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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Iraq

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

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Case 80-2
US v. Iraq (1980–2003: Terrorism; Chemical and Nuclear Weapons)
See also Case 90-1 US and UN v. Iraq
(1990: Invasion of Kuwait, Impairment of military capability, destabilization)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Economic Impact | Assessment |
Author's Summary | Bibliography |

Goals of Sender Country

April 1980
Combination of factors—hostage crisis in Iran, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq-Iran war, “a widening schism between Iraq and the Soviet Union”—make American officials anxious to develop closer association with Iraq. “Vance, with the backing of Zbigniew Brzezinski…decided to allow the sale [of the turbine engines] to signal interest in building a new relationship with Iraq.” However, deal again was “under review” after 7 April ALF attack on Israeli kibbutz. (New York Times, 10 April 1980, A16)

August 1980
“[State] Department informed the Commerce Department that it ‘cannot recommend’ issuance of export licenses for the [five Boeing] aircraft in view of recent terrorist incidents which appear to have Iraqi involvement or support, and the clear sentiment of Congress with respect to international terrorism.” (Facts on File 1980, 662)

October 1983
State Department officials, defending decision not to restore Iraq to list of terrorist-supporting nations, “said that the US wants to foster Iraq’s independence, keep it from the Soviet orbit and maintain lucrative trade links.…They added that it also wishes to encourage what it perceives as increasing moderation in recent years in Iraq's attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.” (Washington Post, 8 October 1983, A25)

1990
“The purpose of the [chemical weapons] control is to prevent American contribution to, and thereby distance the United States from the proliferation and illegal use of chemical weapons. These controls demonstrate continued U.S. opposition to increasing proliferation by terrorist and aggressor nations.” (US Department of Commerce 1990, 32)

April 1990
Assistant Secretary of State John H. Kelly in congressional testimony defending administration decision not to impose new sanctions: “While we do not rule out appropriate responses to recent actions by the government of Iraq, we are not prepared to see economic and trade sanctions legislatively imposed at this stage.” (Chicago Tribune, 27 April 1990, 21)

“...the administration has been working to allay deep concerns in Baghdad that the United States would support an Israeli attack on Iraqi industrial facilities where research into chemical, biological and nuclear weapons is alleged to be underway. Many administration officials…believe that a repeat of Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq's nuclear research facilities would force Iraq to retaliate with weapons that did not exist in the Arab arsenal a decade ago, but which today would cause panic, devastation and massive retaliation from Tel Aviv." (Washington Post, 23 April 1990, A1)


Response of Target Country

September 1980
Following disapproval of Boeing plane sale: “[Ath-Thawrah, Baghdad newspaper] adds that this measure is part of the Zionist, US and Persian quarters' frenzied campaign against Iraq's principled stands and firm confrontation of imperialist machinations and plots to liquidate the Palestinian issue. Ath-Thawrah also notes that Iraq will not succumb to pressure and blackmail. It will continue to remain the vanguard of pan-Arab struggle and faithful to this struggle's principles and mission, until all the pan-Arab objectives are achieved.” (Foreign Broadcasting Information Service 1981)

Attitude of Other Countries

Israel
In March 1982, "the [Israeli] intelligence chief [Gen. Yehoshua Seguy] said Iraq supported a ‘May 15’ terror group that had carried out a string of bombings at El Al [Israeli airline] offices in Europe, the bombing last August of Israel's embassy in Vienna and Israel's diplomatic mission in Athens, and the time-bombing of a passenger ship bound for Israel last December 20. …Iraq, he said, trains terrorists from all around the world, and the effort is supported by the Ba’ath Party." (Potter 1982, 265; Associated Press, 2 March 1982, as quoted by American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2)

Australia Group
“This group is an informal, voluntary forum through which 20 industrialized countries cooperate to further [chemical weapons] non-proliferation efforts.” US export controls on chemical weapons precursors are “implemented in conjunction with U.S. participation” in this group. (US Department of Commerce 1990, 32)


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