- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

In his report to the United Nations yesterday, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix presented a compelling case that Iraq is in material breach of U.N. disarmament resolutions, in particular, Security Council Resolution 1441, approved last November. While the Swedish diplomat expressed his opinion that more time should be allowed inspectors from his organization, UNMOVIC, to continue their work, the facts reported suggest that this would do little more than give Saddam Hussein more time to evade disarmament and conceal his chemical and biological weapons arsenal. Indeed, Mr. Blix stated that "Iraq appears not to have come to genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded" of it.
In yesterday's address to the Security Council, Mr. Blix explained how Iraq continues its efforts to frustrate U.N. inspectors charged with overseeing the nation's disarmament. When the inspectors sought to use a U-2 plane to conduct surveillance during inspections, for example, Iraq demanded the right to send helicopters to accompany them, creating potential safety problems. The Iraqi government, he added, has been behind "disturbing incidents and harassment" of inspectors, including raucous, staged demonstrations aimed at interfering with their work.
Mr. Blix added that Iraq's recently submitted 12,000-page weapons declaration is mostly "a reprint of earlier documents" and does not appear to contain any new evidence that would eliminate questions about Iraqi non-compliance with previous U.N. disarmament resolutions. Iraq, he points out, claimed it had only produced a few tons of the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic substances known to man, and that it was never weaponized. But UNMOVIC has uncovered evidence suggesting this assertion to be false. Iraq also has failed to account for 6,500 bombs containing approximately 1,000 tons of chemical agents. Several thousand rockets carrying chemical weapons remain unaccounted for, according to Mr. Blix.
Regarding biological weapons, Mr. Blix said that Iraq has provided "no convincing evidence" for its claim to have destroyed large concentrations of anthrax and that "there are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared." Moreover, Iraq failed to admit to "a significant quantity" of bacterial growth media. Although Iraq is barred from having missiles with ranges of more than 90 miles, Mr. Blix suggests that Iraq has tested two longer-range missiles, which "might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems."
Baghdad has also acted in bad faith on one of the most important provisions of Resolution 1441: the requirement that it provide inspectors with lists of people who had worked on missile programs and chemical and biological weapons projects. Back in the 1990s, weapons inspectors knew of 3,500 people who were associated with these Iraqi programs. But since November, Iraq has provided UNMOVIC with less than 500 names, leaving close to 3,000 such persons unaccounted for.
No less troubling is the fact that Baghdad continues to impede inspectors' attempts to interview Iraqi individuals working on such programs. Mr. Blix pointed out that, in sharp contrast to Resolution 1441's provision that weapons inspectors can conduct interviews "in the mode or location" of their choice, either in Baghdad or abroad, Iraq has insisted that its own officials be present when the interviews occur.
Mr. Blix yesterday made a strong presentation of the facts showing that Iraq has failed to come clean and is in flagrant violation of Resolution 1441. That is his job. Mr. Blix (and, for that matter, his colleague at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei,) are responsible for reporting the facts, not deciding what action to take to change Iraqi behavior.
Now that they've documented Saddam's continued cheating, the members of the Security Council are obliged to apply the factual findings to Resolution 1441, particularly paragraphs 4 and 13. Applying paragraph 4 of Mr. Blix's factual report requires a finding of a material breach. Paragraph 13 triggers "serious consequences," understood by all parties to be military action. (Q.E.D.: quod erat demonstrandum.)

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide