|Still No Conclusions about Existence of Iraq’s Weapons, Blix Tells Security Counci|
Still No Conclusions about Existence of Iraq’s Weapons, Blix Tells Security Council
New York -- (UN-NC) June 5, 2003 -- The top United Nations weapons inspector for Iraq warned today against jumping to the conclusion that weapons of mass destruction existed just because they were unaccounted for, but cautioned also against concluding that such programmes had ended in cases where the previous regime had not accounted for them.
"I trust that in the new environment in Iraq, in which there is full access and cooperation, and in which knowledgeable witnesses should no longer be inhibited to reveal what they know, it should be possible to establish the truth we all want to know," Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), told the Security Council in an open briefing.
Presenting UNMOVIC’s thirteenth quarterly report, Mr. Blix stressed that the Commission, which worked in Iraq from November up to the eve of hostilities on 19 March, had found no evidence of the continuation or resumption of programmes of weapons of mass destruction or significant quantities of proscribed items, such as biological or chemical ingredients.
"As I have noted before, this does not necessarily mean that such items could not exist," he said. "They might there remain long lists of items unaccounted for but it is not justified to jump to the conclusion that something exists just because it is unaccounted for."
On the other hand, noting that the long list of proscribed items unaccounted for had not been shortened by inspections or Iraqi explanations, Mr. Blix said it was the Iraqis’ task to present unaccounted items if they existed, or provide the evidence that they did not.
"If for whatever reason this is not done, the international community cannot have confidence that past programmes or any remaining parts of them have been terminated," he added.
On the issue of mobile laboratories for banned weapons, which forces from the United States say they have now found, Mr. Blix said neither the information the Iraqis had presented nor the pictures they had provided matched descriptions recently made available to the Commission as well as to the media by the United States.
"At UNMOVIC we cannot, of course, make a proper evaluation of the depicted vehicles on the basis of published material alone," he added.
Mr. Blix, who retires from his post this month, said UNMOVIC remained ready to resume work in Iraq as an independent verifier or to conduct long-term monitoring, should the Council so decide. The United States has said it sees no immediate role for UN inspectors.
"The core expertise and experience available within UNMOVIC remain a valuable asset, which the Security Council could use where the services of an independent body would be required for verification or monitoring," he noted. "This might be of particular value in the field of biological weapons and missiles for which there exists no international verification organization."
After the meeting, the President of the 15-nation body, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, said members paid tribute to Mr. Blix for his leadership and dedication in guiding the work of UNMOVIC in pursuit of the disarmament of Iraq.
Council members "expressed their sincere gratitude to Dr. Hans Blix for his service, and appreciation for the efforts undertaken by him and his team to implement the mandate of UNMOVIC in accordance with the Security Council’s resolutions," he said in a press statement.