Global Policy Forum

In Blix's Words


By Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC

New York Times
December 19, 2002

First part: situation report on inspection effort

Before I take up the major subject of my briefing, which relates to the Declaration submitted by Iraq under operative paragraph 3 of resolution 1441 (2002), I should like, with your permission, to report briefly on where the UNMOVIC inspection effort stands today, 41 days after the adoption of the resolution on 8 November.

As you will recall, inspections resumed on 27 November.

Since then the number of UNMOVIC inspectors in Baghdad has increased from 11 to over 90. In addition there are some 55 support staff.

Since the adoption of the resolution on 8 November, we have signed over 145 employment contracts, most of them for staff in Baghdad but some to strengthen our capacity here in New York.

During the autumn, we have signed contracts for equipment and services amounting to some 32.3 million dollars, assuming that the services run for a year. Out of this, the largest part of 22.3 million will be for air operations.

Since the adoption of the resolution, we have initiated an air shuttle between Larnaca in Cyprus and Baghdad, with a field office in Larnaca and service facilities at Saddam International Airport in Baghdad.

We have recently deployed one helicopter to Baghdad and are expecting 7 more before the end of the year. All will be stationed at the Rasheed airbase, where the Iraqi authorities provide service facilities.


We have put the Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Centre (BOMVIC) into operation and the Iraqi authorities are cooperating with us in the establishment of a field office in Mosul.

The build-up could hardly have been faster. We have benefited from the extensive preparations which we made for deployment during the past years, the training of potential inspectors, the early identification of potential suppliers and the identification of sites to be inspected at the initial phase. We have also benefited from the excellent cooperation and assistance extended to us by many divisions of the UN Secretariat in New York and by the UN organizations in Baghdad, Cyprus and Brindisi. Here, in New York, we have been given more office space necessary for our functioning but difficult to obtain in the crowded buildings of the UN. For Baghdad, we plan to expand the premises as soon as possible. The Iraqi cooperation has been very helpful for our logistical and infrastructure build-up.

Second part: results so far of the inspection effort

Let me next report on some of our activities and experiences from the past three weeks:

We have inspected 44 sites declared by Iraq or inspected by UNSCOM or the IAEA in the past, among them 3 in the Mosul area and 8 newly-declared locations.

We have inspected some sites, which were previously indicated by Iraq as sensitive or presidential. They were now inspected in the same manner as other sites.

Access to sites has been prompt and assistance on the sites expeditious. It seems probable that a general instruction has been issued not in any way to delay or impede inspection of the kind of sites we have gone to so far. This is welcome and it is to be hoped that such an instruction will extend to ass sites we may wish to inspect in the future, regardless of location, character and timing.


With respect to the results of our inspections, I should note that several sites, which have been the subject of public discussion, have been inspected and questions as to their use may have been answered.

We have identified the location of some artillery shells and containers with mustard gas. They were placed under UNSCOM supervision in 1998. They will now be sampled, and eventually destroyed.

Criticism has been voiced by the Iraqi side regarding some inspections:

The inspection of a presidential site took place without problems - after a minor delay in access. However, it was subsequently stated from the Iraqi side that the inspection was unjustified and that the inspectors could not have looked for weapons of mass destruction, as they did not wear protective gear. Clearly, we do not need to justify any of our selections of sites and one does not need protective gear to look for documents or computer files.

Some sites were inspected last Friday - the Muslim day of rest. In one of them, the Iraqi staff were absent and a number of doors inside locked, with no keys available. The Iraqi side offered to break the doors open - while videotaping the event. However, they agreed with a suggestion that the doors in question could be sealed overnight and the offices inspected the next morning. Clearly, we have the right to undertake inspections at any time, night or day, whether on weekdays or religious holidays. We intend to exercise this right - not to harass - but to demonstrate that just as there are no sanctuaries in space there are no sanctuaries in time.

Let me report, lastly, two formal requests that we have directed to Iraq in conformity with the resolutions of the Security Council.

Under subparagraph 4 of paragraph 7 of resolution 1441 (2002), UNMOVIC has asked Iraq to provide the names of all personnel currently or formerly associated with some aspect of Iraq's programme of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. During my talks in Baghdad last month,


I indicated that this request would be made and in the Declaration just submitted we find that, in several chapters, the Iraqi side has refrained from submitting names explicitly on the ground that they expected the request to come.

We have asked that he names be submitted to us before the end of the year and suggested that Iraq may proceed in pyramid fashion, starting from the leadership in programmes, going down to management, scientists, engineers and technicians but excluding the basic layer of workers.

The list of names may have several uses. It could, for instance, be of use to learn where those who earlier worked on the biological weapons programme, are now. Some persons on the list could be called for interviews. We certainly consider interviews in Iraq a potentially important source of information - as it has been in the past.

Taking persons to be interviewed and family members out of Iraq is authorized under paragraph 5 of resolution 1441 (2002) and is an option. Although Iraq would be obliged to cooperate, the practical arrangements would have to be carefully examined. Clearly, we could not take anybody out of Iraq without his or her consent.

The second formal request concerns legislation implementing Security Council resolutions. I have reminded the Iraqi side several times in the past year that it should be easy for it to enact such legislation, notably laws prohibiting legal and physical persons to engage in any way in the development, production or storing of weapons of mass destruction or missiles of proscribed range. Model legislation was, in fact, transmitted to Iraq by UNSCOM and the IAEA long ago.

Third part: a preliminary assessment of Iraq's declaration of 7 December

I shall now turn to discuss those parts of Iraq's Declaration of 7 December, which concern biological and chemical weapons and long-range missiles. I hope that my comments may be of some assistance especially to those Members of the Council who have only had the working version one day and who are about to begin their analytical work.


Although UNMOVIC has had access to this text a whole week before the working version was made available, our analysts have been fully occupied preparing the working version and my comments must necessarily be provisional. I trust there will be a further occasion for discussion, when all have had more time for study and analysis.

The first point to be made is that Iraq continues to state in the Declaration, as it has consistently done before its submission, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when inspectors left at the end of 1998 and that none have been designed, procured, produced or stored in the period since then.

While individual governments have stated that they have convincing evidence to the contrary, UNMOVIC at this point is neither in a position to confirm Iraq's statements, nor in possession of evidence to disprove it.

The purpose of the Security Council resolutions requiring Iraq to declare all WMD programmes and creating an extensive and intensive inspection system is to attain, through peaceful means, confidence that Iraq is rid of or ridding itself of all such programmes and proscribed items - verified disarmament.

A declaration cannot, if it stands alone, create confidence. The listing of sites or of persons, the reporting of production, importation, destruction and consumption figures and the opening of doors, giving access to inspections, is not enough to create confidence that no weapons programmes and proscribed items remain. The statements need to be supported by documentation or other evidence. Only so do they become verifiable.

During the period 1991-1998, Iraq submitted many declarations called, full, final and complete. Regrettably, much of these declarations proved inaccurate or incomplete or was unsupported or contradicted by evidence. In such cases, no confidence can arise that proscribed programmes or items have been eliminated.

Such was the situation at the end of 1998, when inspectors left Iraq. The many question marks are documented in a report to the Council early in 1999 (S/1999/94) and in the so-called Amorim Report (S/1999/356). To these question marks, nearly four years without any inspection activity have been added.


In resolution 1441 (2002), Iraq was given an opportunity to provide a fresh declaration and to make it verifiable to the inspecting authorities by submitting supporting evidence. It remains to analyse in detail how much is clarified by the new declaration and supporting material. When we have performed a more thorough analysis, we may ask Iraq for supplementary information and clarifications.

The overall impression is that not much new significant information has been provided in the part of Iraq's Declaration, which relates to proscribed weapons programmes, nor has much new supporting documentation or other evidence been submitted. New material has, on the other hand, been provided concerning non-weapons related activities during the period from the end of 1998 to the present time.

It would appear that the part that covers biological weapons is essentially a reorganized version of a previous declaration provided by Iraq to UNSCOM in September 1997. In the chemical weapons area, the basis of the current Declaration is a declaration submitted by Iraq in 1996 with subsequent updates and explanations. In the missile field, the Declaration follows the same format, and seems to have largely the same content as Iraq's 1996 missile declaration and updates.

Although it must be noted that much of what Iraq has provided in the weapons part of its Declaration is not new, there are some sections of new material. In the chemical weapons field, Iraq has further explained its account of the material balance of precursors for chemical warfare agents. Although it does not resolve outstanding issues on this subject, it may help to achieve a better understanding of the fate of the precursors.

In the missile area, there is a god deal of information regarding Iraq's activities in the past few years. As declared by Iraq, these are permitted activities, which will be monitored by UNMOVIC to ensure that they comply with the relevant Council resolutions. A series of new projects have been declared that are at various stages of development. They include a design for a new liquid oxygen/ethanol propellant engine and replacement of guidance systems for several surface-to-air missiles. These projects will need to be investigated and evaluated by UNMOVIC.


Iraq has also provided information on a short-range rocket that is manufactured using 81 mm aluminium tubes. Although this is not a new disclosure, the information may be relevant to well-publicized reports concerning the importation of aluminium tubes. At this stage, UNMOVIC has drawn no conclusions concerning the tubes, and further investigation of this will be conducted.

While I am on the subject of new information, I would like to mention a document recently provided by Iraq. This is the so-called Air Force document, which was once in the hands of an UNSCOM inspector and which relates to the consumption of chemical munitions in the Iraq/Iran War. Potentially, it could assist in resolving some questions relating to the material balance of chemical weapons. We are now closely examining this document to establish the scope of the information and to evaluate it in the light of information in our archives. It is too early to say whether it will support the information in Iraq's Declaration.

I now turn to some inconsistencies and issues that will need clarification. In the biological area, Iraq previously provided, in it submission to the Amorim panel in February 1999, a table concerning the additional import of bacterial growth media. Growth media was used by Iraq in the production of anthrax and other biological warfare agents. This table has been omitted from the current Declaration and the reasons for the omission need to be explained.

In the civilian chemical area, Iraq has declared that it has repaired and installed equipment that had previously been destroyed under UNSCOM supervision, under Council resolution 687 (1991). The equipment is now at a civilian chemical plant and used for the production of chlorine and other chemicals. An UNMOVIC team has recently inspected both the plant and the equipment. Consideration will now need to be given to the fate of this equipment, as well as other equipment, which was presumed destroyed.

In the missile area, Iraq has declared the development of a missile known as the Al Samoud, which uses components from an imported surface-to-air missile. A variant of the Al Samoud, with a larger diameter (760 mm) than the standard version (500 mm) has been declared. Because of the potential of such a missile, UNSCOM had informed Iraq that such a development should not proceed until technical discussions had resolved the question of capability. In the latest update of the semi-annual monitoring declarations, Iraq has declared that in 13 flight tests of the Al Samoud the missile has exceeded the permitted range. The greatest range achieved was 183 kilometres.


The use of components from the imported surface-to-air missile, which I have just mentioned, was also the subject of the letters of March 1994 and November 1997 in which the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM stated that the activity was not permitted. Iraq disputed the UNSCOM view that the activity was in violation of its obligations. From its current Declaration, it appears that Iraq has, in fact, proceeded with the conversion in recent years. The whole issue will now need to be considered.

I have covered new information in Iraq's Declaration, some inconsistencies, and issues that need to be considered or clarified through investigation or technical discussions.

As there is little new substantive information in the weapons part of Iraq's Declaration, or new supporting documentation, the issues that were identified as unanswered in the Amorim report (S/1999/356) and in UNSCOM's report S/1999/94 remain unresolved. In most cases, the issues are outstanding not because there is information that contradicts Iraq's account, but simply because there is a lack of supporting evidence. Such supporting evidence, in the form of documentation, testimony by individuals who took part, or physical evidence, for example, destroyed warheads, is required to give confidence that Iraq's Declaration is indeed accurate, full and complete.

The issues that have previously been identified include the unilateral destruction of indigenously produced "training" missile engines, the accounting for 50 conventional warheads declared to be unilaterally destroyed but not recovered, 550 mustard gas shells declared lost after the Gulf War, declarations concerning the production and weaponization of the nerve gas VX, the declared unilateral destruction of biological warfare agents and Iraq's declaration concerning the material balance of bacterial growth media.

While in most cases issues are outstanding because there is a lack of supporting evidence, in a few cases, there is information in our possession that would appear to contradict Iraq's account. At this point, I will only mention that there are indications suggesting that Iraq's account of its production and unilateral destruction of anthrax during the period between 1988 and 1991, may not be accurate. On this matter, we shall certainly ask Iraq to provide explanations and further evidence.


Fourth part: Outlook

What role will the inspection system play if Iraq fails to provide evidence supporting its statements that there remain no weapons of mass destruction and that nothing was produced or developed or stored during the period from the end of 1998 until now?

Inspections of sites have, as one important objective, the verification of industrial, military, research and other current activities with a view to assuring that no proscribed programmes or activities are regenerated at any site in Iraq. This side of the inspection system can be characterized as a form of containment. Through the other side of the system of reinforced monitoring, there is a continuation of investigations to complete the requirement of disarmament, as laid down in resolution 687 (1991) and many subsequent resolutions.

The sites to be inspected in the future are not only those which have been declared by Iraq or inspected in the past, but also any new sites which may become known through procurement information, interviews, defectors, open sources, intelligence or overhead imagery. New techniques and increasing resources are available for this effort.

The use of multiple teams - in all disciplines - operating in parallel all over Iraq has been the basis for planning our inspections. To decrease the possibility of prediction, no systematic patterns are being followed. Advanced technology will play its role once procurement is finalized. Not only monitoring equipment, such as cameras and sensors, will be used but also surveillance over-flights from various platforms, including fixed-wing aircraft, drones and helicopters.

Inspection activities at sites seek to establish the operational objectives of sites. They comprise searches for proscribed material and equipment, as well as documents and computers. Sampling may also provide important information related to any undeclared activities at sites. Arrangements are in place for the procurement of chemical and biological analytical facilities to be installed at our Baghdad Centre. None of these tools and inspection activities will guarantee that all possibly concealed items and activities will be found, but based on the extensive authority given in resolution 1441 (2002) and backed by a united Security Council, they will make any attempted concealment more difficult.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.