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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Reactions From Security Council

Aired December 19, 2002 - 12:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting another statement from the Security Council member, I believe, from Colombia. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their support to the UNMOVIC and the agency. That's the statement.

QUESTION: ... analyze the whole report?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. No.

QUESTION: What's the decision that you came to now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there was not any decision. It was simply a preliminary assessment, as I said.

QUESTION: You understand -- aren't all members entitled to issue their own assessment of the Iraqi declaration, or is it only up to the inspectors to issue such an assessment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well that's something that have to be decide. I suppose the council itself is going to make their own assessment once there can be more information.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but that's up to them -- is not for the council. The council have to decide once they have more informations.

QUESTION: Some countries are arguing it's only the inspectors, like the Russians and the French, that only the inspectors have the right to issue such a statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the inspectors are supposed to provide us with the data assessment. It's going to be considered. Thank you very much.

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, good morning. Mr. ElBaradei and I have been briefing the council on our preliminary assessment of the declaration submitted by Iraq. I also told the council a bit about the build-up of our effort in Iraq and the first experiences of the inspections.

As to the assessment of the declaration, we are consistent in the view that there has been relatively little given in the declaration by way of evidence concerning their programs of weapons of mass destruction. There's been some material concerning the period between 1998 and 2002 in the non-nuclear weapons field.

And we will evidently continue the analysis, and we -- the council is clear that it wants us to come back some time in January for a more profound, thorough briefing than we have been able to do so far.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, CHIEF INSPECTOR, IAEA: We have, as Dr. Blix mentioned, we have done our first reporting to the council. We have indicated that we are at the very initial phase of assessing the report.

I referred to it as our reconnaissance phase of looking at the report. Later on, we will have to move into the investigation part of our work, visiting more sites, doing more environmental sampling, talking to people.

I think we are making -- we have, both of us, indicated we are making good progress in having access to sites.

ELBARADEI: Iraq is cooperating well in terms of process. We both, I think, agree that we still need much more cooperation from Iraq in terms of substance, in terms of giving (ph) of evidence to exonerate themselves that they are clean from weapons of mass destruction. And I think that is a challenge for both of them and us.

If they come with additional information, then our task will be much shorter, much easier, our conclusion would be much more credible.

And I think there was a sense in the council that the Iraq needs to come with additional information. We both certainly would like to see more information from Iraq.

We are going to report regularly to the council. We will have another meeting with the council some time in early January I think, and then we will come with status reports around the 27th of January I believe.

QUESTION: Gentlemen, is it your feeling that there are -- that the declaration has omissions in which Iraq has not provided information that would allow you to account for weapons of mass destruction that were reported by UNSCOM, for example, at the end of its inspection period?

BLIX: There were a lot of open questions at the end of 1998 which were registered by UNSCOM and also by the air-marine report, as you say.

And these have not been answered by evidence in the new declaration. And this we are pointing out. We would need -- the absence of that evidence means, of course, that one cannot have confidence that there do not remain weapons of mass destruction.

Evidence would be needed for that purpose, and we will continue to look for that in the inspection process. QUESTION: Dr. Blix, just to follow up on that, can you be more specific about what these items are that you're looking for, that you knew were there in 1998, that are not in this declaration? And a second question, how is Iraq treating us? Are they saying simply they no longer this, it never existed, they got rid of it?

BLIX: Well, it's a long catalogue which would bore you to listen to here, and you can read it in your own newspapers most of the time.

(CROSSTALK)

BLIX: No, I mean, you have questions of anthrax. You have questions of munitions, et cetera. It's a long catalogue, and we will repeat that also in our analysis.

ELBARADEI: We probably can just give you an example. There was reports by Iraq during our meeting in Baghdad that there were efforts to procure aluminum tubes.

We need -- there is nothing in the report to give us details about this effort to procure. We need more details on it.

I think in Dr. Blix's area, for example, we know there was a lot of production of different chemical agents, for example, but there is no evidence that these agents have been destroyed. And I think that's the kind of evidence we need.

We need -- I'd have to see documents. We need people to speak to us and confirm that these things have been destroyed. We need even to see a sample of what has been destroyed.

The more we see, the more credible assurance we can provide to the council, the more the council can come to closure on this issue and come to the conclusion that Iraq has been disarmed. That is the objective. And the more that we get from Iraq, the more we can provide assurances, that the council can state categorically, "Yes, Iraq has been disarmed."

(CROSSTALK)

BLIX: I'll give you another example since he gave you two of them.

(LAUGHTER)

About anthrax. Well, Iraq declared earlier that they had produced about 8,500 liters of anthrax. Well, there was not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it was limited to 8,500, so we must ask ourselves, "Was there more?"

Then they declared -- UNSCOM actually calculated that, with the capacity that they had, they could have produced about three times as much, something like 24,000 liters.

Well, then Iraq declared that they had destroyed it all. And there was some evidence given that they destroyed some of it. There is not sufficient evidence to show that all was destroyed. Hence, there is a question, "Is there still some anthrax in Iraq?" And we would need more evidence -- either by someone who participated in the destruction or in the way of records as to production, et cetera. So these are the kinds of questions that we have on many items.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You have been studying this report now, both agencies, for the last few days...

BLIX: And nights.

QUESTION: And nights, OK, great. Now you have raised a few questions. You have found gaps, omissions. What are the initial reactions you find from Iraq? Do they tell you, "OK, bring your questions on and we'll answer them," or are they saying, "This is the declaration, take it or leave it"? What are your first initials from the Iraqis? Are they cooperating fully?

ELBARADEI: As I said, I mean, Iraq has been opening doors to us. Iraq has been giving us immediate access to sites.

However, we have not gotten what we need in terms of additional evidence. And clearly, we are going through our detailed analysis of the report.

We will go back to Iraq. We clearly will ask lots of questions. We will expect that we answers and hopefully additional evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

ELBARADEI: I will have to wait until we do the analysis. I'll have to wait until we go to Iraq. And we're not optimistic or pessimistic. We're trying to provide objective assessment.

BLIX: But one should say, in addition I think, that they -- an opportunity was missed in the declaration to give a lot of evidence. And...

(CROSSTALK)

BLIX: Well, they can still provide it. And I hope they will provide it to us orally (ph), but it would have been better if it had been in the declaration.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, are you satisfied or not satisfied with the report at this moment? And what is the next step you are going to take?

BLIX: Well, I should say it would have been much better if the report had provided a lot of evidence. And much of it was repetition on what has been said before. So I don't think that you can put together a report of 10,000 pages within one month without taking a lot of the old material. But there is also some new material and we are analyzing that. Mostly related to non-weapons related activities, though. QUESTION: When are you going to go Baghdad (ph)?

BLIX: Well, we don't know yet. But...

QUESTION: (inaudible) you'll confront them on these questions?

BLIX: No, we have about 90 inspectors down there. And they can also ask...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BLIX: Well, they opened -- as Mr. ElBaradei said, they opened the doors. The cooperation on proceedings, on procedure has been good. They have been helped us also in the terms of logistics. We have been setting up an office in Mosul. On all of these scores access -- prompt access, yes, there has been good cooperation, presumably an instruction to people to let us in the -- in sites of the type that we have visited so far.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) inspector questions?

BLIX: Well, we still have these outstanding questions from the past where evidence is needed.

QUESTION: Are you going to put formally a list of new questions to the Iraqis in two weeks? What's going to happen? Are you going to, as informally (inaudible)

BLIX: Well, I think we need to come a little further in the analysis first. But certainly the questions which are open will still remain to be put.

ELBARADEI: It's a continuous process. I mean, it's not just one list of questions, yes, answer this question. I mean, we go through analysis. We ask question as we go through the process. And it will take us time before we come, as I said, to a conclusion on the veracity of the declaration. But we are going to keep the council regularly informed.

QUESTION: What can you tell us on the operation on intelligence sharing? There has been a lot of talk about the need for countries to come forward with intelligence. Clearly the U.S. has given several hints they have stuff to give. Have they come forward? Have they told you when they'll come forward?

BLIX: I'm hopeful that we will get more intelligence. But we won't tell you when and what.

QUESTION: Could you give us a score of the Iraqi declaration if you could, both of you, how accurate you think this declaration is compared to what you were expecting?

BLIX: No, I don't think we are -- we are not at school.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, twice there were cases of closed doors, once last Friday and one I understand yesterday. How do you see that? And is it -- does it show you anything?

BLIX: Well, there was an occasion I think, for a visit in a hospital or something. It was on a Friday, the Muslim day of rest. And the place was practicably empty and there were some doors inside, which -- to offices which were closed so they didn't have the keys. The Iraqis offered to break down the doors and we suggested, no, it might not be a good idea. And instead we agreed -- suggested and they agreed that we seal the doors until Saturday morning. Well, that was a...

QUESTION: Yesterday, wasn't there a case yesterday?

BLIX: I think that's enough for the moment.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, coming out of a meeting with the Security Council talking about the Iraqi weapons declaration, basically briefing reports on where they stand at this point. They said that it was not necessarily a profound briefing, nothing truly evident.

We're going to go back -- we are going to go back to the U.N.? OK, we're going to actually take you back -- we are going to take you back to the U.N.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We informed the council that we were deeply disappointed that Iraq has again defied the council's demands and chosen deception and concealment over full disclosure.

The December 7th declaration clearly shows that Iraq has spurned its last opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations. Padded with reams of extraneous material, the declaration fails to address scores of questions pending since 1998. It seeks to deceive when it says that Iraq has no on-going weapons of mass destruction programs. It also fails completely to comply with the provisions of operative paragraph 3 of Resolution 1441.

It is truly unfortunate that Iraq has begun what was supposed to be a new chapter in compliance with council resolutions by falling back on the regime's practice of omissions, evasions and untruths.

As you know, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei have told us that most of the 12,000 pages in the December 7th declaration simply rehash previous full, final and complete declarations that UNSCOM, IAEA and the council have already assessed as inadequate.

It should be obvious that this pattern of systematic holes and gaps in Iraq's declaration is not the result of accidents, editing oversights or technical mistakes.

These are material omissions that, in our view, constitute another material breach.

It is up to Iraq to prove that there is some other explanation besides the obvious one, that this declaration is just one more act of deception in a history of lies from a defiant dictator.

In the days ahead, we intend to continue our analysis of this declaration. We will be consulting with friends, allies and other members of the council. And we will support the efforts of UNMOVIC and IAEA as they carry forward with their work. We also said that we would like to hear from Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei or their representatives more regularly and frequently than envisaged by the current timetable.

Meanwhile, I must emphasize our view that Iraq's December 7th declaration has done nothing to dispel the serious doubts that we have about the regime's veracity and gives us no confidence that Iraq intends to comply with its disarmament obligations.

QUESTION: A very simple question: In accordance with Resolution 1441, Article 4, does the administration now consider Iraq -- after these omissions, evasions, half-truths -- in material breach?

NEGROPONTE: Well, the resolution states right at the outset that Iraq has been and is in material breach. I stated just before you know and I stated to the council this morning that we consider this to be one further material breach of the resolution.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, does this declaration bring us closer to war with Baghdad? And if so, how much?

NEGROPONTE: Well, I don't think this is for me to answer. My role today was to report to the council our reaction to this declaration, what we thought of it, how we felt that it fell short of Iraq's obligations under 1441. I did that to the council and I've given you a summary description of that here this afternoon.

QUESTION: Can I ask you if you are ready to supply the inspectors information, where to go and what to do there, because...

NEGROPONTE: Well, as Dr. Blix said, in reply to a question, that he was hopeful of getting more cooperation in that field from various council members.

There is an obligation in the resolution to provide material that can be helpful to the inspectors. And as I just said, in the days ahead and the weeks ahead, we intend to continue to support UNMOVIC and IAEA in its inspection efforts.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) second chance, would you say that January 27th might be the date at which they reach the end of the second chance?

NEGROPONTE: I mentioned the desirability of more frequent and regular consultations with IAEA and UNMOVIC. So we envisage the likelihood of a briefing from those two organizations well before the January 27th date stipulated.

We mentioned today in the council the likelihood of further discussion during the first full week of January. QUESTION: You and Mr. Wolf (ph) had a series of conversations with Blix over the last week. Can you give us any indication whether you've come closer to, sort of, an understanding on how interviews with Iraqi scientists might be conducted outside the country, and also, some indication of whether there's a, sort of, commitment to, sort of, speed up this process of interviews?

NEGROPONTE: I don't want to get into any details of discussions that we might have had with Dr. Blix or his colleagues, other than to say that we want to be as supportive as we possibly can of the work of the inspectors as they carry forward.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, are you going to give Iraq one last chance to fill in these blanks?

NEGROPONTE: Well, you heard Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei today. They made the point that, in their view, what's happened so far is that there's been quite a bit of cooperation from Iraq in the area of process, but greatly lacking in the area of substance. And I think that they made clear that would have much preferred to see more evidence or evidence in support of many of their contentions. In fact, they have produced literally no new information at all.

QUESTION: Same question, really. What practical effect (OFF- MIKE) Iraq's give you more, in fact, information and other declaration have on your analysis of this and your judgment that they are now in further material breach? And will you give them an opportunity to do so?

NEGROPONTE: Well, I mentioned we will support the U.N. process as it goes forward. Dr. Blix and ElBaradei will be continuing their analyses, and so will we.

And there are these tremendous gaps in knowledge. They need to be addressed. They need to be addressed in a variety of ways, one of which is information that the Iraqis themselves provide the government, another will be through the interviewing of various Iraqi scientists. That is an important element. Another is an accelerated and intensified inspection process.

So this is very, very much of a multifaceted approach. But certainly, we think that the pressure has to be kept on them to provide this full and complete accounting that, obviously, in what we've seen so far, is completely lacking.

Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: Is the U.S. going to go war with Iraq? That is the question still not answered. That's why we bring you these live events, you were just listening to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte making it very clear that the Iraqi declaration to him is one more act of deception. He said the pattern of holes and gaps continues to prove that they are material omissions, just another material breach in the U.N. resolution.

Pretty much echoing what Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector had to say. He spoke to reporters just prior to the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., saying there definitely needs to be more evidence, after reviewing the Iraqi declaration, in a briefing today. There needs to be more evidence to exonerate Iraq from a link to weapons of mass destruction. So, more investigations need to take place in Iraq. The access, according to these leaders, they say has been good, however, this was not a profound briefing, more investigations need to be done, more evidence needs to be brought forth to exonerate Iraq from weapons of mass destruction.

(INTERRUPTED BY BREAKING NEWS)

PHILLIPS: Now I am being told we are going to go back to the U.N., listen in to the deputy Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. Let's listen in.

MOHAMMED SALMAN, DEPUTY IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors have visited all the sites. Any questions mentioned in the report of Mr. Tony Blair and the CIA and none of the allegations put forth were found true.

Regarding any outstanding disarmament issues inherited from the UNSCOM, it's important to note that Resolution 1284 had included a mechanism to deal with these issues. We have notified the director of Baghdad verification center on December 9 of Iraq's readiness to commence a technical dialogue to solve these issues. Iraq is not in a material breach, as the ambassador of the United States of America has said right now.

This is the interpretation of U.S. and doesn't represent the interpretation of the whole international community and UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

The U.S. made it clear that the matter is not disarmament, but to change the legitimate government of Iraq.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, why not U.S. sharing any information or intelligence with IAEA, UNMOVIC, why looking for an excuse?

SALMAN: I think it is better to ask the ambassador of United States to reply on this question.

QUESTION: Mr. Blix just said that he regards this declaration as a missed opportunity, and he says there's a lack of evidence to support the claims that you've made about the (inaudible) weapons of mass destruction that existed in Iraq. Do you question that? Do you disagree with Mr. Blix? Are you disputing his interpretation?

SALMAN: I can say that Iraq will proceed with Mr. Blix in the same cooperation, in the sense of cooperation it has shown in the past.

Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Brief comments from Deputy Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N. Mohammed Salman, very brief in comparison to comments from John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., also chief weapons inspector Hans Blick (sic).

Basically Mr. Ambassador Salman saying that Iraq will continue to support the U.S. -- or the inspectors, rather, and allow them access in Iraq. He did not dispute what Hans Blix had to say, nor the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., keeping his comments quite brief and just continuing to make the point that Iraq will cooperate with inspectors.

(INTERRUPTED BY BREAKING NEWS)

PHILLIPS: ... we go back to the U.N. to listen for more reaction on what has come out of the U.N. and the meeting with -- in the Security Council on the Iraqi weapons declaration.

SERGEY VIKTOROVICH LAVROV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... and that the declaration would be verified through continued inspections and through other means available to inspectors. So we agreed to listen to them again sometime in the first 10 days of January, and we will be waiting for their report.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, do you agree with some countries in the Security Council issuing their own assessment, not waiting only for the inspectors to issue their assessment but they are doing a parallel assessment? Do you approve of that procedure?

LAVROV: Well, it's up to any country to have its own view on any issue in the world affairs. But it does not mean that this view is the view of the Security Council.

And we repeatedly said that we have been hearing allegations that Iraq does continue its WMD programs. We have heard it many times. We never saw any evidence that this is the case.

We don't know whether this is true or not, and we want this to be verified by professionals, by UNMOVIC and by IAEA. To say that we know but we wouldn't tell you is not something which is persuasive, frankly speaking.

It's not a poker game, when you hold your cards and call others' bluff.

Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: As you can see, the reactions continuing to come forward out of the U.N. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., now commenting on the views expressed by U.N. -- chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, saying that those comments are not necessarily the view of the entire Security Council, there is still a lot of investigating to do.

Reminding you once again that Hans Blix just came out moments ago, saying that after taking a look at the Iraqi declaration, that still there needs to be more evidence to prove and to exonerate Iraq from a connection to weapons of mass destruction, and so far Hans Blix and also U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte coming out and saying they don't believe that there has been enough evidence so far to prove that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction, or is building weapons of mass destruction.

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