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The Findings of the U.N. Security Council

February 14, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

JIM LEHRER: The inspectors’ report. Ray Suarez begins.

SPOKESMAN: It is so decided. I invite Dr. Blix to take a seat at the Council table.

RAY SUAREZ: U.N chief weapons inspector Hans Blix began his report to the Security Council this morning by telling members that Iraq had not been tipped- off to potential visits by inspectors now in the country. So far, he said, there had been 400 inspections of more than 300 sites, all without prior notice or substantial obstruction by Iraq.

HANS BLIX: The inspections have taken place throughout Iraq at industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centers, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps, and agricultural sites. We have now commenced the process of destroying approximately 50 liters of mustard gas declared by Iraq that was being kept under UNMOVIC’s 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.

RAY SUAREZ: Blix also directly dealt with the question raised by the U.S., the United Kingdom, and other countries, whether the United Nations Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC, has found traces of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

HANS BLIX: How much, if any, is left of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? 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 tons of chemical agent were unaccounted for. I 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.

RAY SUAREZ: Blix said there was new evidence showing Iraq had violated previous Security Council resolutions that banned missile systems exceeding a maximum range of 93 miles. The missiles are known as al-Samoud 2s.

HANS BLIX: 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 kilometers in range. This missile system is therefore proscribed for Iraq, pursuant to Resolution 687 and the monitoring plan adopted by resolution 715.

RAY SUAREZ: Blix said Iraq had not provided nearly enough evidence that it had eliminated previous quantities of anthrax and nerve gas.

HANS BLIX: Not least against this background, a letter on the 12th of 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 had 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.

RAY SUAREZ: The Swedish diplomat said Iraq also needs to make sure inspectors can privately interview Iraqi scientists outside of the country and without Iraqi government officials present.

HANS BLIX: 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 the 8th and 9th of 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 with any third party present, and without tape recording, would provide the greatest credibility.

RAY SUAREZ: Blix took issue with some claims by the U.S. He said some inspections found that conventional weapons were being moved around the country, but not necessarily weapons of mass destruction. And Blix cast doubt on one piece of evidence provided by Sec. of State Colin Powell last week, when Powell appeared before the Council. The secretary of state had said these satellite photos at a munitions depot showed a possible link to chemical weapons.

HANS BLIX: The presentation of intelligence information by the U.S. Secretary of State suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and removing evidence of proscribed weapons programs. 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 the munitions depot. This was a declared site, and it was certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected to be … us to inspect. We have noted that the two satellite images of the site were taken several weeks apart. The report of movement of munitions at the site could just as easily had been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection.

RAY SUAREZ: Closing his remarks, Blix also made the case for more time for further inspections.

HANS BLIX: Mr. President, 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 programs, 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 for disarmament foreseen in Resolution 687, and the progress on key remaining disarmament tasks were always required to be fulfilled in a shorter time span.

RAY SUAREZ: Then, Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief nuclear inspector and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, began his report. He focused on the much- publicized question of whether aluminum tubes found in Iraq could be used for the production of nuclear weapons.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: The IAEA is also continuing to follow up on acknowledged effort by Iraq to import high-strength aluminum tubes. As you well know, Iraq has declared these efforts to have been in connection with a program to reverse engineer conventional rockets. The IAEA has verified that Iraq had indeed been manufacturing such rockets. However, we are still exploring whether the tubes were intended rather for the manufacture of centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

RAY SUAREZ: ElBaradei also threw cold water on the case of one Iraqi scientist that had been much talked about by the U.S. Inspectors had previously found 2,000 pages of documents in the scientist’s home, leading to skepticism about Iraqi plans.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq laser enrichment development effort, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA, and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusion previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq’s laser enrichment program.

RAY SUAREZ: ElBaradei closed his report by saying there was no proof that Iraq had restarted a nuclear weapons program.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: We have, to date, found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq. However, as I have just indicated, a number of issues are still under investigation, and we are not yet in a position to reach a conclusion about them, although we are moving forward with regard to some of them. To that end we intend to make full use of the authority granted to us under all relevant Security Council resolutions to build as much capacity into the inspection process as necessary. In that context, I would underline the importance of information that state may be able to provide to help us in assessing the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by Iraq. The IAEA experience in the nuclear verification shows that it is possible, particularly with an intrusive verification system, to assess the presence or absence of a nuclear weapon program in a state, even without the full cooperation of the inspected states. However, prompt, full, and active cooperation by Iraq, as required under Resolution 1441, will speed up the process, and more importantly, it will enable us to reach the high degree of assurance required by the Security Council in the case of Iraq, in view of its past clandestine WMD programs and past pattern of cooperation. It is my hope that the commitment made recently in Baghdad will continue to translate into concrete and sustained actions.

RAY SUAREZ: Both Blix and ElBaradei spoke of increasing staffs and continuing inspections, work that will continue until the Security Council orders it to stop.