This is a complete transcript of Dr. Hans Blix's report to the United Nations
Security Council on February 14, 2003. The transcription was prepared by
the U.N. and provided by the BBC. Reformatted for E2, by GOM
BRIEFING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix
Since I reported to the Security Council on 27 January, UNMOVIC has had two
further weeks of operational and analytical work in New York and active
inspections in Iraq. This brings the total period of inspections so far to 11
weeks. Since then, we have also listened on 5 February to the presentation to
the Council by the US Secretary of State and the discussion that followed.
Lastly, Dr. ElBaradei and I have held another round of talks in Baghdad with our
counterparts and with Vice President Ramadan on 8 and 9 February.
Work in Iraq
Let me begin today's briefing with a short account of the work being
performed by UNMOVIC in Iraq.
We have continued to build up our capabilities. The regional office in Mosul
is now fully operational at its temporary headquarters. Plans for a regional
office at Basra are being developed. Our Hercules L-100 aircraft continues to
operate routine flights between Baghdad and Larnaca. The eight helicopters are
fully operational. With the resolution of the problems raised by Iraq for the
transportation of minders into the no-fly zones, our mobility in these zones has
improved. We expect to increase utilization of the helicopters. The number of
Iraqi minders during inspections had often reached a ratio as high as five per
inspector. During the talks in January in Baghdad, the Iraqi side agreed to keep
the ratio to about one to one. The situation has improved.
Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted more than 400 inspections
covering more than 300 sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and
access was almost always provided promptly. In no case have we seen convincing
evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming.
The inspections have taken place throughout Iraq at industrial sites, ammunition
depots, research centres, universities, presidential sites, mobile
laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps and
agricultural sites. At all sites which had been inspected before 1998, re-baselining
activities were performed. This included the identification of the function and
contents of each building, new or old, at a site. It also included verification
of previously tagged equipment, application of seals and tags, taking samples
and discussions with the site personnel regarding past and present activities.
At certain sites, ground-penetrating radar was used to look for underground
structures or buried equipment.
Through the inspections conducted so far, we have obtained a good knowledge
of the industrial and scientific landscape of Iraq, as well as of its missile
capability but, as before, we do not know every cave and corner. Inspections are
effectively helping to bridge the gap in knowledge that arose due to the absence
of inspections between December 1998 and November 2002.
More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have been
collected at different sites. Three-quarters of these have been screened using
our own analytical laboratory capabilities at the Baghdad Centre (BOMVIC). The
results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations.
We have now commenced the process of destroying approximately 50 litres of mustard gas declared by Iraq that was being kept under UNMOVIC seal at the
Muthanna site. One-third of the quantity has already been destroyed. The
laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor, which we found at
another site, has also been destroyed.
The total number of staff in Iraq now exceeds 250 from 60 countries. This
includes about 100 UNMOVIC inspectors, 15 IAEA inspectors, 50 aircrew, and 65
In my 27 January update to the Council, I said that it seemed from our
experience that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on process,
most importantly prompt access to all sites and assistance to UNMOVIC in the
establishment of the necessary infrastructure. This impression remains, and we
note that access to sites has so far been without problems, including those that
had never been declared or inspected, as well as to Presidential sites and
In my last updating, I also said that a decision to cooperate on substance
was indispensable in order to bring, through inspection, the disarmament task to
completion and to set the monitoring system on a firm course. Such cooperation,
as I have noted, requires more than the opening of doors. In the words of resolution 1441 (2002) - it requires immediate, unconditional and active efforts
by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament - either by presenting
remaining proscribed items and programmes for elimination or by presenting
convincing evidence that they have been eliminated. In the current situation,
one would expect Iraq to be eager to comply. While we were in Baghdad, we met a
delegation from the Government of South Africa. It was there to explain how
South Africa gained the confidence of the world in its dismantling of the
nuclear weapons programme, by a wholehearted cooperation over two years with IAEA
inspectors. I have just learned that Iraq has accepted an offer by South
Africa to send a group of experts for further talks.
How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related
proscribed items and programmes? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons,
only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared
and destroyed. Another matter - and one of great significance - is that many
proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. To take an example, a
document, which Iraq provided, suggested to us that some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were "unaccounted for". One must not jump to the
conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If
they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist,
credible evidence to that effect should be presented.
We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are
convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programmes continue to
exist. The US Secretary of State presented material in support of this
conclusion. Governments have many sources of information that are not available
to inspectors. Inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on
evidence, which they can, themselves, examine and present publicly. Without
evidence, confidence cannot arise.
In my earlier briefings, I have noted that significant outstanding issues of
substance were listed in two Security Council documents from early 1999
(S/1999/94 and S/1999/356) and should be well known to Iraq. I referred, as
examples, to the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range
and said that such issues "deserve to be taken seriously by Iraq rather
than being brushed aside…". The declaration submitted by Iraq on 7
December last year, despite its large volume, missed the opportunity to provide
the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions. This is
perhaps the most important problem we are facing. Although I can understand that
it may not be easy for Iraq in all cases to provide the evidence needed, it is
not the task of the inspectors to find it. Iraq itself must squarely tackle this
task and avoid belittling the questions.
In my January update to the Council, I referred to the Al Samoud 2 and the
Fatah missiles, reconstituted casting chambers, construction of a missile engine
test stand and the import of rocket engines, which were all declared to UNMOVIC
by Iraq. I noted that the Al Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah could very well represent
prima facie cases of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to
ranges exceeding the 150-kilometre limit set by the Security Council. I also
noted that Iraq had been requested to cease flight tests of these missiles until
UNMOVIC completed a technical review.
Earlier this week, UNMOVIC missile experts met for two days with experts from
a number of Member States to discuss these items. The experts concluded
unanimously that, based on the data provided by Iraq, the two declared variants
of the Al Samoud 2 missile were capable of exceeding 150 kilometres in range.
This missile system is therefore proscribed for Iraq pursuant to resolution 687
(1991) and the monitoring plan adopted by resolution 715 (1991).
As for the Al Fatah, the experts found that clarification of the missile data
supplied by Iraq was required before the capability of the missile system could
be fully assessed.
With respect to the casting chambers, I note the following: UNSCOM ordered
and supervised the destruction of the casting chambers, which had been intended
for use in the production of the proscribed Badr-2000 missile system. Iraq has
declared that it has reconstituted these chambers. The experts have confirmed
that the reconstituted casting chambers could still be used to produce motors
for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometres.
Accordingly, these chambers remain proscribed.
The experts also studied the data on the missile engine test stand that is
nearing completion and have assessed it to be capable of testing missile engines
with thrusts greater than that of the SA-2 engine. So far, the test stand has
not been associated with a proscribed activity.
On the matter of the 380 SA-2 missile engines imported outside of the
export/import mechanism and in contravention of paragraph 24 of resolution 687
(1991), UNMOVIC inspectors were informed by Iraq during an official briefing
that these engines were intended for use in the Al Samoud 2 missile system,
which has now been assessed to be proscribed. Any such engines configured for
use in this missile system would also be proscribed.
I intend to communicate these findings to the Government of Iraq.
Meeting in Baghdad
At the meeting in Baghdad on 8 and 9 February, the Iraqi side addressed some
of the important outstanding disarmament issues and gave us a number of papers,
e.g. regarding anthrax and growth material, the nerve agent VX and missile
production. Experts who were present from our side studied the papers during the
evening of 8 February and met with Iraqi experts in the morning of 9 February
for further clarifications. Although no new evidence was provided in the papers
and no open issues were closed through them or the expert discussions, the
presentation of the papers could be indicative of a more active attitude
focusing on important open issues.
The Iraqi side suggested that the problem of verifying the quantities of
anthrax and two VX-precursors, which had been declared unilaterally destroyed,
might be tackled through certain technical and analytical methods. Although our
experts are still assessing the suggestions, they are not very hopeful that it
could prove possible to assess the quantities of material poured into the ground
years ago. Documentary evidence and testimony by staff that dealt with the items
still appears to be needed.
Not least against this background, a letter of 12 February from Iraq's
National Monitoring Directorate may be of relevance. It presents a list of 83
names of participants "in the unilateral destruction in the chemical field,
which took place in the summer of 1991". As the absence of adequate
evidence of that destruction has been and remains an important reason why
quantities of chemicals have been deemed "unaccounted for", the
presentation of a list of persons who can be interviewed about the actions
appears useful and pertains to cooperation on substance. I trust that the Iraqi
side will put together a similar list of names of persons who participated in
the unilateral destruction of other proscribed items, notably in the biological
The Iraqi side also informed us that the commission, which had been appointed
in the wake of our finding 12 empty chemical weapons warheads, had had its
mandate expanded to look for any still existing proscribed items. This was
A second commission, we learnt, has now been appointed with the task of
searching all over Iraq for more documents relevant to the elimination of
proscribed items and programmes. It is headed by the former Minister of Oil,
General Amer Rashid, and is to have very extensive powers of search in industry,
administration and even private houses.
The two commissions could be useful tools to come up with proscribed items to
be destroyed and with new documentary evidence. They evidently need to work fast
and effectively to convince us, and the world, that it is a serious effort.
The matter of private interviews was discussed at length during our meeting
in Baghdad. The Iraqi side confirmed the commitment, which it made to us on 20
January, to encourage persons asked to accept such interviews, whether in or out
of Iraq. So far, we have only had interviews in Baghdad. A number of persons
have declined to be interviewed, unless they were allowed to have an official
present or were allowed to tape the interview. Three persons that had previously
refused interviews on UNMOVIC's terms, subsequently accepted such interviews
just prior to our talks in Baghdad on 8 and 9 February. These interviews proved
informative. No further interviews have since been accepted on our terms. I hope
this will change. We feel that interviews conducted without any third party
present and without tape recording would provide the greatest credibility.
At the recent meeting in Baghdad, as on several earlier occasions, my
colleague Dr. ElBaradei and I have urged the Iraqi side to enact legislation
implementing the UN prohibitions regarding weapons of mass destruction. This
morning we had a message that a Presidential decree has now been issued
containing prohibitions with regard to importation and production of biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons. We have not yet had time to study the details of
the text of the decree.
Mr. President, I should like to make some comments on the role of
intelligence in connection with inspections in Iraq.
A credible inspection regime requires that Iraq provide full cooperation on
"process" - granting immediate access everywhere to inspectors - and
on substance, providing full declarations supported by relevant information and
material and evidence. However, with the closed society in Iraq of today and the
history of inspections there, other sources of information, such as defectors
and government intelligence agencies are required to aid the inspection process.
I remember myself how, in 1991, several inspections in Iraq, which were based
on information received from a Government, helped to disclose important parts of
the nuclear weapons programme. It was realized that an international
organization authorized to perform inspections anywhere on the ground could make
good use of information obtained from governments with eyes in the sky, ears in
the ether, access to defectors, and both eyes and ears on the market for weapons-related
material. It was understood that the information residing in the intelligence services of governments could come to very active use in the
international effort to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
This remains true and we have by now a good deal of experience in the matter.
International organizations need to analyse such information critically and
especially benefit when it comes from more than one source. The intelligence
agencies, for their part, must protect their sources and methods. Those who
provide such information must know that it will be kept in strict confidence and
be known to very few people. UNMOVIC has achieved good working relations with
intelligence agencies and the amount of information provided has been gradually
increasing. However, we must recognize that there are limitations and that
misinterpretations can occur.
Intelligence information has been useful for UNMOVIC. In one case, it led us
to a private home where documents mainly relating to laser enrichment of uranium
were found. In other cases, intelligence has led to sites where no proscribed
items were found. Even in such cases, however, inspection of these sites were
useful in proving the absence of such items and in some cases the presence of
other items - conventional munitions. It showed that conventional arms are being
moved around the country and that movements are not necessarily related to weapons of mass
The presentation of intelligence information by the US Secretary of State
suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and
removing evidence of proscribed weapons programmes. I would like to comment only
on one case, which we are familiar with, namely, the trucks identified by
analysts as being for chemical decontamination at a munitions depot. This was a
declared site, and it was certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected us
to inspect. We have noted that the two satellite images of the site were taken
several weeks apart. The reported movement of munitions at the site could just
as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in
anticipation of imminent inspection. Our reservation on this point does not
detract from our appreciation of the briefing.
Plans for the immediate future
Yesterday, UNMOVIC informed the Iraqi authorities of its intention to start
using the U-2 surveillance aircraft early next week under arrangements similar
to those UNSCOM had followed. We are also in the process of working out
modalities for the use of the French Mirage aircraft starting late next week and
for the drones supplied by the German Government. The offer from Russia of an
Antonov aircraft, with night vision capabilities, is a welcome one and is next
on our agenda for further improving UNMOVIC's and IAEA's technical capabilities.
These developments are in line with suggestions made in a non-paper recently
circulated by France, suggesting a further strengthening of the inspection
It is our intention to examine the possibilities for surveying ground
movements, notably by trucks. In the face of persistent intelligence reports for
instance about mobile biological weapons production units, such measures could
well increase the effectiveness of inspections.
UNMOVIC is still expanding its capabilities, both in terms of numbers of
staff and technical resources. On my way to the recent Baghdad meeting, I
stopped in Vienna to meet 60 experts, who had just completed our general
training course for inspectors. They came from 22 countries, including Arab
UNMOVIC is not infrequently asked how much more time it needs to complete its
task in Iraq. The answer depends upon which task one has in mind - the elimination of
weapons of mass destruction and related items and programmes,
which were prohibited in 1991 - the disarmament task - or the monitoring that no
new proscribed activities occur. The latter task, though not often focused upon,
is highly significant - and not controversial. It will require monitoring, which
is "ongoing", that is, open-ended until the Council decides otherwise.
By contrast, the task of "disarmament" foreseen in resolution 687
(1991) and the progress on "key remaining disarmament tasks" foreseen
in resolution 1284 (1999) as well as the "disarmament obligations",
which Iraq was given a "final opportunity to comply with" under Resolution 1441
(2002), were always required to be fulfilled in a shorter time
span. Regrettably, the high degree of cooperation required of Iraq for
disarmament through inspection was not forthcoming in 1991. Despite the
elimination, under UNSCOM and IAEA supervision, of large amounts of weapons,
weapons-related items and installations over the years, the task remained
incomplete, when inspectors were withdrawn almost 8 years later at the end of
If Iraq had provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of
disarmament - under resolution 687 (1991) - could have been short and a decade
of sanctions could have been avoided. Today, three months after the adoption of
Resolution 1441 (2002), the period of disarmament through inspection could still
be short, if "immediate, active and unconditional cooperation" with
UNMOVIC and the IAEA were to be forthcoming."
Serious subjects should be discussed seriously. I'm posting this in the hope
that we can all do a better job of understanding this situation if we refer to
the raw text of events like this report. I'm not promulgating any
conclusions here, just providing the source material for you to make up your own