Iraq's BW Programme:UNSCOM Stays On
When Iraq's Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan wrote an open letter to the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the first week of May 1998, stating that his country could not wait much longer for the UN to lift its trade embargo,1 he was only expressing the impatience and frustration that the Iraqis were feeling after nearly eight years of punitive UN sanctions. At the closing session of a conference of Arab politicians and dignitaries in Baghdad, Ramadan warned, "The age of this letter is not years or months. It has a limited time...Either we accept to die slowly or we fight in order to lift the embargo." He went on to add that prolonging the sanctions would have "grave consequences."2 Though he did not spell out how Iraq would fight for the lifting of these sanctions which were imposed on the country after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Ramadan was reacting to its (sanctions) extension, by another six months, by the UNSC in the last week of April.3
When the United Nations headquarters at Baghdad, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on January 2, the incident only served to bring to the fore the standoff between Iraq and the United Nations Special Commission, (UNSCOM)—the government of the former refusing to allow the inspectors of the latter to inspect the "presidential sites." The earlier standoff which had started in the last week of October 1997 when Iraq barred two American members of UNSCOM from the country after their plane arrived from Bahrain and the expulsion orders given to the ten American members of UNSCOM to leave within a week was defused with the help of Russian diplomacy.4 An important aspect that was an outcome of this standoff was the widely reported renewed fears over Iraq's biological weapons (BW) programme. UNSCOM inspectors have been unable to certify that the country has totally rid itself of BW, which constitute one of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Before going into what is known of the biological weapons programme of Iraq, this paper looks at UNSCOM's mandate in the country.
UNSCOM's Mandate in Iraq: Resolutions 687 and 715
Consequent to Iraq President Saddam Hussein's decision to attack Kuwait on August 2, 1990, a series of Security Council Resolutions that called upon Iraq to withdraw immediately and unconditionally were passed with near unanimity. The UN also imposed a number of economic sanctions on the country, which were implemented through a naval blockade. At the same time the embargo was on, intense diplomatic efforts to achieve a peaceful solution were made in parallel with military preparations for a war against Iraq, should diplomacy fail. Saudi Arabia's defences against an Iraqi attack were bolstered by "Desert Shield." On November 29, 1990, the UN Security Council Resolution 678 authorised "member states cooperating with Kuwait" to "use all necessary means... to restore international peace and security in the area" unless Iraq withdrew by January 15, 1991. The war ("Desert Storm") began with a gigantic nocturnal air attack (January 16-17, 1991) and ended in February 1991, after a large-scale ground offensive (starting February 24) forced Iraq's capitulation.
When the UNSC Resolution 687 (the Gulf War ceasefire resolution) was adopted in a very special and unprecedented situation, the UNSC, for the first time, was in a position to determine the terms of a ceasefire. At the end of the Gulf War on April 3, 1991, the Security Council acting in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which makes it mandatory to establish the conditions required for the restoration of peace and security, adopted Resolution 687.5 Among other conditions, Section C of Resolution 687 bans Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities and long-range ballistic missiles. Thus, not only are the weapons banned but the capability for them is prohibited. The ban covers research and development, production, use, testing, support, repair and maintenance of such weapons, their delivery means and all sub-components and associated equipment.
While paragraph 10 of Resolution 687 requests "the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Special Commission (UNSCOM), to develop a plan for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance," paragraphs 12 and 13 deal in similar fashion with nuclear weapons, requesting the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the assistance and cooperation of UNSCOM, "to develop a plan, taking into account the rights and obligations" of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) "for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with paragraph 12." Security Council Resolution 715, which was approved by the Security Council on October 11, 1991, contained plans by UNSCOM and the IAEA for future, ongoing monitoring and verification. This resolution requested UNSCOM and the IAEA to implement their plans and further requested "the Committee established under Resolution 661, the Special Commission and the Director-General of the IAEA to develop in cooperation a mechanism for monitoring any future sales or supplies by other countries to Iraq of items relevant to the implementation of section C" of Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions, including items specified within Resolution 715 and the two plans approved under this resolution.6
The two major components, then, of the UNSCOM mandate are: the identification and elimination of proscribed weapons and the means for their delivery; and the designing and implementation of a system for ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq to prevent the country from acquiring prohibited items again. As fulfilment of the latter part of the mandate, UNSCOM placed in Baghdad a fully functioning regime of monitoring supported by a mechanism for export-import control. The Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre (BMVC) was developed by UNSCOM during the summer and early autumn of 1991 and approved by the UNSC through Resolution S/715 (1991). More than 100 personnel work from inside this monitoring regime. The daily no-notice inspections of relevant facilities are carried out by the core element of its personnel, i.e., around 20 scientists and specialists in nuclear physics, chemistry, biology and missile technology, who are supported by the use of cutting-edge technology, such as sensors, detectors and field laboratories, as well as about 150 cameras that monitor major dual-use equipment (eg., machines, production lines and missile test stands) beaming real-time imagery to the operations at the BVMC.7 The BVMC is aided by aerial surveillance which forms a key component of the monitoring system. The surveillance is provided by US U2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and by UNSCOM's helicopters, five of which are stationed in Baghdad.8
The plan for the IAEA under Resolution 715 is quite similar to that of UNSCOM's and starts with an introduction which places it in the context of previous resolutions and requests from the Security Council. It was noted that the plan would enter into force upon adoption and that ongoing monitoring and verification should be undertaken in parallel with the identification and destruction phases specified in Resolution 687. The plan's introduction also describes implementation as an important step "towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons."
A section deals with institutional and organisational items, and proposes that UNSCOM retain the same structure—i.e., a staff in New York for analysis and planning, supplemented by field offices in the region—that was used in the identification and destruction phases of its work. The question of imports into Iraq of relevant dual-purpose items after the modification of the sanctions regime is dealt with by Section C. As it noted, some items would remain banned from possession by Iraq. The items that would be banned and those considered dual-purpose (and hence requiring monitoring) are described by the annexes. For dealing with dual-purpose items imported for permitted purposes, a dual reporting system is proposed. This is then supplemented with an export-import control mechanism, as required under paragraph 7 of Resolution 715, under which exporting countries must also report, in a timely fashion, the export to Iraq of relevant dual-purpose items. This dual-track approach allows inspection teams sufficient warning about Iraq's import of dual-purpose items so that the items can be incorporated into the ongoing monitoring and verification regime in a timely fashion. That this mechanism needs to be in place before there is any modification of the sanctions regime to permit Iraq to import dual-purpose items, is stressed.
The provisions and scope of the plan are dealt with by other sections. Included among them are Iraq's obligations to provide UNSCOM with full information, the rights and privileges of the commission in conducting inspections and overflights, and the country's obligations to undertake national implementation measures to give practical effect to its new obligations. Procedures, in the event of non-compliance, reporting, are also dealt with by these sections alongwith revisions of the plans and its annexes.
While the Security Council is to decide upon the duration of the plan, it currently remains open-ended. Thus, these general provisions provide for far-reaching rights enjoyed by UNSCOM. The rights enable it to conduct any number of unannounced inspections of any site, facility, activity, material or other item anywhere in Iraq and conduct overflights of any area, location, site or facility in Iraq for the purpose of inspection, surveillance, transportation or logistics under such conditions as UNSCOM may decide. The commission can use its own aircraft, instruments, and sensors and any airfield in Iraq that it considers most appropriate for its work. Annex I enumerates the details of these provisions. The details of monitoring chemical, biological and missile capabilities, delineating what items are banned, what are dual-purpose items and hence might be subject to monitoring, and outlining Iraq's obligations to provide to UNSCOM information on sites, facilities, materials, equipment, documentation, imports, activities and its intentions are covered by Section C and Annex II, Section D and Annex III, and Section E and Annex IV of the plan.9
Fig 1. How the UN Searches for Saddam's Secrets
The US shares intelligence with the UN gleaned from five satellites orbiting the earth. Using both radar and digital imaging, these satellites monitor critical Iraqi military movements.
U-2 Spy Plane
The UN deploys an American aircraft flown by an American pilot—in 380 missions so far—to photograph locations around Iraq, looking for new construction and suspicious activity.
Supplied by Chile, they quickly shuttle inspectors to remote sites, countering Iraqi subterfuge by keeping the visits a surprise. They are also equipped with cameras for close-up photography.
Cameras and Air Sniffers
Cameras at 30 locations track equipment and beam back images to a monitoring centre. Likewise, air sniffers check the air to guarantee that deadly chemicals such as mustard gas are not being manufactured.
Before the standoff, about 105 experts recruited from 40 countries conducted daily random inspections of factories and storages sites around Iraq.
Source: United Nations
Iraq's Biological Weapons and UNSCOM
After two years of difficulties, deadlocks and limited cooperation, it was only on November 26, 1993, that Iraq informed the UN that it would cooperate in implementing the plans to monitor compliance with its obligations not to reacquire weapons of mass destruction. The USA bombed 17 bunkers in Iraq thought to contain BW, shortly after the end of the Gulf War. The UNSC had required the country to provide information on its BW programme by April 18, 1991, and hand over any BW it had by May 18 of the same year.10 When Iraq provided a report on April 18, 1991, to the UN which provided its accession to the Biological Weapons Convention,11 it stated, "Iraq does not possess any biological weapons or related items."12 The country affirmed, however, when the first BW UNSCOM team arrived in August 1991, that it had done biological research for defensive military purposes and admitted that it could be used for offensive purposes. Later, it reversed its position by saying that the BW programme could not be used for offensive purposes.13
It was only when Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid,14 believed to have been in charge of Iraq's biological and nuclear weapons programmes, defected in August 1995, that a clearer and wider picture emerged of Iraq's BW programme. Shortly after Kamel's defection, General Amer Rashid al-Ubeidi, Iraq's Minister of Oil, sent a letter to Rolf Ekeus, the then Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, stating that the country had ascertained that Kamel was responsible for hiding important information on Iraq's prohibited programmes.15
Fig II. Key Elements of Iraq Biological Warfare Programme Revealed by Iraq After 1995 Defection of Hussein Kamel
Production Locations Al Hakam.
Dura Foot and Mouth Disease Institute.
Biological Warfare 19,000 litres of botulinum toxin.
Agents Produced 8,500 litres of anthrax.
2,400 litres of aflatoxin.
Testing Field trials of anthrax and botulinum toxin using aerial bombs.
Effects on animals observed—March 1988.
Live firings of 122-mm rockets with agent—May 1990.
Weaponisation Begun on large scale in December 1990.
Aerial bombs—166 filled with biological warfare agent.
SCUD missile warheads—25 filled with biological warfare agent.
Efforts made in December 1990 to modify spray tanks to deliver 2,000 litres of anthrax; planned for use on aircraft or remotely piloted aircraft; not successful.
Biological weapons deployed to operational delivery sites in December 1990.
Source: OSD Proliferation: Threat and Response (Washington DC: DOD, November 1997), p. 33.
UNSCOM's October 1995 Report on Iraq's BW Programme
On August 20, 1995, Iraq released over half a million pages of documentation which included information on its biological weapons.16 Ekeus stated on August 25, 1995, that new information revealed that Iraq had developed a "full-scale" BW programme. It had admitted to producing ten times more anthrax than it had stated in its last declaration. UNSCOM estimated that Iraq had 26, 500 litres of culture media at the end of 1990. It was revealed that three biological agents were put into 191 bombs and missiles, which were then distributed to air bases and a missile site. These weapons were filled with biological agents between December 1-23, 1990, just prior to the outbreak of the Gulf War. US and UN officials believed that the weapons contained enough biological agents to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. Iraq had also worked on unmanned aircraft which had the capacity to emit the agents from spray nozzles. Ekeus said that Iraqi officials claimed that they had decided not to use the weapons after they received a warning from the Bush Administration that any use of unconventional warfare would provoke a devastating response, which Iraq assumed would mean a nuclear response.17
Though UNSCOM's half-yearly report of October 1995 to the UNSC concluded that Iraq's BW disclosures continued to be incomplete "in spite of the substantial new disclosures made by Iraq since mid-August,"18 many aspects of Iraq's BW programme were now revealed. The disclosure now pointed to a BW programme that had begun in 1974. This programme ceased in the late 1970s as the original effort did not get very far. However, during the early stages of the Iran-Iraq War, the interest in biological weapons was rekindled. There were ten personnel involved in BW research by the end of 1985. According to the UNSCOM report, bacterial strains of anthrax and botulinum were received from overseas sources in 1986 and the next year saw the programme moving from Muthanna to Al Salman. In 1988, initial weapons field trials were conducted. Botulinum toxin and anthrax were produced in fermenters at Al Salman and Taji. A new agent, clostridium perfringens (gas gangrene) was added, in 1988, to the bacterial work already going on at Al Salman. Aflatoxin, a toxin which is commonly associated with fungal-contaminated foodgrains, that was known to induce liver cancer, was also studied. As a BW potential, Iraq examined wheat smut, which contaminated grains and also worked on the weapons application of ricin. It had to abandon the latter project after a failed test using artillery shells.
While bacteriology, virology and genetic engineering were studied at the Daura plant, the production of botulinum toxin and anthrax commenced in 1989. Field trials of BW were first conducted in 1988 at Muthanna, which used aerial bombs positioned on adjacent stands. While the first tests, one using an anthrax stimulant and the other using botulinum toxin were considered failures, a second field trial conducted with the same weapon systems was considered successful. Thereafter, it was in November 1989, that the next field trials were conducted. Successful weaponisation trials using 122mm rockets involving subtilis (the anthrax simulant), botulinum toxin and aflatoxin, were conducted. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, weaponisation efforts were intensified and at Muthanna, 100 R400 bombs were filled with botulinum toxin, 50 with anthrax and 16 with aflatoxin, while at Al Hussein, 25 warheads were filled with butulinum toxin (13), anthrax (10), and aflatoxin (2). The Daura and Al Hakam plants saw the production of botulinum toxin and anthrax being stepped up. Iraq declared the production of at least 19,000 litres of concentrated botulinum toxin (nearly 10, 000 litres were filled into munitions), 8,500 litres of concentrated anthrax (6,500 litres filled into munitions), and 2,200 litres of concentrated aflatoxin (1,580 litres filled into munitions), in total.19
A new delivery programme was initiated to develop a biological weapons spray tank based on a modified aircraft drop tank in December 1990 and tests conducted in January 1991 were considered a failure. However, three additional drop tanks were modified and stored. Iraq claimed that they were destroyed in June 1991. In 1995, UNSCOM had included 79 sites in its biological monitoring and verification regime: 5 sites were known to have played a significant role in Iraq's past BW programme; 5 vaccine or pharmaceutical facilities; 35 research and university sites with significant technology or equipment; 13 breweries, distilleries and dairies with dual-purpose capabilities; 8 diagnostic laboratories; 5 acquisition and distribution sites of biological supplies/equipment; 4 facilities associated with biological equipment development; and 4 product development organisations. Intense monitoring was required at 9 of the sites which were placed in category A.
The UNSCOM report described Iraq's BW achievement as "remarkable...The programme appears to have a degree of balance suggesting a high level of management and planning that envisioned the inclusion of all aspects of a biological weapons programme, from research to weaponization. It is also reasonable to assume that, given that biological weapons were considered as strategic weapons and were actually deployed, detailed thought must have been given to the doctrine of operational use for these weapons of mass destruction."20
According to the UN, Iraq has quantities listed below. It is unclear how much has been destroyed, and inspectors believe the actual amounts are much higher.
Botulinum 19,000 litres
Suffocates by paralysing the lungs
Weapons: 100 bombs, 16 missile warheads
Anthrax 8,500 litres
Extremely lethal when spores are inhaled
Weapons: 50 bombs, 5 missile warheads
Aflatoxin 2,200 litres
Causes liver cancer
Weapons: 7 bombs, 4 missile warheads
Clostridium Perfringens 340 litres
Causes a gaseous rotting of flesh
Ricin 10 litres
Slow death through circulatory collapse
Source: Time, December 1, 1997, p. 27
Iraq's Rationale for Possessing BW
According to J.B.Tucker, the primary motivation for the acquisition of biological weapons is to deter a potential adversary that has obtained nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction,21 as, of the three types, bw are most accessible to developing countries because they require the least capital and technological infrastructure. Also, countries perceived to be hostile to the West, (eg., Iran, Iraq, and Libya) could view an offensive BW capability as an inexpensive but effective counter to Western technological superiority in conventional arms. The perception that countries like the USA and Israel are unwilling to accept heavy casualties in combat could make biological weapons attractive to hostile countries. A biological arsenal could serve as the basis of an "asymmetric strategy" which a weaker state employs to confront a superior conventional military power head-on, in order to inflict high casualties, spread terror and undermine the enemy's will to fight. UNSCOM's October 1995 report explained Iraq's rationale for its build-up of BW as a useful means to counter a numerically superior force and also as a means of last resort for retaliation in the case of a nuclear attack on the country.22
It was only on May 20, 1996, after nearly five years of investigations by UNSCOM that the facilities involved in Iraq's biological weapons programme began to be destroyed.23 Iraq's main germ warfare facility at Al Hakam was completely destroyed on June 21, 1996, as, according to a UN official, "This facility was specifically established and designed for biological weapons, and for that reason we decided it should be destroyed."24 The UNSCOM team had begun its work in mid-May. All structures and equipment at the Al Hakam site were explosively demolished except for three industrial chillers, which were to be transferred to hospitals and the remnants buried. The equipment from Al Manal and Al Safah, the two other known BW facilities, was transported to Al Hakam and alongwith the growth media purchased for BW development, was destroyed as well. Information on Al Manal had been provided by Hussein Kamel during his defection and the air handling system at the site, for high containment, was also inactivated.25
When UNSCOM released its six-month report on October 11, 1996, it concluded.26
"The current assessment is that the biological FFCD (Full, Final and Complete Disclosure) as written is not credible. Major sections are incomplete, inaccurate or unsubstantiated. Materials acquired for proscribed activities are understated. Biological warfare agent production figures are unsupported for the years 1987, 1988 and 1989. Expert estimates of production quantities of biological weapons agents, either by equipment capacity or by consumption of growth media, would far exceed declared amounts. Data on weapons field trials are inaccurate. Weapons and agent destruction is undocumented.
"A lack of documentation to substantiate declarations on the critical areas of biological warfare agent and munitions production, weaponization and destruction is difficult to accept. Until Iraq is able to provide a full accounting of biological weapons produced and destroyed unilaterally, the Commission cannot report that such weapons and their components do not remain."
Iraq has been consistent in its behaviour of being uncooperative with UNSCOM from the time the latter was set up, and the above conclusion of the UNSCOM report is a reflection of this policy.
According to Garth Nicholson, Director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Irvine, California, the "Gulf War Syndrome" might have been due to biological warfare agents. He said he had detected a genetically-altered mycoplasma in blood samples from Gulf War veterans and their families. There are other medical researchers, too, who claim a link between bacteriological agents and the Gulf War Syndrome. According to Ed Hyman, a kidney specialist who has worked with sick Gulf War veterans, "I think the best bet is (a bacterium) endemic to that region. The second-best bet is germ warfare."27 The US Army said that it would investigate the theory.
Rihab Rashida Taha, a British-trained biologist, (known as "Dr Germ or Dr Bug" by UN representatives) is the Production Chief of Iraq's BW programme, and is today potrayed as one of the world's most dangerous women. She had earlier been responsible for tests of anthrax and botulinum at Iraq's Salman Pak facility. These tests were conducted on rats, mice, rhesus monkeys, beagles and donkeys. In unreleased videotapes seized by the UN two years ago, the animals that had been exposed to germ agents were shown writhing and dying in agony.28
When Rolf Ekeus was asked how long he foresaw a need for UNSCOM's continued monitoring of Iraq's weapon potential, he replied that even if UNSCOM and the IAEA could report at a given moment in the future that all proscribed items had been identified and eliminated, the monitoring of Iraq's dual-use capabilities would be necessary for many years thereafter.29 A team of independent experts under his successor, Richard Butler, the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, which reviewed Iraq's progress in eliminating biological weapons rejected President Saddam Hussein's contention that he no longer had a germ warfare programme. The experts report released on April 9, called the Iraqi disclosure "incomplete and inadequate" and said that Iraq had failed to convince them "that resources such as weapons, bulk agents, bulk media and seed stocks have been eliminated."30 Butler's report to the UNSC, a few days later, concluded that Iraq was no closer to meeting the requirements for the lifting of sanctions than it was when the standoff began, last year.31 It can thus be seen that UNSCOM will remain in Iraq for some time to come.
1. Times of India, May 6, 1998.
3. The Hindustan Times, April 29, 1998.
4. For commentary on this standoff, see Chintamani Mahapatra, "Defusing the US-Iraq Stand-off: Whose Victory," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXI, no. 10, January 1998, pp. 1579-1582. For chronological details of recent events leading to the signing of an agreement between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi leadership thus averting US military action against Baghdad, see The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1998, (Massachusetts:IDDS, 1998), pp. 453.B-1.79 to 453.B-1.86. For the agreement itself, see Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Republic of Iraq, at Ibid, pp. 453.D.25-26.
5. For the text of the United Nations Security Council S/RES/687(1991), April 3 1991, see SIPRI, SIPRI Yearbook 1992: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (London: Oxford University Press: 199), appendix 13 A, pp.525-30.
6. Tim Trevan, "Ongoing Monitoring and Verification in Iraq," Arms Control Today, vol. 24, no. 4, May 1994, p. 11.
7. "Ambassador Rolf Ekeus: Leaving Behind the UNSCOM Legacy in Iraq," Arms Control Today, vol. 27, no. 4, June/July 1997, p. 3.
8. Ibid. These helicopters are also used for the transport of inspection teams and for direct operational support of inspections.
9. n. 6, p.12.
10. The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1993, (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1993), p. 701.E.4.
11. For a fuller picture of the BWC, see Kalpana Chittaranjan, "Biological Weapons and Biological Weapons Convention," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXI, no. 6, September 1997, p.881.
14. Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who was later killed upon his return to Baghdad.
15. The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1995, (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1995), p.701.B.147.
17. Ibid., pp. 701.B.147-148.
18. Ibid., p. 701.B. 148.
19. Ibid., p. 701.B. 149.
20. Ibid., pp. 701.B.149-150.
21. Jonathan B. Tucker, "The Biological Weapons Threat," Current History, April 1997, p.170.
22. n.15, p. 701.B. 150.
23. IISS, "Iraq's Biological Weapons Programme," Strategic Comments, vol. 2, no. 5, p. 1.
24. The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1996, (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1996), p.701.B.158.
26. Ibid, p.701. B. 159.
27. Ibid., p. 701.B.162.
28. Bruce W. Nelan, "Warfare," Time, vol. 150, no. 22, December 1, 1997, pp.26-27. For a brief account of the deadly biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin and ricin, see Geoffrey Cowley and Adam Rogers, "The Terrors of Toxins," Newsweek, vol. CXXX, no. 21, November 24, 1997, p.29., and Chittaranjan, n. 11, pp. 875-879. Also, for a brief US account of Iraq's biological programme, see OSD Proliferation: Threat and Response (Washington DC., DOD, November 1997), pp. 32-33.
29. n. 7, p. 6.
30. International Herald Tribune, April 10, 1998.
31. International Herald Tribune, April 17, 1998.