Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, which holds the Council's rotating presidency for the month of January, was speaking to the press outside the Council's chambers, where the 15-member body heard reports by Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Following the Council's open meeting, where only the two chief inspectors spoke, representatives of several countries addressed the Iraq issue in their remarks to the press. Speaking in his national capacity, Ambassador de La Sablière reaffirmed his country's support for the inspection process, noting that it has been going on so far without difficulties. "They have already produced some results but there are still question marks," he said. "This is the reason why Iraq must cooperate more actively in accordance with resolution 1441."
Ambassador John D. Negroponte of the United States told reporters that "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." He underscored that Iraq was failing in at least two important tests presented by resolution 1441 - submitting an accurate and complete declaration of all aspects of its programme of weapons of mass destruction and cooperating unconditionally and actively with UNMOVIC and the IAEA. "In the days ahead we believe the Council and member governments must face its responsibilities and consider what message the Council resolution sends to Iraq and other proliferators," he said.
For his part, Iraq's Ambassador, Mohammed A. Aldouri, stated that Baghdad had fully complied with all its obligations under resolution 1441 by providing a complete declaration and, since 27 November, actively cooperating by facilitating interviews and providing the IAEA and UNMOVIC unconditional access for inspections. He said that all sites alleged by the US and the UK to be producing weapons of mass destruction have been repeatedly inspected and tested, and the results prove that Iraq is clear of such weapons. He added that Iraq had expressed its willingness to clarify any questions and resolve any outstanding issues.
Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had requested an open meeting of the Council on inspections, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa recalled that his country had been repeatedly used as an example of the way inspections should be conducted on nuclear disarmament matters. He pointed out, in this context, that with all the cooperation the Government of South Africa had extended, it still took more than two years for the inspectors to be satisfied. "We would hope, in the Non-Aligned Movement, that the Security Council will allow the inspectors sufficient time to do what we agreed they should be doing in Iraq," he said.
Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom described today's briefing by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei as a catalogue of unresolved questions. "It is quite clear to all members of the Security Council that this is not going to be resolved peacefully, through the UN process, unless we have 100 per cent cooperation from Iraq," he said, citing Mr. Blix's mention of the South Africa model as an example of "grade A" cooperation. "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," he said.
Zhang Yishan, China's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said that the 10-point statement agreed last week between the UN inspectors and Iraq was a positive step, showing that Iraq was prepared to make more efforts. He also noted that in their reports, both officials raised some questions that need to be clarified. "We share the view of many that this process needs to continue and more time is needed for the inspectors and we trust that UNMOVIC and the IAEA will continue their homework impartially, objectively and professionally," he said.
According to Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, the main conclusion heard today was that all the new discoveries, documents and physical evidence "do not change the basic assumption on which UNMOVIC and the IAEA are working, namely that they don't have evidence that Iraq has resumed its WMD programmes nor can they assert that all these programmes have been stopped." He said the inspections needed to continue their work and Russia would support that effort "because we do believe that the inspectors are doing a very useful job" and they must continue to ensure that WMD programmes have indeed been stopped.
Syria's Ambassador, Mikhail Wehbe, said he had informed the Council of the recent ministerial meeting in Istanbul of the six neighbouring countries of Iraq, which concentrated on pursuing a peaceful solution. He noted that all these countries were ready to cooperate with the Security Council to find a peaceful solution, since the Council was the only authority with the full responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the world. He also stressed that the meeting agreed on the necessity of allowing the UN inspectors enough time to finish their job.
Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany emphasized that the Council's common goal is to fully disarm Iraq peacefully. "On the other hand, the question whether this can be done peacefully, is up to Iraq," he said, stressing that Baghdad has to comply fully, and that the report of the two chief inspectors showed there was "ample space" for better and more proactive cooperation on the Iraqi side. "We should give the inspectors the realistic opportunity to achieve their goals in a peaceful manner," he said, adding that Germany wanted the Security Council to remain united to achieve the goal of fully disarming Iraq in a peaceful way.