SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHIEF UN WEAPONS EXPERTS
ON FIRST 60 DAYS OF INSPECTIONS IN IRAQ
The Security Council this morning heard formal briefings by the heads of the weapons inspections regime in Iraq, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, on the first 60 days of their work, fulfilling a requirement of resolution 1441 (2002), on which the current inspections are based.
The Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, said UNMOVIC shared the sense of urgency felt by the Council to use inspection as a path to attain, within a reasonable time, the verifiable disarmament of Iraq. Recalling that Security Council resolution 1441 (2002) had emphatically reaffirmed the demand on Iraq to cooperate, he said it would appear that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance in order to complete the disarmament task through inspection.
At the same time, he drew attention to some outstanding issues and questions. On the nerve agent VX — one of the most toxic ever developed — he recalled Iraq had declared that it had produced VX only on a pilot scale and, with poor quality, had never weaponized it. But, UNMOVIC had conflicting information, including indications that the agent had been weaponized. A number of chemical bombs containing some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were unaccounted for, and several thousand chemical rockets were unaccounted for.
On biological agents, he said Iraq had provided little evidence for its declared production of 8,500 litres of anthrax and no convincing evidence of its destruction, which it stated it had unilaterally done in 1991. There were strong indications that Iraq had produced more anthrax than it had declared, and that at least some of that had been retained after the declared destruction date. A significant quantity of imported bacterial growth media sufficient to produce about 5,000 litres of concentrated anthrax had not been declared.
Pointing to a range of developments in the missile field during the past four years, which had been presented by Iraq as non-proscribed activities, he said that significant questions remained as to whether Iraq had retained SCUD-type missiles after the Gulf War. Also, Iraq had refurbished its missile production infrastructure. In particular, it had reconstituted a number of casting chambers that had been destroyed under United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) supervision. Whatever missile system those chambers were intended for, they could produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometres, Mr. Blix said.
The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Council that to date the Agency had found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of its programme in the 1990s. However, the Agency
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