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Weapons inspections in Iraq


Weapons inspections in Iraq

An Australian, Dr Bill Jolley, will serve as chief weapons inspector on the first inspections team in Iraq under the new UN Security Council Resolution, UNSC 1441, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

Several other Australians - all current Defence personnel - are likely to join the first United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) inspections team at a later date.

The arrangement follows news that Iraq has told the UN that it will cooperate with the new resolution.

UNMOVIC draws on a roster of inspectors from around the world. Australians with relevant experience are also likely to participate in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection teams.

Dr Jolley has been working with UNMOVIC in New York on leave from Defence. He will be part of the team due in Iraq on 25 November and will be chief weapons inspector for one month from 3 December.

Several Defence personnel will be released from duties for three months to undertake weapons inspections in Iraq.

The Australian inspectors will be serving as UN employees and not as a national contingent. They have previously received comprehensive training in weapons inspection from UNMOVIC. They have also signed confidentiality agreements with UNMOVIC and will not be available for media comment.

Their extensive training overseas included disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation issues as well as familiarisation with the entire inspection procedure and policies applicable to weapons of mass destruction.

Australians have a long and commendable track record of conducting weapons inspections in a professional manner during conflicts in the Middle East. They have been involved in inspections of chemical and biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq war and post-Gulf War under the United Nations Special Commission, replaced by UNMOVIC.

Australia has told UNMOVIC and the IAEA that we will support them in whatever way we can, consistent with our proud history of contributing to international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

Saddam Hussein accepted resolution 1441 only with an assertion that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction. This is not the case to the best of our knowledge. Robust inspections will enable this issue to be tested.

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