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RE: [casi] Hans Blix

> Hans Blix has just appeared on TV, talking on BBC TV's Breakfast
> programme saying that Iraq (not the Iraqi govt) was refusing to
> meet Security Council demands over weapons inspections.
> Are people like this incredibly naive or heartlessly cynical? Do
> they suppress the truth or do they genuinely believe the half
> truths that they sell us?
> What can people tell me about Hans Blix?

Blix, like a lot of people involved in this issue, is in a difficult
position.  The Security Council has appointed him to run Unmovic on its
behalf.  The Security Council's resolutions call on Iraq to disarm
unconditionally in a number of areas, and give Unmovic broad powers to
pursue Iraq's disarmament.  So, Blix' job is to bring this about.  I think
that he understands that this involves diplomacy.

Since taking office in 2000 he has, as far as I can tell, tried to send
consistent signals to the Iraqi government that he is interested in a fair
deal.  For example, he has held technical meetings in which Unmovic has
tried to clarify its questions and procedures.  The intent here seem to have
been to give the Iraqi government a sense that they, although not yet in
Iraq, were doing what they could to professionally prepare for their job.

More interestingly, when Gwynne Roberts reported last year that the Iraqi
government may have tested a nuclear bomb (something discussed on this
list), the final word on the subject seems to have been Blix' rebuttal.  On
11 June, 2001, Reuters reported Blix to have said that, "the information is
totally wrong".  The story noted that, on the basis of "evidence in [Unmovic
and IAEA] files, from overhead flights and previous ground inspections
'there had been no nuclear tests' nor a tunnel under the lake" ("Did Iraq
conduct a clandestine nuclear test?", Evelyn Leopold).

What seems interesting to me about this, is that Blix did not need to
address this issue.  In doing so, however, he indicated that Unmovic was
committed to fairness with respect to Iraq's weapons.  Given the corruption
of Unmovic's predecessor, Unscom, I think that this approach is exactly the
right one.

So far, so good, but there's more to this.  The US government is committed
to overthrowing its Iraqi counterpart, which sharply reduces the Iraqi
government's incentives to lay down its weapons in advance.  Thus, Iraqi
government offers on weapons inspections have been hedged: they want talks
on inspections; they want talks on other issues as well; they want questions
answered.  In my view, I cannot understand how they could be expected to act
otherwise under the circumstances.  Nevertheless, their position falls short
of full co-operation.

Blix, I am sure, is aware of this.  There is a school of thought that holds
that getting inspectors back into Iraq offers the best hope of stopping a
new war as it further stacks world opinion against one.  I don't know what
Blix thinks of that position.  In some ways, it is irrelevant: his job is to
run Unmovic on the Security Council's behalf.  It is not his job to modify
Security Council policy.


Colin Rowat

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