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Blix Says Iraq Must Do More To Convince UN It Has Disarmed

  • Robert McMahon

United Nations, 27 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Chief UN inspector Hans Blix says Iraq is not cooperating sufficiently with UN monitors to demonstrate convincingly that it has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.

Blix told the UN Security Council today that after 60 days of inspections a number of questions involving areas such as Iraq's stocks of anthrax and the nerve agent VX remain unresolved. He also said Iraq has developed ballistic missiles that exceed the permitted range of 150 kilometers.

"Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace," Blix said.

Iraq's UN ambassador, Muhammad al-Douri, speaking to reporters after Blix's speech, repeated Iraq's contention that it is free of weapons of mass destruction. He said Iraqi authorities are willing to discuss any issues with Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency head Muhammad el-Baradei.

U.S. officials have pointed to today's report as the start of a new phase that could lead to greater support within the Security Council for their contention that resort of force is warranted to achieve Iraq's disarmament.

Blix said his mission shares the "sense of urgency" to achieve the verifiable disarmament of Iraq. But he said it was the Security Council's responsibility to decide how long inspections should take. He stressed the increasing capability of inspectors to monitor Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic-missile programs

"We now have an inspection apparatus that permits us to send multiple inspection teams, every day, all over Iraq, by road or by air. Let me end by simply noting that that capability, which has been built up in a short time and which is now operating, is at the disposal of the Security Council," Blix said.

IAEA Director-General el-Baradei called for another "few months" to help inspectors prove that Iraq has no nuclear-weapons program. He said so far, no prohibited nuclear activities have been identified during inspections.

"With our verification system now in place, barring exceptional circumstances and provided there is a sustained pro-active cooperation by Iraq, we should be able, within the next few months, to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program. These few months, in my view, would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war," el-Baradei said.

But el-Baradei and Blix called for more active cooperation by Iraqi authorities in sharing information and making scientists available for private interviews with inspectors. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, said the reports prove that Iraq is pursuing an active program of denial and deception and provide no hope that Iraq will disarm.

Britain's UN ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock, told reporters after the address that time is running out for Iraq to convince the international community that it is willing to disarm. "I think what we have heard [from Blix and el-Baradei] is a catalogue of unresolved questions, and it is quite clear to all members of the Security Council that this is not going to be resolved peacefully through the UN process unless we have 100 percent cooperation from Iraq."

The Russian ambassador and the Chinese envoy to the UN said the inspections were progressing and the inspectors should be given more time to do their work.

Security Council members are now meeting in private consultation to question Blix and el-Baradei about their reports. Further consultations are planned for 29 January and another briefing from UN inspectors has tentatively been scheduled for 14 February.