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Negroponte Addresses Foreign Relations Committee

Aired January 30, 2003 - 10:39   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to head on over to Washington now for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There, we are going to listen in. A number of people are on tap to speak, including -- included in that list, Ambassador John Negroponte is expected to speak, and we also may be hearing from Senator Biden as well. Let's listen in right now.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Once again, as the deputy secretary has said, Resolution 1441 presented Iraq with the requirement to disarm and two tests: one, that Iraq would submit, and I quote, "a currently accurate, full and complete," unquote, declaration of all aspects of its WMD programs and delivery systems; and two, would Iraq cooperate immediately, unconditionally and actively with UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

The presentations we heard on Monday in the Security Council confirmed that, in spite of the urgency introduced into Resolution 1441, Iraq did not meet either test. The declaration was a fundamental test of cooperation and intent, and Iraq failed it resoundingly.

On January 27th, Dr. Blix himself again said, "The declaration does not," and I'm quoting here, "clarify and submit supporting evidence regarding the many open disarmament issues.

"Regrettably," and I'm continuing to quote here, "the 12,000-page declaration, most of which is a reprint of earlier documents, does not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their numbers," end of quote.

And then the inspectors' reports go on to raise a number of key issues that are still unanswered and to which you referred to in your statement, Mr. Chairman, and so has Secretary Armitage also, so I won't repeat them in detail. But they relate to the VX, to the Iraqi air force document that indicates that there are at least 6,500 chemical bombs, weapons bombs, unaccounted for. Unanswered questions about 122-millimeter chemical rocket warheads, 12 of which were just found by UNMOVIC in a bunker that was constructed since 1998; that is to say, since the weapons inspections ended under UNSCOM. So this is evidence of continued activity on their part after the inspectors were no longer able to operate in Iraq at the end of 1998.

Dr. Blix also said that there are strong indications -- and this, of course, is particularly troublesome -- that Iraq produced more than the 8,500 liters of anthrax it admitted to and claims to have unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. "Iraq has provided" -- again these are Dr. Blix's words -- "no additional or convincing evidence on anthrax production and destruction."

They also did not declare some 650 kilograms of bacterial growth media and deliberately deleted information about the importation of this media that Iraq had previously provided in 1999. There remain some significant questions about Scud missiles, and Iraq is developing two missiles, the liquid fueled Al-Samud and the solid fueled Al- Fateh, which UNMOVIC knows -- knows for a fact were tested at ranges greater than 150 kilometers, the range limit established in Resolution 687, which was the resolution that closely followed the end of the war.

Dr. Blix said -- and, again, I quote -- "The missiles" -- I think this is a very important quote -- "The missiles might very well represent a prima facia case of proscribed systems," end of quote. And in reply to a question that I put to Dr. Blix in the Security Council yesterday afternoon, he said he expected to make a determination in this regard quite soon.

Iraq has casting chambers for solid fuel missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometers and has imported other equipment, including 380 rocket engines. Dr. Blix said again, quote, "These items may well be for proscribed purposes," end of quote, and we definitely believe that they are.

Based on a tip, UNMOVIC discovered -- an intelligence tip UNMOVIC discovered some 3,000 official documents in a private home that deal with such subjects as laser enrichment of uranium. And Dr. Blix again remarked that he, and I quote, "could not help but think," unquote, that other private residences may contain troves of such documents.

The declaration is also silent on any steps since 1998 with regard to Iraq's nuclear program, to mobile biological weapons labs or indeed any new activities since the inspections ended.

So they would have us believe that since the inspections ended in 1998, they had engaged in none of these proscribed activities, which is laughable on its face.

The inspectors acknowledged that there has been Iraqi cooperation on process, but that is not the substantive and the active cooperation that the council requires.

The resolution determined that, and again I quote, "Iraq shall provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access," end of quote, and unimpeded movement. Instead, we see attempts to intimidate UNMOVIC by large numbers of minders, at times, as many as five minders for each inspector, as well as so- called spontaneous demonstrations and restrictions masked by concerns for safety.

Dr. Blix himself has told us that the presence of minders, and I quote, "bordered on harassment," end of quote, and described some recent disturbing incidents, including official allegations that the inspectors are spying. This is hardly the attitude of a government that wishes to cooperate with the inspection process.

The Iraqi government now claims it cannot ensure that its citizens will allow inspectors entrance to private property. And Iraq has refused to allow the free and unrestricted use of U-2s on missions; a clear violation of 1441.

Inspectors must also have immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons whom UNMOVIC and the IAEA wish to interview in the mode or location of UNMOVIC's or the IAEA's choice. But UNMOVIC and IAEA have not been able to obtain private interviews, not a single one, even after belated assurances two weeks ago that the government would encourage its citizens to accept private meetings. Inspectors have noted that they have not been provided with all the names of personnel in Iraq's former and current WMD programs as required.

On the question of nuclear proliferation, the IAEA director general, ElBaradei, informed the council that, to date, the IAEA, and I quote, "found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s," end of quote. That said, Dr. ElBaradei was also clear that, to date, Iraq had only provided, "passive support, not proactive support," to use his words.

It's well to recall, however, that in 1991, the IAEA was on the verge of declaring Iraq nuclear weapons-free when subsequent inspections based on defector information revealed an extensive, secret nuclear weapons program; a reminder that we can never be complacent when it comes to Iraqi veracity.

The IAEA also has outstanding questions that Iraq's declaration failed to address. And according to Dr. ElBaradei, these include weapons design and centrifuge development. And the IAEA has not yet completed its evaluation of aluminum tubes.

In short, Mr. Chairman, we believe that Iraq is not disarming. The council's unanimity in support of Resolution 1441 was the result of enormous diplomatic energy. There was substantial give and take over weeks of negotiation, because we all understood that President Bush had transformed the debate and the importance of the undertaking. Iraq has failed the test set out by 1441 and is close to squandering its final opportunity.

And I might just add as a closing note, as the deputy secretary mentioned, council members, of course, are looking forward with great interest to the meeting that we will be having next week when Secretary Powell will be addressing the council with respect to information and intelligence we have, with respect to Iraq's noncompliance with Resolution 1441 and the programs of denial and deception in which they are engaged in order to totally frustrate the inspection process.

Thank you very much.

LUGAR: Thank you very much, Ambassador Negroponte. Parenthetically, let me just comment, because I think it's relevant, last Wednesday, I was privileged to witness a conversation between the president of the United States and the Secretary General Kofi Annan, in which our president affirmed the strong support we have of the United Nations; our prayer, really, that the United Nations will be more and more successful not only in this endeavor, but in several others that we have ahead of us on the trail.

And the secretary general understands the gravity of this situation in terms of the future of the United Nations, and the credibility. So that is a firm understanding, face-to-face, between two very important individuals in this world.

I would say to the committee, the secretary general has asked that I work with the ranking member for a day in which the committee might go to the United Nations. He would like to be our host and to provide a remarkable opportunity for learning and participation. And so, I take that seriously and I mention that so that we can all think, as it is always difficult to find times for him and for us, but an important mission for us.

BIDEN: (OFF-MIKE) yield very, very briefly.

Ambassador, you thought when you left the role of being out in other hinterlands that you would never hear the words again, "Here comes a CODEL."


LUGAR: With that welcome intervention...


Now, let me say we've consulted briefly here on -- then fact we have many members here today -- the ranking member agrees that our procedure should be that we will move the chairman's question, the ranking member's question, then Senator Hagel and then Senator Dodd, in other words in seniority, by both parties, with a seven-minute limit, and with the veteran Verdie Bowman (ph) on the clock.

For those of who have not experienced Mr. Bowman (ph), he has outlasted all of us on this committee...

WHITFIELD: All right. You are listening there to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator Lugar, and Senator Biden also chiming in, asking a few questions, and making a few comments as well to John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who said, in short, Iraq is not disarming.

He says that Iraq's declaration is silent, and in many ways, since 1998 on new activities or the disposal of certain items. He says it is laughable on its face. We are going to continue to watch the developments there out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


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