Disarming Iraq: Introduction of draft UNMOVIC Work Programme, Security Council 19 March 2003 Executive Chairman Dr. Hans Blix

News and Press Release
Originally published
As delivered
Mr. President

UNMOVIC was established by the Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) and was enabled to enter Iraq and carry out its inspection work almost three years later.

It might seem strange that we are presenting a draft work programme only after having already performed inspections for three and a half months. However, there were good reasons why the Council wanted to give us some time after the start of inspections to prepare this programme. During the months of the build up of our resources in Iraq, Larnaca and New York and of inspections in Iraq we have - as was indeed the purpose - learnt a great deal that has been useful to know for the drafting of our work programme and for the selection of key remaining disarmament tasks. It would have been difficult to draft it without this knowledge and this practical experience.

The time lines established in resolution 1284 (1999) have been understood to mean that the work programme was to be presented for the approval of the Council at the latest on 27 March. In order to meet the wishes of members of the Council we made the Draft Work Programme available already on Monday this week. I note that on the very same day we were constrained together with other UN units to order the withdrawal of all our inspectors and other international staff from Iraq.

I naturally feel sadness that three and a half months of work carried out in Iraq have not brought the assurances needed about the absence of weapons of mass destruction or other proscribed items in Iraq, that no more time is available for our inspections and that armed action now seems imminent.

At the same time I feel a sense of relief that it was possible to withdraw yesterday all UN international staff, including that of UNMOVIC and the IAEA. I note that the Iraqi authorities gave full cooperation to achieve this and that our withdrawal to Larnaca took place in a safe and orderly manner. Some sensitive equipment was also taken to Larnaca, while other equipment was left and our offices in Baghdad have been sealed. Some inspection staff will remain for a short time in Larnaca to prepare inspection reports. Others who have come from our roster of trained staff, will go home to their previous positions and could be available again, if the need arises.

Mr. President,

I would like further to make some specific comments that relate to the Draft Programme. I am aware of ideas which have been advanced that specific groups of disarmament issues could be tackled and solved within specific time lines. The programme does not propose such an approach, in which, say, we would aim at addressing and resolving the issues of anthrax and VX in March and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs) in April. In the work we pursued until now we worked broadly and did not neglect any identified disarmament issues. However, it is evidently possible for the Council to single out a few issues for resolution within a specific time, just as the draft programme before you selects twelve key tasks progress on which could have an impact on the Council's assessment of cooperation of Iraq under resolution 1284 (1999). Whatever approach is followed, results will depend on Iraq's active cooperation on substance.

May I add that in my last report I commented on information provided by Iraq on a number of unresolved issues. Since then, Iraq has sent several more letters on such issues. These efforts by Iraq should be acknowledged, but, as I noted in this Council on 7 March the value of the information thus provided must be soberly judged. Our experts have found so far that in substance only limited new information has been provided that will help to resolve remaining questions.

Mr. President,

Under resolution 1284 (1999) UNMOVIC's work programme is to be submitted to the Council for approval. I note, however, that what was drafted and prepared for implementation by a large staff of UNMOVIC inspectors and other resources deployed in Iraq, would seem to have only limited practical relevance in the current situation.

UNMOVIC is a subsidiary organ of the Security Council. Until the Council takes a new decision regarding the role and functions of the Commission, the previous resolutions remain valid to the extent this is practicable. It is evidently for the Council to consider the next steps.

In its further deliberations I hope the Council will be aware that it has in UNMOVIC staff a unique body of international experts who owe their allegiance to the United Nations, and who are trained as inspectors in the field of weapons of mass destruction. While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has a large department of skilled nuclear inspectors and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has a large staff of skilled chemical weapons inspectors, no other international organizations have trained inspectors in the field of biological weapons and missiles. There is also in the secretariat of UNMOVIC staff familiar with and trained in the analysis, both of discipline specific issues and in the broad questions of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. With increasing attention being devoted to the proliferation of these weapons this capability may be valuable to the Council.

I thank you, Mr. President.