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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

[CRS Issue Brief for Congress]

94049: Iraq-U.S. Confrontations

Updated December 5, 1996

Kenneth Katzman, Alfred Prados, and Clyde Mark
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division

CONTENTS

SUMMARY

MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS

August 1996 Crisis
October 1994 Crisis
Iraqi Actions
Possible Motivations of the Iraqi Action
U.S. Response
International Reaction
October 10 and Beyond
Previous Post-War Confrontations
January 1993 Confrontation
No-Fly Zones
U.N. Inspections
Iraq-Kuwait Border Incursions
Allied Air Strikes
January 13 Strikes
Iraqi Reactions
Further Actions
June 1993 Missile Strikes
Bush Assassination Attempt
U.S. Missile Strikes
International Reactions
Air Strike, June 29, 1993
Role of Congress

FOR ADDITIONAL READING


SUMMARY

The latest confrontation between the United States and Iraq flared on August 31, 1996, when Iraq moved three divisions into the allied-protected Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, allegedly at the invitation of one of the two rival Kurdish factions. The United States responded with air and sea-based missile strikes directed against military targets in southern Iraq, extended the width of a no-fly zone in the south to the outskirts of Baghdad, and joined the U.N. Secretary General in placing a hold on a previously approved oil sale by Iraq. Although Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's move demonstrates his ability to challenge western-imposed restrictions, the U.S. strike and related actions might erode Baghdad's sovereignty and could open Iraq to greater Iranian influence.

The August-September 1996 crisis follows several earlier confrontations between Iraq and the U.S.-led coalition since Iraqi's defeat in the 1991 Gulf war. In October 1994, Iraq moved troops south toward Kuwait in an effort to pursue demands that the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq set a firm timetable for the lifting of the oil export embargo, which is linked by U.N. Resolution 687 to Iraqi compliance on weapons of mass destruction issues. The United States warned Iraq not to "repeat past mistakes" (invasion of Kuwait) and began a significant buildup of about 36,000 additional U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf region. Iraq subsequently withdrew its forces and formally recognized Kuwait's sovereignty and borders the following month. In an earlier confrontation, on June 26, 1993, U.S. forces launched 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. The missile strikes followed credible reports that Iraq had attempted to assassinate former President George Bush during a visit by the latter to Kuwait in April 1993. Another minor U.S. strike on a hostile Iraqi anti-aircraft site took place during the same period.

Earlier, in January 1993, the U.S.-led coalition conducted air strikes on Iraqi air defense missile sites and related facilities in southern Iraq. The raids were prompted by repeated Iraqi violations of United Nations and allied cease-fire agreements, particularly in three areas: deployment of Iraqi antiaircraft missiles in positions deemed threatening to allied aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq; closure of Iraqi air space to U.N. aircraft; and unauthorized removal by Iraq of weapons and other material stored in the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait.

U.S. policy seeks to end Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions and cease-fire agreements, to defend Arabian Peninsula friends against possible aggression, and to protect rights of oppressed groups within Iraq. Some policy analysts favor preemptive action to remove Saddam from power, but others caution that this approach could lead to a long and costly entanglement in Iraq. Another view is that the United States should clarify the conditions Iraq must meet to achieve an easing of the sanctions.


MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Iraq's military move into the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, on August 31, 1996, prompted U.S. cruise missile strikes on Iraqi military targets. The latest U.S.-Iraqi confrontation was complicated by divisions among the two main Kurdish factions in northern Iraq. U.S. troop deployments to the Persian Gulf region in the aftermath of the Iraqi incursion brought total U.S. personnel strength in the region to approximately 30,000 by late September, although some forces are to be withdrawn by Christmas. These developments will likely have significant implications for Iraq, Iraq's Kurdish community, and U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf.


BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS

Since the Mar. 3, 1991, cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war, the United States has resorted on several occasions to the use of force against Iraq. These incidents resulted from Iraqi challenges to U.N. cease-fire terms that followed the Gulf war and from bilateral issues between Iraq and the United States and its allies. The most serious confrontations are described below, beginning with the most recent.

August 1996 Crisis

On August 31, an Iraqi force estimated at three armored divisions comprising 30,000- 40,000 personnel invaded the Kurdish provisional capital of Irbil, which lies approximately seven miles within the allied-imposed no-fly zone and had been seized by one of the two leading Kurdish factions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in May 1994. Iraq moved at the invitation of Massud Barzani, leader of a rival Kurdish faction, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Over the next few days, and without much additional Iraqi help, the KDP captured major Kurdish cities from the PUK, which is supported by Iran. Numerous PUK members and other Kurds fearful of the apparent extension of Iraqi Government influence in northern Iraq sought refuge in Iran. PUK militia subsequently regrouped and launched a counterattack on October 13, recapturing significant portions of territory they had previously lost, and the situation remains fluid. Iran has denied allegations by both KDP and Turkish officials that the PUK counterattack received Iranian military support.

The United States expressed grave concern, put forces in the Persian Gulf region on alert, and warned Iraq to withdraw. On September 3, at 12:15 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (7:15 a.m., Iraq time), U.S. forces launched 27 cruise missiles at military targets in the southern part of Iraq, 14 from the U.S.S. Laboon guided missile destroyer and the U.S.S. Shilo cruiser in the Persian Gulf, and 13 from two B-52 bombers that flew from Guam. President Clinton also announced that he was widening the no-fly zone over southern Iraq (extending it northward from the 32nd to the 33rd parallel) and would not allow a limited oil sale by Iraq under a recent U.N. resolution to take place until Iraq abandons its aggressive policies. On September 4, U.S. forces fired an additional 17 missiles from three surface ships and one submarine, in what a Pentagon spokesman described as a mopping-up operation, designed to destroy Iraqi air defenses that might threaten allied enforcement of an expanded no-fly zone. Subsequently, a U.S. F-16 fighter aircraft fired two anti-radiation missiles at an Iraqi radar. Later on the same day, President Clinton announced that the U.S. mission had been largely accomplished.

In mid-September, in response to further Iraqi provocations (see below), the United States dispatched eight F-117A stealth fighters to Kuwait, four B-52 bombers to the British base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, two Patriot missile batteries to Saudi Arabia, and a second aircraft carrier along with additional aircraft and air defense units to the region. (The second aircraft carrier returned home in October.) On September 13, a reinforced squadron of U.S. F-16 fighter aircraft was deployed to Bahrain. On September 17, President Clinton ordered approximately 3,000 U.S. Army troops from the 1st Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas to deploy to Kuwait, joining an additional U.S. 1,200 troops already there. By late September, U.S. troop strength in the region, including personnel embarked on ships, approached 30,000. On November 29, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said the 4,200 troops in Kuwait would depart before Christmas, but added that 1,800 Marines would remain off shore for rapid deployment and that the F-117A stealth fighters would remain in Kuwait as a warning to Iraq and Iran.

Iraq quickly repaired some damaged air defense missile sites despite U.S. warnings not to do so, and during September 11-13, unsuccessfully fired six SA-6 surface-to-air missiles at U.S. fighter aircraft patrolling northern and southern Iraq. The Administration threatened further responses, and demanded that Iraq stop targeting U.S. aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones and remove mobile surface-to-air missiles from the zones. Iraq, which had earlier threatened to fire at allied planes overflying these zones, announced on September 13 that it would "suspend our military reactions" to allied enforcement of the no-fly zones, while still refusing to acknowledge their validity. Iraqi forces have largely evacuated the Kurdish areas, but some Iraqi intelligence agents reportedly remain in these areas. (For further background information, including U.S. efforts to mediate between the two Kurdish factions and the U.S.-conducted evacuation of Kurds and others deemed at risk in northern Iraq, see CRS Issue Brief 92117, Iraqi Compliance with Cease-fire Agreements, by Kenneth Katzman; for further background, see CRS Report 95-1121F, The Kurds: Stalemate in Iraq, November 16, 1995, by Alfred B. Prados.)

The movement of Iraqi ground forces into the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, though technically not a violation of the allied-imposed no-fly zones, marked the first attempt by the Iraqi regime to move troops into the Kurdish area since the allies established a protective regime for the Iraqi Kurds in 1991. A perception that Iraq was not violating any formal cease-fire arrangements was probably a contributing factor to a lack of widespread support among U.S. allies for the subsequent reprisals undertaken by the U.S. Government. Gulf allies, with the exception of Kuwait, were unwilling to allow U.S. retaliatory strikes from their territory; however, as noted above, several of them accepted deployment of additional U.S. forces and weapon systems to help counter further threats from Iraq or Iran. Although the Iraqi military incursion demonstrated Saddam's ability to challenge western-imposed restrictions and may have expanded his influence in northern Iraq, the U.S. strikes and related U.S. responses have placed additional constraints on Saddam's freedom to conduct military activity. At the same time, these developments could open the door to wider Iranian influence in parts of northern Iraq.

October 1994 Crisis

Iraqi Actions

During the week of Oct. 3, 1994 -- during an October 3-6 visit to Baghdad by U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) Chair Rolf Ekeus to discuss Iraqi compliance with U.N. weapons of mass destruction resolutions -- Iraq began warning of unspecified consequences if the oil export ban were not lifted in conjunction with the Oct. 10, 1994, UNSCOM report to the Security Council. Iraq also warned that it would stop cooperating with UNSCOM. (The UNSCOM report, formally presented to the Security Council October 11, said that the long-term monitoring program had begun, but, contrary to Iraqi desires, did not set a timetable for testing the monitoring system.) During that week, Iraq began ordering at least two divisions (Hammurabi, al-Nida) of elite Republican Guard troops to join approximately 40,000 regular troops in southern Iraq, around the city of Basra. By October 9, according to statements by U.S. officials, Iraq had about 80,000 troops in or heading toward southern Iraq, assuming all Iraqi units were eventually filled out. The lead elements of the Iraqi deployment reportedly went as close as 12 miles from the border with Kuwait. U.N. observers in the Iraq-Kuwait demilitarized zone (6 miles into Iraq and 3 miles into Kuwait) reported that the border area was quiet and they did not see signs of the Iraqi buildup. UNSCOM said Iraq was not interfering with its operations in Iraq, and a biological inspection team was conducting a mission there. Some Kurdish figures based in Turkey reported a movement of Iraqi engineering units toward Kurdish controlled territory, but U.S. officials said the buildup there was not substantial. Iraq also set up a tent camp along the border with Kuwait, where up to 3,000 stateless Arabs were protesting their expulsions by Kuwait.

On Oct. 7, 1994, Secretary of Defense William Perry called the Iraqi troop movements a cause for concern, and other U.S. defense officials said the troop movements, which included the transport of ammunition and support equipment, were not consistent with routine troop rotations. Iraqi officials on October 7 said Iraq had a right to deploy its troops anywhere within its own borders. Also that day, the Kuwaiti Cabinet met in emergency session, and Kuwait subsequently moved most of its 16,000-person force to the border with Kuwait, a much larger display of force than it demonstrated in August 1990. Kuwait's force is nonetheless too small and poorly armed and trained to deter Iraq, should Iraq want to invade again, even though Iraq's total military capability is about 40% of what it was before the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

Possible Motivations of the Iraqi Action

Analysts have speculated on the motivations and timing of the Iraqi troop movements. Most appear to believe that Iraqi President Saddam Husayn was attempting to attract international attention to his argument that Iraq has complied sufficiently with certain provisions of Resolution 687 that the oil export embargo should be lifted. Iraq (and others) have argued that Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687 stipulates that Iraq will be allowed to resume oil exports when UNSCOM certifies that it has completed the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and set up a system to monitor continued compliance. Iraq says the continued ban on oil exports are causing mass suffering in Iraq, including unaffordable prices for food and unavailability of medicine. Iraq further contends that the Security Council, and particularly the United States, is predicating the lifting of the oil export ban on Iraqi compliance with other requirements not stated in Paragraph 22. (Other provisions of Resolution 687 require that Iraq recognize Kuwait's sovereignty and a U.N.-demarcated border, return Kuwaiti property and Kuwaitis believed held in Iraq. Another resolution, 688, demands Iraq cease repression of its own people.) On Oct. 11, 1994, the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM, created by Security Council Resolution 687) in charge of dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction reported to the Security Council that it had set up an intrusive monitoring system of Iraq's facilities to ensure Iraq does not restart its weapons of mass destruction programs. UNSCOM has said it might recommend Iraq resume oil exports after testing the monitoring system for six months. (For further information on U.N. sanctions against Iraq, and requirements for lifting of sanctions, see CRS Report 94-465, Iraq: Current Sanctions, Long Term Threat, and U.S. Policy Options, by Kenneth Katzman, May 25, 1994; and CRS Issue Brief 92117, Iraqi Compliance with Cease-fire Resolutions.)

Other theories for Iraq's moves have been advanced. Some believe Saddam Husayn perceives the United States as distracted by other international events in Haiti, North Korea, and Bosnia, and that the United States might be willing to compromise rather than stare Iraq down militarily. Some subscribe to the theory that Saddam is feeling severe internal pressure as a result of the sanctions, and that he is seeking to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that he is doing something decisive to obtain a lifting of sanctions. Some U.S. officials have been quoted as saying there is no theory for the Iraqi actions that they are completely "comfortable" with.

U.S. Response

The United States responded to the Iraqi troop movements with a significant new deployment of U.S. forces to Kuwait and the Gulf region. President Clinton, who has held several meetings with his foreign policy advisers throughout the crisis and cancelled some of his domestic travel plans, said on October 7 and again on October 8 that "it would be a grave error for Iraq to repeat the mistakes of the past [the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait] or to misjudge either American will or American power." He said the United States would honor a commitment to defend Kuwait and to enforce U.N. resolutions on Iraq. Several U.S defense officials are quoted by press reports as saying they do not believe Iraq intended to invade Kuwait again, but that it is wise for the United States to be prepared, given Saddam's record of belligerence.

The new U.S. forces will join approximately 13,000 U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine troops already in the Gulf. The U.S. forces can make use of a brigade's worth of ground equipment (including M1A1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles) prepositioned in Kuwait. That equipment is there under a September 1991 U.S. defense pact with Kuwait. Had the crisis not abated, the new forces would have included: two additional Patriot missile batteries; 350 additional combat aircraft, including B-52 bombers, F-117 Stealth fighters, F-15's, F-16's, A-10 attack aircraft, AWAC's surveillance aircraft, and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; the 18,000-member 1st Marine Expeditionary Force; and 16,000 Army troops from the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division. An additional 156,000 troops were placed on alert. However, as the crisis would down, Secretary of Defense Perry indicated that about 30,000 -- not the anticipated 36,000 -- would deploy to Kuwait. On October 17, the Department of Defense said it was reviewing whether or not to send the 18,000 troops from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to Kuwait. In addition, the United States appeared to scale back the deployment of combat aircraft to the region. Most of the new U.S. units that arrived in Kuwait have previously conducted exercises with Kuwait, using the U.S. equipment prepositioned there. Many of the combat aircraft were being based in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, although Turkey is hesitant to allow an attack on Iraq from its territory. The United States also has moved the carrier U.S.S. George Washington to move from the Adriatic Sea into the Red Sea, within striking range of Iraq. Among U.S. allies, Britain sent two ships, six Tornado aircraft, and a battalion of troops to the Gulf. France, which had supported the idea of setting a firm timetable for allowing Iraq to resume oil sales, sent a frigate to the Gulf.

At the height of the crisis, there were reports that the Administration was considering striking the Iraqi force even if it did not invade Kuwait, in a possible effort to erode Iraq's military capability even further. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright said the Iraqi deployments constituted a violation of the 1991 cease-fire (Resolution 687), though other Security Council representatives did not express agreement with that view.

International Reaction

International reaction has tended to condemn the Iraqi troop movements and support the U.S. and allied deployments to the Gulf. Most analysts believe that Iraq's actions have set back its efforts to persuade the Security Council to lift the ban on Iraqi oil exports, or at least set a firm timetable for that move. On October 8, the U.N. Security Council expressed grave concern about the Iraqi troop movements and Iraq's threats to stop cooperating with UNSCOM. Russia and France were said to be hardening their positions on the oil embargo as a result of the Iraqi actions. Egypt and the Gulf states all supported the U.S. deployments, as did Turkey. Turkey was part of the allied coalition in the 1991 Gulf war and has hosted the coalition protection operation for the Kurds in northern Iraq. Recently, however, it had been pushing for an easing of sanctions against Iraq. Jordan's King Husayn, who was sympathetic to Saddam in the 1990-91 crisis, has repeated U.S. warnings to Saddam not to repeat past mistakes. Several Jordanian newspapers, however, have appeared to sympathize with Iraq in the current crisis by calling for the easing of sanctions. The Palestine Liberation Organization expressed little support for Saddam during the crisis but its statements were weaker than the United States wanted. Israeli Foreign Minister Peres said that if Iraq still possesses Scud ballistic missiles and if it fires them at Israel, the action would draw an unprecedented counterattack.

October 10 and Beyond

There are strong indications that the U.S. and Security Council responses to the Iraqi troop movements caused Iraq to rethink its strategy. On October 7, in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz did not mention the troop movements and hinted that Iraq might even recognize Kuwait. His speech dwelled on the severe impact of sanctions on the Iraqi people. On October 8, the Iraqi Government newspaper al-Jumhuriya said Iraq wanted to avoid military confrontation. On October 9, Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Sahhaf said Iraq sought a diplomatic solution to the crisis. On October 10, Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations said Iraq was redeploying its troops from the border area because of "Security Council concerns" about the Iraqi buildup, though he said Iraq reserved the right to place its troops anywhere within Iraq's own territory. As of President Clinton's October 10, 8 PM EST Oval Office address, the United States had not seen hard evidence that Iraq was pulling back and the U.S. deployments to the region continued. On October 11, Iraq invited defense attaches from China and Russia to monitor Iraqi troop withdrawals. Later in the day, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili said there were indications that Iraq was undertaking a withdrawal. During October 12-14, U.S. officials said they had indications some Iraqi Republican Guard units had slowed or suspended their withdrawal. On Oct. 14, 1994, on a visit to U.S. troops in Kuwait, Secretary of Defense Perry said the United States might take military action if these units did not complete their withdrawal to bases north of the 32nd parallel. (The United States and its allies maintain a no-fly zone in Iraq south of that parallel.) On October 16, however, Secretary of State Christopher indicated that the Iraqi units were withdrawing.

Even as the crisis abated, the Clinton Administration was concerned that Iraq can, at any time, pose a serious threat to the Gulf states that would require U.S. troop deployments. Secretary of Defense Perry has said the United States does not want to maintain large forces in the Gulf on a permanent basis. During the crisis, one option reportedly under consideration by the Clinton Administration was to seek U.N. approval for a military exclusion zone or a "no-tank zone" in southern Iraq, south of the 32nd parallel. Setting up such a zone might have required a new Security Council resolution and there appeared to be insufficient support in the Council to adopt such a resolution. France said on October 12 that it opposed the proposal and, on October 13, Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev worked out a joint statement with Iraq that implied that Iraq would recognize Kuwait in exchange for the lifting of the oil embargo within six months. The United States rejected the Iraq-Russia statement and, on October 15, succeeded in gaining unanimous Security Council approval of Resolution 949, demanding that Iraq not deploy its troops so as to threaten its neighbors. The resolution invoked Chapter VII (peace and security) of the U.N. Charter but did not specify means of enforcement. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Albright said the resolution gives the United States authority to strike Iraq if it again moves Republican Guards near Kuwait, but other Security Council members have not yet endorsed that view.

Another option that might prevent a future crisis includes adoption of a U.N. resolution expanding UNSCOM's mission to include limitations on Iraqi conventional forces or force deployments. This option poses the risk of weakening Iraq to the point at which it disintegrates, opening opportunities for Iran to wield ever greater influence in the Gulf. Denuding Iraq of military capability in southern Iraq, for example, could allow southern Iraq to fall under the control of Shiite Muslims who have long been associated with Iran. These are some of the same reasons put forward by the Bush Administration to explain why it did not prosecute the 1991 war until Saddam was overthrown. Other possible actions include stepped up covert action to topple Saddam Husayn. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who argue that Iraq stopped well short of threatening Kuwait and that the Security Council should set a firm timetable for allowing Iraq to sell oil again, as Iraq has demanded. Advocates of this view point to the relatively favorable October 11 UNSCOM report to the Security Council on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Previous Post-War Confrontations

January 1993 Confrontation

The allied air actions that began on January 13 against Iraq were prompted by an intensifying confrontation between Iraq and the United States, its coalition partners, and the United Nations in three areas. They followed repeated Iraqi violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and allied coalition cease-fire agreements, particularly the movement of anti-aircraft missiles into the no-fly zones set up to protect Iraq's Kurdish and Shi'ite populations. On January 8 and 11, Iraq was described in a Security Council statement as being in material breach of U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, the principal cease-fire resolution enacted shortly after the Gulf war.

No-Fly Zones. On Dec. 27, 1992, the United States shot down an Iraqi jet that had violated the allied imposed "no-fly zone" in southern Iraq. Subsequently, Iraq redeployed 8 SA-3 and 12 SA-2 anti-aircraft missile launchers in the no-fly zone in a manner threatening to coalition aircraft patrolling the zone. On Jan. 6, 1993, the United States, Britain, France, and Russia gave Iraq 48 hours to move the missiles to their original locations or face possible military action. Despite Iraqi statements that it would not comply, and after examining intelligence reports on the movement of the missiles, the White House announced January 9 that Iraq had complied with the ultimatum. However, the White House noted that action could be taken without warning if Iraq redeployed the missiles in a threatening manner. There have been no further Iraqi aircraft violations of the no-fly zone since the ultimatum was announced. On January 11, Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates said that Iraq was continuing to shift anti-aircraft missiles in the exclusion zones in both southern and northern Iraq, but that it was too early to determine whether or not the deployments threatened allied aircraft. On January 12, the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. forces in Europe, General John Shalikashvili, said that Iraq had put its anti-aircraft missiles in the northern no-fly zone on operational status. On several subsequent occasions, Iraq again activated its targeting radar in the no-fly zones, precipitating confrontations with coalition aircraft.

U.S. officials cite two legal bases for enforcing the no-fly zones. First, U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 calls on Iraq not to repress its civilian population, in this case Shi'ites in southern Iraq and the Kurds in northern Iraq. Second, the Mar. 3, 1992 Safwan Accords concluded between Iraqi and coalition military commanders prevent Iraq from interfering with allied air operations over Iraq. Therefore, according to the U.S. interpretation, Iraq is not permitted to interfere with U.S. air operations conducted to monitor compliance with Resolution 688. Some observers in the international community have questioned this interpretation, since Resolution 688 is not a peace and security, or Chapter VII, resolution and does not, in itself, permit military action to enforce it. Iraq has consistently called the no-fly zones an illegitimate infringement on its sovereignty, an infringement which did not have explicit U.N. authorization.

U.N. Inspections. On Jan. 7, 1993, Iraq told the United Nations that it would no longer permit U.N. weapons inspectors to use their own aircraft to fly into or land in Iraq. It said the inspectors could use chartered Iraqi aircraft (all Iraqi air travel is banned by U.N. sanctions, however.) Iraq did not specifically ban U.N. U-2 or helicopter surveillance flights, however. On January 10, Iraq banned the flight into Iraq of 70 inspectors who were returning to Iraq after the holidays. The Security Council called the Iraqi action unacceptable and warned of serious consequences if the decision were not reversed.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 set up the inspection regime to find and dismantle Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. A related Security Council Resolution, 707, says Iraq must allow the inspectors to use their own transportation in performing their duties. Resolution 715 also provides for the dismantling of Iraqi facilities for developing weapons of mass destructions. These resolutions were passed under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter (peace and security) and thus can be enforced militarily without further U.N. authorization.

Iraq-Kuwait Border Incursions. A spokesman for the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), created by Security Council Resolution 687), which monitors the Iraq-Kuwait border, says that on Jan. 10, 1993, 500 Iraqis (some armed) crossed into the demilitarized zone, seized weapons, including four Silkworm missiles, under guard by UNIKOM, and returned to Iraq. (UNIKOM is a monitoring force, and is neither empowered nor able to resist militarily a large Iraqi incursion across the border.) The equipment had been left behind by Iraq when it retreated from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf war. On January 10, emissaries from the United States, Britain, France, and Russia, visited Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations to protest the seizure, and the Security Council met on January 11. On Monday, Jan. 11, 1993, several hundred Iraqis again entered the zone and began dismantling weapons warehouses, and resumed this activity on January 12 and early on January 13. On Nov. 2, 1992, the United Nations had issued a decision that Iraq could not remove its weapons from the zone without the permission of UNIKOM, but Iraq claims UNIKOM gave it permission to clear the weaponry from the zone.

The Iraqi border incursions followed the final demarcation of the land border on Nov. 23, 1992, established by a U.N. commission pursuant to Resolution 687 (the cease-fire resolution). The new border went into effect on Jan. 15, 1993; however, Iraq has condemned the findings of the demarcation commission, which allocate additional territory, including a portion of a former Iraqi naval base and several oil wells, to Kuwait. Iraq initially refused to remove its six police posts from what has been designated as Kuwaiti territory. (Later, on January 18, the United Nations said that Iraq had done so.)

Allied Air Strikes

January 13 Strikes. On January 13, U.S.-led coalition forces conducted air strikes against eight Iraqi antiaircraft missile sites and related control facilities in the no-fly zone of southern Iraq (south of the 32nd parallel). Subsequently, Administration officials called the raid a success in that it seriously degraded Iraq's air defense network, although several targets were not hit. The raid involved 600 U.S. military personnel from the various services and approximately 110 allied aircraft. According to the Defense Department's principal spokesman, only the United States and former Desert Storm partners Britain and France participated in the raid. Some reports, however, have indicated participation by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Iraq says the attack killed 19 and wounded 15, many of them civilians. U.S. officials acknowledged that an apartment building in the southern city of Basra was hit, presumably by mistake.

It was also announced that a U.S. armored battalion, the 1st battalion, 19th regiment, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas -- a total of roughly 1,100 soldiers -- would go to Kuwait to bolster U.S. forces in the region and underscore the U.S. commitment to Persian Gulf security. Much of their equipment, which includes M1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, is prepositioned in Kuwait under terms of the U.S.-Kuwait Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed in September 1991. The battalion, scheduled for training exercises in Kuwait, joining the approximately 300 U.S. Special Forces troops already in Kuwait for military exercises.

Iraqi Reactions. The raid apparently prompted some early concessions from Baghdad. Despite a defiant post-raid speech by Saddam Husayn, Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations told the president of the United Nations Security Council that Iraq would permit flights by U.N. inspectors in their own aircraft, and that incursions into the demilitarized zone with Kuwait would cease. However, Iraq has vowed that it would continue to resist enforcement of the no-fly zones, and Saddam instructed the military to fire on coalition planes over Iraqi territory.

When Iraq failed to respond to a U.N. request to land a U.N. aircraft carrying weapons inspectors to Iraq, the United States, Britain, and France delivered an ultimatum to Iraq that it provide such clearance by 4:00 PM EST on Jan. 15, 1993. Before the deadline expired, Iraq said the U.N. aircraft could land, but that Iraq could not guarantee its security, since allied operations were taking place in the southern no-fly zone. The U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) conducting the inspections rejected that condition and said it would file a new flight request. On January 16, Iraq said it would permit the flights and guarantee their security, but only if the flights enter Iraqi airspace from Jordan, and not from the south. (The U.N. flights generally enter from the south, flying from the UNSCOM office in Bahrain.) UNSCOM again rejected this condition, as well as a January 17 Iraqi proposal that the flights could enter from the south if the coalition suspended its patrols of the no-fly zone during the U.N. flights. Further Actions. Iraq appeared willing to provoke coalition military action when, early on January 17, it activated its targeting radar in the northern no-fly zone. The coalition conducted an airstrike against an SA-6 ground radar station in northern Iraq and shot down an Iraqi MiG-23 that had crossed into the no-fly zone in the north. Later that day, in response to Iraq's refusal to grant unconditional clearance to U.N. inspection flights, the United States launched 45 cruise missiles at the Zafaraniya manufacturing complex outside Baghdad. The Bush Administration said the complex, which had been rendered inoperative by UNSCOM in the course of four inspections there, had been used to make components for Iraq's nuclear weapons program. One cruise missile went or was shot off course and hit the Al Rashid hotel in Baghdad, killing at least three civilians.

In response to Iraq's continued defiance of U.N. demands, the coalition, on January 18, launched another raid on the Iraqi air defense installations in the south that it had missed or insufficiently damaged in the January 13 airstrike. The coalition also struck air defense installations in the northern no-fly zone and shot at, and probably downed, an Iraqi warplane that tried to resist the coalition attacks in the north. Iraq's mobile anti-aircraft batteries in the south, however, were moved in advance of the raid. Iraq said 21 were killed in the attacks. There were also reports that Iraq fired a Scud missile at the Saudi city of Dhahran but the Pentagon said it could not confirm that a missile was fired.

According to news reports, Iraqi planes again challenged the no-fly zone in the north and directed anti-aircraft fire at coalition aircraft on January 19. In response, the coalition fired cluster bombs and air to surface missiles at Iraqi anti-aircraft guns in the northern no fly zone. Kuwait also announced that an unspecified number of U.S. Patriot missiles had arrived in Kuwait to provide further protection to that country. It was also reported that four U.S. warships, including the aircraft carrier Kennedy, were headed toward the eastern Mediterranean in case they were needed against Iraq. At 1:30 PM EST, Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council offered a "cease-fire... to enable the new Administration to study the no-fly zones." Subsequently, Iraq offered to allow U.N. aircraft to fly directly from Bahrain to Baghdad without conditions. Also on January 19, U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali recommended that 3,645 armed U.N. troops and military support be sent to guard the Iraq-Kuwait border.

Action continued for three more days. On January 21, U.S. aircraft fired a missile and dropped cluster bombs on an Iraqi ground radar in the northern no-fly zone when the radar beam search was directed at them while they were escorting a French reconnaissance airplane. On January 22, a U.S. F-4G fired two missiles at an air defense battery in the northern no-fly zone after the battery's radar actively tracked U.S. aircraft patrolling the zone. Iraq denied it had tracked the aircraft and claimed there were no air defense batteries at that location. A U.S. A-6 Intruder aircraft fired a laser-guided bomb at an Iraqi anti-aircraft position in the southern no-fly zone after the pilot thought he saw anti-aircraft fire directed at his and other U.S. aircraft patrolling that zone. Iraq denied firing on any U.S. aircraft. U.S. Defense Department officials subsequently said that the U.S. aircraft were not being tracked by Iraqi radar and that they were trying to establish whether or not Iraq had fired on the U.S. planes.

June 1993 Missile Strikes

Tensions between the United States and Iraq increased during the spring of 1993, as Iraq continued its failure to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspections and reportedly concentrated forces near the Kurdish enclave. In early June, Iraq refused to allow U.N. inspectors to install two cameras designed to maintain surveillance of Iraqi missile productions programs. So far, this issue remains unresolved. In the meantime, credible reports of an Iraqi plot to assassinate former President George Bush during April while he was on a visit to Kuwait precipitated another confrontation between the United States and Iraq on June 26. The June confrontation represented a unilateral action by the United States under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter (which authorizes actions taken in self defense). Thus, it differed from the January confrontation, which represented a combined allied action to enforce U.N. Resolution 687 and related cease-fire provisions.

Bush Assassination Attempt. The Government of Kuwait informed the U.S. Administration that it discovered evidence that Iraq sponsored an attempt to assassinate former President Bush and destabilize Kuwait during his April 14-16 visit to Kuwait. The Kuwaitis captured a small van loaded with 180 pounds of explosives, and confiscated detonators, timing devices, and other bomb components. Sixteen of the seventeen suspects in the plot (11 Iraqi nationals) are in custody in Kuwait and have been charged, and the trial of fourteen of them began in Kuwait on June 5. One of the Iraqi defendants testified that Iraqi intelligence was behind the plot. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and other U.S. intelligence officers were sent to Kuwait to conduct their own investigation, and reported back to the President on June 24, 1993, that their findings confirmed the view that Iraq was behind the plot. Iraq has denied that it sponsored the attempt. Some in the Administration and Congress called for retaliation, including airstrikes, against Iraq if it were clear that Iraq had sponsored the plot; others pointed out that U.S. policy toward Iraq already was strict and few other options were available. Skeptics cited press reports that a classified Central Intelligence Agency report said it was possible that Kuwait, in an attempt to embarrass Iraq, might have manufactured evidence to make an infiltration by Iraqis appear as an attempt to assassinate Bush. These skeptics argued that the alleged plotters were too inept (for example, ridding themselves of their weapons and an explosive belt after entering Kuwait after learning they were being watched) to be closely linked to Iraqi intelligence .

U.S. Missile Strikes. On June 26, 1993, at 4:22 p.m. EDT (2022 GMT or 12:22 a.m. on June 27, Baghdad time), the U.S.S. Peterson, a Spruance-class destroyer in the Red Sea, and the U.S.S. Chancellorsville, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser in the Persian Gulf, began launching 23 Tomahawk missiles toward the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in western Baghdad. The Tomahawk is a 20-foot long missile that flies at 550 mph about 50 feet above the ground to avoid radar, carrying a 1,000- pound conventional warhead some 700 miles. Tomahawks were used because they are not manned, and therefore do not place U.S. Armed Forces personnel at risk, and because they have a success rate estimated to be as high as 80%. About one hour after launch, 20 of the Tomahawks hit the 6-winged headquarters building in the center of the intelligence complex.

Shortly after 6 p.m. EDT, the White House announced that the raid was underway, and at 7:40 p.m., President Clinton addressed the Nation. The President stated that CIA and FBI reports provided compelling evidence that Iraqi intelligence forces were behind the attempted assassination of former President Bush in April and that the United States was justified in acting against Iraq under the self defense provisions of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In a briefing following the President's address, Defense Secretary Les Aspin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell said the intelligence headquarters was selected as the target because the Iraqi intelligence services had been linked to the attempt on President Bush, because it was a discreet target and because it was at the low end of a spectrum of possible targets that included the Ministry of Defense, the Presidential Palace, military bases, or others.

On June 27, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright presented the U.S. and Kuwaiti evidence to the Security Council, including pictures of the van with 170 pounds of explosives and the detonator and other bomb components, that linked Iraq to the attempt on President Bush. U.S. officials said the attack on the intelligence headquarters was a qualified success based on early damage estimates. But, 3 of the Tomahawks missed their targets and hit nearby residential areas, destroying several houses and killing 8 and wounding 12 civilians. (Iraq claims to have shot down four of the missiles.)

Also on June 27, the United States moved the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and destroyers Arleigh Burke and Spruance from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. (The carrier U.S.S. Nimitz left the Persian Gulf on June 17 at the end of its 6-month tour.) On June 28, President Clinton sent a letter to Congress describing the missile attack on Iraq "consistent with the War Powers Resolution." The President also said the raids crippled Iraq's military intelligence capability, but some observers suggested that this capability was not severely damaged because of redundancies in the system.

International Reactions. International reactions to the June 26 missile strikes by the United States followed a pattern fairly similar to the international response during the January confrontation. Western allies and Russia expressed general approval, with strongest support coming from Britain, Germany, and Belgium. Australia and Sweden, who have sometimes criticized U.S. military action, supported the attack. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the attack was entirely justified and expressed the view that state terrorism "must be met with an appropriate response." (The opposition National Salvation Front, however, denounced the Yeltsin government for supporting the U.S. strikes.) France and Italy, in more guarded statements, expressed understanding for the motives of the United States, but France suggested that clarification is needed regarding the relationship between the international community and Iraq. Turkey distanced itself somewhat by describing the confrontation as a matter between the United States and Iraq; though supporting the fight against terrorism, Turkey said it should be applied to Bosnia as well. Additional support came from Israel, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Within the Middle East, there was little support for the U.S. air strikes, even among members of the former allied coalition, and widespread criticism that the United States had applied a dual standard in attacking Iraq but permitting atrocities against Muslims in Bosnia. With the exception of Kuwait, which praised the U.S. action, Gulf states were officially silent. A statement by the Arab League Secretariat deplored the use of force. The Egyptian Foreign Minister wished "that U.S. policies were as strict toward crimes that the Serbs carry out against Bosnia-Herzegovina." Criticisms of the strikes came from three of the states that remained neutral during the Gulf war: Sudan, Yemen, and Jordan. Libya described the attack as part of a conspiracy against Iraq. Iran, despite its hostility toward Iraq, condemned the U.S. strikes as a violation of the U.N. charter and of international law. (Some observers speculate that Iran fears it may become the next target of U.S. reprisals against state-supported terrorism.)

Criticism or reservations regarding the U.S. attack were expressed by other Muslim, non-aligned, and Communist (or former Communist) countries. China voiced concern and hoped that all sides would avoid actions that might worsen the situation, as did Indonesia. Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand regretted the U.S. action against Iraq. Non-aligned members of the U.N. Security Council (Cape Verde, Djibouti, Morocco, and Pakistan) condemned all forms of terrorism and urged all states to act in accordance with principles of the U.N. Charter. Muted criticism came from several eastern European countries, including Poland, Ukraine, and Czechoslovakia, although the latter expressed understanding for the U.S. position. The Vatican, though not taking sides, deplored the loss of civilian life. A large number of countries, however, have remained silent on the subject.

Air Strike, June 29, 1993. On June 29, 1993, Iraqi anti-aircraft radar "locked on" to U.S. planes flying over Basra Province in southern Iraq. An F-4G "Wild Weasel" fired one HARM missile at the radar site. President Clinton told the press that the action followed standard U.S. rules of engagement over the no-fly zones, and that people should not read to much into the incident. Iraqi sources said one Iraqi soldier was wounded in the incident, which it called a "cowardly act of aggression."

Role of Congress

Congress authorized the President to use United States Armed Forces to implement some of the U.N. resolutions in Public Law 102-1 (H.J.Res. 77), passed by Congress on Jan. 12, 1991, and signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 14, 1991. Congress reaffirmed its approval of the use of force against Iraq in the Defense Authorization Act for FY1992 (Section 1095, P.L. 102-190, Dec. 5, 1991). Congress was out of session at the height of the October 1994 Iraqi troop movements crisis but the Administration kept Congress and the public informed through speeches, briefings, and news conferences.

Prior to the Jan. 13, 1993, attacks, President Bush informed congressional leaders of his intention to launch the air strikes against the Iraqi missile sites. In the first hours after the strikes, several Members of Congress voiced their approval of the use of force. According to reports, the President conferred with selected Members of Congress prior to the June 26, 1993 attack on the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters. Most Members of Congress supported the President's action, although some believed the President should have pursued diplomatic avenues before resorting to military action, and some questioned the wisdom of launching the Tomahawks at night when civilians were more likely to be at home.


FOR ADDITIONAL READING

CRS Issue Brief 92117. Iraqi Compliance with Cease-Fire Agreements, by Kenneth Katzman. (Regularly updated).






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