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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 16:17 GMT
Iraq: Can the inspectors achieve their goal?
An Iraqi soldier watches UN vehicles as they make their way into a graphite rod factory  south west of Baghdad
Arms inspections in Iraq have got off to "a fairly good start" said Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, in encouraging Iraq to keep co-operating.

On Wednesday the inspectors completed their first field visit for four years, causing disarray in Baghdad's streets as they set off at high speed in Land Cruisers, pursued by journalists.

Though the inspectors have refused to specify their plans, they are expected to spread out through Iraq in search of mobile laboratories, underground factories and other signs of illicit weapon production - all of which are denied by the Iraqi leadership.

The assessment of Iraq's artillery was authorised by a UN resolution and its findings could determine whether the US carries out its threat to lead a military attack on Iraq.

The resolution insists upon checks on all previously blocked sites, including mosques and Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.

Are you encouraged by the inspectors' achievement of their first mission? Do you think they will be able to achieve their goal? Will Saddam co-operate fully? Can war be avoided?

Have your say

In the fullness of time the world will pay the price for their winning now

Harrison Picot, USA
With the US and Israel having all the weapons of mass destruction they need to threaten the world, and an unwillingness to assure non-nuclear nations that they will not be nuclear targets, the desire to balance that power by obtaining suitable weapons will be irresistible. In the short term, the US and Israel will win, in the fullness of time the world will pay the price for their winning now. The UN follows Bush instead of asking, "And then what happens?"
Harrison Picot, USA

Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted to reveal all his hidden weapons of mass destruction. The only way the inspectors can achieve their goals is for the Iraqi scientists to spill the beans and tell the inspectors where their evil weapons are hidden. All those criticising Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair should understand that all they are doing is saving us from Saddam Hussein's evil agenda of destroying the entire world. He already tested his chemical weapons by killing his own people who disagreed with him.
Koreed, USA

This isn't a "second-chance" for Iraq. Europeans and the UN have given so many "second-chances" to so many tyrants that it has become impossible to continue counting anymore. When will these spineless people learn that totalitarian dictators can not be appeased? And when will they stop blaming the USA for all the world's problems, no matter how relevant they are to this country?
Steve, USA

Iraq is a large country with tremendous opportunity for Saddam hussein to hide his arsenal, if any. Since the last inspection he has developed methods of moving his points of manufacture around the country, and thus will elude the inspectors. Mr. Blix will have his hands full from trying to keep the war-crying American right from taking advantage of minor slips and averting the war. It really depends on what the US seeks to achieve by this.
Sivanathan, Sri Lanka

The US Defense Department asserts there are 12 nations with nuclear weapons programs

The US Defense Department asserts there are 12 nations with nuclear weapons programs, 13 with biological weapons, 16 with chemical weapons, and 28 with ballistic missiles that serve as potential threats to the United States. But only one of those countries sits atop the second largest oil reserves in the world.- Iraq. Perhaps the US and UK Governments should tell us, what are the real reasons we are going to war?

To Mark, As to Why Irag? Perhaps because Saddam has used WMD before and of all the nations with them, he would be first on the list to likely used them again!
Kenneth A. Geller, USA

How on earth are a small band of people going to find anything that doesn't want to be found in such a hostile environment and on such a timescale? Surely, said weaponry is not going to be hidden in palaces or official buildings.

I want to make clear that if Iraq still denies owning WMD on 8 December, this is not a pretext for war. The document on the 8th is to be compared to what the inspectors actually find over the course of 1 year. Discrepencies here lead to "serious consequences". Going to war after a denial on the 8th proves the inspectors were nothing but a pretext for aggression.
Kevin Trimm, Canada

The US is be applauded for its leadership.

Robert Angus, Canada
War can be avoided if Iraq comes clean about their weapons of mass destruction. Failure to do so and confirmation of this by the inspectors will justify military action. The US is be applauded for its leadership.
Robert Angus, Canada

Every country possess WMD. I agree that if Iraq does hold these weapons they should be destroyed.. However, who is to say that in the future the USA or UK or any other country will not have a leader like saddam? Therefore I think if USA is so against WMD they should destroy their own weapons too.
Mansi, UK

Some of these comments are rather asinine. The US's nuclear capability¿s are public information. Basically we receive nothing, not even thanks, for spending trillions on worldwide peace and aid. I think we should quit wasting our time and money.
Brian, USA

I wish that the world community would target other known rogue states which have similar WMD capabilities

Srinivas Bangarbale, USA
It is unclear if Iraq actually possesses WMDs. However, it does have the capabilities and has tried to hide the evidence, at least regarding chemical and biological weapons, in the past. Iraq used chemical agents against its own Kurdish population, and there is no reason to believe it will not do so again. I just wish that the world community would also target other known dictatorial and rogue states which have similar WMD capabilities.
Srinivas Bangarbale, USA

I would say that the Republican government in the US should change first. It seems to me that this Bush regime is more of a threat to world sovereignty. Saddam has ruled Iraq for years. There is nothing new in Iraq. Bring Bill Clinton back and save the world!
Anil, USA

They should be allowed into the US to check for weapons

Diane McParland, Australia
When the inspectors have finished in Iraq, they should be allowed into the US to check for weapons of mass destruction. After that, keep checking all countries involved in wanting to go to war in Iraq. Same rules for all.
Diane McParland, Australia

I agree with Diane. How about we send in inspectors to the US? Then, the moment inspectors are obstructed, or the moment there is a "material breach" we can send in 250,000 troops to take over the country, change regimes and align its regulatory systems with our own.
Tim, Australia

I have to respond to Diane and Tom's comments. Letting inspectors into the US - for what? Everyone already knows that we have a very large arsenal of nuclear weapons so we have nothing to hide. As for sending troops to take over our country? Obviously you know nothing about our policy of deterrence. But all Saddam has to do is not play his usual games of hide and seek then all will be well but if not I support the notion of getting rid of him 100%. Most likely the Iraqi people want him gone as well but cannot publicly say so. If the rest of the world doesn't have the backbone to do it then I say let's roll!
Peter, USA

Tim and Diane of Australia are being ridiculous. The US is not led by a cruel and oppressive dictator. When the US kills thousands of our minorities with chemical weapons, brutally invades and occupies a neighbouring country, kills all people representing political opposition, and refuses to adhere to our treaties after being ejected from the country we invaded, I will take such nonsense seriously.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

Shawn from Washington is being ridiculous. Let's not forget that the US is the only country to be condemned by the World Court for international terrorism with its offensive in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Many have been assassinated in CIA backed coups. The US isn't as holy as you think.
Kubai, Canada

Shawn in Washington is himself being ridiculous. Surely he knows that only one country in the world, the US, has ever used nuclear bombs on human population. The same country has continued armed attacks on Iraq during the past two days as inspections are negotiated, and like a schoolyard bully complained that they are being fired upon. This is a blatant effort to sabotage a peaceful solution they never wanted in the first place.
Steve Abbott, Germany

You put nuclear warheads in the wrong hands and see what happens

Jan, Seattle, USA
Steve Abbott from Germany is now being ridiculous! Yes we are the only known country that dropped a nuclear bomb and I am not saying it was right. However, during that time Japan would not stop. They would have continued until they won. Everyone knows that. You put nuclear warheads in the wrong hands and see what happens. Again, we dropped one to stop a war not to start one.
Jan, Seattle, USA

The US must triumph in the name of global stability. Iraq does not threaten the "world" right at this moment. Just wait for him to fully develop his weapons and then all of you who scold the U.S. will cry and beg for our help. We need to attack now before Saddam terrorizes the world. Support the US, it is the only way to assure a successful mission for everyone!
R, Gainesville, Fl, USA

I don't think that the US will be satisfied until it has regime change, It would like a pro-US government (not necessarily pro west) with which to apply more leverage on its ally Saudi Arabia. The US has stated that it would like to have a democratic Middle East. Why not start by having a Democratic UN, where a handful of countries in the Security Council dictate to the world. Disarming Iraq should be left to the UN and any action required must be requested by the UN, not forced upon it by US
Ibrahim, Netherlands

Weapons of mass destruction in our contemporary society remains a dark spot on our collective civilization. The question is who should have weapons of mass destruction and who should not. Iraq no doubt is ready to cooperate and the USA no doubt is ready to attack. Americans have their interest in the gulf. It is important to recognise that Russia, France, and possibly China got theirs too. The recognition of this remain vital in interaction between states.
Tony Alozie, Boston, USA

The road ahead is difficult and arduous

Andy Ortiz, Japan
The road ahead is difficult and arduous. The Iraqis have reluctantly accepted the tough new inspections even without the possibilities that the whole process will in any way bring an end to the crippling sanctions. The least the US could do is reciprocate and show their desire for peace and good faith by for example temporarily ceasing their unilateral enforcing of the no-fly zone and thus diffusing tension and making things easier for the inspectors on the ground.

Unfortunately the US administration is not making any conciliatory signals and the inspection mission is basically doomed to failure under these conditions. War is looming ominously and the warmongers do not clearly see the dangers of starting a new front while the smouldering fires in Palestine/Israel and Afghanistan are still unresolved.
Andy Ortiz, Japan

The only good thing that can be said about the weapons inspectors is they show that by trying to use them the USA is not trampling over the UN. It looked at one point as though the USA was totally out of patience with a body that we cannot afford to see going the way of the League of Nations. Bush and Powell deserve some praise, both for consulting and giving Iraq every chance to comply.
Dave Smith, New Zealand

Chances of Saddam revealing his weapons of mass destruction seem ever so slim. I have a feeling history is about to repeat itself, Saddam will obstruct UN inspectors from carrying out their task.
Pawan, Great Britain

I think that it's stupid to believe that Iraq is a threat. You called your topic Conflict with Iraq, but since when there is a conflict without any aggression? The inspectors are sent to Iraq to find a little thing wrong, that you, the media, will transform into a threat to our lives.
Christian Loranger, Québec

Inspection or war is not a solution

Marioka, Japan
Inspection or war is not a solution. According to me the solution lies in being truthful and honest, ready to admit mistakes and see with the others what should be the best path for peace. Are these qualities found in both Bush and Saddam?
Marioka, Japan

Saddam will co-operate fully. UN inspectors will find nothing for WMD arsenal has been long hidden deep underground. War will be avoided and sanctions will be lifted.
Mirek Kondracki, USA

I think there is a very good chance of the inspections working. The question is whether the hawks will accept any finding that goes against them.
Natarajan Viswanathan, New Zealand

Considering all the time the UN has dithered on this issue, Saddam has had ample opportunity to hide, redistribute or even dismantle any WMDs he has. When the inspectors arrive, they will see exactly what Saddam wants them to see. These inspections are the ultimate exercise in futility.
Dan, UK

Iraq will start thwarting inspections once the focus of the international community shifts from the region

Jatin, India
If past record is anything to go by we should not expect any dramatic change in Iraq's attitude towards UN arms inspectors. Iraq has allowed entry of weapons inspectors only because this time she feels that the threat of war is real and credible. Iraq will start her old game of thwarting inspections once the focus of the international community shifts from the region.
Jatin, India

After having seen Sunday night's programme about Iraq and the appalling goings on by Saddam's bully-boys I guess the kindest thing for the Iraqi people would be for him and his regime to be wiped out!
R Steward, UK

War is inevitable in Iraq as Saddam is playing the old 'hide-the-weapons' game again. I wish world leaders would realise this, and just cut to the chase.
Andy, UK

The US will attack Iraq no matter what the UN inspectors report back

Tom, USA
The inspections will do nothing. The only reason that Saddam accepted the inspectors back into the country is to buy himself more time to prepare his defences. The UN is losing its power in the international community very quickly, and these inspections are merely another ploy to get back into the spotlight. The US holds all the cards, and we will attack Iraq no matter what the UN inspectors report back. Because of the UN, Iraq will be more prepared for an attack, and because of the UN, more American, British, and Iraqi soldiers will die. The UN should be ashamed.
Tom, USA

This is not a matter of finding weapons, it's a matter of getting rid of Saddam's regime, so one way or another there will be war. The inspectors are just a reason to use the UN.
Vojo M, USA

I think the inspections will have one of two possible outcomes: 1. WMD are found. 2. Inspectors are harassed and obstructed to buy Saddam more time. Regardless of the outcome of the inspections we will see the true determination of the world's nations to depose a tyrant.
Matt, UK

The only way forward for UN inspectors is to request more time, at least six months for inspections, and they will win in the end.
Sefa, New Zealand

The weapons inspectors will only be able to achieve their goal if there is a couple of hundred of them that split up and go to places without telling the Iraqi Government.
Terence Gaffney, USA/England

I don't think the weapons inspectors can really achieve anything in Iraq. Surely what he has to hide will be hidden?! It's a token gesture to make us all feel better.
Mark, Germany

The outcome of the inspectors' visit is completely rigged, let's get it straight. The end product is going to be war, regardless of the co-operation or non co-operation of Iraq.
G McAleer, UK

As an Iraqi, I just hope Bush remains true to his convictions and assists the Iraqi people in getting rid of Saddam Hussain.
Arabi Ahmed, UK

The occasional American and British air strikes over Iraq are just a tip of the iceberg

Kanayo Udeagbala, UK
The question is not whether the weapon inspectors will succeed but when the US will attack Iraq? Going by the current military build-up in the Gulf we all know it's just a matter of time before all hell is let loose. The occasional American and British air strikes over Iraq are just a tip of the iceberg and meant to prepare us for the real show.
Kanayo Udeagbala, UK

I disagree with the forcing of weapons inspections in the first place. We (the US) have weapons of mass destruction and have used these weapons of mass destruction. We have also irresponsibly distributed them to other countries.
Mark G, USA

The UN resolution requires so much of Iraq in such a short time that it's close to impossible to meet the standard. Even if Iraq is able to provide every little detail of their weapons and location in thirty days, it just makes it easier for the US to plan their attacks.
Michael Schway, USA

There are two possibilities. Either the USA will attack Iraq because the inspectors have found hidden WMDs, or the USA will attack Iraq because the inspectors have found no WMDs.
James, UK

Will America take any notice whether they do or not?
Richard Haut, Nice, France

It is virtually impossible to prove a negative

John, USA
Whether the inspectors will succeed depends on what the goals of the inspection are. For Iraq the goal of the inspection is proving that there are no hidden weapons. For the UN the goal is proving that there are hidden weapons. The only goal that can possibly be met is proving that there are hidden weapons because it is virtually impossible to prove a negative.
John, USA

We need to go through the process of inspections, but the US Government has stated that if they don't find anything, then the Iraqis have hidden them away and are guilty as charged. The Americans do not appear to want the inspections to find a reality alternate to their opinions - and war would follow soon afterwards.
David Francis, UK

When you go looking for trouble, you're bound to find it somehow

Dimm Simm, USA
15 weeks is a relatively short time to gather any concrete evidence of weapons development, however, as the old saying goes, 'When you go looking for trouble, you're bound to find it somehow.' If achieving their goal includes going into Iraq with a pre-determined mind-set to find them guilty one way or the other, then fine, the inspectors will achieve their goal.
Dimm Simm, USA

I believe the inspectors will achieve their aim one way or another. I also believe, that the American position is the correct one. It may lean towards war, but the message is clear; do as required Iraq and all will be well. Don't; and we'll send in the troops. It's the only language Saddam Hussein understands.
Eddie BT, UK

I don't think the inspectors have a chance because the US won't allow inspection a chance to work. Even if no weapons are found, the US will still attack Iraq - it has already determined to. I think the US is the dangerous country in all this: not signing a treaty on chemical/biological weapons, amongst other things. Europe should take a stand against the US. We should take the moral high ground. America, doesn't even qualify under EU definitions of being a civilised country as it still operates the death penalty. Please please please let's see Bush out of the White House and be replaced by either someone like Powell or have Clinton back.
Tom, UK

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