Maria Ryan – 'Wilful Blindness or Blissful Ignorance? The United States and the Successful Denuclearisation of Iraq

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Event Date: 29 April – 1 May 2011
East Midlands Conference Centre
University of Nottingham  
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RJ



Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory


Dr Maria Ryan (University of Nottingham) – Wilful Blindness or Blissful Ignorance? The United States and the Successful Denuclearisation of Iraq

This paper focuses on the most successful aspect of the UN disarmament and inspections process in Iraq in the 1990s: the nuclear programme. When this was uncovered in 1991, it was dismantled and destroyed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This process was so comprehensive that by 1994, only ongoing monitoring and verification was necessary. Reports by the IAEA nuclear inspectors make it clear that, unlike in the chemical and biological fields where Iraq’s co-operation was more erratic, in terms of the nuclear issue, co-operation from Iraq had facilitated the complete dismantling of nuclear weapons-related materials and infrastructure. However, this success was never reflected in US intelligence reports in either the Clinton or Bush years. The Iraqi nuclear programme was invoked by Clinton as justification for the 1998 Desert Fox bombing and was a key part of the Bush administration’s rationale for war in 2003. This paper offers tentative conclusions about why the IAEA’s great success in Iraq did not resonate with the US Intelligence Community from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.

Maria Ryan is a lecturer in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham. Maria Ryan’s research interests are broadly in the field of post-Cold War US foreign policy, in particular the development of neoconservatism; intellectuals and US foreign policy; humanitarian interventionism; the Bush administration and the ‘Global War on Terror’; as well as the history of the CIA. She has written articles and book chapters on many of these topics. Her first book, Neoconservatism and the New American Century, was published by Palgrave MacMillan (New York) in October 2010. She is currently working on a new project provisionally titled ‘Beyond Iraq: The ‘War on Terror’ on the Periphery’.

Contact details: School of American & Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD.

Email: maria.ryan@nottingham.ac.uk

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