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UN weapons inspections teams ready to work in Iraq if Baghdad cooperates

UN weapons inspections teams ready to work in Iraq if Baghdad cooperates

The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) - which is mandated to carry out weapons inspection work in Iraq - is ready to work in the country if Baghdad provides the green light, according to a new report released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

The report of UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix says the Commission "has reached a level of preparedness which would allow it to implement the mandate given to it in an independent, effective and non-provocative manner."

"The cooperation of Iraq with UNMOVIC, as demanded by the Security Council, would create the opportunity for it to build confidence, which no unilateral statements can provide, that it is fully complying with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and thus opening the prospect of the lifting of sanctions," the report states.

UNMOVIC has been working on several fronts while awaiting access to perform its mission in Iraq, according to the report. These include identifying unresolved disarmament issues and making increased use of new sources of information on relevant developments.

The Commission continues to organize training for prospective staff, and now has 178 persons on its roster who "should be available for work in Iraq, in addition to those already serving with UNMOVIC." In addition, work has continued on improving UNMOVIC's database and archives.

Created by the Security Council in December 1999 to replace the former UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), UNMOVIC has yet to receive clearance to work in Iraq. Baghdad maintains that it has fulfilled all requirements under the Council's "ceasefire" resolution - resolution 687 adopted in 1991 - concerning weapons of mass destruction, so there is no ground for inspection.