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Pre-war planning
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Aluminum tubes allegation
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Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: 2002-2003 UN weapons inspections


Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Showing 101-113 of 113 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100

February 12, 2003

       A UN panel—consisting of missile experts from the United States, Britain, France, Ukraine, Germany and China—unanimously concludes that Iraq's Al Samoud 2 conventional missile program is in violation of UN resolutions because its range exceeds restrictions imposed in 1991 after the Gulf War. While admitting that the Al Samoud missiles exceed the 150 km limit in test runs—by a mere 33km—Iraqi officials insist that they would be incapable of traveling more than 150 km when laden with conventional explosives and guidance equipment. Iraq has more than 100 of these missiles [The Washington Post, 2/13/03; Guardian, 2/13/03b] Douglas Richardson, the editor of Jane's Missiles and Rockets, says that the “violation” is comparable to driving 36mph in a 30mph zone. [Guardian, 2/13/03b; UPI, 2/13/03; BBC, 3/3/02] Iraq is ordered to begin destroying the missiles by March 1 (see March 1, 2003), which it agrees to do on February 27 (see February 27, 2003). [ABC News, 2/28/03; New York Times, 3/1/03; BBC, 1/28/03]

February 14, 2003

       UNMOVIC Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei present an update to the UN Security Council on the progress of weapons inspections in Iraq. The content of their presentation includes no evidence to substantiate US and British claims that Iraq poses a serious threat to the US or Europe. After the report is presented, the majority of the UN Security Council members feel that the use of military force will not be needed to effectively disarm Iraq. [United Nations, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]
UNMOVIC report by Hans Blix -

After conducting some 400 inspections at over 300 Iraqi sites since December 2002, the inspection teams still have not found any evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that Iraq has programs to develop such weapons. [Associated Press, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b; Interpress News Service, 2/15/03; AP, 2/14/03]

The inspectors are unaware of any reliable evidence that the Iraqis have had advanced knowledge of the timing and locations of weapons inspections. “In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming,” Blix says. [Guardian, 2/14/03b; Guardian, 2/15/03b; Reuters, 2/14/03b; Financial Times, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03]

The Iraqi government agreed to reduce the number of “minders” present in interviews with Iraqi scientists. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The UNMOVIC weapons inspection teams have begun destroying Iraq's declared arsenal of mustard gas. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

South Africa has made an agreement with Iraq to assist it in its disarmament efforts. [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b]

Several proscribed weapons and other items remain unaccounted for, including more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents. Blix explains that if they do not exist, Iraq needs to provide him with credible evidence that they have been destroyed. “Another matter and one of great significance is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.” [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b]

Based on the data contained in Iraq's declaration of arms, experts have concluded that two varieties of Iraq's Al Samoud II missile systems are capable of exceeding the 150km range limit that was imposed on Iraq in 1991 after the First Gulf War (see February 12, 2003). But contrary to what Powell recently stated in his February 5 presentation to the UN, test stands located at the Al Rafah facility have not been associated with the testing of missiles with the ranges Powell suggested (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b]

More interviews with Iraqi scientists, especially ones involved in its former biological weapons programs, are needed. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Recent private interviews with Iraqi scientists have been helpful to weapons inspectors. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The amount of intelligence being supplied by foreign agencies have recently increased and the new information is helping inspectors. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Blix challenges the conclusions made by Powell in his February 5 presentation (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN with regard to US satellite pictures showing the movement of trucks and supplies at suspected weapons sites prior to inspections. He says, “The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of an imminent inspection.” [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b; Guardian, 2/15/03b; Reuters, 2/14/03b; Associated Press, 2/14/03]

Iraq produced a list of 83 people who it says participated in the destruction of large quantities of anthrax and VX precursors in 1991. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Inspections are increasing inspectors' knowledge of Iraqi arms. [Guardian, 2/14/03b]

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report by Mohamed ElBaradei -

ElBaradei's team has found no evidence of an illegal nuclear weapons program. “We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related activities in Iraq.” [IAEI, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Iraqi officials have provided IAEA inspectors with immediate access to all sites it has sought to examine. [IAEI, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The IAEA is still investigating why Iraq attempted to import aluminum tubes during the summer of 2002. The agency is awaiting an explanation from Iraq as to why the tubes—alleged by Iraq to have been destined for a conventional weapons artillery program—were fabricated according to such high quality specifications. [IAEI, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Referring to the documents that had been discovered in the home of Faleh Hassan (see January 16, 2003), Mohamed ElBaradei states: “While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusions previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program” . [IAEI, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b; BBC, 2/17/03]

Reaction - After the two reports, most UN Security Council members say they believe inspections are working and that the use of military force is unnecessary. Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, says: “There is an alternative to war: disarming Iraq through inspections. [War] would be so fraught with risk for the people, the region and international stability that it should be envisaged only as a last resort. ... We must give priority to disarmament by peaceful means.” His comments are followed by a huge applause. “French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin's impassioned speech seeking more time for inspections elicited rare applause from diplomats in the chamber,” reports the Associated Press. By contrast, the more hawkish remarks of US Secretary of State Colin Powell—who was said to have appeared “annoyed” during parts of Blix's report— “did not receive any applause.” Powell, in his response to the report, had stated: “We cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to turn up in our cities.... More inspections—I am sorry—are not the answer.... The threat of force must remain.” After the reports, Germany, Syria, Chile, Mexico, Russia, France and Pakistan, favor continuing the inspections while Spain and Bulgaria back the US and British position. [Interpress News Service, 2/15/03; US Department of State, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Fox News, 2/15/03]

People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix, Dominique de Villepin  Additional Info 

February 20, 2003

       Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the US and Britain are pressuring inspectors “to discontinue their operations in Iraq ... or to pressure them into coming up with assessments that would justify the use of force.” [Associated Press, 2/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Igor Ivanov

February 21, 2003

       Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix informs Iraq in a letter delivered to UN ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri that it must begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles and all “associated equipment” by March 1. [Cox News Service, 2/24/03; CNN, 2/24/03; Associated Press, 2/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Mohammed Al-Douri

February 22, 2003

       The chief weapons inspector for the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, says that Iraq has “cooperated increasingly well ... in recent days.” He adds that, in his opinion, there is no reason to “give up hope.” He explains that Iraqi officials have provided the inspectors with unrestricted access to all sites as well as Saddam's palaces. “There is a UN clock,” he says, “which is ticking, and a Franco-German one. And above all there are the American clocks—they work differently. So long as we can report progress, I see no reason why we should break off inspections.” [Associated Press, 2/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei

February 24, 2003

       The United States, Britain and Spain submit a draft to the UN Security Council for a second resolution declaring Iraq in “further material breach” of previous UN resolutions. The draft claims that the declaration Iraq submitted to the UN Security Council on December 7, 2002 (see December 7, 2002) contained “false statements and omissions” and that Iraq “has failed to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of” UN Resolution 1441. Meanwhile France, Russia and Germany field an alternative plan aimed at achieving peaceful disarmament with more rigorous inspections over a period of five months. China expresses support for the alternative plan despite efforts by Powell to convince its government to support the more aggressive proposal. [Fox News, 2/24/03 Sources: US/UK/Spain Draft Resolution, February 24, 2003] At this point, it seems that only Bulgaria will support the American-British-Spanish resolution. Eleven of the fifteen council members have indicated that they favor allowing the inspectors to continue their work. Fox News suggests that the US may be able to convince some countries—like Angola, Guinea and Cameroon—to support the resolution since “there is the possibility that supporting the resolution may reap financial benefits from the United States.” [Fox News, 2/24/03]

February 27, 2003

       Iraq agrees to destroy all the equipment associated with its Al Samoud missile program, including warheads, SA-2 missile engines, machinery to produce missile motors, fuel, launchers, testing equipment, components as well as all software and documentation. The UN had earlier concluded that the missile program was in violation of UN resolutions because the range of the missiles exceeds the 150km limit imposed in 1991 after the Gulf War (see February 12, 2003). Responding to news of Iraq's decision, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer dismisses any suggestion that it is an example of Iraqi cooperation. Instead he describes it as “deception.” He says, “This is the deception the president predicted. We do expect that they will destroy at least some of their missiles.” He also says that Iraq's actions is “propaganda, wrapped in a lie, inside a falsehood.” And Donald Rumsfeld offers a similar interpretation of Iraq's actions. He says: “I don't see a change in the pattern at all. You know, this is exactly what's been going to for years.... They refuse to cooperate, don't cooperate, drag it out, wait until someone finally nails them with one little piece of the whole puzzle and refuse to do anything about it and then finally when they see the pressure building, they say well, maybe we'll do some of that.” Bush similarly states: “The discussion about these rockets is part of [Saddam's] campaign of deception. See, he'll say, ‘I'm not going to destroy the rockets,’ and then he'll have a change of mind this weekend and destroy the rockets and say, ‘I've disarmed.’ ” And Powell says: “I think it's just more indication of the reality that we have been trying to convey to the world, that Saddam Hussein is trying to string it out, trying to divert attention, trying to pretend he is cooperating when he is not cooperating, try[ing] to use process as an excuse for not cooperating and not complying with the will of the international community.” [ABC News, 2/28/03; New York Times, 3/1/03; BBC, 1/28/03; Fox News, 2/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Colin Powell, Demetrius Perricos

February 28, 2003

       Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix's 12th quarterly report is circulated among UN Security Council members. The report will be presented orally to the Council on March 7 (see March 7, 2003). The report does not provide any evidence to support the US and British claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that is has any programs to develop such weapons. Blix does however say the Iraqis could do more to assist his team's work. [Telegraph, 2/28/03; Associated Press, 2/28/03; Guardian, 3/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix

March 1, 2003

       Iraq begins destroying equipment associated with its Al Samoud Weapons program which the UN had determined was in violation of UN resolutions since the range of the missiles exceeds the 150km limit imposed in 1991 after the Gulf War (see February 12, 2003). [BBC, 3/12/03; CNN, 3/9/03]

March 6, 2003

       During a televised national press conference, President Bush states that the US will call for a vote in the UN Security Council, regardless of the anticipated vote. A reporter asks, “[T]he Security Council faces a vote next week on a resolution implicitly authorizing an attack on Iraq. Will you call for a vote on that resolution, even if you aren't sure you have the vote?” Bush responds: “No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.” But 11 days later, Bush will announce that the US will not call for a vote, saying, “The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.” The decision is made not to seek a second resolution when it becomes apparent that it would not pass. [White House, 3/6/03; CNN, 3/6/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

March 7, 2003

       UN diplomats debate the text of an amendment to the American-British-Spanish draft resolution that will give Iraq a March 17 deadline to disarm. The amendment, submitted by the British, demands that Iraq demonstrate “full, unconditional, immediate and active cooperation in accordance with its disarmament obligations.” Notably, the resolution does not provide any specific means for the UN to measure Iraqi compliance, thus requiring that any judgment concerning Iraq's level of cooperation be arbitrary. [CNN, 3/7/02; Guardian, 3/8/03] A diplomat tells CNN, that he has “a better chance of getting a date with Julia Roberts than Iraq has of complying in 10 days.” [CNN, 3/7/02] There is significant opposition to the text of this draft and a diplomat tells CNN that the resolution will likely be defeated by a landslide. France, Russia, and China believe that the inspections should be given more time. France's Foreign minister says he will veto the resolution. “We cannot accept an ultimatum as long as the inspectors are reporting cooperation,” he says, adding: “That would mean war. By imposing a deadline of a few days, would we be reduced to seeking a pretext for war? France will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes the automatic use of force.” [CNN, 3/7/02; Guardian, 3/8/03]
People and organizations involved: Dominique de Villepin

March 7, 2003

       UNMOVIC chief arms inspector Hans Blix provides a quarterly report to the UN Security Council on the progress of inspections in Iraq, as required by UN Security Resolution 1284 (1999). It is the twelfth such report since UNMOVIC's inception. Blix's report to the Council does not contain any evidence to support US and British claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or the programs to develop such weapons. IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei also reports to the Council and says there are no signs that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03]
UNMOVIC report by Hans Blix -

There is no evidence that Iraq has mobile biological weapons factories, as was recently alleged by Colin Powell in his February 5 presentation (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN. “Several inspections have taken place ... in relation to mobile production facilities,” Blix says. “No evidence of proscribed activities has so far been found.” He further explained that his inspectors had examined numerous mobile facilities and large containers with seed processing equipment. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Blix, 3/7/03]

The Iraqi government has increased its cooperation with inspectors since the end of January. It is attempting to quantify the biological and chemical weapons that it says were destroyed in 1991. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]

Iraq's destruction of several Al Samoud II missiles represents a real step towards disarmament. “The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament,” he says. “We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03]

Blix says that the UN inspectors needed a few more months to finish their work. “Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions,” he says, concluding, “It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]

Iraqi scientists have recently accepted inspectors' requests to be interviewed without “minders.” “Since we started requesting interviews, 38 individuals were asked for private interviews, of which 10 accepted under our terms, seven during the past week,” Blix explains. [CNN, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]

Some Iraqi scientists have agreed to interviews without “minders” —but more cooperation is needed. He says, “While the Iraqi side seems to have encouraged interviewees not to request the presence of Iraqi officials or the taping of the interviews, conditions ensuring the absence of undue influences are difficult to attain inside Iraq.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Iraq needs to turn over more documents. “Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03] There is no evidence of underground weapons facilities. Blix says: “There have been reports, denied by Iraq, that proscribed activities are conducted underground. Iraq should provide information on underground structures suitable for the production or storage of weapons of mass destruction. During inspections of declared or undeclared facilities, inspectors examined building structures for any possible underground facilities. In addition, ground-penetrating radar was used in several locations. No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
IAEA report by Mohamed ElBaradei -

There is no evidence that the aluminum tubes imported by Iraq in July 2001 were meant for a nuclear weapons program. ElBaradei says: “Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets. ... Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question.” [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03]

There is no evidence that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Documents provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the US were determined to be forgeries. The documents were a collection of letters between an Iraqi diplomat and senior Niger officials discussing Iraq's interest in procuring a large amount of uranium oxide (see Early October 2002). “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei explains. “We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.” (see June 12, 2003) [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Guardian, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03]

The IAEA has yet to come across evidence of a nuclear weapons program. “After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq,” ElBaradei states. “[T]here is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.” [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03]

In a direct response to allegations made by Colin Powell on February 5 (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) related to the attempted procurement of magnets that could be used in a gas centrifuge, ElBaradei, says: “The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.” [IAEA, 3/7/03]

Iraq's industrial capacity “has deteriorated” at the inspected sites because of lack of maintenance and funds. [IAEA, 3/7/03]

Reaction - Both sides claim that the reports give further support to each of their respective stances on the issue of Iraqi disarmament. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin tells the Council that the reports “testify to the progress” of the inspections. He states that France will not support another resolution because “we cannot accept any ultimatum, any automatic use of force.” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the reports demonstrate that inspections have been “fruitful.” The Bush administration does not alter its position, despite statements by the two inspectors that Iraq is cooperating with inspections and complying with demands to disarm. Colin Powell, responding to the inspectors' reports, reiterates the administration's position that the inspections are not working and that Saddam is not cooperating. “We must not walk away,” Powell says. “We must not find ourselves here this coming November with the pressure removed and with Iraq once again marching down the merry path to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening the world.” He claims that Iraq's behavior is a “a catalog still of noncooperation” and repeats the administration's allegation that the “Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” Back at the White House, Ari Fleischer tells reporters, “As the president has said, if the United Nations will not disarm Saddam Hussein, it will be another international organization, a coalition of the willing that will be made up of numerous nations that will disarm Saddam Hussein.” [CNN, 3/6/03; CNN, 3/7/02; US Department of State, 3/7/03]

People and organizations involved: Dominique de Villepin, Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Igor Ivanov, Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix  Additional Info 

March 19, 2004

       US and coalition forces begin the official invasion of Iraq. The attack begins with an attempted “decapitation attack” aimed at killing Saddam Hussein and other top Iraqi officials. [CNN, 3/20/2003; CNN, 3/20/2003 (B)]
Showing 101-113 of 113 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100

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