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Hans Blix Answers Questions

Aired April 22, 2003 - 13:02   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go live to New York, the United Nations, Hans Blix -- Blix talking to reporters after a meeting where the U.N. is discussing the issue of his team of inspectors, perhaps, returning to Iraq. Hans Blix from New York.

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: ... will be open to international verification.

So I think that within the next days and weeks, discussions will continue between the members of the council. They are the ones who decide. We are not the ones who decide. We are the servants of the council, and we can give them technical advice as to what is needed.

As you saw from my text, I think it is necessary that the rights we had, namely to free access and unrestricted access to sites in Iraq and to individuals in Iraq, remains important. We may wish to visit sites -- if we come back, we will visit sites where we have been before, compare them to what we have seen, we have -- and also to see people and talk to people we have seen before.

We have an enormous database that we can compare the situation on the ground with the information we have now. We already do that when we read about inspections, read the information that comes from Iraq. We are trying to compare that with the data that we have in -- available to us.

I'll stop at that point. If there are any questions, I'll try to...

QUESTION: Do you think it is safe for your inspectors to go into Iraq straight away? Or do you accept the British view that it is too unstable?

BLIX: No, I think everybody in the council realizes that that's too early now, and that a greater -- the safety of the inspectors must be guaranteed. But that doesn't mean that you can go on forever. But there certainly has to be better than now.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Dr. Blix, the prospects of you working together with the groups now on the ground in Iraq and coming together with a joint certification?

BLIX: Well, as I said, I don't see an adversarial relation. Indeed, we find that some of the people who are there now were in with UNSCOM in the past, and some of them, I might even add, were working with UNMOVIC. So I don't see any adversarial relation.

We are all interested in finding the truth about the situation, whatever it is. So that's fine.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, given your latest comments about the Americans perhaps deceiving you in the past...

BLIX: What doing -- doing what?

QUESTION: About Americans perhaps deceiving...

BLIX: Deceiving? I have never used such a word, please.

QUESTION: Maybe not deceiving, but anyways, but given the relations between you and the Americans, do you think it's conceivable that the inspectors will return before your end -- the end of your term, which is June, I understand?

BLIX: Well, I don't know. I pointed out in my statement that some of the interviews that I have been given in English and then translated into another language and then retranslated back into English happens it gives the wrong results and certainly the wrong words. And I had to correct that impression.

Maybe I need to be clearer. But my relations with the UNMOVIC relationship with the United States is with the government of the United States. And I do not wish to conclude that anything that is being stated by someone who prefers serving as anonymity that this is necessarily expresses the position of the government. And I think the position of the government will be told to us here in New York and through the Security Council, though I do not exclude that there will be a cooperation re-established.

QUESTION: Before June?

BLIX: I have no idea about the timing.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, what do you make of the fact that they haven't been able to find any weapons of mass destruction in our coalition forces? Yet can you characterize whether or not they are qualified to be detectives in looking for weapons of mass destruction?

BLIX: Well, they are -- they are still in relatively early in the process. And I have consistently answered to media that we will have to watch the further work of those coalition inspectors who are there.

But of course, it is conspicuous that so far they have not stumbled upon anything evidence.

And I think I'd also note -- register that Dr. Al-Saudi (ph), who was my opposite number and who has been in the central position for many, many years, that on surrendering, he declared that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that time would bear him out. Well, I do not see that he would -- he was no longer under any instructions from a government to say that. And I think it's interesting. But of course statements, whether by him or by anyone else is not evidence. And therefore the extensive efforts which are made now are justified.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, you said in your BBC interview this morning, you said -- you characterized some of the American Intelligence is shaky, I believe, and you seemed to suggest that the Americans had somehow exaggerated the evidence that they had to make a case in the Security Council for military action.

Is it your view that the Americans to some degree exaggerated or manipulated some of the intelligence to try to achieve the success and support for military action in the council?

BLIX: Well, I have never referred to the intelligence of a particular country. In my comments, I have talked about intelligence generally. And I don't think that my original word would have been shaky, but certainly that there were -- there are shortcomings in the intelligence. I never said that it was pathetic. These are not words that I have used.

But that they were shortcomings, it is clear. And that refers not only to the intelligence from the U.S. side, but from around the world. And I need hardly repeat concrete examples of that. There is the yellow cake contract which we have talked about. There is the question about the aluminum tubes. And there is also further the fact that out of the many sites that were given to us by intelligence, and which we visited, only in a few instances did we find anything and nothing related to weapons of mass destruction.

Now, I have not criticized intelligence for this. I have simply said that is difficult and the results that have come out have been, and therefore not -- had the shortcomings.

QUESTION: Do you believe that your role is essential? In your reading of the resolutions, in order to lift the sanctions, is your role essential? Do you have to say the country is clear of weapons of mass destruction?

And secondly, do you have to wait for a government to be in place before you can do your work?

BLIX: Well, the resolutions are adopted by the Security Council, and the council can at any time modify them or abrogate them. So they have plenary power.

They are still on the books. They are still valid. And if you then read what do they say today, well, there under 687, adopted in 1991, the council can reach agreement to stop the sanctions altogether.

In 1284, which came in 1999, there is a more complex procedure. It is foreseeing that there can be a suspension of the sanctions; that presupposes that UNMOVIC and IAEA would testify that there has been 120 days of cooperation all respects, including the resolution of some key remaining disarmament tasks. And they would in addition have to work out both the financial and operational arrangements.

Well, it's well for the council to decide all of that. And I think that they will devote themselves to a dialogue within the council before they come back.

QUESTION: Can you go back without a government being in place? Who would you deal with?

BLIX: Well, if the council tells us so, we would do that, too.

QUESTION: Do you think that the U.S.-led inspections will have enough credibility to convince the world that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction? From your experience, do you think that would be sufficient?

BLIX: Well, I said to the council that we are convinced about the objectivity of the determination of the inspectors who are there for the coalition forces. I have not the slightly reason to doubt that.

But at the same time, I'm also convinced that the world and the Security Council, which have dealt with this issue for over 10 years, that they would like to have the inspection and verification, which bear the imprint of that independence and of some institution that is authorized by the whole international community.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, you told the council that your inspectors could go back at any time. But you also told them that your equipment in Iraq had been looted. So if you do send your inspectors back, suppose there is a major find and the coalition forces invite UNMOVIC inspectors in, how effective will they be in doing any work in Iraq?

BLIX: Well, I would not envisage that they would come in to a, sort of, examination of a major find, but I think it will be in a more stable basis that we would come there. And I've said that within a couple of weeks, we think we would be able to be there after green light.

I think that's enough for the moment. Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: We have been listening to Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, at the United Nations talking about his desire for his team to return to Iraq to certify, in some independent way, that Iraq is now free of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and that's a prerequisite for lifting U.N. sanctions, which are placed against Iraq, something the Bush administration would like to see. Nevertheless, the Bush administration has been resisting a U.N. team on ground in Iraq. Instead, is seeking to have a U.S.-led team drawing upon some of the expertise in that U.N. team.


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