Chief UN arms inspector predicts initial analysis of Iraqi declaration ready by next week

Chief UN arms inspector predicts initial analysis of Iraqi declaration ready by next week

Hans Blix speaking to the press
The chief United Nations weapons inspector today predicted that an initial assessment by UN experts currently examining Iraq's declaration on its arms programme would be presented to the Security Council early next week.

Speaking to reporters in New York following a working luncheon of the Security Council, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said experts would first focus on creating a "working version of the text" that could be shared with all Council members - one free of possible sensitive information on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"I told the Council that we hope that we will have been through the main part of the document, which is about 3,000 pages, by Friday," he said, noting that much translation from Arabic would be required as part of this effort.

Mr. Blix added that the five permanent members of the Council - China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States - had been asked to offer input by Friday. "By Monday we will be able to have a working version of the text of the main part which we can share with all the members of the Council," he said.

By 19 December, the UN inspectors would come to the Council with "a very preliminary assessment of the substance" of the declaration, he said. "What we are now dealing with is only to take out of the declaration things that could be risky from the point of view of proliferation… as you call it 'cookbooks for proliferation.'"

Responding to questions, Mr. Blix said UNMOVIC had "put the Iraqis on notice that we will ask for names of people who were active in the different [weapons] programmes" in conformity with the Council's resolution.

Also speaking to the press, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Council had held a "frank discussion" on the way forward as the inspectors analyze the Iraqi declaration. "I think what is important is that there is a clear understanding of how to proceed, and there was also very strong support for the work of the inspectors," he said.

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Video - press encounter of Secretary-General and Blix