In a new report, WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications, Carnegie authors Jessica Mathews, Joseph Cirincione, and George Perkovich outline policy reforms to improve threat assessments, deter transfer of WMD to terrorists, strengthen the UN weapons inspection process, and avoid politicization of the intelligence process.

The policy recommendations flow from a detailed study that distills a massive amount of data into side-by-side comparisons of pre-war intelligence on Iraq; weapons of mass destruction, the official U.S. presentation of that intelligence, and what is now known about Iraq’s programs.

The authors conclude that Iraq was not an imminent threat, that UN inspections were working far better than realized, that our intelligence process failed, that officials misrepresented the threat, and, importantly, that war was not the best—or only—option. Key policy recommendations include:

  • Create a nonpartisan independent commission to establish a clear picture of what the intelligence community knew and believed it knew about Iraq’s weapon’s program
  • Revise the National Security Strategy to eliminate a U.S. policy  of unilateral, preventive war
  • Formalize collaboration between the United States and United Nations to create a permanent, international, nonproliferation inspection capability
  • Consider changing the post of Director of Central Intelligence from a political appointment to a career appointment, based on the outcomes of the independent commission

The new report is by the Carnegie team responsible for two earlier studies, Iraq: A New Approach (Aug. 2002) and Iraq: What Next? (Jan. 2003): Jessica T. Mathews, president, George Perkovich, vice president for studies, and Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and non-proliferation project director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

To access the full report, a two-page summary, and other resources, visit