Iraq disarmament crisis timeline 2001–2003


Iraq disarmament crisis timeline 2001–2003

Timeline of events related to the Iraq disarmament crisis

Continued from Iraq disarmament crisis timeline 1997-2000

2001

February 2001
*British and US forces carry out bombing raids in an attempt to disable Iraq's air defense network.

July 1, 2001
*A handwritten message with this date purports to show a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq's Saddam Hussein government. The letter, purportedly from the head of Iraqi Intelligence to Saddam outines mission training which Mohammed Atta, one of the organizers of the September 11 attacks, has supposedly received in Iraq. It also claims that Hussein accepted a shipment from Niger, presumably of uranium. Made public in December 2003, the letter is widely considered a fabrication created after the Iraq war.

September 11, 2001
* In multiple terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda hijackers destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and crash a third plane into the Pentagon. A fourth plane also heading for Washington crashes in rural Pennsylvania, apparently after passengers and members of flight crew attempt to re-take control.

2002

February

*The CIA sent former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to investigate the yellowcake claims. He returned home and informed the CIA that the reports of yellowcake sales to Iraq were "unequivocally wrong." After the Bush administration repeatedly referenced the yellowcake claims as justification for war with Iraq, ambassador Wilson wrote a critical op-ed in "The New York Times" in which he explained the nature of the documents and the government's prior knowledge of their unreliability for use in a case for war. Shortly after Wilson's op-ed, the identity of Wilson's wife, undercover CIA analyst Valerie Plame, was revealed in a column by Robert Novak, in apparent retribution for Wilson going public with doubts about the yellowcake claims. It is a felony to reveal the identity of a CIA agent, yet no one has been convicted as a result of Novak’s column, though I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was convicted of perjury in the Plame leak investigation.

March

March 18, 2002
* Jack Abramoff tells a friend, known as Octagon1, that Karl Rove said that there will be an "upcoming war on Iraq." [ [http://oversight.house.gov/abramoff/docs/0949_001.pdf The Abramoff Investigation, Bates numbers GTG R000847 - 001829] , Page 26]

May

May 14, 2002
* The UN Security Council passes resolution 1409, which reaffirms UN members' commitment to maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq.

July

July 5, 2002
* Iraq once again rejects new UN weapons inspection proposals.

July 23, 2002
* A British government memo gives an overview of a secret meeting of United Kingdom Labour government, defense, and intelligence figures, who discuss the build-up to war in Iraq. The head of MI6, recently back from visiting Washington, is quoted as expressing the view that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/election2005/article387390.ece "The secret Downing Street memo,"] "The Sunday Times", May 1, 2005]

August

August, 2002
* According to U.S. Intelligence, China, with help from France and Syria, has secretly sold to Iraq the prohibited chemical Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, or HTPB, which is used in making solid fuel for long-range missiles. France denies that the sale took place. U.S. intelligence traces the sale back to China's Qilu Chemicals company in Shandong province. The chemical sale involved a French company known as CIS Paris, which helped broker the sale of 20 tons of HTPB, which was then shipped from China to the Syrian port of Tartus. The chemicals were then shipped by truck from Syria to an Iraqi missile manufacturing plant.

August 2, 2002

* In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Iraq invites Hans Blix to Iraq for discussions on remaining disarmament issues.

August 17, 2002

* A letter from an Iraqi intelligence official urgently asks agents in Iraq to look for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and another unnamed man. Two responses said, "we found no information to confirm the presence of the above mentioned in our area of operation. Please review, we suggest circulating the contents of this message." [translated letters linked as pdf files from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi#Alleged links to Saddam Hussein. See also [http://www.juancole.com/2006/03/saddam-was-trying-to-capture-zarqawi.html blog post with link to original untranslated letter as well as news article] , all three last retrieved June 27, 2007.]
August 19, 2002
* The UN Secretary General rejects Iraq's August 2 proposal as the "wrong work program", but recommends that Iraq allow the return of weapons inspectors in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284, passed in 1999.

September

September 12, 2002
* US President George W. Bush, addressing the UN General Assembly, challenges the UN to confront the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq or stand aside as the United States and likeminded nations act. The UN Security Council begins discussion on drafting a new resolution to encourage Iraq to comply with the previous sixteen UN resolutions.

September 22, 2002
* The British government places a dossier before Parliament giving its intelligence assessment of Iraq's WMD capability. The document alleges that Iraq possesses chemical weapons and biological weapons, and has restarted its nuclear weapons program. The document also asserts that Iraq has sought "significant quantities of uranium from Africa", and that some of the WMD would be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Claims later leaked in May 2003 that the dossier was "sexed up" under pressure from Downing Street will lead to a media furore, and the apparent suicide of weapons inspector David Kelly.

September 26, 2002
* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accuses Iraq of harboring al Qaeda terrorists and aiding their quest for weapons of mass destruction.
* The Bush administration says attempts by Iraq to acquire thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes points to a clandestine program to make enriched uranium for nuclear bombs. Indeed, Colin Powell, in his address to the U.N. Security Council just prior to the war, made reference to the aluminum tubes. But a report released by the Institute for Science and International Security in 2002 reported that it was highly unlikely that the tubes could be used to enrich uranium. Powell later admitted he had presented an inaccurate case to the United Nations on Iraqi weapons, and that the intelligence presented was in some cases "deliberately misleading." [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36348-2002Sep18 "Evidence on Iraq Challenged,"] Joby Warrick, "The Washington Post", Sept. 19, 2002] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/transcripts/powelltext_020503.html Colin Powell’s speech to the UN,] Feb 5, 2003] [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4992558/ Meet the Press,] NBC, May 16, 2004]

October

October 3, 2002
*US Evangelical Christian leaders led by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention send a letter to President Bush outlining the theological justification for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Fact|date=August 2007
October 10, 2002
*The United States Congress passes the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.
* Canada announces that it not will be part of any military coalition sanctioned by the United Nations to invade Iraq.
* A few days before the U.S. Senate vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, about 75 senators are told in closed session that Saddam Hussein has the means of delivering biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones that could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack U.S. eastern seaboard cities. Colin Powell suggested in his presentation to the United Nations that UAVs were transported out of Iraq and could be launched against the U.S. In fact, Iraq had no fleet of UAVs nor any capability of putting UAVs on ships. [Senator Bill Nelson (January 28, 2004) [http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2004_cr/s012804b.html "New Information on Iraq's Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction",] "Congressional Record"] Iraq's UAV fleet consisted of less than a handful of outdated Czech training drones. [Lowe, C. (December 16, 2003) [http://www.defensetech.org/archives/000690.html "Senator: White House Warned of UAV Attack,"] "Defense Tech"] At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community as to whether CIA had conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate. The U.S. Air Force agency most familiar with UAVs denied outright that Iraq possessed any offensive UAV capability. [Hammond, J. (November 14, 2005) [http://www.yirmeyahureview.com/articles/iraq_uavs.htm "The U.S. 'intelligence failure' and Iraq's UAVs"] "The Yirmeyahu Review"]

November

November 8, 2002
* The UN Council votes unanimously for resolution 1441, the 17th Iraq disarmament resolution passed by the council, calling for immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq. The resolution also demands that Iraq declare all weapons of mass destruction to the council, and account for its known chemical weapons material stockpiles.
November 13, 2002
* Iraq accepts U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 and informs the UN that it will abide by the resolution.
* Weapons inspectors arrive in Baghdad again after a four-year absence.

December

December 7, 2002
* Iraq files a 12,000-page weapons declaration with the UN in order to meet requirements of resolution 1441. UN weapons inspectors, the UN security council and the U.S. feel that this declaration fails to account for all of Iraq's chemical and biological agents.
*Turkey moves approximately 15,000 soldiers to the border with Iraq
December 19, 2002
* UNMOVIC Chairman Hans Blix tells UNSC members that the Iraqi weapons declaration filed on December 7 "is essentially a reorganized version" of information Iraq provided UNSCOM in 1997, and that it "is not enough to create confidence" that Iraq has abandoned its WMD efforts.
*

2003

January

January, 2003
*Turkey invites at least five other regional countries to a "'last-chance' meeting to avert a US-led war against Iraq."
*According to U.S. Intelligence, France has secretly sold prohibited spare parts to Iraq for its fighter jets and military helicopters.
January 18, 2003
* Global protests against war on Iraq occur in cities around the world, including Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Cologne, Bonn, Goteborg, Istanbul, and Cairo. NION and ANSWER hold protests in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, California.January, 2003
* A statement released to various newspapers and signed by the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic shows support for the US, saying that Saddam should not be allowed to violate U.N. resolutions. The statement goes on to say that Saddam is a "clear threat to world security," and urges Europe to unite with the United States to ensure that the Iraqi government is disarmed.
January 25, 2003
* An international group of volunteers leaves London, heading for Baghdad to act as human shields. Most will leave in March fearing that they would actually become human shields.
January 27, 2003
* Chairmen of the inspections effort report to the UN Security Council that, while Iraq has provided some access to facilities, concerns remain regarding undeclared material; inability to interview Iraqi scientists; inability to deploy aerial surveillance during inspections; and harassment of weapons inspectors.
January 31, 2003
* Tony Blair meets George Bush at the White House. In a memo written by Blair's chief foreign adviser, Bush is paraphrased as saying: "The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin."

February

February 5, 2003
* At the United Nations US Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the US government's case against the Saddam Hussein government of Iraq, as part of the diplomatic side of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq. The presentation includes tape recordings, satellite photographs and other intelligence data, and aims to prove WMD production, evasion of weapons inspections and a link to Al-Qaida.
February 7, 2003
* The chief United Nations arms inspector Hans Blix says Iraq appears to be making fresh efforts to cooperate with U.N. teams hunting weapons of mass destruction, while Washington says the "momentum is building" for war with Iraq.
February 8, 2003
* Sections of a new 'dossier' issued by the UK government, which purports to present the latest British intelligence about Iraq, and which has been cited by Tony Blair and Colin Powell as evidence for the need for war, are criticized as plagiarisms. Evidently they have been copied without permission from a number of sources including "Jane's Intelligence Review" and a 12-year-old doctoral thesis which was published in the US journal "Middle East Review of International Affairs". Some sentences appear copied word-for-word with even spelling mistakes being reproduced from the original articles. Downing Street responds by saying that the government had never claimed exclusive authorship and that the information was accurate.
February 10, 2003
* France and Belgium break the NATO procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany says it supports this veto. The procedure was put into operation on February 6 by secretary general George Robertson. In response Turkey calls upon Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, which stipulates that member states must deliberate when asked to do so by another member state if it feels threatened.
February 12, 2003
* An audio tape attributed to Osama bin Laden is released by al Jazeera television. It recounts the battle of Tora Bora and urges Muslims to fight the United States and to overthrow the Iraq government of Saddam Hussein.
February 13, 2003
*A UN panel reports that Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missiles, disclosed by Iraq to weapons inspectors in December, have a range of 180 km (above the 150 km limit allowed by the UN), splitting opinion over whether they breach UNSCR 1441.
*Austria bars USA military units involved in the attack on Iraq from entering into or flying over its territories without a UN mandate to attack Iraq.
*The Washington Post claims that anonymous sources confirm that two Special Forces units have been operating on the ground inside Iraq for over a month, making preliminary preparations for a large-scale invasion.
February 14, 2003
*A very large demonstration is held in Melbourne to protest against the Australian government's support for the USA's policy on Iraq. Organisers estimate that 200,000 people come out on to the streets, while some news sources put the number at "up to 150,000". [http://au.news.yahoo.com/030214/2/qcxe.html]
* UNMOVIC chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei present their second report to the United Nations Security Council. They state that the Iraqis have been co-operating well with the inspectors and that no weapons of mass destruction have been found, but that the Saddam Hussein government had still to account for many banned weapons believed to have been in his arsenal. Mr Blix also expresses doubts about some of the conclusions in Colin Powell's Security Council presentation of February 5, and specifically questions the significance of some of the photographic evidence that Mr Powell has presented.
February 15, 2003
* Global protests against war on Iraq: People around the world demonstrate against the planning of war against Iraq. In Rome one million people take to the streets, in London one million. In Berlin there are half a million in the largest demonstration for some decades. There are also protest marches all over France as well as in many other smaller European cities. Protests are also held in South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, Canada and in the USA, in around 600 cities in total.
February 18, 2003
* Hours before the first ships transporting heavy United States military equipment to Turkey were supposed to reach port, the Turkish government announces that it will withhold approval to dock unless the United States increases a reciprocal $6 billion foreign aid grant to $10 billion. The Bush administration indicates that no substantial changes will be made to the proposed aid package. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27320-2003Feb18.html]
February 22, 2003
* Bush meets with the Spanish president, Aznar, to discuss the Security Council situation. According to a leaked transcript of the meeting, Bush was using foreign aid and trade agreements to put pressure on Security Council members to support US policy. The transcript also revealed that Saddam had offered to go into exile if he was allowed to keep $1 billion and information on weapons of mass destruction.
February 24, 2003
* Secretary of State Colin Powell states at a meeting in Beijing that "It is time to take action. The evidence is clear ... We are reaching that point where serious consequences must flow." His speech appears to imply that military action is likely to follow within three weeks, based on previous briefings from The Pentagon.
February 25, 2003
* The United States, Britain and Spain present to the UN Security Council a much-anticipated second resolution stating that Iraq "has failed to take the final opportunity" to disarm, but does not include deadlines or an explicit threat of military force. Meanwhile, France, Germany, and Russia offer a counter-proposal calling for peaceful disarmament through further inspections.
* Both major parties of Kurdistan, an autonomous region in Northern Iraq, vow to fight Turkish troops if they enter Kurdistan to capture Mosul or interfere in Kurdish self-rule. Between them the two parties can mobilize up to 80,000 guerillas - most likely no match for the modern Turkish army, but a severe blow to the unity of U.S. allies on the Northern front expected in the U.S. plan to invade Iraq.
February 26, 2003
* Hans Blix states that Iraq still has not made a "fundamental decision" to disarm, despite recent signs of increased cooperation. Specifically, Iraq has refused to destroy its al-Samoud 2 long range missiles. (These are not a WMD, and Iraq is permitted "battlefield" missiles. However, Iraq's missiles were limited by UN instruction to a diameter of 600mm, and the Al-Samoud II has a diameter of 760mm). These missiles are deployed and mobile. Also, an R-400 aerial bomb was found that could possibly contain biological agents. Given this find, the UN Inspectors have requested access to the Al-Aziziyah weapons range to verify that all 155 R-400 bombs can be accounted for and proven destroyed. Blix also expresses skepticism over Iraq's claims to have destroyed its stockpiles of anthrax and VX nerve agent in "Time magazine". Blix said he found it "a bit odd" that Iraq, with "one of the best-organized regimes in the Arab world," would claim to have no records of the destruction of these illegal substances. "I don't see that they have acquired any credibility," Blix said
* George Bush commits publicly to a post-invasion democracy in Iraq, saying it will be "an example" to other nations in Arabia
* Tony Blair passes a motion in the British House of Commons supporting a new resolution at the UN Security Council and presumably authorizing a war (although the motion carefully avoids saying so). 120 UK Labour Party MPs dissent and vote against it - double the number who opposed the previous such motion - but the UK Conservative Party backs the government's motion.
* Saddam Hussein, in an interview with Dan Rather, rules out exile as an option.
February 27, 2003
* UN Security Council meeting on Iraq ends without forming an agreement on timeline for further weapons inspections or future reports.
February 28, 2003
* Iraq is expected to begin the process of destroying Al Samoud two missiles on Saturday. Hans Blix, U.N. chief weapons inspector says "It is a very significant piece of real disarmament". However, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer declares that the Iraq commitment to destroying these missiles is a fraud that President George W. Bush had predicted, and indicates that the United States wants a total and complete disarmament of Iraq. He also repeats that if the United Nations does not act to disarm Baghdad, the United States will lead a coalition of voluntary countries to disarm Saddam Hussein.

March

March 1, 2003
*Under UN supervision, Iraq begins destroying four of its Al Samoud missiles.
*The Turkish speaker of Parliament voids the vote accepting U.S. troops involved in the planned invasion of Iraq into Turkey on constitutional grounds. 264 votes for and 250 against accepting 62,000 US military personnel do not constitute the necessary majority under the Turkish constitution, due to 19 abstentions. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21613-2003Mar1.html]
*The United Arab Emirates calls for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to step down to avoid war. The sentiment is later echoed by Kuwait.
*Many of the "human shields" begin to return to their home countries because the Iraqi government actually wanted to use them as human shields. The human shields that fled the country told reporters that the Iraqi government wanted them to sit at locations (power stations) that were quite likely to be bombed, not the hospitals they'd intended to defend. (The following year, at least one hospital was razed [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3988433.stm] ).
March 2, 2003
*The country of Bahrain becomes the third Arab country to call for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to step down. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had previously made similar announcements.
*"The Observer" publishes what it claims is a [http://www.observer.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,905936,00.html leaked memo] dated January 31, 2003 ordering members of the NSA to spy on UN Security Council members, focussing especially on members from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea, and Pakistan to try to determine how they will vote. The memo's authenticity was questioned by many within the US, including pundit Matt Drudge. Drudge's critique was also cited by others, such as the Washington Times [http://washingtontimes.com/world/20030303-14680312.htm] . Drudge pointed out that website's transcription of the memo contained several errors, namely a misspelling of the name of the memo's author (Kozu instead of Koza), a misspelling of the NSA's "top secret" stamp (with a "1" instead of an "L"), and several words written with a non-US spelling, as well as a date-stamp in the European format. "The Observer" said that it altered the memo to include British spellings so that its readers were not confused, but did not address the other inaccuracies. "The Observer" also corrected the spelling of the author's name on their website after the problem was pointed out, and stands by its story. Wayne Madsen, who had been a communications security analyst with the NSA in the mid-1980s, has been quoted as saying that he believes the memo is authentic. He speculates that the memo was directed at the security agencies of the other nations that constitute the Echelon network, namely Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This news story was picked up by newspapers in Europe and Canada, but initially ignored by the American press. Additionally, a member or Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was arrested in connection with the leaking of the memo.
*Iraq destroys six more Al Samoud missiles, bringing the total destroyed to 10 out of an estimated 100 missiles ordered eliminated by the UN. The White House continues to dismiss Iraq's actions as "part of its game of deception." Iraq indicates that it may halt destruction of the missiles if the U.S. indicates it will go to war anyway.
*"The Sun" [http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2003100298,00.html reports] that military action against Iraq could begin as soon as March 13, hours after the UN is likely to vote on the proposed second resolution put forth by the United States, Britain, and Spain.
March 3, 2003
*Under intense American pressure, Turkey indicates that its Parliament will consider a second vote on whether to allow U.S. troops to use Turkish bases for a military attack on Iraq.
*Iraqi technicians use bulldozers to crush six more of the banned Al-Samoud 2 missiles, bringing to 16 the number destroyed in three days.
March 4, 2003
*Iraq destroys three more Al Samoud 2 missiles, bringing to 19 the number Baghdad has crushed out of 100 ordered destroyed by the UN. Iraq also destroys a launcher and five engines in a rush to prove it is disarming before a crucial U.N. report on March 7. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls the new actions "a positive development" while the White House remains unconvinced saying, "Despite whatever limited head-fakes Iraq has engaged in, they continue to fundamentally not disarm."
March 5, 2003
*Pope John Paul II calls on Catholics to commemorate Ash Wednesday by fasting and praying for peace. He sends an envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, to President Bush, to urge him not to go to war. Laghi tells Bush that the Pope believes that a war would be a "defeat for humanity" and would be neither morally nor legally justified.
* Two days before his scheduled update to the United Nations on Iraqi cooperation with inspection, Hans Blix credits Iraq with "a great deal more of cooperation now", although still expressing some skepticism as to whether or not the cooperation would continue. Among the examples of cooperation that he cites are Iraq's destruction of Samoud 2 missiles, which he calls "the most spectacular and the most important and tangible". He adds that "here weapons that can be used in war are being destroyed in fairly large quantities." In general, he states, "you have a greater measure of cooperation on interviews in general." These statements help to harden the opposition to the US-led war by several other Security Council members. (It was later found that Blix had found and destroyed almost the only illegal weapons in Iraq - and they were not WMD).
* Secretary of State Colin Powell says that US intelligence has indicated that Hussein has ordered the production of more Al Samoud 2 missiles parts and engines. The Iraqi government does not deny the claim but simply says once again that they considered the missiles to be legal. Powell also points out that Iraq has delivered "some documents that have not been found before"
* Iraq destroys nine more Al Samoud 2 missiles, bringing to 28 the total number of missiles scrapped.
March 6, 2003
*United States intelligence reports that the Iraqi government has ordered US military uniforms with plans of carrying out attacks on Iraqi citizens which would then be blamed on US soldiers. (Reuters) [http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=564&e=3&u=/nm/20030306/ts_nm/iraq_usa_uniforms_dc]
*Iraqi exiles testify in Washington about the brutal crimes committed against Iraqi citizens by the Hussein government. One Iraqi woman says that the Iraqi people are "patiently waiting" for the US to liberate the country. Another woman says that war protesters are "ignorant and misinformed". [http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20030307-70377473.htm]
* Iraq flattens six more Al Samoud 2 missiles, meaning the country has now destroyed 34 of its known stock of 100 of the banned rockets.
* China joins France, Russia, and Germany in putting itself officially on record as opposing a US-led war. Jiang Zemin is quoted as saying, "The door of peace should not be closed."
* US President George W. Bush holds a live, televised press conference on the latest developments in the War on Terrorism, the situation with North Korea and the standoff with Iraq. [http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/bush_newsconf_transcript030306.html]

March 7, 2003
*The Washington Times publishes a report detailing recent US intelligence showing that France has been secretly selling spare parts to Iraq for its fighter jets and military helicopters during the past several months. Other intelligence reports indicate that Iraq had succeeded in acquiring French weaponry illegally for years. [http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030307-545570.htm]
*The German newspaper "Die Tageszeitung" claims that at the request of the United States, the 12,000 page Iraqi weapons declaration was largely censored before being submitted to the UN, in order to remove references to Western countries that supplied arms to Iraq. Only some 3,000 pages were left after the censorship; newspaper had obtained copies of the censored report, which references such companies as Honeywell among a chief supplier of Iraqi arms. The list of American companies can be found at [http://www.taz.de/pt/2002/12/19/a0080.nf/text]
*Hans Blix reports to the UN Security Council. Blix says, "No evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found," saying that progress was made in inspections which would continue. [Blix, H. (March 7, 2003) [http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/03/07/sprj.irq.un.transcript.blix/index.html "Transcript of Blix's U.N. presentation"] "CNN.com"] . Blix files a 173 page document with the Security Council which says that inspectors discovered an undeclared Iraqi drone, with a wingspan of 7.45 m (24 ft 5 in), suggesting an illegal range beyond 150 km. US satellites tracked test flights of these drones, which were mentioned by Secretary of State Powell on March 5. Powell claimed that the test flight far exceeded the legal range agreed to by Iraq under UN resolutions. The Iraqis showed journalists this 'drone' [http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/03/week_1/04_hilsum.html] . It was primitive, and could only be flown within "line of sight". Blix was strongly criticized in some UK and US press for not having found and declared this large model aircraft [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-603270,00.html] .
* Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, concludes that the documents the US and Britain offered as "proof" that Iraq had attempted to import uranium from Niger were in fact fraudulent. This "proof" was a key part of the US accusation that Iraq was restarting its nuclear weapons program. ElBaradei says, "Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded ... that these documents, which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger, are in fact not authentic." He concludes, "We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded."
* International peacekeepers in Kuwait file a complaint to the UN Security Council that US Marines have been cutting holes in the fence on the UN-patrolled border between Kuwait and Iraq. Fred Eckhard, a UN spokesman who filed the complaint, says that this activity may violate the Security Council resolution that set up the zone, but adds that it was up to the UN Security Council to make a determination.
* Amendments are added to the 2003 US-British-Spanish Draft Resolution on Iraq, setting a deadline of March 17. The draft is withheld when it becomes clear that the resolution will not pass.

March 9, 2003
* Near the Iraq/Kuwait border, a dozen Iraqi soldiers attempt to surrender to British paratroopers who are testing their weapons during a routine exercise. The stunned soldiers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade inform the Iraqis that they were not firing at them, and tell them it is too early to surrender.
March 11, 2003
* Iraqi fighters threaten two US U-2 surveillance planes forcing them to abort their mission and return to base. Iraqi officials describe the incident as a "technical mistake" by the U.N. inspectors. Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for UNMOVIC, says that Iraqi officials had been notified about the flight beforehand.
* According to Arab media, Saddam Hussein has opened training camps in Iraq for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces, if an attack on Iraq takes place.
March 12, 2003
* British prime minister Tony Blair proposes an amendment to the possible 18th resolution which would call for Iraq to meet certain benchmarks to prove that it was disarming. The benchmarks include a televised speech from Hussein declaring the country's intentions to disarm, and accounting for Iraq's chemical weapons stockpiles and unmanned drones. France once again threatens to veto even if a majority of the council votes in favor of the resolution.
March 13, 2003
* Reports claim that a large portion of Iraqi military is ready to surrender if a war begins. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admits that the U.S. government is communicating with Iraqi soldiers. It had been known for some time that the U.S. military was communicating with Iraqi soldiers via email.
March 16, 2003
* The leaders of the United States, Britain, Portugal and Spain meet at a summit in the Azores Islands. President Bush calls Monday, March 17th, the "moment of truth", meaning that the "coalition of the willing" would make its final effort to extract a resolution from the U.N. Security Council that would give Iraq an ultimatum to disarm immediately or to be disarmed by force.
* The United States advises U.N. weapons inspectors to leave Iraq. [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-03-17-inspectors-iraq_x.htm]
* The United States orders all non-essential diplomats out of Kuwait, Syria, and Israel.
* Anti-Saddam Iraqi groups begin defacing and vandalising posters of the dictator all over Iraq. Demonstrations also take place in Kirkuk, where an estimated crowd of 20,000 marched on the Ba'ath party's main administrative headquarters demanding the overthrow of Saddam's government. Three posters of the Iraqi leader were torn to pieces and a grenade was thrown at the government building. Some reports indicate that one senior Ba'ath party official was killed in the attack.
March 17, 2003
* In a televised speech, U.S. President George W. Bush gives Saddam Hussein 48 hours to go into exile or face war.
* U.S. Intelligence reports that Iraqi soldiers in Southern Iraq have been armed with chemical weapons.
* France announces that it would support U.S. troops if Iraq launches chemical weapons against U.S. forces.
March 18, 2003
* Saddam Hussein rejects the exile option.
March 19, 2003
* 15 Iraqi soldiers surrender near the Kuwait border.
* British defense sources claim that Saddam Hussein may use chemical weapons on his Iraqi people and blame the attacks on coalition forces as part of a propaganda war. Earlier in the year, Hussein equipped part of the Iraqi military with look-alike U.S. uniforms.
* U.S. warplanes bomb Iraqi artillery in range of U.S. soldiers.

ee also

2003 Iraq war timeline

References


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