Iraq can improve ‘proactive’ cooperation, chief UN inspector says

Iraq can improve ‘proactive’ cooperation, chief UN inspector says

Hans Blix speaking to the press
Chief United Nations inspector Hans Blix today said that while his recent talks with senior Iraqi officials produced agreement for greater cooperation with UN monitors, Baghdad could still do more to divulge additional information.

“If you ask are they proactive – I say no, I don’t think they have come to that stage yet,” Mr. Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), told reporters upon his return to UN Headquarters in New York.

“But they have been prompt in opening practically all the sites we wanted to come to,” he added, although inspectors have found other things that are less satisfactory, including lack of access for private interviews with Iraqi scientists.

Earlier this week, Mr. Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), spent two days in Baghdad for discussions on the inspection process so far and to clarify a number of other issues.

On the recent discovery of undeclared empty chemical warheads, Mr. Blix said Iraq has appointed a commission of inquiry to look into other weapons stores that may not have been included in the arms declaration that was turned over to the UN on 7 December.

“[The warheads] should have been declared, and of course, as I have said, are these just pieces of ice that have been broken up or pieces of an iceberg?” Mr. Blix said.

Responding to a question about the length of time needed for the inspections, Mr. Blix said, “If we have the proactive cooperation – if they really make an effort – we do not need so much time as in 1991. If you do not have that cooperation, it can drag out.”

Meanwhile in Iraq, UN arms experts continued their probe for evidence of illegal weapons programmes. An UNMOVIC team of missile experts travelled to inspect the Bader State Establishment, a tool, die and moulds factory that produces small components for the Al Fatah and Al Samoud missiles.

An UNMOVIC biological team inspected the Baghdad Institute of Technology in Zaafaraniyah to verify the declaration on the site.

In Mosul, a multidisciplinary team inspected the Qayyarah Petroleum Refinery, while another joint team was in Basra.

As for the IAEA, one team held a meeting and performed an inspection at the Iraq Geological Survey Headquarters in Baghdad. Another IAEA team performed a motorized radiation survey of areas to the north of Baghdad.

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Listen to UN Radio report of Blix's comments