CNN BREAKING NEWS
U.N. Advance Team Lands
Aired November 18, 2002 - 06:02 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Within the past 30 minutes, a C-130 plane, carrying an advance team, arrived at Baghdad's airport. Baghdad's airport is called Saddam International.
Hans Blix, head of the U.N. commission, and Mohamad Elbaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are in this group; so are about 25 workers. Now, they'll put up offices, get labs and computers up, and repair vehicles.
A small group of inspectors is expected to begin work in November 27, with teams at full strength by the end of the year.
For more on the inspectors, we want to go live right now to CNN's Nic Robertson, who is in Baghdad.
Good morning -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.
Well, it brings to the end an almost four-year absence of U.N. inspectors here -- 3 years, 11 months and 2 days since the last inspectors left Iraq.
Now, at the airport -- at the airport waiting to meet Hans Blix and Mohamed Elbaradei was a small group of Iraqi officials there; among them and perhaps leading that group -- not clear at this stage -- Major General Hasam Amin. He is the head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, and that is the body that Hans Blix and his teams will liaise with. He is the person -- General Hasam Amin is the person the Iraqis has nominated to be the interlocutor with the U.N. inspection teams. He was the interlocutor with the 1990s inspection teams as well.
Now, when he arrived, Hans Blix did speak briefly to journalists. He said that this was a time perhaps when an opportunity where good cooperation could be forged between the U.N. inspectors and Iraqis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I'm sure, first of all, that my friend, Mohamed Elbaradei, has said all of the things that I want to say, although I didn't understand it.
Second, let me tell you that we have come here for one single reason, and that is because the world wants to have assurances that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The situation is tense at the moment, but there is a new opportunity, and we are here to provide an inspection which is credible, an inspection that's credible is the only thing that is in the interest of Iraq and in the interest of the world. And we will try to do so.
QUESTION: Mr. Blix, you said that Iraq may face heavy consequences. Is that a very early statement to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) before you start your...
BLIX: As I said, the situation at the moment is tense, but what we are coming with offers an opportunity. And we hope that we can all take that opportunity together.
QUESTION: Can we ask you about your level of optimism?
BLIX: Well, we are here to do a job, and we will do that professionally and I hope competently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Indeed, that is exactly what the Iraqi newspapers have been calling on the inspection teams to do when they get here -- to write independently, honestly and with integrity.
The newspapers here and the editorials are today pointing out for their readers that the last inspection team, according to Iraqi officials, had spies amongst its members; that those people informed their governments, indeed accusing some of the U.S. inspectors of informing the United States government before and informing the United Nations of what they found out on the ground.
So, Iraqi newspapers while saying, throw open the doors to these teams, let's judge them how they'll be, reminding their readers of the problems that Iraq perceived in the past -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right, Nic Robertson reporting live from Baghdad.
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