ROLF EKEUS, a Swedish diplomat, once personified the most sustained effort ever undertaken to deprive a country of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He was the leading figure in a programme to enforce peace terms on Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s dictator, in 1991, forcing him to renounce nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and long-range rockets.
His United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had powers to inspect any building, to confiscate documents and to seize and destroy weapons and equipment. Its monitors scored an early success by grabbing documents pertaining to Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. And it forced Saddam to admit dabbling with germ warfare and to stop. By 1998, when UNSCOM was stood down, it had exposed Saddam’s efforts to develop all manner of deadly weapons and missiles, and largely put a stop to them.