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Blix Thanks French for Helping to Pass Resolution

Aired November 16, 2002 - 07:11   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hans Blix from Paris. Let's listen.
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: ... and to see Mr. Foreign Minister and to discuss with him how we go further in implementation of the Resolution 1441 to which he referred, and which has now been adopted by unanimity.

I'd like also to use the occasion to express my appreciation for the French work and the French contribution to the resolution. It was not an easy matter, and we remember that the resolution from 1999, which established the UNMOVIC, was not adopted by unanimity. But this time we have the whole council behind us.

We are a subsidiary organ of the Security Council to perform the inspections in Iraq, and our strength is directly dependent upon the support, the full support of the Security Council. With this resolution now adopted by unanimity, we feel we have that. We know also that if there is not a full cooperation by Iraq, we will be backed up to the full by the council.

It is also important in a wider context, I think, for the United Nations system, for the Security Council to be reunited on such an important matter and for the multilateralism to function. And we will do our utmost to be worthy of the trust placed in us.

I'm going on tomorrow to Cyprus, and from there, together with my colleague, the director general, International Atomic Energy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), to Baghdad for a couple of days, talk at the political level to initiate the new chapter of inspections.

And of course we hope and expect to have full Iraqi cooperation. We shall leave behind us a number of people who will be dealing with the practical things of setting up communications, transportation, and preparation for the inspection. And already by the 27th of November, we think that the first inspectors will be on the way and in -- on the job in Iraq.



BLIX: I can take French questions in French, but I'd like to answer in English to be more precise.

QUESTION: On the technological point of view, what has changed since the last mission in '98? And what does it take, which kind of profile is needed to be a good member of your team?

BLIX: Well, if you refer to the technology that we are dealing with, rather than the technology that the Iraqis are dealing with, I would say that the whole inspection in Iraq in the '90s have stimulated the emergence of a number of new techniques and improvement of techniques.

For instance, when UNSCOM began, I think the satellites gave you images of perhaps 10 meters' resolution. Now we can go down to 65 centimeters' resolution. It's a considerable difference, and we can also buy these pictures commercially. We do get assistance from countries like France and the United States in the -- what they can see from satellites. However, we can also increase our independence by comparing it with pictures we buy.

This is one area. The area of environmental sampling is another one that has moved very fast indeed, and this is, especially sort of the nuclear field, even the tiniest little thing can be detected by environmental sampling. But it's also moving over to the areas of biology and chemistry.

I might tell you that in 1990, when the Iraqis took hostages, took some foreigners hostage, there were some who were taken to the nuclear establishment, and they were Americans. And when they came out, the U.S. authorities took clothes from them and then analyzed the clothes, and they could draw the conclusion that the Iraqis were dealing with the enrichment of uranium.

So even at that time, the sensitivity of environmental sampling was very great. Now we'll take samples of air, of soil, and of water, et cetera.

So yes, there are quite a lot of new techniques. There are drones which didn't exist in those days, exist today, and may possibly -- be of possible use.

So yes, this helps us. But we still have the difficulties in seeing and finding all cavities, all underground sites that might be used, or mobile targets which might also be used. We see reports about that.

So it's still a difficult task.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) inspection -- the resolution gives you the authority of interviewing any person concerned. Are you -- do you have the authority of interviewing, for example, or meeting with President Saddam Hussein?

BLIX: Well, I think, I suppose theoretically there are no particular limitations on who we should interview. The Iraqis asked to submit a declaration by the 8th of December, and that is to be given by the Iraqi government, and he is the president of the country. So I suppose we will have his words in the form of a declaration.

Interviewing has been a useful and important source, information, of course, especially from defectors, but also by interviews in Iraq. And they have often worked very well. And the UNSCOM and the IAE have been able to build up their understanding of the various programs to a large extent on the basis of interviews.

But there have also been a number of cases where there clearly was intimidation, where the -- there was presence, so-called minders from the Iraqi government side, and everything that is said is being taped, and that where the interviewed persons were intimidated. And that has triggered the idea of taking people abroad, which is -- from Iraq, which is more problematic from the practical point of view.

QUESTION: Monsieur Hans Blix, excuse me, my English is very bad...

BLIX: S'il vous plait, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), en francis, si vous voulez.

QUESTION: (speaks in French)

BLIX: We -- is -- we are not having a majority of our staff being American, absolutely not. It is the largest single group. We have something like 280 people trained, I don't know, well over 200, at any rate, and we have a little over 30 who are Americans among the people who will be our inspectors.

The French group, I think, is probably the next biggest, and then the Russian. And they are not -- the Americans' group is not very much bigger. We have about 45 nationalities represented, in the same kind of mix as any other U.N. organization, where you seek a broad geographical representation.

The criticism, or the question had been raised recently, could we have more Arabs? And I say yes. The reason why we do not have so many Arabs is that they did not nominate any. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) perhaps some outer regard toward the Iraqis, I don't know. And anyway, they did not nominate many, except for Jordan nominated some people, and we have some Jordanians among our staff.

Our next training course will be in January, and we will be glad to have nominations from Arab states, and I'm sure they're going to come.

QUESTION: (speaks in French)

O'BRIEN: The news conference drifts into French. My limited French not good enough to accurately relay what they're talking about. The larger issue here is the constitution of this team that Hans Blix leads. A key issue, part of the compromise which led to this U.N. resolution, is that all of the members of his team have to be U.N. staffers. The concern was that they were in fact honoring allegiance to the United Nations, to Hans Blix, and to the Security Council, as opposed to the United States.

And the end result is a team that doesn't have a tremendous depth of expertise in weapons inspections processes, and that's why there's some questions about this.

The other concern, the flip side of it, is the international community did not want it dominated by American experts.

I believe we're going to shift back into English, so let's go back to the news conference and listen in to the question. May be in French, but the answer from Mr. Blix, we're told, will be in English.

QUESTION: (speaks in French)


BLIX: ... saying the UNSCOM lost its legitimacy in the end by being too closely associated with intelligence and with Western states. And the sympathies turned to the Iraqis, partially because of the sanctions, but also partly because they were seen as being harassed by an organization which was too closely linked with the Western states.

We have felt that Resolution 1284 is one that asks us to be a genuine U.N. organ, a subsidiary authority to the United -- to the Security Council, and asked us to have a composition of our staff which reflects that. And we have built up our organization accordingly.

People have asked me, Can you be absolutely sure that you will have no spy from any member states? And I said, No, I don't think neither the KGB nor the CIA could give that absolute assurance. All I can tell you is that if I see someone having two hats, then I'll ask them to walk out from us and be somewhere else.

And we are certainly determined in -- there are also practical things that enable us to be more independent. I mentioned the satellites, where we now can buy pictures commercially, on the commercial market, and there are other things that you can do independently.

We do also have a different financial basis from what the UNSCOM had. UNSCOM based itself upon voluntary contributions from member states. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) staff, the staff worker as he was paid by the governments. Well, they had a loyalty to the U.N., I'm sure, but at the same time, if you are paid by a government and you go back very quickly to the government, it is a somewhat different situation.

We obtained 0.8 percent of the oil revenues, and therefore we have -- one of the few problems I don't have is financing. We have money, and we can thus hire the staff, and they are our contracts, they are paid by us, and they are our people, which makes for a somewhat different situation.

I don't say that it is waterproof, but nevertheless, it takes us a long way, and I think so far, the Security Council have felt that, yes, we have been very independent and we have spoken up on the basis that has to retain the confidence of the Security Council. And we would like to continue that way.

We welcome assistance by the United States, we welcome assistance by France, from the more, the better, because now we will have diversity. But we want to have the confidence of the whole council, not only the P-5, also the E-10.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Blix, you said that the -- they are going to start at 27 of November, this inspection. Is it because you have already assurances that you can start them, or is just a bit of wishful thinking for the moment?

BLIX: Well, the Iraqis are saying in the long letter the other day that they are eager to have inspections starting. So I think if they stay with that intention, and I have no reason to believe anything else, they will welcome it. And our first batch of inspectors from the -- from us and from the IAE will be on site by the 26th, and they can start their first inspections on the 27th.

However, this is a small group that is coming early, and there will be a gradual buildup during the rest of November and during the month of December. We hope that by the end of December we'll be up to something like 100 people there, at least.



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