"I think if they do need time, they should be given the time to do their work and all of us, the Council when they sent them, must have realized that time will be necessary - a reasonable amount of time," the Secretary-General said in remarks to the press at UN Headquarters in New York. He was speaking before the Security Council held an open meeting to hear a 60-day progress report 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).
"I'm not saying forever, but they do need time to get their work done, and I suspect the Council will allow for that time to be done," Mr. Annan said. He also praised Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei for their leadership and recalled that last week they had travelled to Baghdad to convey to senior Iraqi officials what is expected of them.
"They expect a more proactive engagement and I hope the Iraqis will do what the inspectors have asked them to do," said Mr. Annan, who attended the open session of the Council and the closed-door consultations that followed.
The Secretary-General also stressed that the call for Iraqi disarmament came not just from the inspectors but also the international community at large. "The leaders in the region have also come together, all the neighbours, asking [the Iraqis] to work with the inspectors and disarm," he said.
Asked about the effect potential unilateral action by the United States would have on the United Nations and the Security Council, the Secretary-General said that he hoped the Council's current unity could be maintained.
"In my own speech to the General Assembly on 12 September, I stressed the need for multilateralism, the need for Council action, the need for Council legitimacy, and that position has not changed," Mr. Annan said. "I really hope that Iraq will comply and we will be able to get on and disarm Iraq peacefully."
He added, "I have not given up on peace and you shouldn't either."