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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 22:34 GMT
Blix statement: Key excerpts
Dr Hans Blix
Blix said many questions remained unanswered
Extracts from chief UN weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix's statement to the UN Security Council on progress in the search for banned weapons in Iraq.

"Unlike South Africa, which decided on its own to eliminate its nuclear weapons and welcomed inspection as a means of creating confidence in its disarmament, 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...

Unmovic shares the sense of urgency felt by the Council

"One of three important questions before us today is how much might remain undeclared and intact from before 1991; and, possibly, thereafter; the second question is what, if anything, was illegally produced or procured after 1998, when the inspectors left; and the third question is how it can be prevented that any weapons of mass destruction be produced or procured in the future...

"Unmovic [UN Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Commission] shares the sense of urgency felt by the Council to use inspection as a path to attain, within a reasonable time, verifiable disarmament of Iraq...

Iraq co-operating

"Co-operation might be said to relate to both substance and process.

"It would appear from our experience so far that Iraq has decided in principle to provide co-operation on process, notably access...

"Iraq has on the whole co-operated rather well so far with Unmovic in this field.

"The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and, with one exception, it has been prompt.

"We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul.

"Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good. The environment has been workable....

Inspection problems

"In this updating I am bound, however, to register some problems. Firstly, relating to two kinds of air operations.

UN inspectors outside a presidential palace
Blix said he hoped Iraq's attitude would change

"While we now have the technical capability to send a U-2 plane placed at our disposal for aerial imagery and for surveillance during inspections and have informed Iraq that we planned to do so, Iraq has refused to guarantee its safety, unless a number of conditions are fulfilled.

"As these conditions went beyond what is stipulated in resolution 1441 (2002) and what was practiced by Unscom and Iraq in the past, we note that Iraq is not so far complying with our request. I hope this attitude will change.

"Another air operation problem - which was solved during our recent talks in Baghdad - concerned the use of helicopters flying into the no-fly zones.

"Iraq had insisted on sending helicopters of their own to accompany ours. This would have raised a safety problem.

"The matter was solved by an offer on our part to take the accompanying Iraq minders in our helicopters to the sites, an arrangement that had been practised by Unscom in the past.

Inspectors harassed

"I am obliged to note some recent disturbing incidents and harassment.

Where our Iraqi counterparts have some complaint they can take it up in a calmer and less unpleasant manner

"For instance, for some time far-fetched allegations have been made publicly that questions posed by inspectors were of intelligence character.

"While I might not defend every question that inspectors might have asked, Iraq knows that they do not serve intelligence purposes and Iraq should not say so.

"On a number of occasions, demonstrations have taken place in front of our offices and at inspection sites.

"The other day, a sightseeing excursion by five inspectors to a mosque was followed by an unwarranted public outburst.

"The inspectors went without any UN insignia and were welcomed in the kind manner that is characteristic of the normal Iraqi attitude to foreigners.

"They took off their shoes and were taken around.

"They asked perfectly innocent questions and parted with the invitation to come again.

"Shortly thereafter, we receive protests from the Iraqi authorities about an unannounced inspection and about questions not relevant to weapons of mass destruction.

"Indeed, they were not. Demonstrations and outbursts of this kind are unlikely to occur in Iraq without initiative or encouragement from the authorities.

"We must ask ourselves what the motives may be for these events.

"They do not facilitate an already difficult job, in which we try to be effective, professional and, at the same time, correct.

"Where our Iraqi counterparts have some complaint they can take it up in a calmer and less unpleasant manner...

Onus on Iraq

"The substantive co-operation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusion that nothing proscribed remains.

Iraq hands over weapons dossier, December, 2002
Blix said Iraq's dossier contained nothing new

"Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002) states that this cooperation shall be "active". It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of 'catch as catch can'...

"These reports do not contend that weapons of mass destruction remain in Iraq, but nor do they exclude that possibility.

"They point to lack of evidence and inconsistencies, which raise question marks, which must be straightened out, if weapons dossiers are to be closed and confidence is to arise.

"They deserve to be taken seriously by Iraq rather than being brushed aside as evil machinations of Unscom.

"Regrettably, the 12,000-page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their number...

Poison gas

"The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed.

Unmovic, however, has information that conflicts with [Iraq's] account

"Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons and that the quality was poor and the product unstable.

"Consequently, it was said, that the agent was never weaponised.

"Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

"Unmovic, however, has information that conflicts with this account.

"There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilisation and that more had been achieved than has been declared.

"Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.

"There are also indications that the agent was weaponised.

"In addition, there are questions to be answered concerning the fate of the VX precursor chemicals, which Iraq states were lost during bombing in the Gulf War or were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

Missing bombs

"I would now like to turn to the so-called 'Air Force document' that I have discussed with the Council before.

Iraqi chemical bombs
Thousands of chemical bombs are unaccounted for

"This document was originally found by an Unscom inspector in a safe in Iraqi Air Force Headquarters in 1998 and taken from her by Iraqi minders.

"It gives an account of the expenditure of bombs, including chemical bombs, by Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War.

"I am encouraged by the fact that Iraq has now provided this document to Unmovic.

"The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period.

"Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs.

"The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons.

"In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

Tip of the iceberg

"The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 kilometres (106 miles) south-west of Baghdad was much publicised.

"This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions.

"The investigation of these rockets is still proceeding.

"Iraq states that they were overlooked from 1991 from a batch of some 2,000 that were stored there during the Gulf War.

"This could be the case. They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg.

"The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for...

Anthrax fears

"I have mentioned the issue of anthrax to the Council on previous occasions and I come back to it as it is an important one.

Destruction of suspected Iraq biological agents
Iraq might still possess biological agents

"Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 litres of this biological warfare agent, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

"Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction.

"There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared, and that at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date.

"It might still exist. Either it should be found and be destroyed under Unmovic supervision or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was, indeed, destroyed in 1991.

'Deliberate' omission

"As I reported to the Council on 19 December last year, Iraq did not declare a significant quantity, some 650 kilogrammes [1430 lb], of bacterial growth media, which was acknowledged as imported in Iraq's submission to the Amorim panel in February, 1999.

"As part of its 7 December 2002 declaration, Iraq resubmitted the Amorim panel document, but the table showing this particular import of media was not included.

"The absence of this table would appear to be deliberate as the pages of the resubmitted document were renumbered.

"In the letter of 24 January to the President of the Council, Iraq's foreign minister stated that 'all imported quantities of growth media were declared'.

"This is not evidence. I note that the quantity of media involved would suffice to produce, for example, about 5,000 litres of concentrated anthrax.

Missile production

"I turn now to the missile sector. There remain significant questions as to whether Iraq retained Scud-type missiles after the Gulf War.

These missiles might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems

"Iraq declared the consumption of a number of Scud missiles as targets in the development of an anti-ballistic missile defence system during the 1980s.

"Yet no technical information has been produced about that programme or data on the consumption of the missiles.

"There has been a range of developments in the missile field during the past four years presented by Iraq as non-proscribed activities.

"We are trying to gather a clear understanding of them through inspections and on-site discussions.

"Two projects in particular stand out. They are the development of a liquid-fuelled missile named the Al Samoud 2, and a solid propellant missile, called the Al Fatah.

"Both missiles have been tested to a range in excess of the permitted range of 150 km, with the Al Samoud 2 being tested to a maximum of 183 km and the Al Fatah to 161 km.

"Some of both types of missiles have already been provided to the Iraqi Armed Forces even though it is stated that they are still undergoing development.

Iraqi Scud missiles
Questions remain about Iraq's missile programme

"The Al Samoud's diameter was increased from an earlier version to the present 760 mm.

"This modification was made despite a 1994 letter from the Executive Chairman of Unscom directing Iraq to limit its missile diameters to less than 600 mm.

"Furthermore, a November 1997 letter from the Executive Chairman of Unscom to Iraq prohibited the use of engines from certain surface-to-air missiles for the use in ballistic missiles.

"During my recent meeting in Baghdad, we were briefed on these two programmes.

"We were told that the final range for both systems would be less than the permitted maximum range of 150 km.

"These missiles might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems.

"The test ranges in excess of 150 km are significant, but some further technical considerations need to be made, before we reach a conclusion on this issue.

"In the meantime, we have asked Iraq to cease flight tests of both missiles.

"In addition, Iraq has refurbished its missile production infrastructure.

"In particular, Iraq reconstituted a number of casting chambers, which had previously been destroyed under Unscom supervision.

"They had been used in the production of solid-fuel missiles.

"Whatever missile system these chambers are intended for, they could produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 km.

Illegal imports

"Also associated with these missiles and related developments is the import, which has been taking place during the last few years, of a number of items despite the sanctions, including as late as December 2002.

"Foremost amongst these is the import of 380 rocket engines which may be used for the Al Samoud 2.

"Iraq also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and, guidance and control systems.

"These items may well be for proscribed purposes. That is yet to be determined.

"What is clear is that they were illegally brought into Iraq, that is, Iraq or some company in Iraq, circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions...

'Full transparency'

"Our Iraqi counterparts are fond of saying that there are no proscribed items and if no evidence is presented to the contrary they should have the benefit of the doubt, be presumed innocent.

Declare what may be found and destroy it under our supervision

"Unmovic, for its part, is not presuming that there are proscribed items and activities in Iraq, but nor is it - or I think anyone else after the inspections between 1991 and 1998 - presuming the opposite, that no such items and activities exist in Iraq.

"Presumptions do not solve the problem. Evidence and full transparency may help...

"So far we have reported on the recent find of a small number of empty 122 mm warheads for chemical weapons.

"Iraq declared that it appointed a commission of inquiry to look for more. Fine.

"Why not extend the search to other items? Declare what may be found and destroy it under our supervision?

Interviews sought

"The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the laser enrichment of uranium support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals.

Iraqi scientist Faleh Hassan
Inspectors want to interview Iraqi scientists like Faleh Hassan

"This interpretation is refuted by the Iraqi side, which claims that research staff sometimes may bring home papers from their work places.

"On our side, we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes.

"Any further sign of the concealment of documents would be serious.

"The Iraqi side committed itself at our recent talks to encourage persons to accept access also to private sites.

"There can be no sanctuaries for proscribed items, activities or documents.

"A denial of prompt access to any site would be a very serious matter...

"In the past, much valuable information came from interviews [with Iraqi scientists].

"There were also cases in which the interviewee was clearly intimidated by the presence of and interruption by Iraqi officials.

"This was the background of resolution 1441's provision for a right for Unmovic and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to hold private interviews 'in the mode or location' of our choice, in Baghdad or even abroad.

"To date, 11 individuals were asked for interviews in Baghdad by us.

"The replies have invariably been that the individual will only speak at Iraq's monitoring directorate or, at any rate, in the presence of an Iraqi official.

"This could be due to a wish on the part of the invited to have evidence that they have not said anything that the authorities did not wish them to say.

"At our recent talks in Baghdad, the Iraqi side committed itself to encourage persons to accept interviews 'in private', that is to say alone with us.

"Despite this, the pattern has not changed.

"However, we hope that with further encouragement from the authorities, knowledgeable individuals will accept private interviews, in Baghdad or abroad."

  The BBC's James Robbins in New York
"Inspectors kept up their searches even as their boss catalogued dozens of unanswered questions"
  Dr Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector
"Access has been provided to all sites we wanted to inspect"
  John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN
"They are not co-operating unconditionally"

Key stories





See also:

27 Jan 03 | Americas
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
26 Jan 03 | Americas
26 Jan 03 | Americas
24 Jan 03 | Middle East
19 Nov 02 | Middle East
22 Jan 03 | Country profiles
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Americas
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
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