NOTES FOR BRIEFING THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Dr. Hans Blix, Executive Chairman, UNMOVIC
9 January 2003
I appreciate the opportunity to brief the Council informally on the issue of inspections in Iraq and our work in New York.
As I understand it, today’s meeting is intended to allow Members, who have now had the opportunity to examine Iraq’s Declaration, to comment upon it. On behalf of UNMOVIC, I shall make some further comments on the Declaration, on the inspections in Iraq and on the build-up, which is taking place.
As I see it, my briefing today and the “updating” due on 27 January are part of a more frequent reporting that is needed after the adoption of resolution 1441 (2002) and the resumption of inspections. UNMOVIC’s next quarterly report to the Council is not due until 1 March but new “updates” can obviously be given whenever the Council wishes. Should some inspection event call for an immediate report to the Council, I would, of course, ask permission to present it, as allowed for in paragraph 11 of resolution 1441 (2002).
I now turn to the role and results of our current inspections. Evidently if we had found any ‘smoking gun’ we would have reported it to the Council. Similarly, if we had met a denial of access or other impediment to our inspections we would have reported it to the Council. We have not submitted any such reports.
In their very active media exposure, Iraqi officials have sought to construe the prompt access, which has been given to inspection teams and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction or other proscribed items have been found, as confirmation of their assertion that there are no weapons of mass destruction or other proscribed items in Iraq. The matter is not, of course, that simple.
The absence of ‘smoking guns’ and the prompt access which we have had so far and which is most welcome, is no guarantee that prohibited stocks or activities could not exist at other sites, whether above ground, underground or in mobile units.
On the other hand, the absence of dramatic finds is no indication that the inspections have been futile. After four years without international inspections a steadily increasing number of industrial, administrative, military, scientific and research sites are again being opened for inspections under the authority of the Security Council. The transparency is increasing – but does not exclude dark corners or caves.
The awareness in Iraq that industrial facilities, military installations, public or private offices and dwellings, may be the subject of no-notice inspection is further likely to deter possible efforts to hide items or activities or, at the very least, to make such action much more difficult. This is no small gain. Saying this is in no way to ignore the special value of inspections directed to sites, which have been indicated by fresh and reliable intelligence.
Let me conclude: the prompt access/open doors policy that has been pursued so far by Iraq vis-à-vis the inspectors is an indispensable element of transparency in a process that aims at securing disarmament by peaceful means. However, prompt access is by no means sufficient to give confidence that nothing is hidden in a large country with an earlier record of avoiding disclosures. Iraq is very familiar with the fact that only declarations supported by evidence, will give confidence about the elimination of weapons. In this respect we have not so far made progress.
As I mentioned on 19 December, the UNSCOM document S/1999/94 and the Amorim Report (S/1999/356) list a number of issues on which doubts exist as to whether all proscribed items or activities had been eliminated. UNMOVIC is not bound by every conclusion in these reports, but they are, in our view, professionally written. They give Iraq a clear idea of questions, which need to be answered and of doubts, which must be dispelled by very active efforts. These doubts will not disappear by the resubmission of old documents or by conversations between teams of experts.
The overall impression, which I reported to the Council on 19 December and which remains after some weeks of examination of the Declaration, is that it is rich in volume but poor in new information about weapons issues and practically devoid of new evidence on such issues. It appears that the vast majority of the supporting documents are the same as those provided in previous “Full, Final and Complete Declarations” or obtained by UNSCOM through the inspection process. Those documents that are new do not seem to contribute to the resolution of outstanding questions.
The Declaration repeats the assertion that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that there is no more evidence to present. However, in order to create confidence that it has no more weapons of mass destruction or proscribed activities relating to such weapons, Iraq must present credible evidence. It cannot just maintain that it must be deemed to be without proscribed items so long as there is no evidence to the contrary. A person accused of the illegal possession of weapons may, indeed, be acquitted for lack of evidence, but if a state, which has used such weapons, is to create confidence that it has no longer any prohibited weapons, it will need to present solid evidence or present remaining items for elimination under supervision. Evidence can be of the most varied kind: budgets, letters of credit, production records, destruction records, transportation notes, or interviews by knowledgeable persons, who are not subjected to intimidation.
I have not asserted on behalf of UNMOVIC that proscribed items or activities exist in Iraq, but if they do, Iraq should present them and then eliminate them in our presence. There is still time for it.
If evidence is not presented, which gives a high degree of assurance, there is no way the inspectors can close a file by simply invoking a precept that Iraq cannot prove the negative. In such cases, regrettably, they must conclude, as they have done in the past, that the absence of the particular item is not assured.
On 19 December, I made a number of preliminary observations on various points covered in the Declaration, e.g. on the production and destruction of anthrax, on evidence about the import of bacterial growth media, and on the
81 mm aluminium tubes. I shall not revert to these issues today, but I note that these questions still remain.
Comparisons between the Iraqi Declaration and earlier full, final and complete declarations have shown several cases of inconsistencies in terms of numbers declared.
The so-called Air Force document, which was provided separately from the Declaration, relates to the consumption of chemical munitions in the Iraq/Iran war. It was hoped that the submission of this document would help verify material balances regarding special munitions. After having analysed the document, we have concluded that it will in fact not contribute to resolving this issue. There remains therefore, a significant discrepancy concerning the numbers of special munitions.
I will also note that Iraq, in the Declaration, has declared the import of missile engines and raw material for the production of solid missile fuel. This import has taken place in violation of the relevant resolutions regulating import and export to Iraq. Inspections have confirmed the presence of a relatively large number of missile engines, some imported as late as 2002. We have yet to determine the significance of these illegal imports relating to the specific WMD-mandate of UNMOVIC.
Another outstanding issue regards the chemical agent VX. We have found no additional information in the Declaration that would help to resolve this issue. Instead, it contains information that is contradicted by documents previously found by UNSCOM. Iraq will have to further clarify the matter.
Lists of Iraqi personnel engaged in proscribed programmes
As I reported to you on 19 December, UNMOVIC asked Iraq, on the basis of paragraph 7 of resolution 1441 (2002), to provide the names of all personnel currently or formerly associated with some aspects of Iraq’s programme of weapons of mass destruction.
A list was submitted to us before the end of last year as requested. It consisted of 117 persons for the chemical sector, 120 for the biological sector and 156 persons for the missile sector. This is an inadequate response. The lists do not even comprise all those who have been previously listed in Iraq’s Full, Final and Complete Declarations, besides the numerous Iraqi personnel that are known from UNSCOM interviews and found in Iraqi documents, to have participated in past weapons programmes.
We do not feel that the Iraqi side has made a serious effort to respond to the request we made. We shall, therefore, ask for supplementary information. If the persons who were listed as once engaged in a particular banned weapons programmes can be shown through further information by Iraq or, in some cases, through interviews, to have moved to non-proscribed areas of work, this could actually bring a measure of support to the assertion that the weapons programme had ceased. The efforts we make are thus very far from the spy operation, which some Iraqi comments have talked about. Rather they seek to verify that staff capable – shall we say – of dual-use, are in peaceful employment.
Expansion and consolidation of inspection activities in Iraq
Let me conclude with some information on the expansion and consolidation of our inspection activities in Iraq.
Inspections resumed on 27 November 2002 and since then, almost everyday, including Christmas and New Year, inspection teams have been out in the field.
There are presently about 100 UNMOVIC inspectors and 58 support staff in Iraq. In addition, there are 49 air crew for the fixed-wing and helicopter operations.
One hundred and fifty inspections of 127 sites have taken place up to 8 January 2003.
Conditions for the work of inspectors at BOMVIC and in the field have improved considerably since the initial period, including the availability of personal computers and transport vehicles. Eight helicopters are now in Baghdad and the first helicopter flight in support of inspections took place on 5 January. Helicopters are planned to be used routinely in inspection work, both in the fly and the so-called “no-fly zone”. UNMOVIC is also planning to commence high-altitude surveillance over Iraq in the near future, in accordance with the mandate given in the Security Council resolution.
A provisional regional office in Mosul has been established in a hotel since the beginning of January 2003. UN security guards are guarding the office premises in the hotel, and there is also a small number of support UNMOVIC personnel stationed there. A team of 19 inspectors has already started to use this regional office as a base for inspections of sites in the area. Plans are being made for the expansion of the regional offices to include Basra in February/March 2003.
With regard to the analytical capability in Iraq for the screening and analysis of samples, the situation has also improved. Chemical experts are now able to screen samples, both at BOMVIC and in the field using portable units, while a modular chemical laboratory, acquired commercially, is expected to arrive at
BOMVIC within the next three weeks. Within the next few weeks, the biological analytical capability will be enhanced. We have screened several chemical and biological samples in Baghdad, and in the near future, some samples will be sent for further analysis to outside laboratories.
Mr. President, Members may have questions for us on the Declaration and we shall try to answer them, but as we are dealing with subjects, which are often technical and complicated, it might be advisable to allow us some time before the answers are supplied. One way would be for us to take account of them when we draft the “update”, which is to be given to the Council on 27 January – shortly after the visit that Dr. ElBaradei and I are scheduled to make to Baghdad on 19 and 20 January.