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[casi] Blix (UNMOVIC Executive Chairman) Interview - Full Transcript (BBC - 18 Aug. 02)

Source: BBC Breakfast with Frost, interview with Hans Blix, conducted by Huw
Edwards, 18 August 2002,


Now from the White House in the past few days came the strongest indication
yet that America will take military action against Iraq regardless of the
debate over weapons inspections in that country. Condalezza Rice, the
National Security Adviser, said that West didn't have the luxury of doing

Even Mr Blair is facing rising pressure from Labour MPs - Bob
Marshall-Andrews underlined that earlier on - and divisions among Cabinet
members too. Meanwhile the United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector, Han Blix,
has received an invitation from Baghdad to hold technical discussions on the
return of weapons inspectors.

But it is worth considering? That was the question I put to Mr Blix, a
little earlier.

UNMOVIC was set up two-and-a-half years by the Security Council and we have
been preparing ourselves for inspections and we are ready for it. So we are
very eager to start inspections. However, you have to read the small print
of any invitation and it seemed to us that this was by no means a
distinction by the Iraqis to invite inspection but rather to suggest
discussions about what issues were open in 1998. We have not been directed
by the Security Council to do that.

We would be very glad to discuss with the Iraqis the practical arrangements
- like where were to land in Baghdad - where are inspectors to be lodged and
the communications and so forth. But the Iraqis have so far not been
interested in discussing that. I hope they will be.

Are you saying that the invitation, as it currently stands, is pretty

It was totally at variance with the order and procedure laid down by the
Security Council and we are not playing any politics of our own. We are
respecting what the Council tells us and therefore their proposal was not
really acceptable as it stood.

Could you tell us then what conditions need to be met so that you can go in
and do the work that you want to do?

Well not very much. If they simply said that you are welcome tomorrow with
the inspectors, we could go in and we will go there. However, we think it
would be useful to avoid having any frictions about practical issues - like
landings, like communications in Iraq - to discuss those in advance. We are
ready to do that and we have said that to the Iraqis. We have also given
them a list of such issues. But they have not so far responded to that.

So crucially Mr Blix, the Iraqis want discussions about a disarmament
mission before giving inspectors unlimited access? You want the opposite
don't you?

They want talk first and in the light of the talks maybe decide whether they
will invite inspections. Whereas the Council assumes that we will go in and
we will take a look for about two months in Iraq and thereafter try to
identify which are the important issues and take them to the Council for
approval - not to the Iraqis for approval.

Well it seems to me Mr Blix that you are a very, very long way from getting
the kind of invitation you want from Iraq at the moment. Would you agree
with that?

No, not necessarily. I think there are many surprises and unexpected turns
in this matter. We are simply patiently waiting for an invitation and to do
the job. We are determined to be an authority of integrity and of the UN -
we serve the Council and nobody else. We are also not coming to Iraq to
harass or to insult or humiliate them - that's not our purpose. We want to
try to find out what is the situation with the weapons of mass destruction -
do they have any, or they don't have any. And the Iraqis who claim that they
have absolutely none, I think in my view, they should be interested in
having us.

Well the response of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Anan, to Iraq's invitation
was very cautious. But the response from America and Britain was immediate
rejection. Did that upset you at all? Did you think the invitation should be
considered by America and Britain at least semi-seriously?

No. We had absolutely no contact with the British or the Americans or
anybody else before the Secretary-General answered. He and I talked about it
and we analysed it. We reached it on a Thursday and a Friday morning - he
and I were agreed on what should be answered.

The British and the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese, of course can
form their opinions as they like, but we answered on our own.

Well, there is a view of course that the confrontation over weapons
inspections might be used by the White House as one reason to push ahead
with military action. Now are you concerned that you and your team could be
caught up in that type of reasoning? Would that not be unhelpful in your

Well, I do not presume that we are going to have an easy task. But I think
that we have to be absolutely firm in being a UN authority - the preceding
organisation, UNSCOM, was very skilful but it was much more directly
dependent upon member states. We have our own inspectors paid by the UN and
we have a greater degree of independence and we intend to exercise that on
behalf of the Council.

But how much more difficult does it make your job trying to gain access to
these weapon sites, if they exist, while President Bush in the White House
and Britain are all making very belligerent noises towards Baghdad?

Well, I would think that if the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone
is the inevitable then they might conclude that it's not very meaningful to
have inspections. But my conviction is that the worry - the concern - that
they may retain weapons of mass destruction is a very important element,
both in Washington and anywhere else. And if inspectors are allowed in and
if they are given really unfettered access with no delays etc., they I think
this might play an important role and we would be eager to do that and to
help towards a non-belligerent solution.

If the inspections continue to be blocked, is that reason enough to press
ahead with more direct action - if I can call it that?


Well, that's not really for me to answer at all. We are doing what the
Council tells us and the governments, of course, will react and they will
draw their own conclusions. We are ready to serve the world community.

Now given all the expertise and all the intelligence at your disposal, what
would you expect to find in Iraq, Mr Blix? Would you expect to find a big
weapons programme or not on the basis of what you know?

Well, we are not here in order to speculate about what they have but rather
to find on site - in situ, what there may be or may not be. There are many
issues which, in our view, are unclear and which would need to be answered.
So that will be our task.

Of course, we read the newspapers and we hear what various intelligence
organisations are saying and I'm not assuming at all that the Iraqis have
retained weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it would evidently
be na´ve of me to conclude that they don't. In that case, the inspection
would not be needed. So inspection on site is important.

Well, lots of people listening to this interview will find a little
surprising that you have no idea what the Iraqis may or may not have there.

Well, we listen to, as I said, what various intelligence organisations are
saying but they are not providing any evidence on the table and it would be
our job to go to the various places they might have talked about and see on
site whether there was something or not.

What about the current atmosphere? The US National Security Adviser,
Condolezza Rice, was saying very clearly just last week, that in her view
there was a strong moral case for a change of regime in Baghdad. Now when we
have that kind of rhetoric, doesn't it make your job almost impossible?

Well, we are not given the task by the Security Council to express views on
the regime in Baghdad. There are human rights mechanisms in the UN, reports
about the situation in Iraq and we read them. We have a very defined task
and that is go for inspection and look for weapons of mass destruction.

Is it your hunch, Mr Blix, that within the next few weeks or months, you
might well find yourself in Iraq looking at these sites? Do you think that
that is going to happen?

I really don't know. So far the Iraqis have not given a sign that they are
ready for inspection but it may well happen. This situation is one that had
many unexpected elements from all sides.

Well, we wish you good luck with your work Mr Blix and thank you very much
for talking to us.

We are ready for it. Thank you.

Hans Blix talking to me a short while ago.


Nathaniel Hurd
90 7th Ave.
Apt. #6
Brooklyn, NY  11217
Tel. (M): 917-407-3389
Tel. (H): 718-857-7639

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