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Jim Ludes @JMLudes
, 24 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
Been watching the gyrations on #Iran and #JCPOA and find myself thinking like I've seen this movie, too. Some important cautions follow. #Thread 1/
After the 1991 Gulf War, the United Nations created an intrusive weapons inspection program for Iraq, known by the acronym #UNSCOM. 2/…
UN inspectors, complete with technological monitoring and human inspectors left little ambiguity about what Iraq had wanted to do prior to the 1991 war. 3/
In fact, inspectors working for UNSCOM found and destroyed more WMD in Iraq than coalition forces had found during the 1991 war itself. 4/…
By 1998, and after repeated harrassment by Iraqi authorities, there was a growing frustration that inspectors access to Iraqi facilities was too frequently challenged and then, in September, suspended: 5/…
Eventually, the UN withdrew the UNSCOM inspectors from Iraq as tensions escalated. 6/…
In December of 1998, the United States and the United Kingdom conducted four days of airstrikes--Operation Desert Fox--targeting "Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction." 7/…
The result? British and American forces cratered some wherehouses, but much more importantly, Iraq refused any further cooperation with UNSCOM and inspectors would not re-enter the country until after the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. 8/
The ugly truth? After UNSCOM left Iraq--after inspectors and their monitoring left Iraq--the West's intelligence agencies' ability to understand what was happening inside Iraq and in their WMD program evaporated. 9/
Former intelligence analyst Kenneth Pollack reflected on what the intelligence community got wrong prior to the 2003 war in an article in the @TheAtlantic in 2006. 10/…
His observations couldn't be any more relevant right now. 11/
UN inspectors "had been the best source of information on Iraq and its WMD programs." 12/
"The end of the inspections eliminated the single best means of vetting what information intelligence agencies could gather independently about Iraq." 13/
"When the inspectors suddenly left, the various intelligence agencies were caught psychologically and organizationally off balance. . . . With so little to go on, intelligence agencies believed many reports that now seem deeply suspect." 14/
"In the absence of hard evidence, the intelligence analysts tended to fall back on the underlying assumptions they had begun with. . . . After 1998 many analysts increasingly entertained worst-case scenarios--scenarios that gradually became mainstream estimates." 15/
All of this is relevant again given the speech yesterday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 16/…
Netanyahu's speech is clearly intended to make the case for ending the #JCPOA--also known as the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated in the Obama administration. 17/
Broadly speaking, the deal lifted some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for that country freezing its nuclear weapons program. 18/…
But the #JCPOA also included an instrusive verification regime--you guessed it, technological monitoring and inspectors--on the ground inside Iran to make sure the country complied with its disarmament. 19/
As @BelferCenter put it in their 2015 definitive guide to the #JCPOA, 20/
Ironically, Netanyahu's speech provides tremendous insight into the value of international arms control monitoring. 21/
As @ArmsControlWonk put it in a brilliant thread, "everything he said was already known to the IAEA and published in IAEA GOV/2015/68 (2015)." 22/
So let's be clear, one of the lessons of Iraq is don't blow up intrusive verification regimes in states you don't trust. Whatever goal you think you're achieving isn't worth the resulting uncertainty that will feed bad decision making. 23/
It will be strategic folly to tear up the #JCPOA and effectively blind the West. Verification is intelligence--and in Iraq we learned just how blind we can be without it. Don't make that same mistake again in Iran. 24/24
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