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Negroponte, Greenstock Respond to Blix's Remarks

Aired January 27, 2003 - 11:36   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: ... we interrupt you for Ambassador Negroponte. Let's listen.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... pass Resolution 1441 and gave Iraq a final opportunity to voluntarily disarm. Unfortunately, nothing we have heard today gives us hope that Iraq intends to fully comply with Resolution 1441 or any of the 16 resolutions that preceded it over the last 12 years. The purpose of 1441 was disarmament. It was never the task of the inspectors to look under every rock to find Iraq's hidden weapons. Inspections are a means to verifying and achieving disarmament when a country has determined that it will voluntarily disarm.

Inspections are a means to an end, and they cannot be expected to achieve disarmament when a country has an active program of denial and deception as is the case with Iraq.

The international community knows what voluntary disarmament looks like. We have seen it with South Africa, the Ukraine and other nations. And what we have seen from Iraq over the past 12 years and over the past 80 days is not it.

Resolution 1441 presented Iraq with at least two important tests: First, would Iraq submit a currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its WMD program and delivery systems?

And Second, would Iraq cooperate immediately, unconditionally and actively with UNMOVIC and IAEA?

What we have seen over the past 80 days is that, in spite of the urgency introduced in Resolution 1441, Iraq is back to business as usual. The danger is that the council may return to business as usual as well.

We received a revealingly inadequate declaration that the inspectors themselves have called rich in volume and poor on information. It was a declaration that did not even address the most basic questions of concern, dating back to 1999 as contained in the compendium of outstanding disarmament issues prepared by UNSCOM. And we have seen nothing since the December 7 declaration to indicate that they plan to remedy this situation and come into compliance with Resolution 1441.

In the past few weeks alone, inspectors found 12 chemical warheads that should have been in the declaration but were not. They also found 3,000 pages of secret Iraqi government documents, documents, I would note that should've been included in the declaration, but were not -- hidden in the home of an Iraqi scientist.

This is physical evidence that Iraq's declaration is inaccurate and incomplete.

In terms of cooperation, there is an entire state apparatus in Iraq whose sole purpose is to obstruct the inspections. Inspectors are outnumbered by minders, sometimes by as many as five-to-one, each time they head out on a mission.

Iraq has canceled interviews and has refused Dr. Blix's request to employ the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, a clear violation of Resolution 1441.

They are not cooperating unconditionally. Iraq is failing both of these tests. And in the days ahead, we believe the council and its member governments must face its responsibilities and consider what message -- council and resolution -- sends to Iraq and other proliferators. It benefits no one to let Saddam think he can wear us down into business as usual as he has practiced it over the past 12 years.

Thank you very much...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Which way America will go? Will go unilaterally, or it still wants to work with the Security Council?

NEGROPONTE: We're going to go into these consultations now and again on Wednesday, and I'm sure there'll be more on all of this as the situation unfolds, but I must excuse myself.

ZAHN: Ambassador Negroponte saying some things we have heard before, that he believes the declaration the Iraqis made was not only inaccurate but incomplete, and basically saying the Iraqis are back in the business of what they were doing before. Let's listen to Ambassador Greenstock of Great Britain.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... carried on the U.N. TV. I just thought you'd like a comment or two in between the public report from the inspectors and our going into formal consultations, because you may have to wait quite a while for this debate to develop.

Let me just say what I think is going to happen this week. Today, now, we're going into informal consultations to ask a number of further questions of Drs. Blix and ElBaradei about their report to try and tease out further facts that are of interest to the Security Council that they may not have wanted to produce in public. And I don't think any of that discussion today will be conclusive.

We are then going to allow a couple of days for Security Council delegations to report back to their capitals and get further instructions for the debate and informal consultations we're having on Wednesday, which will be more of a debate between us rather than with the inspectors, and will be of the occasion for making in informal consultations a statement of our national position so far.

I don't think that that debate will necessarily be conclusive.

Indeed, most members of the Security Council, if not all members of the Security Council, regard this as part of an ongoing process. The German presidency has made it clear that he would like to have a further report from the inspectors on the 14th of February, and the U.K. would welcome that, and we wish to hear further how the inspectors are getting on.

Now let me make a comment or two on what we've just heard, because I won't be taking questions after this statement. I think what we have heard is a catalogue of unresolved questions, and it's quite clear to all members of the Security Council that this is not going to be resolved peacefully through the U.N. process unless we have 100 percent cooperation from Iraq.

What I will call "grade A" cooperation is what Hans Blix has called the South African model, where you don't just have access and all the process allowed by the inspectors; you have guidance to where the materials and the documents are, the presentation of where they are and the offering up for destruction of what the Iraqis have.

That contrasts with passive cooperation or partial passive cooperation or the semblance of cooperation which is accompanied by the hindering, the obstruction of what is going on in Iraq.

This is not what we are looking for. And I think that it has to be said as a matter of time. It's not a matter time; it's a matter of attitude. And the attitude we're getting from the Iraqis at the moment is just not sufficient for the eradication of the programs that we know about.

That's what we're going to discuss. That is why time is running out, and that is why we need now -- we all know we need now -- grade A cooperation from the Iraqis in a way which is not happening.

Let's see whether or not we can get that. Thank you very much.

ZAHN: All right. We just listened to the British ambassador at the U.N. talk about what he has just heard at the U.N., also taking the microphone now is another ambassador. We're going to come back to that in just a second, but basically, Mr. Greenstock said that they're going to try to tease additional facts out of the inspectors perhaps that they couldn't share in a public forum. He said there certainly are a catalog of unresolved questions that need to be addressed.

Let's quickly go to Terrence Taylor, a man who knows an awful lot about this. He was one of the chief inspectors in Iraq from 1993 to 1997, and the head of UNSCOM -- walk us through a quick list of the harshest indictments Mr. Blix had today of the Iraqi regime and its weapons program.

TERRENCE TAYLOR, FMR. U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, if we were to take what Dr. Blix called the substance, that is the materiel itself, I think that one of the most worrying areas was the chemicals and materials required for the production of VX nerve agents, the most lethal nerve agent known to have been in chemical weapons arsenals anywhere. So this is particularly worrying, and he mentioned quantities and so on. So the Iraqis have got to really deliver up this kind of information.

ZAHN: And basically the Iraqis have said in the declaration they've never been weaponized. And now Mr. Blix is confirming for the first time in a public venue that indeed his inspectors have found that it was weaponized.

TAYLOR: That's right. I think the Iraqis only admitted early on to pilot scale, laboratory scale production of this agent. Now, what Dr. Blix has said, there is evidence that they did produce, they did weaponize this agent, and they did solve the problems of stabilization of the chemical agent to make it more readily usable.

ZAHN: Mr. Blix also complained that U-2 surveillance planes were not being allowed to fly when and where they wanted to. How critical is that to your fellow inspectors getting the job done as you see it?

TAYLOR: Well, I think it's absolutely vital. We had the U-2 overflights during our inspections in the 1990s, and found them immensely valuable, and this is part of the complaints on the process. So it is not only on the substance, there are holdups and short comings on the process, as well.

ZAHN: Mr. Blix also made ressment (ph) -- reference to the harassment of inspectors and recent disturbing incidents. Now, what is going to change if the period of inspections is extended? Why would that change?

TAYLOR: Well, it's hard to see it changing without a strategic decision taken by the regime in Baghdad. What he was complaining about there was President Saddam Hussein and his vice president accusing the inspectors of being spies. This was the substance of that particular complaint. So unless the top leadership makes it clear they're going to cooperate in every sense of that word as Ambassador Greenstock of Great Britain said just now, is that 100 percent cooperation is needed, and it looks as though more time might be available, but not very much time.

ZAHN: Before we head into break, a final thought about what leapt out to you today as we listen to a little more than just an hour of speaking from both inspectors.

TAYLOR: Well, I thought we heard a very tough analysis from Dr. Hans Blix. That doesn't surprise me. I think he gave a very good analysis, he displayed all the shortcomings, particularly on the side of substance. So, a lot more needs to be done, but both chief inspectors really are asking for more time. It seems to me that the first part of this 60 days of inspections is very much about reconnaissance and feeling their way because neither inspection agencies have their full complement of inspectors or helicopters, and they still don't have the U-2 overflights. So we haven't seen inspections at full capacity yet for a very long time. ZAHN: Based on what you've just reported now, what we have all heard this morning, why aren't any of the things we've just gone through considered a material breach?

TAYLOR: Well, they are by some countries, and certainly by the United States, and there's been a repeated material breach by Iraq. Of course, the most recent one, as publicly stated, was the full, final and complete declaration of the 7th of December, which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that was a material breach because it fell short. Now, no doubt governments are now analyzing this report, and will probably come up with some other statements to the same effect, certainly probably from the U.S.

ZAHN: Well, we would appreciate if you'd stand by until the other side of this break. We need more of your expertise.

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