UN weapons inspectors to enter Iraq on 18 November, Commission chief says

UN weapons inspectors to enter Iraq on 18 November, Commission chief says

UNMOVIC Chairman Hans Blix
Following the adoption of a milestone resolution aimed at garnering Iraq's compliance with Security Council requirements, including the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction, the head of the United Nations arms inspectors today said they would arrive in the country in 10 days.

Following the adoption of a milestone resolution aimed at garnering Iraq's compliance with Security Council requirements, including the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction, the head of the United Nations arms inspectors today said they would arrive in the country in 10 days.

"We are planning to go to Baghdad on Monday the 18th of this month," Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), told reporters following the Council's meeting,

Mr. Blix said he was "very pleased" with the fact that the Security Council had acted unanimously, adding, "that strengthens our mandate very much."

The Council President, Ambassador Zhang Yishan of China, said that by unanimously adopting its resolution today, the Council had sent a "very clear" message to Iraq. "I think it's a message of peace, a message of goodwill, a message of hope," he said. "Now the ball is in the hands of the Iraqi Government, and we hope that Iraq will comply fully and unconditionally with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions."

In his remarks to the press, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also voiced hope that Iraq would "seize this opportunity" to meet the Council's demands. He added that he has appealed to all governments with influence to remain engaged and urge Iraq to comply. "I am particularly looking to the contribution of the Arab League States who were very instrumental in helping Iraq to change its position [on the return of weapons inspectors], and I hope they will remain engaged to get the message across that it not enough to let the inspectors come in - it is a good beginning - but what is important is performance."

The Secretary-General said he was "very, very pleased" with the end result of intensive Council deliberations. "I think the Security Council took its time, acted patiently, and in the end we have an optimal decision and result," he said.

Ambassador John D. Negroponte of the United States, which cosponsored the resolution along with the United Kingdom, also welcomed the text’s unanimous adoption, saying this “sends a very strong and important message to the Government of Iraq that the Council and the international community are united in their demand that they comply with their disarmament obligation, and that if they do not do so they will face serious consequences.”

The next steps, he added, related to the implementation of the "enhanced inspection regime" with regard to weapons of mass destruction.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said the resolution's three crucial characteristics are "clarity, force and unanimity," sending an "immensely powerful" message to Baghdad. Implementation would now begin, he agreed, noting that the inspectors had the Council's full support.

The resolution, in sum, represented a last chance, Ambassador Greenstock said. "The opportunity is there, and the opportunity is final, and we now look to the implementation by Iraq of what we are asking them - in binding terms - to do."

"Today, the Security Council's role has been strengthened," said Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France. "The UN role has been strengthened."

"All in all, it is a great success - and a success for everybody," he said. "Now comes the time for implementing this resolution," he added, voicing hope for full compliance with the Council's demands.

Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico welcomed the fact that the resolution contained a "two-step" process for Council action on Iraq. Voicing satisfaction with the text, he said, "we hope it really provides a crucial, peaceful opportunity to achieve the disarmament of Iraq."