Notes for briefing the Security Council on UNMOVIC's
Readiness to Resume Operations


Dr. Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman

Tuesday 22 April 2003


Mr. President,

On 19 March, I introduced the draft UNMOVIC work programme to the Council, as required under Security Council resolution 1284 (1999). That was the day after all our inspectors and other international UN staff had been withdrawn from Iraq and our inspection work had been suspended. The Council naturally took no decision on the draft work programme.

The armed action in Iraq began on 19 March and we were relieved that all our international staff, together with UN staff could be airlifted to Larnaca in Cyprus the day before, and that the Iraqi authorities facilitated our departure.

The war has now covered the whole of Iraq, the Government of President Saddam Hussein has disappeared and the US and its allies report that they are in the process of stabilizing the situation on the ground, and of preparing for the emergence of civilian authorities.

It is evident that in a situation that is still insecure and where military considerations and measures dominate, civilian international inspection can hardly operate. It is also evident that some of the premises upon which the Council established UNMOVIC and gave it far-reaching powers vis-à-vis Iraq have changed.

We used to deal with governmental authorities, which were suspected of wanting to retain and hide weapons of mass destruction. Seeking truthful information through interviews with scientists, administrators or engineers was, for example, always somewhat problematic, as the persons might be influenced by an awareness of what the brutal regime wanted them to say.

We are now in a situation where the coalition authorities, which are extending their control over the country, are as eager as we are to identify any weapons of mass destruction or other proscribed items. The same, I trust, will be the case with any civilian authorities that emerge. Further, many persons who can give information about the past weapons programmes and the location of proscribed items or relevant documents are now more likely to tell what they know.

I find it entirely natural that the coalition authorities, which entered Iraq, established units devoted to the search for and identification of weapons of mass destruction and other proscribed items. In the phase of active hostilities, the finding and neutralizing of such items was evidently a matter of security. Furthermore, as a stated objective of the war has been the assured eradication of all weapons of mass destruction, the search for these weapons and control of them would appear to be a logical part of the operations. I have publicly said that I wished these units every success in finding the truth about the weapons, which, at UNMOVIC, we have concluded could exist and which several governments are convinced do exist. I have no doubt about the determination of these units to work objectively.

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.

I note further that, under several still valid resolutions, assessments and conclusions by UNMOVIC and the IAEA are needed as premises for Council decisions affecting the sanctions regime. Several resolutions also foresee long-term monitoring by these organizations.

What is now the role and potential role of UNMOVIC?

UNMOVIC is a subsidiary body of the Security Council and its mandate, tasks and rights are described in several resolutions adopted by the Council. Any or all of these can be abrogated or modified by the Council at any time, but so long as that has not happened they remain guiding - as far as is practically possible, I should add.
The basic resolution 687 (1991) foresees, in paragraph 22, that the sanctions (notably the prohibitions against the import of commodities and products originating in Iraq) shall have no further force or effect, when the Council reaches agreement that the required disarmament of Iraq is completed and the ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) programme is approved. This paragraph came to be understood to require reports from UNSCOM and the IAEA.

Resolution 1284 (1999) expressed, in paragraph 33, the intention of the Council to suspend sanctions, if and when UNMOVIC and the IAEA reported that Iraq had cooperated in all respects for 120 days after they had reported themselves fully operational. In assessing Iraq's cooperation, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC was to consider the progress made in the resolution of key remaining disarmament tasks. The suspension of sanctions was subject to "the elaboration of effective financial and other operational measures to ensure that Iraq does not acquire prohibited items."

Resolution 1441 (2002), lastly, decided, in operative paragraph 2, to set up "an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process…". UNMOVIC and the IAEA have reported to the Council on their efforts in this regard.

These and other resolutions were not written with the current situation in mind and they could not be applied to the letter. Accordingly, UNMOVIC and the IAEA need guidance from the Council on how to proceed.

If new guidance were to be given, some central points in the resolutions might be considered:

· UNMOVIC is a subsidiary body of the Council and both UNMOVIC and the IAEA receive their mandates from the Council and act independently of individual states. Their staff are obliged not to seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization (Article 100 of the UN Charter, Article VII (f) of the Statute of the IAEA).

· UNMOVIC and the IAEA are given unrestricted rights of access to sites and persons, and to move and communicate freely and safely in Iraq.

· Iraq has the duty to cooperate immediately, unconditionally and actively with both organizations.

· UNMOVIC and the IAEA are to report on the disarmament of Iraq and on cooperation and progress made to this end, and such reports are to serve as the basis for Council action relating to sanctions - either lifting or suspension coupled with effective financial and other operational measures to prevent the acquisition of prohibited items.

· Ongoing monitoring and verification is required to give long-term assurance that no revival occurs in any of the prohibited programmes.

· Disarmament actions in Iraq are seen as steps toward the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.


If these basic points were considered relevant for some new guidance, the inspecting authorities would need to remain independent of all individual governments and authorities to retain international credibility in their work for the Council. They would need to preserve their full rights to communication and to access to any Iraqi sites for inspection and to Iraqi persons for interviews. They would further need assistance and cooperation from any Iraqi authorities that are established and from the coalition authorities. They would notably need a new local counterpart to fulfil the role that was played by Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate.

The draft work programme, which was submitted by UNMOVIC, would need to be adapted. It might be assumed that the inspection units of the coalition could relatively soon present results from their extensive activities and that with the assistance and cooperation of these units their findings could be verified and corroborated within a limited period of time, using some of the methods set out in the draft work programme presented. The rules, which have been guiding in the past pursuant to UN resolutions, required that any destruction of proscribed items should take place under international supervision. This would seem still advisable for international credibility. Lastly, the long-term international monitoring programme envisaged by the resolutions may continue to be required to maintain a high-level of confidence in the region and the world that Iraq remain free of weapons of mass destruction.


Let me now turn to describe the practical matter of how UNMOVIC maintains a readiness to resume work in Iraq.

First, UNMOVIC is maintaining its Field Office in Larnaca, Cyprus fully operative. A number of pieces of sensitive equipment were brought to Larnaca from Baghdad, when UNMOVIC withdrew on 18 March and they have been stored together with some items intended for monitoring.

UNMOVIC has 85 inspectors from the roster still on contract until the middle of June. They are at present on leave of absence and can be recalled for inspection work at any time. After June, UNMOVIC would depend on the reactivation of these and other inspectors on the roster as was done in November 2002. Such reactivation would take about four weeks from the time a decision is taken to resume operations in Iraq. The roster has 315 names.

In New York, some staff may not extend their contracts in the current situation but so far most UNMOVIC personnel here have remained. They are completing the work arising from past inspections, both analysis and assessment of data. About 30 staff members here - mainly from our Operations and Analysis Divisions - would form the core of the first inspection teams if we were to resume work in Iraq. They would later be replaced by staff from the roster. Within two weeks, after a decision on resumption of work, they would be able to start the necessary activities.

UNMOVIC's examination of contracts related to the Goods Review List continues as before.

UNMOVIC's Baghdad Centre, which was left closed and sealed at our withdrawal, was fully supported with office equipment, satellite links and computers. According to the information we have received, looters entered all the floors of the Canal Hotel, where the UN offices are located. It seems they have looted much of our equipment and office material. The situation is less clear as regards the laboratories. A container in the yard, with chemical analysis facilities, seems to be intact.

The laboratories for screening chemical and biological samples could be reactivated within the same time frame. From the some 90 vehicles available for use by the inspectors, only 16 appear to remain for use after some repairs. Thirty-three local staff are currently under contract until the end of June.

Some security and support arrangements would need to be discussed with relevant authorities in Baghdad before any resumption of UNMOVIC activities.

Despite the losses, our Centre in Baghdad could probably go back into limited operations within two weeks after a return of staff. Thus, UNMOVIC would be ready to resume work in Iraq at the service of the Council.


Mr. President,

With your permission, I should like to make some short comments on recent media coverage of UNMOVIC, which might have puzzled Members of the Council. Despite our departure from Iraq, we seem still to be of great interest to the media and we respond only to a small part of all requests for interviews. We do feel as before that we have a duty as a UN authority to provide information on what we do and where we stand and to do so to media in various parts of the world.

In a few recent cases of interviews, which have been published first in other languages than English and then been translated into English there have been serious errors.

On several occasions, I have pointed to weaknesses in intelligence provided about Iraq's weapons programmes and this has been reported by the media. I have at the same time always stressed the need for intelligence and the difficulties which the various agencies face in their work. I hardly need to add that I have at no time suggested or even remotely implied that any government was linked to the fabrication of any evidence.

To take a second example, while I have at no time suggested that the war was a foregone conclusion, I have stated as my impression that US patience with further inspection seemed to run out at about the same time as our Iraqi counterparts began to be proactive in proposing new investigations, supplying more explanations and names. I did not imply that there was any causal link. Had I looked for one, I would have assumed that the accelerating Iraqi activity was prompted by the feeling that time was running out. Indeed, both Dr. ElBaradei and I said as much to our counterparts at meetings in Baghdad.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by telling the Council that in the absence of guidance to the contrary from the Council, it would be our intention to submit a next quarterly UNMOVIC report to the Council for the period 1 March to 1 June. Lastly, I should note that when in February I had my contract as Executive Chairman extended, I did not want it to run beyond the month of June and I have subsequently made it known that I do not wish to prolong it.