22 April 2003 In his first meeting with the Security Council since the war in Iraq, top United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix made the case today for the return of his inspections teams as a guarantor of independence and credibility in the search for suspected weapons of mass destruction.
“I underlined the need for, in the future, to make use of the respected independence of the international inspectors,” Mr. Blix, Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), told reporters after addressing the 15-member body at a closed session.
“They’re operating under the UN Charter Article 100, not taking any instructions from any individual governments and no government being allowed to give them instructions either, and this is the sort of added value that you have in international inspections,” he said. “This may be of great importance.”
Mr. Blix, who before the meeting said he was confident that the Council, sharply divided in the run-up to the war in Iraq, would want his teams to return, told reporters afterwards: “My overall impression is that the Council is sort of groping for some way in which the process of enquiries that are now being pursued on the ground can be converged with the process that we were pursuing on behalf of the Security Council.”
He added that discussions between Council members would continue in the next days and weeks. “They are the ones who decide, we are not the ones who decide. We are the servants of the Council and we can give them technical advice as to what is needed,” he added.
The Council decided to continue discuss the issue in its informal consultations, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, Council President for April said. Whatever the outcome, Mr. Blix said he was bowing out in June when his contract expired.
In the text he read to Council members, Mr. Blix noted the change in the situation since his teams were last in Iraq, before the military action by the United States and when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was still in power, and he said he had no doubt about the determination of US units seeking banned weapons of mass destruction to work objectively.
But he added: “All this being said, it remains that finding the long-sought truth about the suspected existence of weapons of mass destruction and other proscribed items in Iraq is an interest that is not limited to the governments that have pursued the war but is one which is shared by the whole international community. Indeed, the Security Council has devoted its attention and efforts to it for over a decade.”
He said that if UNMOVIC, which was entrusted with seeking evidence of banned biological, chemical and missile weaponry, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was searching for evidence of nuclear weapons, were sent back, the teams could start limited operations within two weeks after a return of staff.
Mr. Blix added that the inspectors would need the cooperation of any Iraqi authorities that are now established and of the coalition authorities, and he stressed again that they “would need to remain independent of all individual governments and authorities to retain international credibility in their work for the Council.”