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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Hans Blix's briefing
Reuters, PTI
United Nations, February 22, 2003
First Published: 12:39 IST(22/2/2003)
Last Updated: 16:28 IST(22/2/2003)

The following is the full text of UN arms inspector's Chief Hans Blix's briefing to the security council on February 14, 2003.

Mr. President,

Since I reported to the Security Council on 27 January, UNMOVIC has had two further weeks of operational and analytical work in New York and active inspections in Iraq. This brings the total period of inspections so far to 11 weeks. Since then, we have also listened on 5 February to the presentation to the Council by the US Secretary of State and the discussion that followed. Lastly, Dr. ElBaradei and I have held another round of talks in Baghdad with our counterparts and with Vice President Ramadan on 8 and 9 February.

Let me begin today's briefing with a short account of the work being performed by UNMOVIC in Iraq.

We have continued to build up our capabilities. The regional office in Mosul is now fully operational at its temporary headquarters. Plans for a regional office at Basra are being developed. Our Hercules L-100 aircraft continues to operate routine flights between Baghdad and Larnaca.

The eight helicopters are fully operational. With the resolution of the problems raised by Iraq for the transportation of minders into the no-fly zones, our mobility in these zones has improved. We expect to increase utilization of the helicopters. The number of Iraqi minders during inspections had often reached a ratio as high as five per inspector. During the talks in January in Baghdad, the Iraqi side agreed to keep the ratio to about one to one. The situation has improved.

Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly. In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming.

The inspections have taken place throughout Iraq at industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centres, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps and agricultural sites. At all sites which had been inspected before 1998, re-baselining activities were performed. This included the identification of the function and contents of each building, new or old, at a site.

It also included verification of previously tagged equipment, application of seals and tags, taking samples and discussions with the site personnel regarding past and present activities. At certain sites, ground-penetrating radar was used to look for underground structures or buried equipment.

Through the inspections conducted so far, we have obtained a good knowledge of the industrial and scientific landscape of Iraq, as well as of its missile capability but, as before, we do not know every cave and corner. Inspections are effectively helping to bridge the gap in knowledge that arose due to the absence of inspections between December 1998 and November 2002.

More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have been collected at different sites. Three-quarters of these have been screened using our own analytical laboratory capabilities at the Baghdad Centre (BOMVIC). The results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations.

We have now commenced the process of destroying approximately 50 litres of mustard gas declared by Iraq that was being kept under UNMOVIC seal at the Muthanna site. One-third of the quantity has already been destroyed. The laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor, which we found at another site, has also been destroyed.

The total number of staff in Iraq now exceeds 250 from 60 countries. This includes about 100 UNMOVIC inspectors, 15 IAEA inspectors, 50 aircrew, and 65 support staff. Mr. President,

In my 27 January update to the Council, I said that it seemed from our experience that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on process, most importantly prompt access to all sites and assistance to UNMOVIC in the establishment of the necessary infrastructure. This impression remains, and we note that access to sites has so far been without problems, including those that had never been declared or inspected, as well as to Presidential sites and private residences.

In my last updating, I also said that a decision to cooperate on substance was indispensable in order to bring, through inspection, the disarmament task to completion and to set the monitoring system on a firm course. Such cooperation, as I have noted, requires more than the opening of doors. In the words of resolution 1441 (2002) - it requires immediate, unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament - either by presenting remaining proscribed items and programmes for elimination or by presenting convincing evidence that they have been eliminated. In the current situation, one would expect Iraq to be eager to comply.

While we were in Baghdad, we met a delegation from the Government of South Africa. It was there to explain how South Africa gained the confidence of the world in its dismantling of the nuclear weapons programme, by a wholehearted cooperation over two years with IAEA inspectors. I have just learned that Iraq has accepted an offer by South Africa to send a group of experts for further talks.


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