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An Analysis of Some of the Principal Legal Questions Relating to U.N. Weapons Inspections in Iraq

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The multi-year U.N. weapons inspection program in Iraq has encountered numerous difficulties. Its basic objectives have been to ascertain the extent of Iraq's atomic, biological, and chemical weapons, and ballistic missile systems, and then to undertake efforts designed to eliminate such and complicate that nation's ability to reconstruct that arsenal. A wide variety of legal issues surround the operation of the inspection program. Some of these arise from the seminal U.N. resolutions on the subject, and associated operational documents drafted by the Secretary-General, while others arise from the February 23, 1998, Memorandum of Understanding between Secretary Kofi Annan and the Iraqi government. In this article, six of the principal legal issues are subjected to analysis. It is suggested that ambiguity affects some, but not all of the issues. Nevertheless, the ambiguity that is extant, though presenting the potential for complex and unsettling difficulties, has permitted the development of an inspection regime unprecedented in international law.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Comparative and International Law, University of Tulsa, U.S.A.

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