Divided Intentions: Iraqi Nuclear Weapons Policy Between the First and Second Gulf Wars

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Contrary to common belief, Saddam Hussein did not intend to deceive UN inspectors and the international community concerning his nuclear weapons program between the First and Second Gulf Wars; rather, internal discussions between Hussein and his ministers indicate that they desired cooperation with inspections so that sanctions would be removed. However, it is also clear that the overriding belief held by the Iraqi government was that the United States was a nearly omnipotent threat that was completely controlling the UN Security Council and the UN inspections teams. They believed that the United States was intentionally prolonging inspections to keep sanctions on Iraq as a means to weaken the state in preparation for a future invasion aimed at regime change. This belief was present at every stage of inspections after the First Gulf War, but did not significantly alter Hussein’s strategic intent to cooperate. Nevertheless, it is clear that elements in the Iraqi government did deceive UN inspectors by intentionally hiding information about the nuclear weapons program and failing to cooperate with inspectors when they arrived in Iraq. However, deception appears to have been carried out by members of the Iraqi government subordinate to Hussein and his cabinet without their knowledge. The case of Iraqi nuclear weapons policy from 1991-2003 demonstrates the difficulty in understanding the strategic intent of foreign governments, especially when a seemingly centralized government actually allows a high level of autonomy to the non-cabinet level officials that actually carry out the regime’s policy.


Type of resource text
Date created May 22, 2015


Author Hiroshima, Sean
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Program in International Relations
Primary advisor Sagan, Scott


Subject Iraq
Subject Nuclear Weapons
Subject Weapons of Mass Destruction
Subject Gulf War
Subject Deception
Subject UNSCOM
Subject Inspections
Subject Disarmament
Subject International Security
Subject Center for International Security and Cooperation
Subject International Security Honors
Subject International Relations
Genre Thesis

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Hiroshima, Sean. (2015). Divided Intentions: Iraqi Nuclear Weapons Policy Between the First and Second Gulf Wars. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: http://purl.stanford.edu/sc049qn8269


Stanford University, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies, Theses

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