Iraq: the countdown to a new crisis


May 1991: Three months after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, UNSCOM begins inspections, uncovering and destroying components of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.

January 1993: Allied air-strikes after alleged Iraqi ceasefire violations.

August 1995: Saddam's son-in-law, Lieut-Gen Hussein Kamal, defects with details of Iraq's biological weapons programme.

June 1996: UNSCOM blows up biological weapons plant at Al Hakam.

June 1996: Iraq admits manufacturing 3.9 tons of VX nerve agent.

September 1996: US fires Cruise missiles to enforce no-fly zone.

October 1997: Saddam orders out US members of UNSCOM team. Russians defuse crisis.

January 1998: Iraq bans inspections in presidential palaces. Huge British and US military build-up. UN negotiates deal.

February 1998: UN determines Iraq had capability of manufacturing up to 200 tons of VX.

April 1998: UN panel of experts from 13 countries concludes that Iraq has concealed information. UN Security Council decides to keep economic sanctions in place.

June 1998: US tests find traces of VX gas on Scud missile fragments.

July 1998: Talks break down in Baghdad on UNSCOM's proposals for an accelerated schedule of inspections before the next six-monthly review of sanctions.

August 1998: UN teams leaves Baghdad after Saddam blocks inspections.