Chief of UN weapons inspectors for Iraq briefs Security Council

Chief of UN weapons inspectors for Iraq briefs Security Council

The chief of the United Nations office mandated to oversee the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction today briefed the Security Council on the readiness of inspectors to begin their work in the country.

Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), introduced UNMOVIC's latest report, which states that the Commission is prepared to implement its mandate 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.

Meanwhile, the UN office overseeing the humanitarian effort in Iraq - called the "oil-for-food" programme because it allows Baghdad to use petroleum revenues to purchase relief aid - announced today that there has been no resolution to the issue of setting prices for Iraqi crude oil deliveries to the United States market this month.

The Office of the Iraq Programme reported that last week, Iraq exported 13.6 million barrels of oil, earning an estimated €364 million (euros) or $336 million in revenue.

The value of contracts placed on hold by the Security Council sanctions committee rose further to just over $4 billion, covering 1,529 contracts. During the past week, the Committee released from hold 17 contracts worth $46 million, but placed new "holds" on an additional 26 contracts valued at $176 million.