiles with our hands and their hands. The main factories were destroyed. There is only very little left of the rules of the game. So it is not in our interest to leave the rules now. This departure from the rules of the game should have taken place at the time when we [had not already made] these sacrifices and [had not carried out] such intensive technical, political, and diplomatic work, and with this level of international understanding. There remained [then] only small things [issues].”97

Saddam and Aziz's conversation is a study in multivocality: vague recommendations (despite specific language), internal taboos, and a mostly silent leader. In the February 5 meeting, senior officials discussed the biological program, thus breaking the unstated taboo against speaking about Iraq's most secretive WMD programs. Kamil expressed discomfort, asserting, “I did not want to speak so openly were it not for Your Excellency's raising and explaining the issue, and the statement by Tariq that we produced biological weapons.”98 Kamil stated that Iraq had not only concealed facts about its BW program, but had also given incorrect accounting of imported materials for its past WMD programs and of its chemical warfare against Iran during the 1980s. Further admissions, then, would reveal new information about past capabilities and deception efforts and prolong the sanctions, perhaps indefinitely. Addressing Saddam, Kamil stated: “Sir, I would like to go back to this subject: Do we have to reveal everything or do we continue with the silence? Sir, if the meeting took this line, I must say that it is in our interest not to reveal anything.”99

In the same meeting, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan argued, “It is wrong to waste time, even if our position is not convincing. We must stand on our own feet when we want to change the current method of dealing so that there will be the possibility for pressure and influence.”100 In other words, in terms of achieving sanctions relief or removal, maintaining a less than credible position was preferable to the risks of further admissions. Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council al-Duri proposed setting a firm deadline: “We cannot endure more and our people have unanimously rejected this policy. If no serious change takes place within the next few months or days in dealing with Iraq positively at the Security Council, we will abandon our commitment to the Security Council.”101

Over the next months, the regime pursued a more confrontational policy along these lines, threatening to suspend cooperation with the inspectors absent tangible progress on the lifting of sanctions. This approach, headed by Aziz, was under strong pressure from Kamil, who did not want to reveal the BW program and preferred a more confrontational approach to the UN. Saddam backed Aziz, but would do so only for so long, indicating a deadline of one year.

The Iraqi leadership maintained its implausible, even ridiculous, explanations in response to UN discoveries of equipment and materials that clearly indicated the production of BW agents. For example, Aziz told Ekéus on February 21 that there was no Iraqi BW program and that the import of growth media in large quantities in the late 1980s (clearly indicating large-scale production of BW agents) was carried out by a former health minister whom Aziz characterized as an “idiot” and a “complete ass.”102 The Iraqis told the UN inspectors that the growth media had been distributed to hospitals and that, after the 1991 Gulf War, each and every one of these sites had been attacked by looters who destroyed the growth media and all documentation (except in one case where the Iraqis alleged documents fell off a truck). None of this was convincing.103

In March 1995, General Amer and Aziz indicated to Ekéus that they had secured permission from Saddam to admit to the biological weapons program.104 They insisted that Ekéus “close[]” the other files (missiles, CW, and nuclear) before making this admission. Amer told Ekéus in a meeting on May 31 that such closure was important “politically,” indicating Saddam's support for additional BW disclosures, a message that Amer underscored by staring silently but “very meaningfully” at Ekéus.105

Saddam and his senior officials believed that they could build international support for the lifting of sanctions. Aziz argued that the United States was nervous that Ekéus's forthcoming regular report to the Security Council might not be entirely negative and that other states wanted to work toward lifting sanctions.106 Ramadan urged that Baghdad should “mainly focus on the countries that do understand this logic, meaning the resolution and its technicality, especially those countries that have members in the [Security Council] committee.” The regime, he argued, should develop contacts with China, Indonesia, Oman (then a member of the Security Council), and Qatar. European states, including France, Germany, and Italy, were important targets for such missions.107

After the inspectors' report to the Security Council in April 1995, Iraqi officials insisted that the next (June) report to the Council reflect their cooperation. General Amer warned the IAEA Action Team that the regime faction supporting cooperation was “vulnerable to attack from within the regime and unless the meeting of the Security Council scheduled for 19 June shows substantial progress towards the implementation of paragraph 22 [regarding the lifting of sanctions], his faction will lose the initiative and there will be a drastic revision of the relationship between Iraq and the UN agencies.”108

On June 19, Ekéus reported to the Security Council that the biological file was the key remaining issue. On July 1, Iraq begrudgingly admitted more details about its previous BW program. Rihab Taha, a senior scientist in the BW program, and General Amer presented the history of the program to Ekéus and his delegation at the Military Industrial Corporation in Baghdad. They admitted to the production of BW agents but implausibly denied weaponization, claiming that they had not had time to proceed with this, in an apparent bureaucratic compromise.109 This denial of weaponization, however, undermined the credibility of their admission. A likely explanation is that they did not want to account for the BW they had destroyed in the summer of 1991. In mid-July, Aziz posed an ultimatum to Ekéus, meant for the Security Council: unless sanctions were lifted, Iraq would end cooperation with the inspectors by August 31. He underscored that this was “not a bluff.”110 But on August 8, Kamil, the head of MIC and the chief architect of Iraq's concealment activities, defected to Jordan.111 The Iraqi leadership did not know what he would reveal.


Kamil's defection presented the Iraqi leadership with a new dilemma—how to contain his likely revelations of past concealment to the outside world. The leadership did not know the full details of the deception campaign orchestrated by Kamil and, accordingly, could not anticipate precisely what he would reveal. Their own internal fact-finding mission after his defection was highly sensitive. Even senior officials were reluctant to probe into the role of Iraq's security apparatus or Kamil's activities, given his close relationship with and support from Saddam.

The Iraqi leadership met on August 12, 1995, to discuss what information Kamil could reveal. On August 13 or 14, the head of the Iraqi Monitoring Directorate, Hussam Amin, wrote a report to Saddam blaming Kamil for creating tension with UN inspectors on several occasions.112 The report claimed that Kamil's activities had been discovered only after his defection and that they came as a great shock. The report may have been intended to avoid implicitly criticizing Saddam for having trusted Kamil and to deflect blame from other senior officials. The report also criticized Kamil's associates for appointing “bad Directors.”113 Amin stressed that Iraq must curb “opportunists and traitors” inside the military-industrial complex, which had been led by Kamil, and sharply criticized named senior regime officials who had worked closely with him.114

For them, the potential fallout from Kamil's defection was sufficient incentive to suppress information about his former activities. This tension is apparent in a conversation among senior regime officials a month after his defection. As an official told Saddam: “One could say that talking about Husayn [Kamil] is like walking into a minefield, not knowing when an explosion is going to happen.”115 The blowback risks of probing into Kamil's activities left lingering uncertainties about the scope of the past deception campaign, which paved the way for drift (as agents were better off not volunteering information associating them with Kamil's activities or probing into activities of powerful actors such as the security apparatus) and disobedience (as agents who wanted to exploit this uncertainty hid sensitive documents despite explicit orders to hand these over to inspectors).

Kamil's departure intensified uncertainty among Iraqi officials concerning the state of Iraq's WMD disarmament. Now, implementing a turnaround from concealment to cooperation was even more difficult. In June, Saddam told his officials, “What's important is convincing your own kin [everyone laughs] and not just Ekéus!”116

After Kamil's defection, the regime's intentions to cooperate and the behavior of lower-level officials diverged. For example, officials maintained their denials of the BW program even after the regime had made additional disclosures.117 Despite Aziz's statements that the regime would increase its cooperation with the inspectors, officials gave implausible and apparently improvised explanations for the concealment of documents and how these had come to light after Kamil's departure.118 Notwithstanding explicit instructions, state employees down the implementation chain appear to have assumed that the regime's intentions remained ambiguous, and they acted accordingly (consistent with the mechanisms listed under categories 5 and 6 in table 2, agents assumed that they did not have the full picture and avoided questions that sought clarification, and they relied on past observations, rather than new instructions, to guide their behavior). This gap between policy and behavior reflected both hedging (mechanisms in category 6) and drift (mechanism 4).

Senior officials debated the consequences of Kamil's defection for the prospect of sanctions being lifted and how these officials could improve their situation. Aziz told Saddam and other senior officials that the revelations following Kamil's defection would create new suspicions that Iraq was still concealing items and documents, suspicions that would make the lifting of sanctions a more distant prospect.119 Saddam had insisted in early 1995 that sanctions be lifted within one year; this timeline was clearly no longer feasible.120 Aziz noted that the fallout from Kamil's defection would be extensive, causing a delay of at least six months in the lifting of sanctions.121 Aziz suggested that documents could be found among the personal papers of senior scientists and that these could be given to the inspectors to facilitate the verification process.122

Kamil chose to reveal relatively little when he spoke to the UN inspectors in Amman.123 Ironically, the Iraqi regime disclosed much more in an effort to preempt revelations that they feared Kamil would make. Ekéus and senior inspectors visited Baghdad before meeting with Kamil in Amman. When they arrived, Aziz told them that Kamil had instructed General Amer's own staff not to disclose information to the inspectors or to Amer. Aziz was not a technical expert, he added, and Amer had joined MIC only in late 1991, so they had not known the truth.124 Vice President Ramadan then revealed what had been so long denied: Iraq had weaponized two BW agents (anthrax and botulinum toxin), and R400 aerial bombs and Al Hussein missile warheads filled with BW agents had been deployed in three locations in January 1991. These weapons were secretly destroyed in May and June 1991.125

As Ekéus and his team traveled to the airport on August 22, after their Baghdad meetings, the Iraqi leadership presented them with large caches of documents from the WMD programs that had been stored in Kamil's so-called Chicken (Haider) Farm. The leadership did not convincingly explain where these documents had been since 1991, why the BW documents were less comprehensive than those of the other programs, or why MIC files were curiously missing. Nor could it explain why some documents from this collection had been burned on August 14–15, 1995—two days after Amer Rashid in a letter to the UN had promised cooperation—and others apparently removed.126 For the UN inspectors, an obvious question was how these documents had surfaced after Kamil's defection. Iraqi counterparts struggled to find an answer, as a senior official described having sudden visions of important documents concealed on this site becoming visible in the moonlight, eliciting laughter from senior Iraqi officials present, while others claimed that Kamil's girlfriend had suggested that the documents could be found on the farm.127 Telling even a ridiculous story was preferable to telling the truth, which would lead to potentially damaging discoveries, or a more carefully crafted lie, which risked accusations of further deception.

Although Iraq's policy of deception and denial ended after Kamil's defection, the same could not be said of its cheating.128 Iraq imported missile components, without notifying the UN, and tried to avoid declaring dual-use items (equipment that could be used in permitted as well as prohibited programs), to keep these from being destroyed or placed under monitoring by UN inspectors. In a meeting in the late fall of 1995, Saddam and Aziz discussed how to get away with this kind of cheating. Aziz said, “Sir, as far as cheating we are cheating and we continue to cheat.” Saddam responded, “We need to know how to cheat.” Aziz continued, “Sir, you know we are not going to report everything we have to the Special Committee for this inspection, not everything…. We can explain if it gets discovered and find a way out of it, we say do not talk about it, we are working on it.”129 Saddam replied, “As long as it is that way, it is not going to cause something big.”130 Aziz suggested telling Amir Rashid, but Saddam disagreed. Such cheating and compartmentalization may have fed ambiguity within the senior tiers of the regime (consistent with mechanism 1d in table 2). Lower-level agents observed Iraq cheating but did not know whether this was WMD related (category 6 in table 2).


Iraqi officials openly disagreed with one another when disclosing new information about the past BW program to Ekéus and the UN inspectors, to the point where General Amer intervened to say the Iraqis had to start coordinating their statements.131 The regime maintained some red lines, even after Kamil's defection, concerning its past WMD plans, doctrines for use, and former policies, which it defined as “very sensitive” and “political,” rather than as part of the technical and material accounting for its disarmament (while recognizing that this was within the UN's mandate).132 General Amer stated that the regime, presumably at the most senior level, was concerned as to what this information would be used for, and that the provision of such information in itself was a very sensitive issue.133

Those down the chain of implementation slowed, and even resisted, the leadership's effort to increase cooperation and transparency. Aziz told UN inspectors that Generals Murthada, al-Saadi, and Amer had “trouble with their subordinates who had thought of Hussein Kamel as Buddha. However, Tariq Aziz had himself spoken to the staff as a whole, and had insisted that they must cooperate.”134 This inconsistency was also noted by the Security Council in October 1996.135 The regime tried to monitor the Iraqis who interacted with the inspection teams, to ensure that they acted according to Saddam's instructions. The security service agents charged with monitoring these interactions struggled to understand technical issues, and Iraqi scientists found their monitoring suffocating.136 Security agents were perceived as sources of trouble, and individuals shielded themselves and their colleagues by refraining from raising potentially problematic issues in front of them (an example of how individual-level incentives clashed with those of the regime, leading to drift, is described as mechanism 4a in table 2).

Senior officials sent mixed signals to lower-level officials regarding how cooperative they should be with the UN inspectors. Aziz, for example, apparently preferred a confrontational attitude.137 In the late 1990s, he reprimanded Iraq's main interlocutor in nuclear matters, who was subsequently demoted for being too accommodating to the UN inspectors.138 Jafar, the former scientific head of the nuclear weapons program, sensed that Aziz's more confrontational attitude was welcomed.139 As this example shows, senior figures encouraged behavior that differed from the stated policies (consistent with mechanisms 2a and 2b described in table 2).

The regime directed scientists in 1996 to hand over all documents from the WMD programs to Iraqi authorities, warning that they risked execution for failing to do so. The following year, the regime instructed staff to sign declarations certifying that they had no WMD-related documents or equipment, and again threatened execution for noncompliance. Scientists produced documents that were then given to the National Monitoring Directorate, the UN inspectors' main Iraqi counterpart.140 The Directorate inserted representatives inside organizations to monitor compliance.141 Despite such control measures, shirking persisted: some scientists withheld sensitive information, and others retained information for personal benefit, such as future business opportunities, in contravention of their orders.142 This behavior, consistent with mechanisms 3 and 4 in table 2, illustrates how disobedience, motivated by personal gain or by uncertainty about the regime's true policy preferences (or both), contributed to these compliance problems.

Even though Saddam had decided to end Iraq's policy of denial and deception, its behavior appeared ambiguous. Iraq cheated on small matters, calculating that it could get away with it. Officials resisted the measures taken by the regime to ensure greater cooperation. The regime struggled to coordinate behavior, as the principals relied on increased (but flawed) monitoring, but failed to modify agents' incentive to comply.

Iraqi agents faced dilemmas associated with their own cover-ups vis-à-vis the leadership. One such incident surfaced in November 1995, when gyroscopes (components of missile guidance systems) were found dumped in the Tigris. Resolution 687 allowed Iraq to produce missiles with ranges of less than 150 kilometers, but all imports had to be registered, and these gyroscopes had not been registered.143 After the regime had instructed everyone to submit any remaining information and equipment to the UN inspectors, the technical staff apparently panicked and threw the gyroscopes in the river. Amer told Saddam:

I think I said this in more than 10 meetings and Mr. Deputy Prime Minister said the same thing. After the 5th or the 6th time they … started to believe the seriousness of the matter, they went and told General Hussam [Amin]. They told Hussam that there is such an issue would you please tell General Amer, but they didn't tell him about the gyroscopes [laughing]. They told him it was just a couple of insignificant equipment that came by mistake, and we were afraid that it would create a problem so we threw it in the river! Hussam told them if the issue is like this there's no need to tell General Amer about it, [according] to his judgment. In the extended meeting number 7 or 8, we told them if you have anything please tell us. Because if you don't tell us, you will be doing a favor to the American intelligence, because they will eventually know. So tell us and us as a Command Council [we] will take care of this issue because it's important.144

Because the technical staff did not specify the sensitive nature of the equipment to General Amer, he (and Amin) instructed them to report this to the UN inspectors. Despite the serious fallout from the discovery of the gyroscopes, the officials involved apparently went unpunished. This remarkable episode illustrates the shielding by senior officials of lower-level officials (mechanism 2c in table 2), as well as the honest incompetence (mechanism 5a in table 2) that emerged from the lack of clear guidelines and reluctance to ask clarifying questions.


After visiting the UN in New York in November 1995, Aziz observed that the fallout from the Kamil defection had primarily affected “our friends and the people in between” (i.e., friendly states and other states that could be persuaded to support Iraq). Prospects for sanctions relief were distant, “even among our friends and especially the French,” he said; “the files, which were reopened, will take a very long time to be closed again.”145 Aziz noted that, with the exception of Iraq's “known enemies” (the United States and the United Kingdom), “everyone encouraged us to continue with this agenda.”146

As the months passed, the inspectors were edging closer to reporting that Iraq had fulfilled its obligations for WMD disarmament under Resolution 687. In February 1997, Blix told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the IAEA was “almost ready” to report that Iraq had dismantled its nuclear program, and despite U.S. displeasure, this report could not be artificially delayed. Ekéus could make a similar report by October, by the earliest, assuming full cooperation from Iraq.147 In June, Blix noted in preparation for discussions in the UN that the IAEA still needed clarifications from Iraq about its concealment strategy, the role of the security apparatus in procurement, and documentation or other clear evidence that the nuclear weapons program had been truly “abandoned” and “not merely interrupted.”148 UNSCOM had shifted its focus to the so-called concealment mechanism, undertaking a series of intrusive inspections that targeted sensitive Iraqi sites—those linked with the security services and with Saddam's palaces. Aziz believed that the United States wanted either to provoke crises to prolong the sanctions or to provoke Iraq into expelling the inspectors, to justify bombing raids.149

The Iraqis insisted that the UN inspectors report to the Security Council that Iraq had complied with its WMD disarmament obligations. When the agencies raised outstanding verification issues in the summer of 1997, Aziz accused UNSCOM of fabricating crises to extend its involvement.150 Humam Ghafour, Iraq's minister of culture and higher education, protested to Blix on August 1, 1997, that “the IAEA was deliberately raising last minute questions with a view to prolonging the process indefinitely.”151 Iraq secured an agreement from Secretary-General Annan limiting inspection modalities for sensitive sites. The IAEA worried that Iraq would attract more support.152

France, Russia, and some Latin American countries were pushing to move forward with the lifting of sanctions.153 The United States proposed an oil-for-food arrangement to allow some money to flow into Iraq to help improve the humanitarian situation. Although Iraqi officials initially resisted the arrangement, citing concerns about sovereignty, this mechanism ultimately solved two problems: it eased domestic dissatisfaction, and the lucrative contracts it provided mobilized greater support from other countries to lift or ease the sanctions. The Iraqis believed that the Bill Clinton administration would never agree to lift sanctions absent regime change, further undercutting Iraq's incentive for cooperation with the inspections. On March 26, 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave a speech at Georgetown University in which she declared that the United States would not lift sanctions while Saddam remained in power.154

By the fall of 1997, the Security Council was deeply divided. A proposed resolution (1134) stated that Iraq had violated Resolution 687 by not agreeing to intrusive inspections. In October 1997, China, Egypt, France, Kenya, and Russia abstained from voting on it. In the fall of 1998, the Security Council requested that the inspectors prove the existence of WMD, rather than continuing to press Iraq to prove their nonexistence. Shortly after, with the United States preparing to launch air strikes in Operation Desert Fox, the inspectors departed Iraq. Saddam did not want them to return unless the sanctions were lifted.155

The sanctions remained in place, but the inspectors did not return. Behind the scenes, Saddam passed a secret Revolutionary Command Council resolution ending Iraqi compliance with all UN resolutions.156 The secret order did not, however, align with what actually happened. Iraq did not restart its WMD programs; to the contrary: when an Iraqi scientist proposed biological research into viruses and germs that could be used to pollute water supplies meant for U.S. forces in the region, the regime denied permission, on the basis that this would violate UN resolutions, and it requested that the documentation would be destroyed.157 Once again, Saddam engaged in multivocality by promoting competing tracks and allowing various domestic audiences to draw their own conclusions about his true preferences.


After the United States invaded Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, Iraqi officials began to fear that their country would be next.158 Saddam believed that regime change would be an overstretch for the United States. In a meeting with Kurdish politician Nijrfan al-Barzani in mid-March 2002, he argued: “In our assessment, the Americans will not strike, or maybe they will only strike military targets. They will not take an action to change the regime at this time and at least for a while because this requires considering their risks as far as the public opinion impact for attacking two Muslim countries. [President George W.] Bush's relation with his people regarding the conspiracy [of regime change] is currently excellent and he is hoping to strengthen his position in Congress, so his party needs to win the people['s] support. Though, what he is saying [about changing the Iraqi regime] requires much more time and there are indications that his popularity is starting to partially diminish.“159

Saddam continued, “If the inspectors will be returning as guides for the American attack, then we will never accept that. Rather, we will accept them to reach a clear decision that Iraq didn't manufacture weapons of mass destructions because we do not turn our backs away from discussions and we are confident that we can clarify these facts.”160 His assessment was overly optimistic. A group of Iraqi officials recommended resuming inspections in June 2002, but Saddam insisted that sanctions should be suspended first.161

Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom were making their public case for war. The Security Council passed Resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, giving Iraq “a final opportunity” to comply with its WMD disarmament obligations.162 Iraq agreed to resume inspections in November, and UN inspectors returned to Iraq at the end of the month. In Baghdad, senior officials were increasingly concerned that the United States would launch a war.163

Resolution 1441 declared Iraq to be in noncompliance with its obligations under Resolution 687, putting the Iraqi leadership in a difficult position: if it reported having no WMD, skeptical states would conclude that it was lying; if, on the other hand, Iraq had WMD and reported this, it would pave the way to war. Iraq had no active WMD programs, but Iraqi officials could not prove a negative. Iraq submitted a declaration to the Security Council on December 7, 2002, that avoided potentially incriminating issues but did not misrepresent the facts on the ground.164 The regime's decision not to declare issues that might raise suspicion or that might cast earlier declarations into doubt left gaps that made the international community suspicious.

In November 2002, the Iraqi leadership set up a committee of senior officials to coordinate interactions with the UN inspectors.165 Problems of control and oversight persisted. Among other issues, the committee considered whether Iraqi scientists could be interviewed without Iraqi officials present. The concern, voiced by Qusay, was that scientists would lie to secure U.S. visas for themselves and their families.166 The leadership decided to prepare the scientists for the UN interviews and requested that they either record their conversations with the inspectors or request the presence of an Iraqi official during their interviews.167 A more difficult issue was the regime's inability to resolve past verification problems, in the absence of documentation, from the 1991 unilateral destruction of CBW and missiles.168

Overall, Iraq's response echoed its behavior from 1991 to 1998. Saddam's orders evolved, from displaying an initial reluctance to acquiesce to the terms requested by the UN to instructing officials to fully cooperate in December 2002.169 Regime efforts to streamline its cooperation aroused suspicions.170 The regime oscillated between initiatives to destroy or hide information that could provoke doubt about Iraqi compliance and “crash efforts” to ensure greater cooperation with the UN inspectors.171 Notwithstanding the high stakes, implementation problems persisted. Despite instructions to cooperate, factory managers initially blocked the inspectors, apparently assuming that Saddam did not want them to cooperate, yet they provided access to a so-called presidential site.172 The leadership worried that past projects started by individual scientists without the leadership's permission, or documents concealed by individual scientists that could violate UN resolutions and had not been handed to the regime, would be uncovered by the inspectors.173 In early 2003, Vice President Ramadan spoke at length to members of the Iraqi military-industrial complex, insisting that staff cooperate fully and that this order reflected Saddam's true preferences.174

The Iraqis intensified their cooperation in early 2003, agreeing to destroy missiles that could violate the restrictions imposed by Resolution 687 and providing names of individuals involved with the 1991 unilateral destruction efforts. They even offered to allow inspectors to interview officers from the security apparatus, which in the past they had refused to do. These measures did not make a difference. On March 19, 2003, forces from the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq.

The Cascading Effects of Past Lies

What happened in Iraq from 1991 to 2003 illustrates the dilemmas faced by a state pressed to reveal information about past WMD programs and its efforts to deceive others, when the risks of admitting more wrongdoing are evident, while the promised rewards are elusive.

Whether or not admitting to past violations and deception will lead to the promised rewards for compliance informs how states handle this dilemma, especially in repeated interactions such as those that took in place in Iraq over several years. This is fundamentally a question about the risks of not giving promised rewards to states after they change their behavior, as described by Thomas Schelling decades ago.175 Isolated states, such as Iraq, with powerful enemies, such as the United States, have sound reasons for doubting that admitting to past violations and cover-ups will lead to promised rewards. The Iraq case illustrates the downsides of additional disclosures, such as those offered by the Iraqi leadership after the Kamil defection in August 1995, which only intensified criticism of Iraq from states intent on maintaining the sanctions until the regime collapsed. Iraq, and likely also other states whose powerful allies or adversaries are gatekeepers to the rewards they want, are understandably reluctant to provide complete disclosures of past transgressions, even after the leadership decides to change its behavior.

Disclosing a past deception can create or reinforce a confirmation bias among both external and internal audiences, an issue that rightly concerned Iraqi officials. A retrospective analysis by the Central Intelligence Agency notes that analysts stuck with their assumptions that Iraq continued to deceive, rather than accept what new information indicated: that these deception efforts had ended.176 Individuals inside the Iraqi state apparatus may have reached similar conclusions following revelations of cover-ups and observed cheating. When senior figures preferred behavior that was less cooperative than what the regime's policy indicated, this impression may have been reinforced.

Principal-agent problems shaped Iraqi cooperation with the UN inspectors and obstructed policy change from denial to greater transparency. In the context of the Iraqi regime, these problems were amplified by governance practices that reflected multivocality—with Saddam making ambiguous statements or avoiding taking sides in policy debates among his senior advisers that he encouraged—such that Iraqi elites interpreted his position differently. The Iraqi leadership's decision to transition from a highly secretive concealment operation orchestrated by Hussein Kamil in the spring and summer of 1991 toward a policy coordinated by committee amplified these principal-agent problems for two reasons. First, increasing the number of actors coordinating the implementation of policy introduced more varied policy preferences, which created uncertainty among the agents as to what the leadership's true preferences were. Second, this expansion produced grave information asymmetries between principals and agents. Even Saddam's most senior associates and advisers, such as Aziz and General Amer, lacked information about the concealment operation (notably, the role of the security agencies in hiding documents and items from 1991 to 1995).

The cheater's dilemma also helps explain why the Iraqis held to less credible positions (such as the bureaucratic compromise not to admit to BW weaponization), and why they told ridiculous stories (about moonlit visions and documents falling off trucks) rather than the truth. Offering an obviously ridiculous explanation was preferable to crafting a new lie, which might be uncovered by the UN inspectors, or admitting the truth, which would result in new blows to the regime's hopes of having the sanctions lifted. Other states facing similar dilemmas may also conclude that they are better off sticking with explanations that are blatantly not credible, even after having abandoned the proscribed activities, as Iraq had done.


Iraq did not convincingly demonstrate that it no longer had WMD before the 2003 war for two reasons. First, the Iraqi regime struggled to resolve a cheater's dilemma: the costs of additional revelations weighed against the likely benefits of such disclosures. The regime's concerns about the risks of further disclosures, combined with the clumsiness of its 1991 cover-up effort, resulted in a “muddling-through” approach, where the leadership gradually made admissions about past WMD programs and its own attempted cover-up efforts, but failed to demonstrate this change convincingly to others. The regime's reluctant admissions led to suspicion of further cheating rather than progress toward the lifting of sanctions. When Secretary of State Albright declared that sanctions would not be lifted short of regime change, Iraq's incentive to cooperate with UN inspections evaporated.

Second, principal-agent problems obstructed the Iraqi leadership's efforts to increase cooperation. These problems, which resulted from incomplete information and asymmetric preferences among Iraqi principals and agents, were reflected in policy competition among senior officials, as well as hedging and drift by agents on the ground. For Iraq, such problems were especially acute, because the regime typically engaged in robust action tactics, such as nurturing competing policy tracks and displaying calculated ambiguity, that led the agents to assume that the regime's stated policy was not a reliable guide to the regime's true preferences.

Previous explanations identify important factors shaping Iraqi cooperation: information asymmetries, diverging preferences, and difficult trade-offs between regime security and long-term survival. Principal-agent problems explain several long-standing puzzles: how old chemical weapons could be misplaced; why agents acted based on outdated orders and failed to change when presented with new instructions; and why Saddam and some of his senior advisers could have blundered by failing to anticipate the consequences of key decisions, such as the unilateral, undocumented destruction of WMD, for Iraq's credibility. The Iraqi principal and his closest circle of advisers appeared to be resigned, to the point of cynical amusement, to the embarrassing mistakes and lame excuses that resulted.

These findings give clues for analyzing how other similarly isolated states might handle the cheater's dilemma. Recent U.S. behavior has set dangerous precedents: after states such as Iraq, Libya, and Iran dismantled or scaled back their nuclear weapons programs, the United States did not deliver the promised rewards. Persuading isolated states to reveal past WMD proliferation activities will be more difficult in the future.


The author thanks the anonymous reviewers, participants at the Jerusalem Workshop for Nuclear Studies at Hebrew University, the Minnesota International Relations Colloquium, the Social Science Seminar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, the Nuclear Weapons Working Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Managing the Atom seminar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and the Global Governance Institute at University College London. The author also thanks Lisa Blaydes, Eliza Gheorghe, Francesca Jensenius, Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack, Scott Sagan, and Nikita Smidovich for comments and advice. She gives special thanks to Keren Yarhi-Milo for generous advice and for naming the cheater's dilemma.



Whether weapons of mass destruction (WMD) functioned as a driver or justification for the 2003 invasion remains disputed. See Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro, “Known Unknowns: Power Shifts, Uncertainty, and War,” International Organization, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2014), pp. 1–31, doi.org/10.1017/S0020818313000192; Robert Jervis, Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2011); Joshua Rovner, Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005); and Ahsan I. Butt, “Why Did the United States Invade Iraq in 2003?” Security Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April/May 2019), pp. 250–285, doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2019.1551567.


“Transcript: David Kay at Senate Hearing,” CNN, January 29, 2004, http://edition.cnn.com/2004/US/01/28/kay.transcript/.


The reverse dilemma is explored in Allison Carnegie and Austin Carson, “The Disclosure Dilemma: Nuclear Intelligence and International Organizations,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 63, No. 2 (April 2019), pp. 269–285, doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12426.


See, for example, Sir John Chilcot, The Report of the Iraq Inquiry: Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors, House of Commons, July 6, 2016, H.C. 264; Charles Duelfer, Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD, Vols. 1, 2, and 3, September 30, 2004 (Langley, Va.: Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2004) (henceforth Duelfer report); CIA, Misreading Intentions: Iraq's Reaction to Inspections Created Picture of Deception, Iraq WMD Retrospective Series, January 5, 2006 (Langley, Va.: CIA, 2006), https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0005567895.pdf; David A. Lake, “Two Cheers for Bargaining Theory: Assessing Rationalist Explanations of the Iraq War,” International Security, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Winter 2010/11), pp. 7–52, doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00029; Lawrence Freedman, “War in Iraq: Selling the Threat,” Survival, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Summer 2004), pp. 7–49, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00396338.2004.9688597; and Patrick Porter, Blunder: Britain's War in Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).


Freedman, “War in Iraq,” p. 22.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 34.


Lake, “Two Cheers for Bargaining Theory,” p. 9; Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, pp. 1, 28–29; Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (New York: Pantheon, 2006), p. 65; Laurence H. Silberman and Charles S. Robb, The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction: Report to the President of the United States, March 31, 2005 (Washington, D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 2005), p. 174; Jervis, Why Intelligence Fails, pp. 146–148; and Charles Duelfer, “WMD Elimination in Iraq, 2003,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 23, No. 1–2 (September 2016), p. 175, doi.org/10.1080/10736700.2016.1179431.


Lake, “Two Cheers for Bargaining Theory,” pp. 29–30; Kenneth M. Pollack, “Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong,” Atlantic, January/February 2004, pp. 83, 85; and Gordon and Trainor, Cobra II, pp. 55–56.


Scott Ritter, Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein, with a foreword by Seymour Hersh (New York: Nation, 2005), p. 5.


See, for example, Lake, “Two Cheers for Bargaining Theory,” p. 9; and CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. ii.


Freedman, “War in Iraq,” p. 23; and CIA, Misreading Intentions, pp. ii, 14.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 65; and Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray, “Saddam's Delusions: The View from the Inside,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 3 (May/June 2006), pp. 5–6.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 19; Kevin M. Woods et al., Iraqi Perspectives Project: A View of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam's Senior Leadership (Washington, D.C.: United States Joint Forces Command, 2006), p. 8.


Gregory D. Koblentz, “Saddam versus the Inspectors: The Impact of Regime Security on the Verification of Iraq's WMD Disarmament,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 41, No. 3 (April 2018), pp. 372–409, doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2016.1224764. See also Freedman, “War in Iraq,” pp. 22–23; and Ritter, Iraq Confidential, p. 156.


Koblentz, “Saddam versus the Inspectors,” p. 381.


Addendums to the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD (Langley, Va.: CIA, March 2005), p. 1, https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/addenda.pdf.


“U.S. Intelligence Documents on Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq,” New York Times, October 14, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-intelligence-documents-on-chemical-weapons-found-in-iraq.html.


See, for example, Brad S. Dorris, letter to D. Victoria Baranetsky, January 16, 2014 (Fort George G. Meade, Md.: Freedom of Information/Privacy Office, United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, Department of the Army, January 16, 2014), p. 4, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/1307507/nytfoiarequest.pdf.


Later, the Bashar al-Assad regime's use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war revived suspicion that Iraq could have been the source of those weapons. Rowan Scarborough, “Assad's Fall Could Solve Iraqi Weapons Mystery,” Washington Times, January 22, 2012, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/22/assads-fall-could-solve-iraqi-weapons-mystery/.


John F. Padgett and Christopher K. Ansell, “Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434,” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98, No. 6 (May 1993), pp. 1260–1263, doi.org/10.1086/230190; and ibid., p. 1263.




John Hendry, “The Principal's Other Problems: Honest Incompetence and the Specification of Objectives,” Academy of Management Review, Vol. 27, No. 1 (January 2002), pp. 98–113.


Duelfer report, Vol. 3, Evolution of the Chemical Warfare Program, p. 6.


Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer, Unclear Physics: Why Iraq and Libya Failed to Build Nuclear Weapons (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2016), p. 108.


Ibid., p. 12.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Acting Director of MIC, Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid, and an Iraqi Delegation, Military Industrial Corporation, Baghdad, 18 September 1995, 8:00 p.m.,” personal archive of Rolf Ekéus (henceforth Ekéus papers), United Nations Special Commission [UNSCOM], New York, p. 10.


Milan W. Svolik, The Politics of Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Timur Kuran, Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995); and Lisa Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).


Svolik, Politics of Authoritarian Rule, p. 2.


Kuran, Private Truths, Public Lies, pp. 4, 119.


Lisa Blaydes, State of Repression: Iraq under Saddam Hussein (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2018), p. 5.


Elizabeth N. Saunders, “Leaders, Advisers, and the Political Origins of Elite Support for War,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 62, No. 10 (November 2018), p. 2121, doi.org/10.1177%2F0022002718785670.


Jeanne Guillemin, Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 55.


Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination, pp. 6, 145.


Elizabeth N. Saunders, “The Domestic Politics of Nuclear Choices—A Review Essay,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 146–184, doi.org/10.1162/isec_a_00361.


United Nations (UN) Security Council, Resolution 687, S/RES/687, April 8, 1991.


Jafar D. Jafar, Numan Saadaldin Al-Niaimi, and Lars Sigurd Sunnanå, Oppdraget: innsidehistorien om Saddams atomvåpen [The mission: The inside story of Saddam's nuclear weapons] (Oslo: Spartacus, 2005), p. 118.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline Events, last updated April 22, 2007, p. 3, https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/WMD_Timeline_Events.html.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, and an Iraqi Delegation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Baghdad, 17 August 1995, 7:15 p.m.,” August 22, 1995, UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, p. 15.


Raymond A. Zilinskas, “Iraq's Biological Weapons: The Past as Future?” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 278, No. 5, 6 (August 1997), pp. 418–424.


“Note for the File, Plenary Meeting with Senior Iraqi Officials, MIC, Baghdad, 18 April 1996, 7:30 p.m.,” UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, p. 13.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, pp. 122–127.


“Correspondence within the Iraqi Intelligence Service Regarding Relocation of the Intelligence Office, Equipment, and Personnel to Avoid Inspection in Case of a Visit by the UNSCOM Inspectors,” Record No. SH\IISX\SH-IISX-D-000-080_TF.pdf. (4 September 1991), p. 1.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 122.


Ibid., p. 123; and Jafar D. Jafar, unpublished manuscript (no title), May 13, 2004, p. 126.


“Note for the File, Implementation of Security Council Resolution 687, Meeting with Ambassador Alkital, Counsellor Al Matooq (Permanent Mission of Iraq), the Director General, Mr. Zifferero, Mr. Villaros,” April 15, 1991, personal archive of Hans Martin Blix (henceforth Blix papers), Vienna, Austria.




“Confidential: What Made Iraq Declare a Uranium Enrichment Programme?” notes by Director General Hans Blix, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), July 23, 1991 (handwritten date), Blix papers; and “Notes for Briefing of the IAEA Board on Monday, by Director General Hans Blix Regarding the High-Level Mission to Baghdad June 29–July 3, 1991,” July 8, 1991, Blix papers, p. 2.


“Notes for Briefing of the IAEA Board on Monday,” p. 2.


UN Security Council, Note by the Secretary-General, S/22788, July 15, 1991, p. 7.


UN Security Council, Note by the Secretary-General, S/22837, July 25, 1991, p. 4.


“Notes for Briefing of the IAEA Board, by Director General Hans Blix Regarding the High-Level Mission to Baghdad June 29–July 3, 1991,” July 8, 1991, Blix papers, p. 4.


“Iraq's Non-Compliance with Its Safeguards Obligations,” Note by the Director General on the Agency's Actions Concerning Iraq in 1990–91, GOV(XXXV)/INF/299, September 1991, Blix papers, p. 3.


Letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq Addressed to the Secretary-General, 28 June 1991, Annex S/22749, Blix papers, p. 4.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 3.


Ibid. Note by the Secretary General, II: Achievements and Issues, C: Missile Area, October 11, 1996, S/1996/848 (New York: UN, 1996), para. 18, http://www.un.org/Depts/unscom/sres96-848.htm.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 3.


CIA, “Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defence, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,” October 2, 2003, Homeland Security Digital Library, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=439784.


Zilinskas, “Iraq's Biological Weapons,” p. 420.


Note by the Secretary General, S/1996/848 p. 9, para. 51.


“Notes for Briefing of the IAEA Board on Monday,” p. 7.


UN, “Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programmes,” March 3, 2003, United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspectin Commission [UNMOVIC] working document (New York: United Nations, 2003), p. 8, https://www.un.org/depts/unmovic/documents/UNMOVIC%20UDI%20Working%20Document%206%20March%2003.pdf.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 3.


“Note for the File, Executive Chairman's Meeting with Mr. Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Foreign Ministry,” June 21, 1996, draft, UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, pp. 4–5.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Ministers Regarding Iraq Under Sanctions,” n.d., record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-298, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, Conflict Records Research Center, National Defense University, Washington D.C. (henceforth CRRC), p. 6.


Author interview with former UN Inspector Nikita Smidovich, New York, November 6, 2019.


“Note for the record, Meeting between the Deputy Executive Chairman and Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid, Acting Director for the Military Industrialization Corporation (MIC), MIC, Baghdad, 17 September 1995, 8:00 p.m.,” UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, p. 6.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, pp. 130–131.


Ibid. See also UN Security Council, “Letter from the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission Established by the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 9 (b) (i) of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) Addressed to the President of the Security Council,” January 25, 1999, S/1999/94, Appendix IV, point 2.


Mahdi Obeidi and Kurt Pitzer, The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2004), pp. 151–152.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 44.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Tariq Aziz, Prime Minister's Office, 21 February 1995, 12 Noon to 1:10 p.m.,” February 27, 1995, UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, pp. 11–12.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 138.


Ibid., p. 139; and Imad Khadduri, Iraq's Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions (Ontario, Canada: Hushion House, 2003), pp. 132–134.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and Top Political Advisors about a United Nations Air Survey Request,” n.d., record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-251, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, p. 5.


Ibid., p. 6.


Obeidi, The Bomb in my Garden, p. 152.


See, for example, Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 19.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 12.


CIA, “Iraq's Nuclear Weapons Program: Wounded, but Not Dead” (Washington, D.C.: CIA, 2006), https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP08R00805R000100420007-1.pdf.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 5.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and Top Political Advisors about a United Nations Air Survey Request,” p. 13.


Obeidi, The Bomb in my Garden, p. 169.


“Saddam and His Inner Circle Discussing Upheaval and the Communist Coup Attempt in the Soviet Union,” n.d. (circa August 19–21, 1991), record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-210, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, pp. 7–8.


Ibid., p. 7.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and His Officials after the First Gulf War,” December 16, 1991, record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-458, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 3.




Ibid., p. 4.




“Ba'ath Revolutionary Command Meeting 12/21/1991; Saddam Speaks about Sanctions on Iraq and the Situation of the Ba'ath Party after the Invasion by the Coalition Forces,” December 21, 1991, record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-461, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 6.




Ibid., p. 10.


Ibid., pp. 10–11.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 12.


“Meeting between Saddam and His Security Council regarding Iraqi Biological and Nuclear Weapons Program,” February 5, 1995, record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-011, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 1.


Ibid., pp. 1–2.


Ibid., p. 2.


Ibid., p. 4.


Ibid., p. 5.


Ibid., pp. 6–7.


Ibid., p. 9.


Ibid., p. 10.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Tariq Aziz, Prime Minister's Office, 21 February 1995, 12 Noon to 1:10 p.m.,” February 27, 1995, UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, p. 11.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris Quay d'Orsay, 30 March 1995, 11.00 am,” April 4, 1995, UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, pp. 2–3.


“Note for the file, Meeting with Mr. Tony Lake, 6 April 1995, 3:30 pm, The White House, Washington D.C.,” April 19, 1995, UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, p. 2–3.


“Note for the file, Meeting with General Amer, 23:50 hours, 31 May 1995,” undated, UNSCOM, Ekéus papers, p. 3.


“Saddam and Top Political Advisers Discussing the Agricultural Situation in Iraq and UN Inspection Teams,” n.d. (circa January/February 1995), record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-255, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 7.


Ibid., p. 10.


IAEA, “From the Field, from Garry Dillon to Professor Zifferero,” June 9, 1995, UNSCR 687 Action Team, Blix papers, p. 2.


“Note for the file, Meeting at MIC, 1000 hours, 1 July 1995,” n.d., UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, pp. 2–3.


“Note to the File: Security Council Briefing on Iraq by UNSCOM Chairman Ekéus,” August 25, 1995, IAEA Action Team, Blix papers, p. 2.


“For Information of United Nations Secretariat Only: Not for Distribution or Dissemination,” press briefing by Rolf Ekéus, August 28, 1995, Blix papers, p. 1. Kamil returned to Iraq where he was killed in early 1996.


“Report from Husam Mohammad Amin, Director of the National Monitoring Directorate, Regarding Hussein Kamil,” August 13–14, 1995, record no. SH?INMD?D?000?657, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, pp. 1–5.


Ibid., p. 6.




“Saddam Hussein Meeting with the Military Office to Discuss Sanctions, Jordan, and Iraqi Elections,” September 9, 1995, record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-463, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 2.


“Saddam Meeting with Ba'ath Party Members to Discuss the Results of the UN Inspectors' Mission to Look for WMD,” n.d. (circa 1995), record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-295, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 5.


“Note for the Record: Meeting with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tariq Aziz and an Iraqi Delegation,” September 30, 1995, 8:00 p.m., Deputy Prime Ministers Office, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, p. 2.




“Saddam Meeting with Ba'ath Party Members to Discuss the Results of the UN Inspectors' Mission to Look for WMD,” pp. 1–2.


“Meeting between Saddam and His Security Council regarding Iraqi Biological and Nuclear Weapons Program,” p. 4.


“Saddam Meeting with Ba'ath Party Members to Discuss the Results of the UN Inspectors' Mission to Look for WMD,” pp. 2–3.


Ibid, p. 8.


“Note for the File, Meeting between Husayn Kamil, Rolf Ekéus, Maurizio Zifferero, and Nikita Smidovich,” August 22, 1995, UNSCOM/IAEA Sensitive, Amman, Jordan, Ekéus papers.


“Note for the Record, Meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, and an Iraqi delegation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Baghdad, 17 August 1995, 7:15 p.m.,” Ekéus papers, p. 2.


Ibid., pp. 13–15.


“Note for the File, Executive Chairman's Meeting with Mr. Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Foreign Ministry,” August 2, 1996, UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, p. 4.


Note by the Secretary General, S/1996/848, p. 9, para. 52.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 5.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and the Revolutionary Council regarding the Sanctions Placed on Iraq and Tariq Aziz's Trip to the UN Security Council,” November/December 1995, record no. SH-SHTP-A-000-789, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, pp. 7–8.


Ibid., p. 8.


“Note for the record, Meeting with the acting director of MIC, Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid, and an Iraqi delegation, Military Industrial Corporation, Baghdad, 18 September 1995, 8:00 p.m.,” Ekéus papers, p. 10.


“Note for the File, Executive Chairman's Meeting with Gen. Amir Rashid, Minister of Oil, Military Industrial Corporation,” June 20, draft version, UNSCOM, Baghdad, Ekéus papers, pp. 6–7.




“Note for the record, Meeting with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tariq Aziz and an Iraqi Delegation, Deputy Prime Ministers Office, Baghdad, 30 September 1995, 8:00 p.m.,” UNSCOM, New York, Ekéus papers, p. 5.


Note by the Secretary General, S/1996/848, p. 31, para. 135.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 145.


Jafar, unpublished manuscript, pp. 190–191.






Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 49.


Ibid., p. 47.


Ibid., p. 55; and CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 11.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and Top Political Advisors to Discuss a Visit by Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to the United Nations,” n.d. (circa 1994), record no. SH-SHTP-A-001-256, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 3.


Ibid., p. 4.


Ibid., p. 2.




“Director General's Meetings with Senior UN Officials,” February 12–13, 1997, New York, Blix papers, p. 1.


“Iraq Discussion Notes, DG Visit,” June 24–27, 1997, New York and Washington, Blix papers, p. 1.


“Saddam and Top Political Advisers Discussing the Agricultural Situation in Iraq and UN Inspection Teams,” p. 7.


“Letter from Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister, Baghdad, to Mr. Rolf Ekéus, Executive Chairman of the Special Commission,” June 5, 1997, New York, Blix papers, p. 2.


“Talking Points for DG's Meeting with Dr. Humam Abdul Ghafour, Iraq's Minister of Culture and Higher Education,” October 1, 1997, Blix papers, p. 1.


Ibid., p. 2.


“Telefax from B. Andemichael to M. Zifferero, Leader UNSC 687 Action Team, UNSCOM: Developments on Iraq,” March 28, 1995, Blix papers, p. 2.


U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, speech at Georgetown University, March 26, 1997, https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/2017/03/21/policy-speech-on-iraq-march-26-1997/.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 198.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 57.


“Correspondence within the Iraqi Intelligence Service regarding Scientific Ideas to Produce Viruses and Germs to Pollute the Water Tanks for the U.S. Camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” October 22, 2000, record no. SH\IISX\SH-IISX-D-001-105_TF.pdf, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, pp. 2–3.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 198.


“Meeting between Saddam Hussein and Nijirfan al-Barzani regarding the Situation in Iraq and Possibility of U.S. Attack,” March 14, 2002, record no. SH\SPPC\SH-SPPC-D-000-304_TF.pdf, Saddam Hussein Regime Collection, CRRC, p. 8.


Ibid., p. 9.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, pp. 206–207.


UN Security Council, Resolution 1441, S/RES/1441, November 8, 2002, UNMOVIC, p. 3, https://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/documents/1441.pdf.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 209.


Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer, “Rebel Without a Cause? Explaining Iraq's Response to Resolution 1441,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 13, No. 1 (March 2006), p. 26, doi.org/10.1080/107367006 00861483.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 222.


Ibid., p. 223.


Obeidi, The Bomb in My Garden, pp. 192–193.


Jafar, Al-Niaimi, and Sunnanå, Oppdraget, p. 202.


Braut-Hegghammer, “Rebel without a Cause?” p. 25.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 11.


Gordon and Trainor, “Even as U.S. Invaded, Hussein Saw Iraqi Unrest as Top Threat.”


Hans Blix, Avväpna Irak [Disarming Iraq] (Stockholm: Bonnier Fakta, 2004), pp. 98–99.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 11; and Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 55.


Duelfer report, Vol. 1, Regime Strategic Intent, p. 9.


Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence, reprint (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 74–75.


CIA, Misreading Intentions, p. 6.