Iraq disarmament crisis timeline 2001-2003
Timeline of events related to the Iraq disarmament crisis
Continued from Iraq disarmament crisis timeline 1997-2000
May 14, 2002
- British and US forces carry out bombing raids to try and disable Iraq's air defense network.
July 5, 2002
- The UN Security Council passes resolution 1409, which reaffirms UN members commitment to maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq.
- Iraq once again rejects new UN weapons inspections proposals.
- According to U.S. Intelligence, China, with help from France and Syria, secretly sells Iraq the prohibited chemical hydroxy terminated polybutadiene, or HTPB, which is used in making solid fuel for long-range missiles. France has denied that the sale took place. U.S. intelligence traced 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 into Iraq to a missile manufacturing plant.
- In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Iraq invites Hans Blix to Iraq for discussions on remaining disarmament issues.
- 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 UNSC resolution 1284, passed in 1999.
- 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 16 UN resolutions.
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused Iraq of harboring al Qaeda terrorists and aiding their quest for weapons of mass destruction.
- 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.
- The United States Congress passes a joint resolution which explicitly authorizes the President to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate. 
- Canada announces that it will be part of any military coalition sanctioned by the United Nations to invade Iraq
- The UN Council voted unanimously for resolution 1441, the 17th Iraq disarmament resolution passed by the council, calling for immediate and complete disarmament of Iraq. The resolution also demanded that Iraq declare all weapons of mass destruction to the council, and account for its known chemical weapons material stockpiles.
- 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.
- Iraq filed 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. felt that this declaration failed to account for all of Iraq's chemical and biological agents.
- Turkey moves approximately 15,000 soldiers to the border with Iraq
- 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.
- Turkey invited 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 secretly sells prohibited spare parts to Iraq for its fighter jets and military helicopters.
- Global protests against war on Iraq 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.
- A statement released to various newspapers and signed by the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic showed support for the US, saying that Saddam should not be allowed to violate U.N. resolutions. The statement went on to say that Saddam was a "clear threat to world security," and urged Europe to unite with the United States to ensure that the Iraqi regime is disarmed.
- An international group of volunteers left London and is heading for Baghdad to act as human shields. Most would leave in March fearing that they would actually become human shields.
- 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.
- Sections of a 'dossier' issued by the UK government, which purported to present the latest British intelligence about Iraq, and which had been cited by Tony Blair and Colin Powell as evidence for the need for war, were criticized as plagiarisms. They had been copied without permission from a number of sources including Jane's Intelligence Review and a 12-year-old doctoral thesis of a Californian student that had been published in the US journal Middle East Review of International Affairs. Some sentences were copied word-for-word, and spelling mistakes had been reproduced from the original articles. Downing Street responded by saying that the government had never claimed exclusive authorship and that the information was accurate.
- France and Belgium broke the NATO procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany said it supports this veto. The procedure was put into operation on February 6 by secretary general George Robertson. In response Turkey called 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.
- 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 regime 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.
- A very large demonstration was held in Melbourne to protest against the Australian government's support for the USA's policy on Iraq. Organisers estimated that 200,000 people came out on to the streets, while some news sources put the number at "up to 150,000". 
- UNMOVIC chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented their second report to the United Nations Security Council. They stated that the Iraqis had been co-operating well with the inspectors and that no weapons of mass destruction had been found, but that the Saddam Hussein regime had still to account for many banned weapons believed to have been in his arsenal. Mr Blix also expressed doubts about some of the conclusions in Colin Powell's Security Council presentation of February 5, and specifically questioned the significance of some of the photographic evidence that Mr Powell had presented.
- Global protests against war on Iraq: People around the world demonstrated against the planning of war against Iraq. In Rome one million people were on the streets, in London one million. In Berlin there were half a million in the largest demonstration for some decades. There were also protest marches all over France as well as in many other smaller European cities. Protests were also held in South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, Canada and in the USA, in around 600 cities in total.
- 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 indicated that no substantial changes will be made to the proposed aid package. 
- 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.
- 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.
- Hans Blix stated that Iraq still has not made a "fundamental decision" to disarm, despite recent signs of increased cooperation. Specifically, Iraq has refused to destroy it's al-Samoud 2 long range missiles - a weapon system that was in violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions and the US treaty with Iraq. 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 expressed 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
- Gerorge Bush commits publicly to a post-invasion democracy in Iraq, says 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.
- UN Security Council meeting on Iraq ended without forming an agreement on timeline for further weapons inspections or future reports.
- Iraq is expected to begin the process of destroying Al Samoud two missiles on Saturday. Hans Blix, U.N. chief weapons inspector said "It is a very significant piece of real disarmament". However, the spokesman of the White House, Ari Fleischer declared that the Iraq commitment to destroy these missiles is a fraud that President George W. Bush had predicted, and indicated that the United States wanted a total and complete disarmament of Iraq. He also repeated that if the United Nations did not act to disarm Baghdad, the United States would lead a coalition of voluntary countries to disarm Saddam Hussein.
- 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. 
- 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 shieilds. The human shields that fled the country told reporters that the Iraqi government wanted them to sit at locations that were likely to be bombed by US allies if a war was to take place.
- 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 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 . 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), an 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 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 destroyed 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 called the new actions "a positive development" while the White House remained unconvinced saying, "Despite whatever limited head-fakes Iraq has engaged in, they continue to fundamentally not disarm."
- Pope John Paul II called on Catholics to commemorate Ash Wednesday by fasting and praying for peace. He sent an envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, to President Bush, to urge him not to go to war. Laghi told Bush that the Pope believed 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 credited Iraq with "a great deal more of cooperation now", although still expressed some skepticism as to whether or not the cooperation would continue. Among the examples of cooperation that he cited were Iraq's destruction of Samoud 2 missiles, which he called "the most spectacular and the most important and tangible". He added that "here weapons that can be used in war are being destroyed in fairly large quantities." In general, he stated, "you have a greater measure of cooperation on interviews in general." These statements have helped to harden the opposition to the US-led war by several other Security Council members.
- Secretary of State Colin Powell said that US intelligence has indicated that Hussein has ordered the production of more Al Samoud 2 missiles parts and engines. The Iraqi government did not deny the claim but simply said once again that they considered the missiles to be legal. He also pointed out that Iraq had delivered "some documents that have not been found before"
- Iraq destroyes nine more Al Samoud 2 missiles, bringing to 28 the total number of missiles scrapped.
- 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) 
- Iraqi exiles testify in Washington about the brutal crimes committed against Iraqi citizens by the Hussein regime. One Iraqi woman said that the Iraqi people are "patiently waiting" for the US to liberate the country. Another woman said that war protestors are "ignorant and misinformed". 
- 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 joined France, Russia, and Germany in putting itself officially on record as opposing a US-led war. Jiang Zemin was 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. 
- 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.  The German newspapger 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; The German newspapger Die Tageszeitung 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 
- Hans Blix reports to the UN Security Council. Blix said basically the same thing as he did in previous reports. Iraq has shown some progress, but has still not yet fully disarmed. Blix also filed a 173 page document with the Security Council which said that inspectors discovered an undeclared Iraqi drone, with a wingspan of 24 feet 5 inches, suggesting an illegal range that could potentially threaten Iraq's neighbors with chemical and biological weapons. 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.
- Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded 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 said, "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 concluded, "We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded."
- International peacekeepers in Kuwait have filed 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, said that this activity may violate the Security Council resolution that set up the zone, but added that it was up to the UN Security Council to make a determination.
- Near the Iraq/Kuwait border, a dozen Iraqi soldiers attempt to surrender to British paratroopers testing their weapons during a routine exercise. The stunned Soldiers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis that they were not firing at them, and told them it was too early to surrender.
- Iraqi fighters threaten two US U-2 surveillance planes forcing them to abort their mission and return to base. Iraqi officials described the incident as a "technical mistake" by the U.N. inspectors. Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for UNMOVIC, said that Iraqi officials had been notified about the flight beforehand.
- According to Arab media, Saddam Hussein opens training camps in Iraq for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces, if an attack on Iraq takes place.
- 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.
- Reports claim that large portion of Iraqi military is ready to surrender if a war begins. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the U.S. government is communicating with Iraqi soldiers. It has been known for some time that the U.S. militar was communicating with Iraqi soldiers via email.
- U.S. Navy ships rescue Iraqi fishermen off the coast of the country. The fishermen began sending stress signals as their boat started to sink.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Saddam Hussein rejects the exile option.
- 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.
Continued at 2003 Iraq war timeline