Iraq: Chief of UN weapons inspectors welcomes Baghdad's willingness to talk
In a new report to the Security Council, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix "welcomes Iraq's willingness to discuss issues related to inspections in Iraq." The next round of UN-Iraq talks is scheduled to be held in Vienna on 4 and 5 July.
The report also provides information on Mr. Blix's input during the first two rounds, held in New York on 7 March and from 1 to 3 May. Among other points, the Chairman "explained how UNMOVIC planned to operate in Iraq." He also mentioned how the Commission's expert staff was proceeding with work to identify unresolved issues as a basis for the later definition of "key remaining disarmament tasks."
On what Iraq would need to do to complete those tasks, the Chairman outlined the kinds of additional clarification that UNMOVIC might seek, stressing the need for full clarity about Baghdad's cooperation on a number of practical issues before inspectors are deployed to Iraq. "It would be unfortunate if UNMOVIC inspectors were to encounter practical problems when they started to work in Iraq," Mr. Blix writes.
In light of the possibility of resuming the inspection work begun by its predecessor, the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), UNMOVIC is increasing its readiness by recruiting more staff for posts at Headquarters that had previously remained unfilled. A number of new posts have also been established to cover the additional work given to the Commission under the Security Council's latest resolution on the oil-for-food programme, which allows Iraq to use a portion of its petroleum revenue to purchase humanitarian relief.