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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Weapons Inspector
Hans Blix

Mr Bush emerged from his holiday talks and described himself again as a 'patient man.'

Not many Americans will believe he's so patient that, as he claims, he didn't mention Iraq at all when he met his advisors today. He was certainly questioned on the subject afterwards - where he confirmed that he wants 'regime change.'

Jeremy Vine talked to the UN Chief Weapons Inspector about whether he's worried about what the Americans are planning.

JEREMY VINE:
We are joined now from New York by Hans Blix, It does look not withstanding Mr Bush's words about being a patient man like we are heading towards war here and you simply have a walk-on role?

HANS BLIX:
(UN Chief Weapons Inspector)
We are following the instructions of the Security Council which is demanding that we should perform inspections and all members of the Security Council including the United States are behind that. Washington say there are no decisions about undertaking an invasion, so we continue to prepare ourselves for inspections.

JEREMY VINE:
Do you think you have been helped by this talk of regime change, there isn't much incentive for Saddam Hussein to let you in?

HANS BLIX:
If it is clear and determined and inevitable there will be an invasion, then I would understand there is not much point in having inspections before that. There are many things that could change the situation.

JEREMY VINE:
So you believe it would be unfortunate if America made it clear that they were going to invade?

HANS BLIX:
I do not want to comment on what the Americans do. I follow the instructions of the security council.

JEREMY VINE:
Colin Powell said it is not about inspections it is about disarmament what do you think he meant by that?

HANS BLIX:
There is the concern about the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the world. Iraq did use chemical weapons in violation of international law, and they did use missiles against civilians, and did have a programme of nuclear weapons, despite the fact that they had it here. So, against that background there is a room for concern. Unscom was there and so was the IEA, and they destroyed a great deal of weapons of mass destruction, and I think everybody is convince that the nuclear infrastructure was destroyed by 1998. What might have happened after is another matter, and we do not know that and if as Iraq says, there are no weapons of mass destruction it would be time for them to invite the inspectors and see inspection as an opportunity.

JEREMY VINE:
You talk about it as another matter. You could hazard a guess about what might be there to be discovered?

HANS BLIX:
We are not supposed to speculate. The inspectors have the advantage they can watch horizontally, whereas the satellites are vertically. Defectors, of course, are useful source of information but you have to examine it critically. They do not put the evidence on the table. Inspectors will have to put the evidence on the table. That¿s the difference.

JEREMY VINE:
Have they passed the information to you?

HANS BLIX:
Who?

JEREMY VINE:
Intelligence agencies from the US and Britain?

HANS BLIX:
Yes, but they also do not give us the sources of information so it is not easy to judge how valid it is. Intelligence to us will be the most useful in time of inspection when they point to particular places that we can inspect. In that case we can verify was there something or not.

JEREMY VINE:
Can you ever go in and get to a point and say definitively there is nothing there?

HANS BLIX:
No, we cannot get that far. You cannot systematically go into every square kilometre of a big country. You need information, and that of course you get from satellites. You also get it there the information given by the Iraqi Government itself. Declarations, are they consistent between themselves or do they point to something.

JEREMY VINE:
It is then possible, that anyone in the American administration can stand up and say they have weapons of mass destruction and even if you have been inspecting, you still can't say definitively they haven't?

HANS BLIX:
You can never get to be 100 percent certain. There might be underground facilities which you have not detected. But you can see quite a lot nevertheless. 100 percent, no. But you have to weigh that against the alternatives which are military action which also has its limitations.

JEREMY VINE:
Do you think it would be a bad idea?

HANS BLIX:
I think it would be a bad idea for me to talk about that, it is for others to consider. I am responsible for running effective inspections.

JEREMY VINE:
What do you think will be happening in the next few months? Can you hazard a guess as to whether you will get back in?

HANS BLIX:
We had a series of dialogues with the Iraqi representatives. At least they have moved from recording the inspectors as non-existing entity into one that they can sit down and talk to. They have suggesting that we should sit down and discuss what the open disarmament issues at the end of 1988, and the Security Council will want us to go to the council and tell us what we think are the disarmament issues today. It is for the council to decide which issues we are to explore and how. Not to have a discussion with the Iraqis and reach an agreement with them.

JEREMY VINE:
Mr Blix, Thank you very much indeed.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Hans Blix, UN Chief Weapons Inspector
"Washington say there are no decisions about undertaking an invasion"
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