However, by concealing their past intentions, the Iraqis encouraged the assumption that those were their future intentions as well. In the first phase of the Iraqi cover-up, the hidden past intentions certainly did reflect the goals for the future of the political leadership, even though Iraqi scientists and experts knew that restarting the programs would be virtually impossible. But why did Iraq not come clean later? Here again comes the problem of the past: admitting a filament-winding machine after the inspectors seem to have forgotten about it, would merely instigate new questions about what else remained to be declared. The piecemeal approach of the first years – with few exceptions always admitting only what would have been discovered anyway – destroyed the credibility of Iraq’s attempt to really come clean in the years 1996 to 1998. In the words of Jafar:
Our adherence to Aziz’s four principles — conceived to limit damage to Iraq’s credibility — actually triggered the opposite effect. One cover-up led to another, and another, which became a stressful exercise … a course which never failed to boomerang and blow up in the face of Iraqi officials.
However, Jafar, who has not only studied in the West like many other Iraqi scientists, but actually lived there both as a child and later, attributes the Iraqi approach in part to “cultural reasons:” in Arab Islamic culture the concept of the “confession box” where “you go in and tell the whole story,” is missing – the process is done in bits and pieces.
Harrer, Gudrun. Dismantling the Iraqi Nuclear Programme: The Inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 1991–1998. Routledge, 2014. p. 146