Blix hopeful on Iraqi cooperation

February 15, 2003

The following is an excerpt of chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's remarks to the United Nations Security Council.

In my Jan. 27 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 [the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] 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. ...

How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed.

Another matter, and one of great significance, is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. To take an example, a document, which Iraq provided, suggested to us that some 1,000 tons of chemical agent were "unaccounted for."

One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programs continue to exist. The U.S. secretary of state presented material in support of this conclusion.

Governments have many sources of information that are not available to inspectors. Inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on evidence, which they can themselves examine and present publicly. Without evidence, confidence cannot arise. ...

The declaration submitted by Iraq on Dec. 7, despite its large volume, missed the opportunity to provide the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions. This is perhaps the most important problem we are facing. ...

I noted that the Al Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah [missiles] could very well represent prima facie cases of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to ranges exceeding the 150-kilometer limit set by the Security Council. ...

Earlier this week, UNMOVIC missile experts met for two days with experts from a number of member states to discuss these items. The experts concluded unanimously that, based on the data provided by Iraq, the two declared variants of the Al-Samoud 2 missile were capable of exceeding 150 kilometers in range.

This missile system is therefore proscribed for Iraq pursuant to Resolution 687 and the monitoring plan adopted by Resolution 715. ...

At the meeting in Baghdad on Feb. 8 and 9, the Iraqi side addressed some of the important outstanding disarmament issues and gave us a number of papers, for example regarding anthrax and growth material, the nerve agent VX and missile production. ...

The Iraqi side suggested that the problem of verifying the quantities of anthrax and two VX precursors, which had been declared unilaterally destroyed, might be tackled through certain technical and analytical methods.

Although our experts are still assessing the suggestions, they are not very hopeful that it could prove possible to assess the quantities of material poured into the ground years ago. Documentary evidence or testimony by staff that dealt with the items still appears to be needed. ...

As the absence of adequate evidence of that destruction has been and remains an important reason why quantities of chemicals have been deemed "unaccounted for," the presentation of a list of persons who can be interviewed about the actions appears useful and pertains to cooperation on substance.

I trust that the Iraqi side will put together a similar list of names of persons who participated in the unilateral destruction of other proscribed items, notably in the biological field. ...

The presentation of intelligence information by the U.S. secretary of state suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and removing evidence of proscribed weapons programs.

I would like to comment only on one case, which we are familiar with - namely, the trucks identified by analysts as being for chemical decontamination at a munitions depot. ...

The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection. ...

UNMOVIC is not infrequently asked how much more time it needs to complete its task in Iraq. The answer depends upon which task one has in mind: the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and related items and programs, which were prohibited in 1991 in the disarmament task; or the monitoring that no new proscribed activities occur.

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