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UN monitoring body backs Blix’s Baghdad approach

Iraq: board of UN monitoring body backs Blix’s approach to talks with Baghdad

6 September – The United Nations board which provides guidance to the head of the UN inspections team for Iraq has voiced full backing for his leadership, according to a report released today at the world body’s Headquarters in New York.

The College of Commissioners for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) “expressed its support for and confidence in [Executive] Chairman [Hans Blix] and the approach that he had taken in the talks with the Government of Iraq and in his statements to the media,” the report states.

The Security Council created UNMOVIC in December 1999 to undertake the responsibilities of the former UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), which was charged with monitoring the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – a precondition for lifting the international sanctions against the country.

In its report, the College also noted that, in the three rounds of talks held this year in the context of the Secretary-General’s dialogue with Iraq, UNMOVIC had explained in some detail how it is organized and how it plans to operate on behalf of the Security Council and in accordance with the Council’s relevant resolutions.

“The College welcomed the interest expressed by Iraq but regretted that as yet Iraq had not accepted resumed inspections in full conformity with binding Security Council resolutions,” the report states, stressing that a successful implementation of those texts is indispensable for a comprehensive solution of outstanding issues.

The report also provides an account of the expert-level talks held in Vienna in July, including UNMOVIC’s view of two unresolved disarmament issues: the unilateral destruction of Scud-B fuel and oxidizer and the fate of 122mm rocket warheads.

The talks also dealt with practical measures related to the resumption of inspections, with UNMOVIC presenting a list of issues that included “support, provision of minders, communications in-country and with New York, use of the Commission’s Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Centre, possible establishment of regional offices in Basra and Mosul, installation of monitoring equipment, entry into and exit from Iraq, accommodation of both long-term and short-term staff, enhanced security, landing sites for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters and overflights in Iraq.”

Since its establishment, UNMOVIC has been unable to conduct any inspections in Iraq because of Baghdad’s refusal to cooperate with the Commission.

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