Back to current timeline
1998: October to January
01: The Washington Post Meets With Annan
In a meeting with editors and reporters of The Washington Post, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said that he believes Iraq will never be fully disarmed and that U.N. weapons teams may have to avoid confrontational inspections in order to regain Baghdad's cooperation in determining the scope of Iraq's current arsenal.
27: U.S. Tried to Halt Several Searches
The Clinton administration has intervened repeatedly since last fall to delay
or prevent intrusive weapons inspections in Iraq by United Nations teams,
according to American and diplomatic accounts.
27: Inspector Quits U.N. Team
Accusing the United States and United Nations of surrendering to Iraqi defiance, a leader of the U.N. special disarmament panel resigned his post and said the Security Council appears to want only "the illusion of arms control."
17: Shift May Signify Trade-Off
For the first time since the Gulf War, the United States has withdrawn the threat of force to open doors for inspectors that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wishes to close.
14: U.S. Fought Surprise Inspections
The Clinton administration has intervened secretly for months to dissuade United Nations weapons teams from mounting surprise inspections in Iraq because it wished to avoid a new crisis with the Baghdad government.
07: U.S. Avoids Military Threat After Fresh Iraqi Defiance
The Clinton administration, which less than six months ago vowed a swift and sure resort to force if Iraq interfered with United Nations disarmament inspectors, backed away from that military threat in the face of fresh Iraqi defiance.
06: Iraq to Stop Cooperating With U.N.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said
he is freezing cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors to underscore his demand that the Security Council end the crippling economic sanctions against his country.
25: Iraqi Nerve Gas Tests Confirmed
The chief U.N. weapons inspector confirmed U.S. Army tests showing that Iraq had loaded VX nerve gas in missile warheads before the Gulf War and then tried to conceal the action.
23: Exclusive: Tests Show Nerve Gas in Iraqi Weapons
United Nations weapons inspectors have uncovered evidence that Iraq put deadly VX nerve gas into missile warheads before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, according to official documents and diplomatic sources.
18: Report: Iraq Weapons Probe Makes Little Headway
The chief U.N. weapons inspector said the United Nations made no progress over the last six months in determining whether the Iraqis have done away with prohibited weapons programs.
15: No Weapons Found at Iraqi Sites, Report Says
A U.N. report says the first inspection of formerly off-limits Iraqi presidential buildings revealed no sign of prohibited weapon systems.
25: Iraq Jails Germ Warfare Scientist
The Iraqi government said that it recently jailed a U.S.-trained scientist who helped create Iraq's germ warfare program after determining that he was preparing to leave the country carrying sensitive documents about the program.
Newsweek Issue of March 23, 1998 The story of "Bob" and how he worked with the CIA to incite revolution in northern Iraq and ultimately overthrow Saddam Hussein, highlights the mixed signals and fatal misunderstandings that led to one of the worst CIA fiascoes since the Bay of Pigs.
20: Iraq Cooperating on Inspections
The Baghdad government by all accounts is living up to its word of access to suspected weapons sites. The results are decidedly a mixed blessing for the inspectors.
14: Senate Urges U.N. Tribunal for Saddam Hussein
The Senate voted to urge creation of an international tribunal to try Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a war criminal.
09: Annan Says Consultation Needed for Iraq Strike
The U.N. secretary general said that the United States would need to consult with the U.N. Security Council before mounting a military strike against Iraq.
04: Pentagon Moves Up Inoculation Timetable
The Pentagon accelerated plans to vaccinate all U.S. forces against anthrax, saying troops in the Persian Gulf would begin receiving shots.
02: Former U.N. Inspector Wary of Iraq Accord
Former chief United Nations weapons inspector David Kay said Sunday that the agreement with Iraq hammered out by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is "a serious impediment to effective inspections."
28: U.N.'s Man of Peace
Kofi Annan is well-known as a man of tranquility.
27: Iraq Split Highlights Europe's Disunity
Analysis: The European Union steered a wobbly diplomatic course during the Iraqi crisis that betrayed the continent's persistent clash of national interests.
26: Lott Criticizes Iraq Deal as 'Appeasement'
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) spoke out against the U.N.-Iraq weapons inspection agreement, delivering the strongest criticism thus far by a Republican congressional leader.
26: Iraqi Says Agreement May Help End Isolation
Iraq's deputy foreign minister said that this week's accord on weapons inspections shows that his country has turned a corner in breaking its isolation on the world stage.
26: Editorial -- Reversing Course on Iraq
In the agreement reached between Kofi Annan and Saddam Hussein, two stout U.S. principles that Saddam Hussein should have no say over the composition of inspections teams and that the inspectors should report only to the U.N. Security Council have fallen by the wayside.
25: Annan Predicts Success; U.S. Has Questions
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan predicted that the agreement with Iraq about weapons inspections would succeed; U.S. officials questioned whether it will really help find Iraq's banned weapons.
25: Accord Is Spare on Details
Analysis -- Clinton administration officials have said they still have key concerns about what the Iraqi accord means and how it might affect inspections.
24: Clinton Tentatively Approves Deal
President Clinton tentatively endorsed a new Iraqi agreement to permit weapons inspections but said he would keep U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf to ensure that the Baghdad government delivers on the promise.
24: Iraqis Pleased With Pact
Iraqis are expressing widespread relief over the agreement to allow weapons inspections. They say the outcome has hastened progress toward lifting of the crippling international trade embargo imposed in 1990.
24: World Leaders Hail Accord
World leaders hailed the agreement between Iraq and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan today, saying it would avert a military strike on Baghdad, but many expressed caution about the details and promised to give the pact close scrutiny.
24: Accord Leaves U.S. Officials Uneasy
Skepticism, not jubilation, was the dominant mood at the White House. For weeks, Clinton and his team have said over and again that they preferred diplomacy to war, but now that a diplomatic solution is at hand, the president and his advisers were frank in acknowledging their doubts that the achievement will prove lasting.
24: Both Iraq and U.N. Gain Concessions
Both the United Nations and the government of Iraq appeared yesterday to have given up key ground to resolve the long-running dispute over the right of U.N. inspectors to search anywhere in Iraq for documents and equipment related to weapons of mass destruction.
24: Editorial -- A Dubious Agreement
By the test that counts most ending Saddam Hussein's special-weapons threat the pact negotiated by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan remains
dubious and unproven.
23: Annan, Iraq Reach Agreement
Against a backdrop of threatened U.S. airstrikes, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan reached an agreement with senior Baghdad officials that he believes could end the crisis over U.N. inspections of suspected Iraqi weapons sites, his spokesman said.
23: U.S. Weighs Steps if Deal Fails
Having assembled a mighty force to strike Iraq, Clinton administration officials began grappling with the potentially awkward question of how to react if a United Nations-brokered diplomatic deal meets some, but not all, U.S. demands.
23: U.S. Cautious on Backing Saddam's Foes
Encouraging the Iraqi opposition to initiate a civil war as a way of removing Saddam Hussein "sounds but is not simple," according to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.
23: Exiles: U.S. Must Want to Keep Saddam
Many Iraqi exiles in Great Britain believe that Americans don't really want Saddam Hussein out, but rather want him there to keep Arab countries disunited, providing a Gulf market for U.S. arms suppliers.
22: U.N. Chief Meets With Iraqi Leaders
In "difficult" talks aimed at averting a U.S. military strike, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan met into the early hours today with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
22: Clinton Struggles to Make Case for Bombing
President Clinton has yet to articulate the case for military action in Iraq. Aides deny the Monica Lewinsky controversy will hamper efforts to gain public backing for airstrikes.
22: Iraqis Wait for Return of War
Iraqis express a mixture of anger, helplessness and passivity in the face of an American military threat they are powerless to stop.
22: About 2,000 Protest Outside White House
About 2,000 banner-waving protesters rallied outside the White House to denounce President Clinton's threat of a U.S. military strike against Iraq.
22: Pro-Iraqi, Anti-U.S. Demonstrations Grow in Mideast
Protests against threatened U.S. airstrikes on Iraq continued in Jordan and several other Middle Eastern countries, raising the prospect of an anti-U.S. backlash in the event of bombing.
Lee Hamilton, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations, and Steven Luxenberg, editor of Outlook, discuss their views on Iraq:
21: Clinton: Saddam Bears Blame for Strike
While the administration has begun to lay the groundwork for public support of its policy, the president must explain how his policy directly serves the U.S. national interest.
Whatever became of congressional debate?
Ever since military action against Iraq became likely, Congress has been missing in action.
President Clinton sent a videotaped message to Arab countries warning that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "must bear full responsibility for every casualty" resulting from threatened U.S. military action against Iraq.
20: Clinton: Public Backs Attack
President Clinton warned Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that Americans have the resolve for military action, as a new poll showed strong public support for bombing Iraq.
20: Panels Reject Iraqi Claims on Arms
Experts from nine countries have endorsed recent claims
by the United Nations that Iraq could have a clandestine stockpile of deadly chemical arms and has not met requirements for disclosing data on weapons.
20: Prospect of Strike Spurs Israelis to Flee
Frightened of the prospect of a new war in the Persian Gulf and the chance of Iraqi retaliation against the Jewish state Israelis have booked practically every airplane heading west.
19: Officials Heckled at Iraq Seminar
A team led by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
was shouted down, booed and cross-examined by a raucous crowd that was markedly skeptical of its government's
intentions in the Persian Gulf.
19: Audience Shakes Up Trusted Forum
The hostile "town meeting" crowd taught President Clinton's top foreign policy advisers that even a trusted format for communicating with the American people has limits.
19: Annan: Iraq Trip Is Last Chance
On the eve of his trip to Iraq, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said that although his mission is difficult, he sees some encouraging signs that a last-minute solution to the weapons inspection crisis is possible.
19: U.S. Troops in Kuwait Prepare for War
At Jabir Air Base, extra personnel and frenetic work schedules are tangible signs of the accumulation of U.S. air power in the Persian Gulf region since the confrontation over U.N. weapons inspections began.
19: Senator: Altering Assassination Ban May Put Pressure on Iraq
Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.) said that if Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein remains in power after a military assault and continues to be defiant, the United States should consider changing an executive order forbidding the assassination of foreign leaders.
19: U.S. Threats Stir Wide Opposition in Jordan
In Jordan, worries about economic repercussions, a tide of refugees from Iraq and other potential problems are spurring strong opposition to a U.S. military strike on Iraq.
19: U.N. Cuts Staff in Iraq
The United Nations announced that it will reduce the size of its staff in Iraq as the possibility of a U.S.-led attack draws nearer.
18: Clinton Makes Case for Strike
President Clinton offered his most detailed case yet to explain why curtailing Iraq's weapons programs is worth going to war.
18: FBI Probed Allegations of CIA Plot
Iran's description an alleged CIA-financed plot to kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1995 triggered an unusual FBI probe into whether the CIA violated a U.S. ban on involvement in political assassinations, officials said.
17: U.S. Hampers U.N. Chief's Iraq Plans
The United States blocked approval for a trip to Baghdad by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who was in search of a diplomatic solution to the standoff. He said he would delay his trip in the hopes of winning support from the U.S.
17: Raids May Strike at Power Structure
As President Clinton and his top advisers embark this week on what amounts to a marketing campaign for airstrikes on Iraq, the trend in their evolving war plan goes well beyond the emphasis in public on damaging prohibited weapons programs.
16: U.S. Strikes Also Would Aim at Conventional Forces
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said that the targets of U.S. airstrikes against Iraq would include not only sites thought to contain Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction but also those housing conventional military forces that he could use to threaten his neighbors.
16: U.N. Weapons Inspectors ... or Spies?
Analysis: -- Is there any truth to Baghdad's claims that Washington has used its influence to skew the focus and conclusions of the inspections to prepare for strikes like the one now threatened?
16: Iraqi Dissidents Plan Provisional Government
Iraqi dissidents are trying to form a provisional government that would be ready to take over if President Saddam Hussein is forced from power or killed, say dissidents and Western officials.
15: Air War on Iraq Would Be Similar To Desert Storm
According to a variety of accounts, the first night's attack on Iraq likely would resemble the one that inaugurated Desert Storm at 3 a.m. Baghdad time on Jan. 18, 1991.
14: Iraq Benefiting From Standoff
As a result of the latest crisis, Saddam Hussein has enhanced diplomatic ties between Iraq and other Arab countries, including such longtime foes as Egypt and Syria, sharply boosted his stature among the Arab masses and driven a wedge between the United States and Russia.
13: Russian Rebukes U.S. Over Iraq
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev lectured Defense Secretary William S. Cohen about America's stand on Iraq, warning against hasty judgments and short-lived military victories and expressing "deep concern" about future U.S.-Russian relations if the United States takes military action against Iraq.
12: Document Indicates Illicit Russia-Iraq Deal
United Nations inspectors last fall uncovered what they considered unsettling evidence of a 1995 agreement by Russia to sell Iraq sophisticated fermentation equipment that could be used to develop biological weapons, according to sources.
12: U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan for Inspections
The Clinton administration rejected out of hand yesterday an Iraqi proposal to allow limited weapons inspections at eight presidential sites in Iraq under the supervision of diplomats representing U.N. Security Council members.
12: Iraqi Opposition Groups At a Low Point
Iraqi opposition groups that critics of the Clinton administration's policy say should receive more support in the confrontation with President Saddam Hussein are at one of the lowest ebbs in their history.
12: New Weapons Give Navy Top Air Role
Navy and Marine Corps pilots are set to fly the majority of missions in an operation code-named "Desert Thunder" that will hinge, by all accounts, on downpours of precision munitions.
12: Arab Allies Blame Crisis on Iraq's Obstinacy
American efforts to line up Arab support for military
action against Iraq gained ground as Persian Gulf allies unanimously blamed Baghdad for its standoff with the United Nations and Egypt's president warned that President Saddam Hussein's defiance of U.N. arms inspections could provoke a violent American response.
10: PLO Mutes Support for Saddam This Time
The fallout from Iraq's defeat in the Gulf war took its toll on Palestinians economically and politically. Today, many Palestinians still support Saddam Hussein. But this time, their leaders mostly are keeping their heads down.
10: Kuwaiti Leaders Eagerly Anticipate Strikes
While many Arab governments are deeply skeptical about the wisdom of U.S. military action against Iraq, the leaders of Kuwait are brimming with excitement over a looming confrontation that they regard as the best opportunity in years to stamp out the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
10: Many Interlocking Issues Affect Support on Iraq Strike
The Clinton administration's difficulty in winning international support for a military strike against Iraq has been compounded by links between the Iraq issue and several other critical but seemingly unrelated foreign policy decisions that are also on the table, according to senior officials.
09: U.S. to Avoid Strikes From Saudi Bases
Confronted by Saudi Arabia's reluctance to back airstrikes against Iraq, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said today that the United States would avoid flying strike aircraft out of Saudi territory in the event military action is necessary but would expect to use U.S. support aircraft based in this desert kingdom.
08: U.S. Seeks Backing For Iraq Strike
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen met with his counterparts from Europe's four biggest nations today to enlist their support, as a U.S. congressional delegation here suggested that the extent of America's future commitment to NATO would hinge on European backing of the U.S. position on Iraq.
07: President Narrows Goals For Airstrikes
President Clinton said that the aim of an American-led bombardment of Iraq would be to "substantially reduce or delay" Iraq's ability to develop and use nonconventional weapons, the narrowest and most precise formulation to date of the administration's military objectives.
07: Iraq Rejects U.N.'s Latest Oil-for-Food Proposal
Iraq said that key parts of a U.N. proposal to double the amount of oil Baghdad can sell in exchange for food and medicine infringe on its sovereign rights and cannot be accepted.
06: Yeltsin Warns U.S. Again on Using Force
Russian President Boris Yeltsin strongly warned the United States again against using force in Iraq, saying Russia "would not allow" a military strike and reiterating that it could lead to "world war."
06: Military Buildup in Gulf Continues
A third aircraft carrier, the USS Independence, arrived in the Persian Gulf. Military officials also announced that 2,200 Marines on warships will be sent to the region.
05: U.S. Military Feels Strain of Buildup
The renewed buildup of sea and air forces in the gulf has led to less military presence in certain areas, and manpower and equipment gaps at some Air Force bases, according to officials.
05: Yeltsin Warns U.S. on Iraq
Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned the U.S. that an attack on Iraq could risk another world war. Russia prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
04: Mideast Leaders Don't Deny U.S. Support on Iraq
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said she will report to President Clinton that none of the six Arab leaders she consulted this week expressed outright opposition to the use of force against Iraq. A senior official traveling with her suggested that some were openly supportive in private.
03: France, Russia, Turkey Balking on Iraq
As Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright continued her mission seeking the support of Persian Gulf states for possible air strikes against Iraq, Russia, France and Turkey intensified separate diplomatic initiatives aimed at averting military action.
03: Iraq Resolution Disturbs Some in Congress
The broad sweep of a Senate resolution urging President Clinton to "take all necessary and appropriate actions" against Iraq has stirred three-decades-old memories of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that President Lyndon B. Johnson used to escalate U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
29: If U.S. Strike Doesn't Sway Saddam, What's Next?
The Clinton administration has yet to decide what would follow a bombing campaign if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein refuses to back down, according to senior administration and military officials.
24: Decision to Strike Iraq Nears
President Clinton and his senior national security advisers have concluded that a military strike against Iraq is likely within a few weeks unless Iraqi President Saddam Hussein stops interfering with the work of U.N. weapons inspectors, according to highly placed U.S officials.
15: U.N. Urges Iraq to End Standoff
The Security Council today condemned Iraq's latest obstruction of U.N. weapons inspections and called on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to halt the confrontation that has brought Baghdad and the United Nations to the brink of renewed crisis.
14: U.S. Lines Up Backing for Iraq Face-Off
The Clinton administration once again marshaled its international allies to present a unified front against Iraq yesterday as the Baghdad regime carried out its threat to block a U.S.-led weapons inspection team and reignited a crisis that has bedeviled Washington for months.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
Back to the top