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Initial analysis of Iraqi declaration next week

Chief UN arms inspector predicts initial analysis of Iraqi declaration ready by next week

10 December – The chief United Nations weapons inspector today predicted that an initial assessment by UN experts currently examining Iraq's declaration on its arms programme would be presented to the Security Council early next week.

Speaking to reporters in New York following a working luncheon of the Security Council, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said experts would first focus on creating a "working version of the text" that could be shared with all Council members - one free of possible sensitive information on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"I told the Council that we hope that we will have been through the main part of the document, which is about 3,000 pages, by Friday," he said, noting that much translation from Arabic would be required as part of this effort.

Mr. Blix added that the five permanent members of the Council - China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States - had been asked to offer input by Friday. "By Monday we will be able to have a working version of the text of the main part which we can share with all the members of the Council," he said.

By 19 December, the UN inspectors would come to the Council with "a very preliminary assessment of the substance" of the declaration, he said. "What we are now dealing with is only to take out of the declaration things that could be risky from the point of view of proliferation… as you call it 'cookbooks for proliferation.'"

Responding to questions, Mr. Blix said UNMOVIC had "put the Iraqis on notice that we will ask for names of people who were active in the different [weapons] programmes" in conformity with the Council's resolution.

Also speaking to the press, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Council had held a "frank discussion" on the way forward as the inspectors analyze the Iraqi declaration. "I think what is important is that there is a clear understanding of how to proceed, and there was also very strong support for the work of the inspectors," he said.

TRANSCRIP OF HANS BLIX AND UNSG PRESS CONFERENCE

New York, 10 December 2002 - Press encounter with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix following Security Council luncheon hosted by the Presidency, Colombia (unofficial transcript)

SG: Good afternoon. We have just had a very frank discussion with the Council members on the way forward as the inspectors analyse the Iraqi Declaration. And I think what is important is that there is a clear understanding of how to proceed and there was also a very strong support for the work of the inspectors and for Mr. Blix and Dr. [Mohamed] ElBaradei and their teams. I think Mr. Blix may want to say something.

HB: Perhaps I should tell you that, as of today, we now have [43 inspectors from UNMOVIC and 27] from the IAEA, so we are up to 70 inspectors all in all. We have a helicopter in place and we have inspected quite a few sites well in advance of the 45-day limit that the Security Council has given. As to the declaration, you know that it has arrived, and we are working on it -- both here and our colleagues in Vienna are working on the nuclear part of it.

I told the Council that we hope that we will have been through the main part of the document, which is about 3,000 pages, by Friday. The bottleneck, frankly, is translation; we have about 500 pages in Arabic which need to be translated. But nevertheless, by Friday we think we will have a view of that, and we have asked the P5, who have got the text also and who have the experts on proliferation-sensitive matters, to advise us by Friday, and we are ready to share with them our conclusions.

So in the best case, by Monday, we will be able to have a working version of the text of the main part, which we can share with all the members of the Council. And so far the timetable is still holding, that by Thursday next week, on the 19th, we would come to the Council then and have some preliminary views on the substance, a very preliminary assessment of the substance. What we are now dealing with was only to take out of the declaration things that could be risky from the point of view of proliferation.

Q: On the substance, I know that it is still very early on at this stage, but what can you tell us about what the Iraqis are claiming relative to their weapons programme? Are they denying any existence of a weapons programme?

HB: I don't think I want to get into the substance, because that relates to next week. What we are now focusing upon are the things that could be risky to have spread out, and sort of, as you call it, “cookbooks” for proliferation. This is what we are focusing upon, and we will give the advice and be ready on that by Friday. By next week, we will have some views on the substance, with a preliminary assessment on the whole thing.


Q: Are there any cookbooks so far?

HB: Yes, there are some.

Q: Dr. Blix, have you asked the Iraqis for a list of the Iraqi scientists that have, and have they complied with that request?

HB: No, we have not yet. I have put them on notice that we will ask them for names of people who were active in the different programmes. That is all in conformity with the Security Council [resolution]. But we have not asked for specific experts yet.

Q: Why have you not done that?

HB: We haven't. We haven't. Many other things to do.

Q: Dr. Blix, does your team need the support of the P-5 to evaluate the report?

HB: Well, the idea is that we will coordinate and consult with them, and that's precisely what we talked about, how do we achieve that now, and that we hope will come about by Friday. But obviously those who are far away, like the Chinese and the Russians, they are sending their copies I think today, and it might be difficult for them to have a very detailed comment by Friday. Nevertheless, there is still the hope that it will be managed by Monday.

Q: Are you going to leave in the name the name of foreign suppliers or are you going to edit them?

HB: Well, foreign suppliers used to be something that they called sensitive, for the reason that they [UNSCOM] had sometimes been obtaining information through the foreign suppliers about the Iraqi programme, and if they were to give their names publicly, then they would never get another foreign supplier giving you information. So that was the main reason for it. There were also those who did not know; they [suppliers] might have exported things quite legally, and they were not aware of where it was going to. So there are some guidelines from the past on this that we will (practice?) But it's subject to the agreement of the Security Council.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the mechanism that you've set up now for the future consultations on the Declaration. The fact that the Americans got a copy of the declaration first caused a little bit of confusion. Have you sorted that out? The other members of the Security Council, will they consult among themselves through you, or without you, before going to the Security Council?

HB: Well, this is actually more a question for the relations between the elected 10 and the P-5 [of the Security Council], and we will come out with what we propose to be the working version of it all, and I think that discussion that you relate to, that's for them and not for us.

Q: Prior to the declaration being handed over, the Iraqis were claiming they had no weapons programme. How was that sort of statement handled, from what you've seen so far?

HB: I think that Dr. Al Saadi still maintains that attitude. We will come back to that next week.

Q: Dr. Blix, can you take one more please? About something new, is your assessment that there is nothing new, and it doesn't include any evidence of what has been destroyed?

HB: They cover also the period up to the present time or practically the present time; they haven't done that before. So evidently there will be something new. But for the rest, whether any revisions of the past, I will not talk.

Q: But just about the evidence that you have asked for in terms of the destruction of weapons, did you get anything on that?

HB: Well, that relates to the past. We will come back to that.

Q: Pour les radios francaises, pourriez vous nous donner votre premiere impression sur la declaration irakienne.

HB: Il y a beaucoup de travail a faire! Evidemment, en ce moment on est seulement en train de definir les choses qui sont risquees du point de vue de la proliferation, et il y a un consensus au Conseil de securite qu'il ne faut pas disseminer cela. Et nous allons faire quelques conclusions et parler avec le conseil de securite de ces conclusions. On espere avoir une version de travail deja lundi après-midi. Mais c'est le cas optimal.

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