UN Logo UNMOVIC Header

Acting Executive Chairman's Speaking Notes - Security Council, 29 June 2007

Mr. President,

1. I welcome this opportunity to brief the Council on our activities. The 29th quarterly report to the Council covering the period 1 March to 31 May is in document S/2007/314. This is the last quarterly report of UNMOVIC in view of the imminent decision by the Council to terminate the mandate of UNMOVIC and that of the IAEA under the relevant Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq.

2. In the present security environment of Iraq, the possibility should not be discounted that non-state actors may seek to acquire toxic agents or their chemical precursors in small quantities. One recent example is the reported use by insurgents in Iraq of toxic industrial chemicals, previously under UN monitoring, such as chlorine, combined with explosives for dispersal. The possibility of non-state actors getting their hands on other - more toxic - agents is real. In view of these events in Iraq and the interest generated by them, we have, in the Annex to our 29th quarterly report, further elaborated our study on the issue of small quantities in both the chemical and biological areas.

3. UNMOVIC’s activities over the last years have been detailed in its quarterly reports to the Council and the various technical annexes thereto. We have already provided the Council with a summary of our Compendium on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes which was issued as document S/2006/420 in June last year. The Council was informed in the past of our intention to place the full Compendium document on the UNMOVIC website (www.unmovic.org) after sensitive information has been eliminated. This, I am pleased to say, took place on 27 June. The material has been redacted on the basis of two principles known to the Council. The first is information related to technology, research and production that may assist in the development of WMD and means of delivery. The second principle concerns confidentiality of certain information which includes names of foreign companies, institutions and banks, names of countries and names of individuals. The same principles will apply for the classification of UNMOVIC’s archives. The publication of the Compendium provides a detailed and comprehensive UN account of the former Iraqi regime’s extensive WMD programmes. For the first time, it provides lessons learnt over many years of UN inspections and monitoring, which could be useful in any future multilateral verification undertaking.

4. With your encouragement, Mr. President, we have actively pursued our training programme for inspectors on our Roster. A multidisciplinary training course related to petrochemical technologies took place from 9 - 22 June in Doha, Qatar. It is noteworthy that this is the first training course to be conducted by UNMOVIC in the Middle East region. The course had been long planned and I am grateful to the Government of Qatar for the support provided.

5. This training course in Qatar was the last training course provided by UNMOVIC for its Roster of 380 experts. The other 38 courses from UNMOVIC’s inception have been possible due to the generosity and support of the Governments of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US. I take this opportunity to again thank those Governments that have been consistently supporting our training activities.

Mr. President,

6. Members will recall that on many occasions over the past years I have been asking that the Council find the opportunity to revisit UNMOVIC’s mandate, including the activities and the process that could eventually lead to the closing of the disarmament file for Iraq and of any other follow-up actions required. I have also drawn the attention of the Council in the past to the fact that unless the Council decides otherwise, it would be assumed by UNMOVIC that the relevant disarmament obligations on Iraq in section C of resolution 687 (1991) and the disarmament undertakings in the letter of 8 May 2003 from the UK and US Permanent Representatives to the President of the Council and noted by the Council in its resolution 1483 (2003), constitute the standards for determining the disarmament of Iraq.

7. During the period, Mr. President, 27 November 2002 to 17 March 2003 (when UN inspectors were withdrawn), UNMOVIC conducted 731 inspections, covering 411 sites, 88 of which had not been inspected before. The inspection findings were summarized in paragraphs 8, 9 and 19 of the 13th quarterly report to the Council (S/2003/580 of May 30, 2003). In paragraph 8, it was stated that "In the period during which it performed inspection and monitoring in Iraq, UNMOVIC did not find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programmes of WMD or significant quantities of proscribed items from before the adoption of resolution 687 (1991)"; and in paragraph 9 it was reported that "Inspections uncovered a small number of undeclared empty chemical warheads which appear to have been produced prior to 1990. Those and a few other proscribed items were destroyed". Such destruction activities also included two thirds of the Al Samoud II missiles which exceeded the 150 km range limit set by the Council. Paragraph 19 of the same quarterly report clarifies that during the inspections "a thorough assessment was made of both dual-use capabilities and the amount of time that would be needed to reconfigure specific installations to perform proscribed activities". But neither the inspections nor the declarations and documents submitted by Iraq to UNMOVIC have resulted in eliminating the existing unresolved disarmament issues. A list of key remaining disarmament tasks selected from unresolved disarmament issues was presented to the Council on 19 March 2003.

8. In the light of changes in Iraq in the aftermath of the war in 2003, we have revisited the unresolved disarmament issues. We understood that resolution 1284 (1999) under which UNMOVIC was created in 1999, required us to update our assessment of what are the remaining disarmament issues regarding items, materials and capabilities with respect to Iraq. I outlined to the College of Commissioners at its last meeting in May our present assessment of these outstanding issues.

Mr. President,

9. The list of unresolved disarmament issues had been established on the basis of various sources such as the UNSCOM report of 1999 (S/1999/94) and the Amorim report (S/1999/356) on the matter, as well as UNSCOM inspection reports and findings since 1991. During that early period of inspections, the UN inspectors uncovered key elements of the proscribed programmes including that of undeclared biological warfare agents production and weaponization that had been concealed by Iraq until 1995. The inspectors also uncovered advanced capabilities in chemical weapons development including the nerve agent VX, as well as indigenous developments on long- range missiles; furthermore, the inspectors supervised the destruction of large quantities of proscribed items, material, munitions, missiles and equipment. In addition to these findings, various declarations and documents of Iraq, including those from the Haidar (or Chicken) Farm were consulted. The latter revealed that Iraq had deliberately concealed significant parts of its proscribed programmes, in particular in the chemical area, thus triggering considerable doubt about the sincerity of its intention to disarm. This led to UNSCOM’s and then UNMOVIC’s increased and sustained attention to any disarmament issue that remained unresolved.

10. When assessing whether a disarmament issue is still relevant, it has been necessary to consider if any information made available since the draft UNMOVIC work plan was submitted to the Security Council in March 2003, could contribute to its solution. Such information includes any finding of an unaccounted-for item or evidence of its destruction, such as in testimony or documents, as well as assessments from the analysis of the latest pre-war Iraqi declarations and explanations, results of satellite imagery analysis and open source information, such as the US-led Iraq Survey Group (ISG) Comprehensive report (2004) and its addendum (2005). It should be noted that UNMOVIC did not have access to any of the supporting documentation, interview testimony or details of site inspections carried out by the ISG. The main finding in the ISG Comprehensive Report namely the absence of any stockpiles of WMD or evidence of a revival of WMD-related programmes proscribed under the Security Council resolutions corresponds to UNMOVIC’s conclusions reported to the Council in June 2003 with our 13th quarterly report, in light of our own verification experience in Iraq.

11. The outstanding disarmament issues that we believe are of certain concern, are of a technical nature and I am therefore not detailing them here. They cover all the weapons disciplines i.e. chemical, biological, missiles and other means of delivery. While assessing the current relevance of a disarmament issue, UNMOVIC also considered whether it still represents a threat e.g. what would be the current potential viability of a chemical or biological agent or the usability of a missile. A number of these issues e.g., the 25 known Al Samoud II missiles that had not been destroyed by the middle of March 2003 and 326 SA2 missile engines that are unaccounted for, have been reported by me to the Council during my presentation of various UNMOVIC quarterly reports. When reviewing the unresolved issues to determine whether they were still relevant, UNMOVIC has also identified capabilities that may still remain in Iraq. Capabilities include scientists and technicians involved in proscribed programmes where they gained experience, and know-how. They also include a large number of dual-use equipment, more than 7,900 items that we knew were in certain sites in Iraq as of March 2003, but of whose present whereabouts we have no knowledge, except for the few found outside Iraq.

12. The ISG report states that Iraq’s chemical industry had the capability to restore chemical weapons production as a result of improvements in the chemical infrastructure, achieved during the latter half of the 1990s. It further states that large and important projects for the indigenous production of chemicals were initiated to improve Iraq’s self-sufficiency in their availability. At the same time, it recognizes that Iraq’s industry was still struggling with serious shortages in many areas. UNMOVIC had arrived at similar conclusions regarding the production capability of Iraq’s chemical industry, after it had inspected all key facilities potentially capable of involvement in a chemical weapons programme, and determined that a number of them could be adapted for such a purpose, after reconfiguration of the equipment.

13. Know-how, at least part of it, necessary to develop proscribed activities, lies in the memory of each of those who already participated in these activities. It also may be available in documents or records describing fabrication processes, sometimes referred to as "cook books", including blueprints and tests results. UNMOVIC cannot provide assurances that all such documents and blueprints are in its possession or have been destroyed, and that none remain in the hands of Iraqi individuals. The use of this know-how and of relevant capabilities was expected to be monitored by the UN under the monitoring mechanism created by the Council as long as the Council has been reaffirming the disarmament obligations for Iraq under its relevant resolutions, and not through self-monitoring by Iraq’s national institutions.

14. It should also be noted that a number of UNMOVIC’s present concerns about unresolved issues actually follow from the ISG’s findings. As an example, the report of the Iraq Survey Group provided information related to the disposal by Iraqi personnel, at the time, of bulk quantities of liquid anthrax in an area in Baghdad in 1991, but it was not clarified whether these quantities of agent were deactivated before being dumped into the ground. This could represent a reservoir from which this strain of anthrax could be isolated and cultured in the future. Another example, relates to the status as of 2004 of the Muthanna facility, which was the main chemical weapons production site in Iraq. It was stated that all structures and bunkers at the site that had been sealed under observation of the UN inspectors in 1994, had been breached and some equipment and materials were removed. The ISG reported that chemical munitions were still stored in the bunkers and that the bunkers tested positive for the presence of chemical weapon agents. UNMOVIC therefore no longer knows the current status of the items and materials which were contained in the bunkers at the time a Hand-over Protocol was signed in 1994 between UNSCOM and Iraq, which required steps by the Government of Iraq to ensure the integrity of the buildings containing potentially lethal toxic agents.

Mr. President,

15. It is widely accepted that there can be no complete certainty that disarmament is fully achieved in a country. On a number of occasions I personally, and Dr. Blix before me, referred to the unavoidable "residue of uncertainty" that will remain in this regard. A number of the still open issues in the chemical, biological and missile areas could have been clarified with some additional activities like sampling, interviews, check of documents in the possession of the ISG or even information from the coalition authorities. Some issues would not have been resolved even with these measures. However, the Council foresaw in 1991 that disarmament would need to be followed by an undetermined period of on-going UN monitoring which would minimize any continuing uncertainty regarding the closing of the disarmament file. Under the present circumstances the remaining outstanding issues cannot be resolved and therefore contribute to the residue of uncertainty. If Iraq had already acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and was under the OPCW inspection regime, the uncertainty with regard to its chemical weapons programmes would be reduced. This is important given that any industrial developments in Iraq would see substantial increases in the size and extent of the chemical industry in the future. As I reported to you, it is nearly a year since we provided extensive information intended to assist Iraq to submit to OPCW an initial inventory of its chemical warfare programmes as required by the CWC. It is of course up to the Council, exercising its judgment, whether it will accept the residue of uncertainty when taking a decision to close the Iraq WMD disarmament file.

Mr. President,

16. This is my last briefing of the Security Council as Acting Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC. It coincides with my last working day in the organization. I had the opportunity 16 years ago, in April 1991, as an IAEA official, to be present in the Council chamber when the Council approved Resolution 687 which is considered as the mother of all resolutions related to WMD in Iraq. It created the mandate for UNSCOM, the predecessor of UNMOVIC and for the IAEA relating to Iraq. The resolution to be adopted today by the Council terminating this mandate closes a cycle of many years of verification, where the UN showed that it can implement successfully the activities demanded by the international community despite difficulties and frequently a lack of cooperation from the inspected party. This resolution also brings to mind paragraph 14 of resolution 687 that the fulfillment of the Iraqi obligations under the resolutions "represent steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons." I sincerely hope that this goal will not be overlooked but will be realized in the not too distant future. It also raises another question, namely, the future of the obligations that were imposed on Iraq by various Council resolutions and which are still valid. Of particular interest for the future, not only for Iraq but also for Exporting States, is resolution 1051 (1996) and the Export/Import mechanism it established to monitor trade of dual-use items, equipment and material.

Mr. President,

17. I have had the opportunity to thank UNMOVIC’s College of Commissioners for the support and advice they provided to me. I would also like to thank the members of the Council secretariat for their full cooperation since the creation of UNMOVIC, the Chairmen of UNSCOM, Ambassadors Ekeus and Butler, and especially Dr. Hans Blix for the professional and independent manner in which he guided UNMOVIC during a very critical operational period. I also take this opportunity to thank successive members of the Council for the guidance and support they offered me and UNMOVIC and especially for the patience which they have shown listening to my statements every three months since September 2003.

18. I want to conclude my statement by expressing my thanks and gratitude to the inspectors and the support staff of UNMOVIC and its predecessor UNSCOM and that of the IAEA involved in Iraq, for their dedicated work, diligence, courage and devotion to their mission serving the UN and the Security Council and for using their knowledge, experience and expertise in unraveling a very complicated picture related to Iraq’s WMD programmes. They made Iraq a success story in international verification by their professionalism and I hope that this expertise will not be dispersed and lost for the UN in the future.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Back to the Top