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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Blix Addresses Reporters on Return From Baghdad

Aired November 25, 2002 - 16:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Quickly to New York now, where we see talking the U.N. chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: ... eight from the IAEA and the 11 from UNMOVIC have arrived today in Baghdad. And we expect the first inspections to take place on Wednesday.

The talks we had with the Iraqi government were, in large measure, a follow up on the discussions we had with the same people in Vienna on practical arrangements. We settle a great many of these arrangements in Vienna, which was desirable and necessary after a period of four years without inspectors. And I think we were pleased that that was done in Baghdad (inaudible) a few more.

So now the planes are carrying our people from Larnaca, where we have a field office and we have agreement with the government of Cyprus and ferrying them over to Baghdad. We have opened the office that UNSCOM and the IAEA had there. And there's been cleaned up and there's a lot of new equipment coming in: computers and secure telephones. And we are loading up with a lot of cameras and tags and what-not that will be placed in the field.

In the discussions with our Iraq colleagues, there was some talk about the declaration that will be provided by Iraq to the Security Council by the 8th of December. And they expressed some concern hpw -- about what actually the council wanted, because this was a new format. It was not stated that it should be the same type of declarations as the full, final and complete declarations which they were familiar with in the past.

BLIX: And Mr. Baradei and I said that we were not authorized to give any interpretation of what the council had demanded, but clearly the most important part of it was that which related to a demand for anything concerning the weapons of mass destruction program.

Perhaps I'll stop there before you get impatient.

QUESTION: Did Iraq tell you that they have no weapons of mass destruction? And if so, what was your reaction, what was your response to that?

BLIX: Well, they maintain the position that they have had all the way until now that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and we simply said that we -- I said that I think they should look into all their stores and the stocks and that this was a fundamental part of the declaration.

QUESTION: Tell us what you can about your philosophy -- general philosophy going into this first inspection. Are they going to be, sort of, previously declared sites that UNSCOM looked at to update, or are you going to be a little bit more provocative and go to really test them in a severe way with some presidential sites, or, you know, something that's really confrontational?

BLIX: I said to the council that any indications of where we might be going or what types of places we'll go to are speculations and that we are not going to tell.

The council authorizes us to go anywhere, any time, and we intend to do so.

QUESTION: You have inspectors now in Iraq and you've said many times you are the servant of the Security Council and take instructions only from the Security Council. In case of dispute, Americans have said they reserve the right to act in self-defense or to implement resolutions.

If they come back to the Security Council in the case of breach and there is no decisive action from the Security Council and they tell you to pull, or they explain to you they're going in, they're going to practice their reserved right, are you going to go back to the Security Council, wait for instructions to pull your inspectors to protect their safety, or are you going to do a Butler and pull them out?

BLIX: For the moment we had great problems in getting in...

(LAUGHTER)

... so I think it's a little early to begin to think too thoroughly about how we are getting out.

But, no, we are going in in good faith and on the instruction of the council.

And the Iraqis are saying to us that they want to cooperate. Some members of the council said that so far, so good. And I think that's true.

But while the council has had a difficult time, we have been in the easy phase. And we do not have any illusions that it's an easy job laid upon us.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) office in Mosul, what was the Iraqi response to your suggestion of opening? And why -- before you were saying also about offices in Basra; why only Mosul now?

BLIX: Well, we are keeping open the possibility of having offices in several places in Iraq. But the reason why we chose Mosul first is that, we have more sites to inspect in the region of Mosul than in any region apart from Baghdad. We may return to the question of Basra or other places, indeed, for that matter. The Iraqi response was a positive one. We will going up there very soon and see some place which they may help to put at our disposal.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, you said that the Iraqis have told you again that they have no weapons of mass destruction. In the December 8th declaration, how can they prove a negative?

BLIX: How...

QUESTION: How can they prove a negative? How can they prove the absence?

BLIX: Well, I think I said in Baghdad that the production of mustard gas is not exactly the same as production of marmalade. You do expect those who produce chemical weapons to keep some tracks of what you have produced. That is in their own interest. And I'm sure they do.

And they have provided a lot of figures to UNSCOM in the past. These figures do not give the full account. And if they want to be believed, they had better provide either the weapons, if they remain, or better accounts.

They have their budgets. They have the archives. They have the reports of individuals. We do not. And if they want to be believed, they better come up with this.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) pressure from any one of the member states in the Security Council how to conduct the inspections in Iraq?

BLIX: Whether the council gave us advice on that?

QUESTION: Yes.

BLIX: Well, the council gives us a lot of authority. And we have to interpret that. And we certainly are going to be faithful to the instructions of the whole council.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix, to what extent are the technological advances in detection going to change the way you go about your work?

BLIX: Yes. There is a continuous development here. And, of course, one might say that the inspections in Iraq has been a great stimulation to the development of these techniques. And the most spectacular, perhaps, is in environmental sampling, where even the smallest of a particle what you find can help you, especially in the nuclear field, more so, but even the chemical and biological field. Another example I often mention is, are the satellites where nowadays you can have it down to 65 centimeters resolution, whereas in the past it might have been 10 meters.

However, the inspector on the ground is not going to be eliminated by this. I mean, I think it's time the technology -- and it's wonderful if you can be more economic, if it's more precise, and sometimes it is. But I don't think that the inspector on the ground will be eliminated.

QUESTION: How about the handheld, more portable detection devices that exist today? Will they help the inspections on the ground?

BLIX: Yes. Otherwise, I hope we wouldn't spend on money on them.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) that Iraq expressed about the presidential sites?

BLIX: Well, we said that we will inspect all sites on an equal basis, as the Security Council has said very explicitly. The Iraqis said that they intend to cooperate in all respects under the resolution. They did remark, however, that ministerial buildings and ministries and presidential sites are not the same thing as factories, and that is undeniable.

QUESTION: As you mentioned, the Iraqis are not happy about the 30-day period and they've also expressed some concern about references in 1441 to omissions being interpreted -- being considered a breach or violation of the resolution. What did you tell them specifically about that as a response?

BLIX: Well, they did not really discuss the time length given, the 30 days. I had said here, as you probably know, that with the country having a petro-chemical industry, to declare all the programs they may have in chemistry might be difficult within 30 days. And, I think, they took the examples that if you had a production of slippers by plastic, well, is that so significant?

So, I think they are concerned about how can they put together all the reports within the 30 days, but they did not really suggest that they would like to have any delay or any postponement. Maybe that's coming but we did not hear that.

QUESTION: Did you give them any assurances about the references to omissions in the whole statement?

BLIX: Yes, of course, they are aware that the consequences could be very serious and this is a matter of interpretation, but more by the Security Council than by us. And I had the feeling that they're going to try to put up a very substantial report.

QUESTION: How satisfied are you with the semi-annual...

BLIX: Yes, we got the back -- on 1st of October we were given the backlog of semi-annual declarations from a number of years back, and we have undertaken a preliminary analysis of that. And we also gave the Iraqis a summary of those comments and some questions and some requests for supplements, and they said that, yes, they would provide that, and they were aware of some shortcomings in the papers that they'd given us.

So we expect to get a supplement from them. QUESTION: Dr. Blix, given the enormity of the country, and you can go anywhere, do you feel even when you have full strength there that you have enough of inspectors to go about, given also there's been question about whether they have mobile -- the ability to move some of these weapons around?

I assume that you feel you have enough of inspectors; I've never heard you raise this issue about resources.

BLIX: Well, access is, of course, something that is stressed in the resolution, access any time, any place, immediate, unconditional, unrestricted. And that's vital, of course.

However, you cannot, as you say, go to every place. You have to have an idea where to go. You cannot examine every square inch of a huge country.

For that you need information. And much of the information, of course, has been given by the Iraqis themselves in enumerating industries and sites where they had dual-use articles, et cetera. However, other information about this comes from satellites, they come from the open media or they come from intelligence.

QUESTION: You don't think you need more inspectors?

BLIX: Well, it's -- I think perhaps it's underestimated how difficult it is to even to get 100 persons in place with some 35 jeeps and eight helicopters and a ferry plane that goes from Larnaca. To warm up to this is not such an easy operation.

Armies are used to having 100,000 men and they can manage it.

But to do this on an international basis, getting the inspectors from all corners of the world, to get them together and working to a team with some reasonable organization is not that easy. So I think we'll do reasonably well if we are warmed up and if we are effect with 100 people by Christmas time.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge. That was Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector. We'll have more on this breaking story just ahead on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.

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