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U.N. Inspectors Report to Council

Aired February 14, 2003 - 10:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The situation obviously is critical right now, as the United States prepares for the possibility of war.
Let's begin with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. She's standing by in London. Obviously, a lot of nervous people across the Atlantic -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, public opinion is solidly against this war, not only across Europe, but across the rest of the world as well. And even here in Britain, which is America's most staunch ally, public opinion that shows only one in 10 people now would support a war if there was no second U.N. resolution authorizing it.

Therefore, for Prime Minister Blair, now a critical moment. He wants a second resolution, but the other key member, the permanent five of the Security Council, France, Russia, Germany even maybe China, are against war, and they may use their veto. I am sorry, I said Germany, which is not a permanent member, but it is also against the war, and it is president at the Security Council. There are huge demonstrations planned, antiwar demonstrations planned this weekend. And really, what many are saying now is that this rift, what began as a rift between Europe and the United States, which is virtually spinning out of control now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Is there a sense there over in London that the British Government is totally aligned with the Bush administration right now, Christiane? Or is there any significant difference between London and Washington?

AMANPOUR: No, there is a sense that the British government is aligned with the American administration. I think people here do appreciate what they perceive to be their prime minister's internationalizing effect, if you like, on this administration. They believe that it's because of the prime minister largely that the administration did go the U.N. route up until now, and they're definitely much more comfortable with that course of action. And so it means a lot to the people of Britain. And if you talk to people around the world, their comfort level rises if you talk about a second resolution.

People are extremely negative when it comes to the possibility of America going it alone, or indeed America and the UK going it alone.

Now, obviously, we know there are a few other countries who have pledged support. But we're talking here about a major alliance that has worked together in the past to resolve these big crises, and the normal act in this major alliance -- France, Germany, Russia -- they're not playing ball at this moment.

When we spoke to a senior French government official, for instance, told us, that it's not as if we are just playing games. We're not just trying to get tactical advantage over the administration. We really believe any potential war now would be a mistake, and we're doing all we can to save us, the U.S., and the rest of the world of a mistake of war. So that's what's shaping up to be a critical divide here, not just within the U.N., but within NATO, E.U., it's a very, very divisive issue.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in London, thanks. Christiane, we'll getting back to you of course.

Let's get some analysis now here in Washington. Ken Pollack is a former policy expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and the Saban Center for Middle East Policies. He's also a CNN analyst. The decision today by the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to issue a decree formerly banning all weapons of mass destruction, any importing of those kinds of activities, it may sound a little bit absurd, if you will, but this is what United Nations formerly asked him to do.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: Right. And this is the kind of thing that Saddam can do at no cost of himself and this is what expected all along, is Saddam is willing it make these tactical concessions, because he understands these are really no skin off his apple. They really don't affect his core capabilities, but the kind of things he thinks he can do, and in so doing, buy off international opinion, which he said very publicly he is looking to do.

BLITZER: I assume a lot of people think Hans Blix is just going to deliver facts and not make necessarily a recommendation to the Security Council. But Dr. ElBaradei will indeed, as he did the last time he appeared in January before the Security Council, say on the nuclear front, no hard evidence they have a nuclear weapons program, but they need a few more months or several more months to get the job done. That kind of mixed report, where does it leave the bush administration?

POLLACK: It's probably good enough for the Bush administration. What the Bush administration really wants is a purely neutral report, exactly as you described. They'd like to see Blix come in and simply report whether on whether or not Iraq is cooperating, which, of course, is all Blix and ElBaradei are supposed to do. If ElBaradei does decide to editorialize again the way he did last time, that will be damaging for the United States, there's no question about it, but it will be much more damaging if Blix himself decides to editorialize in that way. They're looking for just facts. They would love it if Blix came in, and said the Iraqis are complying every will. So they are not expecting that. So what they'll take is just the facts, ma'am.

BLITZER: So if you are looking ahead briefly, how do you see this unfolding over the next week, two, or three?

POLLACK: My guess is Blix and ElBaradei will mostly come in with a just factual basis report, which will allow the United States to make the argument that Saddam clearly is not complying, and also allow the French and the Germans to say, yes, but at least some cooperation, and if we allow that to spin out for more months, maybe we'll get the whole enchilada. At that point in time, I think the administration will go in with a new resolution next week and we may see a Franco- German resolution as well. And that will set the stage for a decision by the Security Council, a political decision as to whether or not they believe the inspections should be given more time or we should move to war. That's what this was always going to come down to.

The problem is, both sides have actually misplayed the diplomacy so badly that neither is in a terribly strong position to make its case right now.

BLITZER: All right, Ken Pollack, thanks very much. You'll be standing by for further analysis.

Paula, as we're looking at these pictures inside the U.N. Security Council, clearly the tension is mounting. The outcome obviously far from clear from right now -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: It's interesting, someone made the point that in essence, Hans Blix 50 bosses to appease, Wolf. We're going to talk a little bit more about that with Joseph Wilson, who has seen the Iraqi government from the inside. He was U.S. charge d'affaires to Iraq.

Good of you to join us. You've heard so much of our discussion so far this morning about this critical divide that has surfaced among NATO nations, as well the critical divide between the United States and some members of the Security Council.

What, if anything, do you think this report today will change?

JOSEPH WILSON, FMR. U.S. AMB.: I don't think it's going to help us with the divide. I think Ken Pollack is right to be a relatively neutral report, that will say that there's been cooperation, but not satisfactory compliance. The U.S. will say, look, we can't go on and stretch this out forever. The Europeans will say, well, we can certainly give them some more time, why not? And then you will have this clash next week.

I think it sets the stage for the political showdown at the United Nations. It doesn't ultimately change what U.S. is going to do at this moment, because I thin that decision has been made, and I think that was telegraphed to Saddam in the president's State of the Union Address, and at the Secretary Powell's U.N. testimony last week, week before last.

ZAHN: You heard Ken just say that in fact the administration is hoping for a simple factual report to move ahead, fast forward to a week, to this point, at which you think the showdown really begins?

WILSON: Well, then the question really is whether or not we do this with our coalition of the willing, or whether we are going to get a broader international mandate, a U.N. Security Council resolution, they will define, the resolution will define, the parameters of our action more narrowly than perhaps what administration is looking for.

ZAHN: Are you comfortable with the notion extending the inspection time, given the lack of compliance that so many experts have pointed out?

WILSON: Sure, last time we went through this, time was not our ally, because the international political will ebbed almost from the first day we got into the sanctions business.

This time, the way the president expressed -- challenged the United Nations in September, October, it really is United Nations Security Council understands that you either maintain the political will to do -- enforce sanctions, intrusive sanctions, intrusive inspections, or you're going to get this invasive war that we are talking about.

ZAHN: How about enforcing a current resolution that all of the members of the Security Council agree to?

WILSON: I think that's exactly right. The question is, what action do you take to enforce it? Does enforcement mean that you invade and occupy Iraq with the decade after issues that will be facing, including, enhanced for terrorism, occupation terrorism in a hostile region, and potentially a lot of American citizens, the rebuilding, The political economic and military stature of Iraq, and solving all their ethnic and clan problems. So you take that an compare it to the next best alternative, which is perhaps a ratcheting up of the pressure to achieve the disarmament objective.

ZAHN: Got a short time left. You were saying then, essentially, the only way the inspection process yields anything from this point on is forcible inspections?

WILSON: What I am saying actually is the inspections process is yielding disruption of the weapons of mass destruction programs already. And that there is no necessarily -- not necessarily any reason to do a total invasion that the point, when there are other steps between now and there.

ZAHN: Ambassador Joe Wilson, we'll be glad to have you with us throughout our special coverage here.

Let's go back to Washington now, where Wolf standing by.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. The current U.N. weapons inspections are slightly different than those of 1990s, but the obstacles and the issue of Iraqi cooperation are still the same.

Terrence Taylor is a former U.N. weapons inspectors. He's joining us from Orlando.

Mr. Taylor, thank you for joining us.

British and the U.S. governments are pouncing on this report that is expected to say the Iraqis have violated the range of the ballistic missiles they're allowed to have, more than some 93 miles, or 150 kilometers. Is this a big deal? Is this the so-called smoking gun the U.S. has been looking for?

TERRENCE TAYLOR, FMR. U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, I don't think on it's own. It is of that character. I think are substantial other things in which Iraq can be found to be in material breach, or rather, as the Americans and British say, continues to be in material breach. I think it'll be very hard for any serious government to argue that Iraq does not continue to be in material broach.

And so the argument comes down to how serious a threat does Iraq pose? And is there some other way of uncovering these weapons programs.

BLITZER: So the ballistic missile issue itself is not necessarily the cause that's going to result in a war if the Iraqis have indeed gone beyond the 150 kilometer range; by all accounts, not necessarily further than 150 kilometers. But does that mean that the inspectors have to immediately go and destroy those missiles?

TAYLOR: Well, in accordance with the rules, this program must be stopped and dismantled. That's clear. And I think this case of the Al-Samoud missiles going beyond the range that's allowed, that's a clear breach, a technical breach. And the previous inspection team and this inspection team shows that they are in material breach, and interesting enough, the activity involved in this program was after 1998, according to the information that's available.

So it is serious, but I think the more serious issues are over the chemical and biological weapons.

BLITZER: Well, on that point and as we look at these live pictures from the U.N. Security Council, all of the various ambassador, the foreign ministers have arrived. We have just seen a few seconds ago, Mohammed Al Douri, the Iraqi representative to the United Nations. He will be the last speaker, after the 15 other members of the Security Council speak. All of that is expected to begin momentarily with the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer pounding the gavel, Germany the president of Security Council this month.

Mr. Taylor, as we take a look at the final reports , or at least these updated reports that Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei are going to present, the expectation is ElBaradei will probably ask for a few more months, but Hans Blix will be much more neutral, just the facts, presenting the facts, as he knows them. Where does that leave the entire process?

TAYLOR: I think it presents difficult for those who want to make the case the time now has come to take more rigorous action, otherwise military action. So it may limit what United States and the UK and their supporters may want to do. I think they'll find is easier to take the course of going for a new resolution, will say, Iraq continues to be in material breach of its obligations under the resolution 1441 and the previous cease-fire resolution 687. So I think it will be very difficult for any government to argue against that. But actually, what actions should be taken may not be part of that this resolution. So I think that's what the United States and the UK will go for.

BLITZER: And immediately after this open session, the delegates, the representatives at the Security Council will go behind closed doors, closed meetings to continue their deliberations.

Terrence Taylor, a former U.N. weapons inspector, he'll be standing by, joining us, Paula, throughout our special coverage.

Back to you.

ZAHN: Eavesdrop on some of those conversations a little bit later on this afternoon. Thanks, Wolf.

Time to check in with CNN's point man on this developing story, our senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth, who's just got a piece of information that I think our audience will find very interesting indeed.

Good morning, Richard.


We have been told Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov handed off letter from his government to the weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaraedi, a point-by-point analysis of Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks to Council, and it refutes many of Powell's arguments about Iraq, in hiding weapons of mass destruction and maneuvering them away from the eyes of the weapons inspectors.

Russia, according to this note, also expressing support for the efforts of inspectors. This is not new. But what is new is that the Russians are telling the inspectors is they don't accept Colin Powell's United States analysis of Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction program. The Security Council right now is just minutes away from listening to Hans Blix.

It's a big day in U.N. You know it's big. The window washer walked behind me and said this is one of biggest days in United Nations history.

Here inside the Security Council, you see the South African ambassador there. He has led an effort to have a meeting which he's going to get on Tuesday, an open meeting of the security council, with all countries who are not on the council getting a chance to vent. U.S. ambassador John Negroponte on the left, talking to the French ambassador. The French Foreign Minister De Villepin is also here. He is going to be speaking. You may see a verbal shoot-out inside the Security Council on Iraq policy, following the presentation of Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei.

Many foreign ministers, along with the Iraqi ambassador, get to speak. You see at the lower part of your screen there, the British ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, then the council, Paula, goes behind closed doors, the beginning of the problems to be hassled out.

You see Mohammed ElBaradei, the nuclear inspector, start to make his way into the chamber. I think he's there with Hans Blix. It's just day one, probably, this afternoon, on the debate to start of what is the Security Council going to do whether it's divided or not. The U.S. wants to put the pressure on Saddam Hussein and doesn't want to give the inspectors more time.

You will probably see the inspectors make a big grand entrance momentarily inside the Security Council chamber there, and the meeting will start in just a matter of moments -- Paula.

ZAHN: Richard, let's come to this point by point analysis that the Russians have apparently handed Hans Blix, refuting much of what Secretary of State Colin Powell had to say. Has this caught the U.S. delegation by surprise, or did they know this was coming?

There is Colin Powell right there.

ROTH: I think they knew it was coming.

You see, yes, Secretary Powell.

They knew it was coming. We don't know what's in the letter yet. We've just been told you could consider it breaking news as it happens. The Russians, we were told by our CNN team in Moscow, were going to be coming with some sort of note, letter, that would refute the U.S. allegations.

Again, it's part of the split. You don't know if it's going to carry forth into a Russia insistence a veto, or where the chips are going to fall in this debate, but right now, the Russians are saying they don't believe, they don't accept Colin Powell's presentation.

ZAHN: Clearly, Richard, that's going to have some impact, isn't it?

ROTH: Well, it will, but some of this at the beginning of these negotiations, just have to accept, and then when they finally go behind closed doors, and then it comes to, does the council want to back a phrase, serious consequences that the U.S. resolution may have.

Each side is going to be bringing different chips to the table and trying to prove their case. Secretary Powell, we are told by White House officials, is going to be quite forceful behind closed doors -- Paula.

ZAHN: Very quickly here, Richard, the last time we saw the foreign minister's response to what Secretary of State Colin Powell had to say, or Hans Blix, it seemed like all of their speeches were written far in advance of what they had just heard. Do you want that to be pretty much the same today, or do you think they will react specifically to the new information?

ROTH: I think you are going to see more of same, prepared speech from some delegations, but more pointed political remarks, by that man, the French foreign minister, and that man, the U.S. secretary of state.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Richard. We'll be coming back to you often.

Let's go back to Wolf now in Washington.

ZAHN: Thanks, Paula.

Let's go over to the White House right now and get some sense of how officials there are beginning to brace for what is about to unfold. Our senior White House correspondent John King is joining us now live.

John, what are they saying over there?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they expect as many of our correspondents and our guests have been saying in the past few minutes, a very mixed report. They say perhaps much more significant will be the question and answer session after, when we are told Secretary Powell will try to make his case through his questions of the weapons inspectors that Saddam Hussein is nowhere near in compliance with the resolution, saying he must disclose and disregard, and then dismantle all his weapons programs, and nowhere near fully cooperating with the inspectors. We're told to look very closely at the question and answer session.

And it is cliche perhaps to say a picture is worth a thousand words, but look at the pictures outside of White House today, and you get a sense of the administration's posture, even before this key moment at the United Nations. For the second day in a row, General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in the region here at the White House to brief the president's team outside of the White House. After that meeting, quite an animated conversation with the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The administration moving forward with the war planning, even as it waits to see how the debate goes in the Security Council. U.S. officials say, early next week, they will try to see if there is a move for a new resolution on the Security Council, but they also say the president meant it, when he said he wanted this resolved in weeks not months, and the end of that week's long and drawing very business very near -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As we look that these pictures, General Tommy Franks speaking with Don Rumsfeld, and he's with his back towards us. Is there a sense that General Franks expected to go in the next several day, by the end of this month to Qatar, where the temporary headquarters to the Central Command is located? A sense he is now presenting effectively final battle plans to the president before his departure?

KING: That is exactly the sense. And yesterday afternoon's meeting of the senior advisers, the president did not take part.

General Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, came with a big diagram, a covered chart to bring into that room as part of the presentation. We are told, they are getting into detailed battle plans now, and, Wolf, as further evidence of how the administration is going, later today, the president will meet at the White House with the foreign minister and the economic minister from Turkey.

Turkey, of course, recently agreed to allow U.S. troops in. The administration working on a package of economic aid to help Turkey out in the middle of the ongoing debate with NATO about moving in defenses. We know they are fine-tuning the battle plans here. As you noted, General Franks is due to return to the region quite soon, some say perhaps even by the end of this week. The administration says it would like a second resolution out of the Security Council, but officials tell us, point blank, that that debate will take place early next week, and if it's not going to the United States way, the president will, as he has promised so repeatedly, began to assemble that coalition outside of the United Nations.

BLITZER: All right, John King at the White House, thanks, John, very much. We will be standing talking to you throughout the course of our special coverage.

The man in the sort of left hand of your picture he is Joschka Fisher. He is the foreign minister of Germany. He'll be Sitting down shortly. He is the president of Security Council. This month, Germany has that presidency of the Security Council, and he'll be pounding the gavel, beginning this formal session.

Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei will be speaking as well. Of course, we saw him, as well as Dr. Hans Blix -- Paula.

ZAHN: We've got exclusives all over the place, and Andrea Koppel is going to catch up with Secretary of State Colin Powell at 5:15 Eastern Time. Of course, some -- thanks, Wolf. Some of the official U.S. official response of to today's weapons will come from the State Department.

Let's check in with Andrea Koppel right now, who is shadowing Secretary Powell, while he visits New York.

Good morning, Andrea.


Well, listen to Secretary of State Powell to repeat in the U.N. Security Council chambers, what he told Congress this week, and that is, to ask members point blank, whether this is really about giving inspectors more time, and if so, how much? Or if it's about giving Iraq a path? You heard Richard Roth there, mentioning the Russian reaction to Secretary Powell's dramatic presentation about nine days ago in the Security Council.

But in point in fact, privately, U.S. officials are expressing a certain amount of disappointment with the international reaction they've heard thus far.

Having said that, Secretary Powell will again be making the case that time is not necessarily go to change the facts on the ground. One Powell adviser told me this morning, Paula, that just keep in mind when you listen to not only what Secretary Powell says, but also the other key players, the other permanent me members of Security Council, that this will be somewhat of a Kabuki dance. You hear them making very strong points, very sharp points in the Council publicly, but that may not reflect what they will see privately in the closed doors session afterwards.

Nevertheless, this is clearly a divided council. Secretary Powell has his work cut out for him. He will not introduce this resolution that's been floating around that the U.S. and U.K. have been working on drafting this week, but I'm told that depending upon what Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei say in their report today, depending upon that reaction, privately, from France, from China, from Russia and from Germany that resolution could be introduced early next week, Paula. In it, it might be a very minimalist resolution in which it would say that the Iraqis are in continuing material breach of U.N. resolutions, including the current one, 1441, and that there should be serious consequences, codes for a potential military action -- Paula.

ZAHN: Andrea, I am trying to sneak in one more question before things get under way here. Richard Roth reporting that Russians actually handed a letter to Hans Blix outlining a point-by-point analysis and refutation of what Secretary of State Powell said before the U.N. Any reaction to the state department of that?

KOPPEL: Not yet. And certainly if this note was just passed, they may not even be aware of the fact that this is in existence. But you will certainly hear Secretary Powell, I am sure, reiterate many of the points he made last week, that there is clear and hard evidence in U.S. eyes that Iraq is not only hiding weapons of mass destruction program, but continues to shelter terrorism, some of who have links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks very much, Andrea Koppel. We will be looking forward to your interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At the meantime, let's drop in on the proceedings now at the U.N. as they get underway at the Security Council.

JOSCHKA FISCHER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: There being no objection, it is so decided. I invite representative of Iraq to take a seat at the council table.

In accordance with the understanding reached in the council's prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under Rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Dr. Hans Blix, executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission.

It is so decided. I invite Dr. Blix to take a seat at the council table.

In accordance with the understanding reached in the council's prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under Rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It is so decided. I invite Dr. ElBaradei to take a seat at the council table.

I welcome the presence of the distinguished secretary-general, his excellency, Mr. Kofi Annan at this meeting.

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of Item 2 of the agenda. The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations. At this meeting, the Security Council will hear briefings by Dr. Hans Blix, executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I now give the floor to Dr. Hans Blix, executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission -- please, the floor is yours.

HANS BLIX, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, UNMOVIC: Mr. President, since I reported to the Security Council on 27th of January, UNMOVIC has had two further weeks of operational and analytical work in New York and active inspections in Iraq. This brings the total period of inspections so far to 11 weeks.

Since then, we have also listened on the 5th of February to the presentation to the Council by the U.S. secretary of state and the discussion that followed.

Lastly, Dr. ElBaradei and I have held another round of talks in Baghdad with our counterparts and with Vice President Ramadan on the 8th and 9th of February.

Let me begin today's briefing with a short account of the work being performed by UNMOVIC in Iraq.

We have continued to build up our capabilities. The regional office in Mosul is now fully operational at its temporary headquarters. Plans for a regional office at Basra are being developed. Our Hercules L-100 aircraft continues to operate routine flights between Baghdad and Larnaca. The eight helicopters are fully operational.

With the resolution of the problems raised by Iraq for the transportation of minders into the no-fly zones, our mobility in these zones has improved. We expect to increase utilization of the helicopters.

The number of Iraqi minders during inspections has often reached a ratio -- had often reached a ratio as high as five per inspector. During the talks in January in Baghdad, the Iraqi side agreed to keep the ratio to about 1:1. The situation has improved.

Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly. In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming. The inspections have taken place throughout Iraq, at industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centers, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile-production facilities, military camps and agricultural sites.

At all sites which had been inspected before 1998, rebase lining activities were performed. This included the identification of the function and contents of each building, new or old, at a site. It also included verification of previously tagged equipment, application of seals and tags, taking samples, and discussions with the site's personnel regarding past and present activities. At certain sites, ground-penetrating radar was used to look for underground structures or buried equipment.

Through the inspections conducted so far, we have obtained a good knowledge of the industrial and scientific landscape of Iraq, as well as of its missile capability. But as before, we do not know every cave and corner. Inspections are effectively helping to bridge the gap in knowledge that arose due to the absence of inspections between December 1998 and November 2002.

More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have been collected at different sites. Three-quarters of these have been screened, using our own analytical laboratory capabilities at the Baghdad center. The results to date have been consistent with Iraqi declarations.

We have now commenced the process of destroying approximately 50 liters of mustard gas declared by Iraq that was being kept under UNMOVIC seal at the Muthanna site; one-third of the quantity has already been destroyed. The laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor, which we found at another site, has also been destroyed.

The total number of staff in Iraq now exceeds 250 from 60 countries. This includes about 100 UNMOVIC inspectors, 50 IAEA inspectors, 15 aircrew and 65 support staff.

Mr. President, in my 27th of January update to the Council, I said that it seemed from our experience that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on process -- most importantly, prompt access to all sites and assistance to UNMOVIC in the establishment of the necessary infrastructure.

This impression remains, and we note that access to sites has so far been without problems, including those that have never been declared or inspected, as well as to presidential sites and private residences.

In my last updating, I also said that a decision to cooperate on substance was indispensable in order to bring, through inspection, the disarmament task to completion and to set the monitoring system on the firm course.

Such cooperation, as I have noted, requires more than the opening of doors. In the words of Resolution 1441, it requires immediate, unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament, either by presenting remaining proscribed items and programs for elimination or by presenting convincing evidence that they have been eliminated.

In the current situation, one would expect Iraq to be eager to comply.

While we were in Baghdad, we met a delegation from the government of South Africa. It was there to explain how South Africa gained the confidence of the world in its dismantling of the nuclear weapons program by a wholehearted cooperation over two years with IAEA inspectors. I have just learned that Iraq has accepted an offer by South Africa to send a group of experts for further talks.

How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions which should have been declared and destroyed.

Another matter, and one of great significance, is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for.

To take an example, a document which Iraq provided suggested to us that some 1,000 tons of chemical agent were unaccounted for. I must not jump to the conclusion that they exist; however, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programs continue to exist. The U.S. secretary of state presented material in support of this conclusion.

Governments have many sources of information that are not available to inspectors. The inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on the evidence which they can themselves examine and present publicly. Without evidence, confidence cannot arise.

Mr. President, in my earlier briefings, I have noted that significant outstanding issues of substance were listed in two Security Council documents from early 1999 and should be well known to Iraq.

I referred, as examples, to the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX, and long-range missiles, and said that such issues -- and I quote myself -- "deserve to be taken seriously by Iraq rather than being brushed aside," unquote.

The declaration submitted by Iraq on the 7th of December last year, despite its large volume, missed the opportunity to provide the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions.

This is perhaps the most important problem we are facing. Although I can understand that it may not be easy for Iraq in all cases to provide the evidence needed, it is not the task of the inspectors to find it. Iraq itself must squarely tackle this task and avoid belittling the questions.

In my January update to the Council I referred to the Al-Samud II and the Al-Fatah missiles, reconstituted casting chambers, construction of a missile engine test stand and the import of rocket engines, which were all declared to UNMOVIC by Iraq.

I noted that the Al-Samud II and the Al-Fatah could very well represent prima facie cases of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to ranges exceeding the 150-kilometers limit set by the Security Council.

I also noted that Iraq had been requested to cease flight test of these missiles until UNMOVIC completed a technical review.

Earlier this week, UNMOVIC missile experts met for two days with experts from a number of member states to discuss these items. The experts concluded unanimously that, based on the data provided by Iraq, the two declared variants of the Al-Samud II missile were capable of exceeding 150 kilometers in range. This missile system is therefore proscribed for Iraq pursuant to Resolution 687 and the monitoring plan adopted by Resolution 715.

As for the Al-Fatah, the experts found that clarification of the missile data supplied by Iraq was required before the capability of the missile system could be fully assessed.

With respect to the casting chambers, I note the following. UNSCOM ordered and supervised the destruction of the casting chambers, which had been intended for use in the production of the proscribed Bader (ph) 2000 missile system. Iraq has declared that it has reconstituted these chambers. The experts have confirmed that the reconstituted casting chambers could still be used to produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometers. Accordingly, these chambers remain proscribed.

The expert also studied the data on the missile engine test stand that is nearing completion and have assessed it to be capable of testing missile engines with thrusts greater than that of the SA-2 engine. So far the test stand has not been associated with the proscribed activity.

On the matter of the 380 SA-2 missile engines imported outside of the export-import mechanism and in contravention of paragraph 24 of Resolution 687, UNMOVIC inspectors were informed by Iraq during an official briefing that these engines were intended for use in the Al- Samud II missile system, which has now been assessed to be proscribed. Any such engines configured for use in this missile system would also be proscribed. I intend to communicate these findings to the government of Iraq.

At the meeting in Baghdad on the 8th and the 9th, February, the Iraqi side addressed some of the important outstanding disarmament issues and gave us a number of papers -- for instance, regarding anthrax and growth material, the nerve agent VX and missile production. Experts who were present from our side studied the papers during the evening of 8th of February and met with Iraqi experts in the morning of 9 February for further clarifications.

Although no new evidence was provided in the papers and no open issues were closed through them or the expert discussions, the presentation of the papers could be indicative of a more active attitude focusing on the important open issues.

The Iraqi side suggested that the problem of verifying the quantities of anthrax and two VX precursors, which had been declared unilaterally destroyed, might be tackled through certain technical and analytical methods. Although our experts are still assessing the suggestions, they are not very hopeful that it could prove possible to assess the quantities of material poured into the grounds years ago. Documentary evidence and testimony by staff that dealt with the items still appears to be needed.

Not least against this background, a letter of the 12th of February from Iraq's National and Monitoring Directorate may be irrelevant. It presents a list of 83 names of participants, I quote, "in the unilateral destruction in the chemical field which took place in the summer of 1991," unquote.

As the absence of adequate evidence of that destruction has been and remains an important reason why quantities of chemicals had been deemed unaccounted for, the presentation of a list of persons who can be interviewed about the actions appears useful and pertains to cooperation on substance.

I trust that the Iraqi side will put together a similar list of names of persons who participated in the unilateral destruction of other proscribed items, notably in the biological field.

The Iraqi side also informed us that the commission, which had been appointed in the wake of our finding 12 empty chemical weapons warheads, had its mandate expanded to look for any still existing proscribed items. This was welcomed.

A second commission, we learned, has now been appointed with the task of searching all over Iraq for more documents relevant to the elimination of proscribed items and programs. It is headed by the former minister of oil, General Amir Rasheed, and is to have very extensive powers of search in industry, administration and even private houses.

The two commissions could be useful tools to come up with proscribed items to be destroyed and with new documentary evidence. They evidently need to work fast and effectively to convince us and the world that it is a serious effort.

The matter of private interviews was discussed at length during our meeting in Baghdad. The Iraqi side confirmed the commitment which they had made to us on the 20th of January to encourage persons asked to accept such interviews whether in or out of Iraq. So far, we have only had interviews in Baghdad. A number of persons have declined to be interviewed unless they were allowed to have an official present or were allowed to tape the interview. Three persons that had previously refused interviews on UNMOVIC terms subsequently accepted such interviews just prior to our talks in Baghdad on the 8th and 9th of February. These interviewed proved informative.

No further interviews have since been accepted on our terms. I hope this will change. We feel that interviews conducted with any third party present and without tape recording would provide the greatest credibility.

At the recent meeting in Baghdad, as on several earlier occasions, my colleague, Dr. ElBaradei, and I had urged the Iraqi side to enact legislation implementing the U.N. prohibitions regarding weapons of mass destruction. This morning we had a message that a presidential decree has now been issued, containing prohibitions with regard to importation and production of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. We have not yet had time to study the details of the text of the decree.

Mr. President, I should like to make some comments on the role of intelligence in connection with inspections in Iraq.

A credible inspection regime requires that Iraq provide full cooperation on process, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) granting immediate access everywhere to inspectors, and on substance, providing full declarations supported by relevant information and material and evidence.

However, with the closed society in Iraq of today and the history of inspections there, other sources of information, such as defectors and government intelligence agencies, are required to aid the inspection process.

I remember myself how in 1991, several inspections in Iraq, which were based on information received from a government, helped to disclose important parts of the nuclear weapon program. It was realized that an international organization authorized to perform inspections anywhere on the ground could make good use of the information obtained from governments with eyes in the sky, ears in the ether, access to defectors, and both eyes and ears on the market for weapons-related material.

It was understood that the information residing in the intelligence services government could come to very active use in the international effort to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This remains true, and we have by now a good deal of experience in the matter.

International organizations need to analyze such information critically and especially benefit when it comes from more than one source. The intelligence agencies, for their part, must protect their sources and methods. Those who provide such information must know that it will be kept in strict confidence and be known to very few people. UNMOVIC has achieved good working relations with intelligence agencies, and the amount of information provided has been gradually increasing. However, we must recognize that there are limitations and that misinterpretations can occur.

Intelligence information has been useful for UNMOVIC. In one case, it led us to a private home where documents mainly relating to laser enrichment of uranium were found. In other cases, intelligence has led to sites where no proscribed items were found. Even in such cases, however, inspection of these sites were useful in proving the absence of such items and, in some cases, the presence of other items, conventional munitions. It showed that conventional arms are being moved around the country and that movements are not necessarily related to weapons of mass destruction.

The presentation of intelligence information by the U.S. secretary of state suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and removing evidence of proscribed weapons programs.

I would like to comment only on one case which we are familiar with, namely the trucks identified by analysts as being for chemical decontamination at a munitions depot. This was a declared site, and it was certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected us to inspect.

We have noted that the two satellite images of the site were taken several weeks apart.

The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection.

Our reservation on this point does not detract from the appreciation of the briefing.

Yesterday, UNMOVIC informed the Iraqi authorities of its intention to start the U-2 surveillance aircraft early next week under arrangements similar to those UNSCOM had followed.

We are also in the process of working out modalities for the use of the French Mirage aircraft starting late next week and for the drones supplied by the German government. The offer from Russia of an Antonov aircraft with night-vision abilities is a welcome one and is next on our agenda for further improving UNMOVIC's and IAEA's technical capabilities.

These developments are in line with suggestions made in a non- paper recently circulated by France suggesting a further strengthening of the inspection capabilities.

It is our intention to examine the possibilities for surveying ground movements, notably trucks, in the face of persistent intelligence reports, for instance about mobile biological weapons productions units. Such measures could well increase the effectiveness of inspections. UNMOVIC is still expanding its capabilities, both in terms of numbers of staff and technical resources. On my way to the recent Baghdad meeting, I stopped in Vienna to meet 60 experts who had just completed our general training course for inspectors. They came from 22 countries, including Arab countries.

Mr. President, UNMOVIC is not infrequently asked how much more time it needs to complete its task in Iraq. The answer depends upon which task one has in mind: the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and related items and programs, which were prohibited in 1991, the disarmament task; or the monitoring that no new proscribed activities occur.

The latter task, though not often focused upon, is highly significant and not controversial. It will require monitoring which is ongoing, that is open-ended, until the Council decides otherwise.

By contrast, the task of disarmament foreseen in Resolution 687 and the progress on key remaining disarmament tasks foreseen in Resolution 1284, as well as the disarmament obligations which Iraq was given a final opportunity to comply with under Resolution 1441, were always required to be fulfilled in a shorter timespan.

Regrettably, the high degree of cooperation required of Iraq for disarmament through inspection was not forthcoming in 1991. Despite the elimination under UNSCOM and the IAEA supervision of large amounts of weapons, weapons-related items and installations over the years, the task remained incomplete when inspectors were withdrawn almost eight years later, at the end of 1998.

If Iraq has provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of disarmament under Resolution 687 could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided. Today, three months after the adoption of Resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short if, I quote, "immediate, active and unconditional cooperation," unquote, with UNMOVIC and the IAEA were to be forthcoming.

Thank you, Mr. President.

FISCHER: I thank Dr. Blix for his briefing.

I now give the floor to Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The floor is yours.

DR. MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: Mr. President, my report to the Council today is an update on the status of IAEA's nuclear verification activities is Iraq pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1441 and other relevant resolutions.

Less than three weeks have passed since my last update to the Council on 27 January, a relatively short period in the overall inspection process. However, I believe it is important for the Council to remain actively engaged and fully informed at this critical time.

The focus of the IAEA inspection has now moved from the reconnaissance phase into the investigative phase.

The reconnaissance phase was aimed at reestablishing rapidly our knowledge base of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, ensuring that nuclear activities at known key facilities had not been resumed, verifying the location of nuclear material and relevant non-nuclear material and equipment, and identifying the current workplace of former key Iraqi personnel.

The focus of the investigative phase is achieving and understanding of Iraq's activities over the last four years, in particular in areas identified by states as being of concern and those identified by the IAEA on the basis of its own analysis.

Since our 27 January report, the IAEA has conducted an additional 38 inspections at 19 locations, for a total of 177 inspections at 125 locations. Iraq has continued to provide immediate access to all locations.

In the course of the inspections, we have identified certain facilities at which we will be establishing containment and surveillance systems in order to monitor on a continuous basis activities associated with critical dual-use equipment.

At this time, we are using recurrent inspections to ensure that this equipment is not being used for prohibitive purposes.

As I mentioned in my last report to the Council, we have a number of wide areas and location-specific measures for detecting indications of undeclared past or ongoing nuclear activities in Iraq, including environmental sampling and radiation detection surveys. In this regard, we have been collecting a broad variety of samples, including water, sediment and vegetation, at inspected facilities and at other locations across Iraq and analyzing them for signature of nuclear activities.

We have also resumed air sampling at key locations in Iraq. Three of the four air samplers that were removed in December 2002 for refurbishing have been returned to Iraq. One of these has been installed at a fixed location and the other two are being operated from mobile platforms. We are intending to increase their number to make optimum use of this technique.

We are also continuing to expand the use of hand-held and car- borne gamma surveys in Iraq. The gamma survey vehicle has been used en route to inspection sites and within sites, as well as in urban and industrial areas. We will start helicopter-borne gamma surveys as soon as relevant equipment receives its final certification for use on the helicopter model provided to us for use in Iraq.

The IAEA has continued to interview key Iraqi personnel. We have recently been able to conduct four interviews in private; that is, without the presence of an Iraqi observer. The interviewees, however, have tape recorded their interviews. In addition, discussions have continued to be conducted with Iraqi technicians and officials as part of inspection activities and technical meetings.

I should note that during our recent meeting in Baghdad, Iraq reconfirmed its commitment to encourage its citizens to accept interviews in private, both inside and outside of Iraq.

In response to a request by the IAEA, Iraq has expanded the list of relevant Iraqi personnel to over 300, along with their current work locations. The list includes the higher-level scientists known to the IAEA in the nuclear and nuclear-related areas. We will continue, however, to ask for information about Iraqi personnel of lesser rank whose work may be of significance to our mandate.

I would like now to provide an update on a number of specific issues that we are currently pursuing. I should mention that shortly before our recent meeting in Baghdad, and based on our discussion with Iraqi counterpart, Iraq provided documentations related to these issues: the reported attempt to import uranium, the attempted procurement of aluminum tubes, the procurement of magnets and magnet- production capabilities, the use of HMX, and those questions and concerns that were outstanding in 1998.

I will touch briefly on each of these issues.

Iraq continues to state that it has made no attempt to import uranium since the 1980s. The IAEA recently received some additional information relevant to this issue, which will be further pursued, hopefully with the assistance of the African country reported to have been involved.

The IAEA is also continuing to follow up on acknowledged effort by Iraq to important high-strength aluminum tubes. As you all (ph) know, Iraq has declared these efforts to have been in connection with a program to reverse engineer conventional rockets. The IAEA has verified that Iraq had indeed been manufacturing such rockets. However, we are still exploring whether the tubes were intended rather for the manufacture of centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

In connection with this investigation, Iraq has been asked to explain the reasons for the tight (ph) tolerance specifications that it had requested from various suppliers. Iraq has provided documentations related to the project of reverse engineering and has committed itself to providing samples of tubes received from prospective suppliers. We will continue to investigate the matter further.

In response to the IAEA inquiries about Iraq's attempt to procure a facility for the manufacture of magnets and the possible link with the resumption of a nuclear program, Iraq recently provided additional documentations, which we are presently examining.

In the course of an inspection conducted in connection with aluminum tube investigation, the IAEA inspectors found a number of documents relevant to transactions aimed at the procurement of carbon fiber, a dual-use material used by Iraq in the past clandestine uranium enrichment program for the manufacture of gas centrifuge rotors.

Our review of these documents suggests that the carbon fibers sought by Iraq was not intended for enrichment purpose, as the specification of the material appear not to be consistent with those needed for manufacturing rotor tubes.

In addition, we have carried out follow-up inspection, during which we have been able to observe the use of such carbon fibers in non-nuclear-related applications and to take samples. The IAEA will nevertheless continue to pursue this matter.

We have also continued to investigate the relocation and consumption of the high explosive HMX. As I reported earlier, Iraq has declared that 32 tons of the HMX previously under IAEA seals had been transferred for use in the production of industrial explosives, primarily to cement plants as a booster for explosives used in quarrying.

Iraq has provided us with additional information, including documentation on the movement and use of this material, and inspections have been conducted at locations where the material is said to have been used. However, given the nature of the use of high explosives, it may well be that the IAEA will be unable to reach a final conclusion on the end use of this material.

While we have no indication that this material was used for any application other than that declared by Iraq, we have no technical method of verifying quantitatively the declared use of the material in explosions.

We will continue to follow this issue through a review of civilian mining practices in Iraq and through interviews of key Iraqi personnel involved in former relevent research and development activities.

We have completed a more detailed review of the 2,000 pages of documents found on 16 January at the private residence of an Iraqi scientist. The documents relate predominately to lasers, including the use of laser technology to enrich uranium. They consist of technical reports, minutes of meetings, including those of the Standard Committee for Laser Application, personal notes, copies of publications and student research projects, thesis (ph), and a number of administered documents, some of which were marked as classified.

While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found.

Nothing contained in the document alters the conclusion previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program. We nevertheless continue to emphasize to Iraq that it should search for and provide all documents, personal or otherwise, that might be relevant to our mandate. Last week, Iraq has also provided the IAEA with documentation related to questions and concerns that since 1990 have been a need for further gratification, particularly as regards weapons and centrifuge designs. However, no new information was contained in this documentation.

It is to be hoped that the new Iraqi commissions established by Iraq to look for any additional documents on hardware relevant to its programs for weapons of mass destruction will be able to uncover documents and other evidence that could assist in clarifying these remaining questions and concerns, as well as other areas of current concern.

Finally, as Dr. Blix just mentioned, I was informed this morning by the director general of Iraq's national monitoring directorate that national legislation prohibiting proscribed activities was adopted today. The resolution of this longstanding legal matter was, in my view, a step in the right direction for Iraq to demonstrate its commitment to fulfilling its obligations under Security Council resolutions.

In the coming weeks, the IAEA will continue to expand its inspection capabilities in a number of ways, including its already extensive use of unannounced inspections at all relevant sites in Iraq to strengthen and accelerate our ability to investigate matters of concern and to reinstate and reinforce our ongoing monitoring and verification system that came to a halt in 1998.

We intend to increase the number of inspectors and support staff. We will also be adding more analysts and translators to support analysis of documents and other inspection findings. We intend to augment the number of customs and procurement experts for the monitoring of imports by Iraq. We will also intensify and expand the range of technical meetings and private interviews with Iraqi personnel in accordance with our preferred modalities and locations, both inside and outside Iraq.

In addition, we intend to expand our capabilities for near, real- time monitoring of dual-use equipment and related activities and implement several additional components of wide-area environmental monitoring aimed at identifying fingerprints left by nuclear material and nuclear-related activities. We hope to continue to receive from states actionable information relevant to our mandate.

Now that Iraq has accepted the use of all of the platform for aerial surveillance proposed by supporting states to UNMOVIC and the IAEA, including the U-2s, Mirage IV, Antonov and drones, we plan to make use of them to support our inspection activities. In particular, was a view (ph) to monitoring movements in and around sites to be inspected.

The government of Iraq reiterated last week its commitment to comply with its Security Council obligations and to provide full and active cooperation with the inspecting organizations. Subject to Iraq making good on this commitment, the above measures will contribute to the effectiveness of the inspection process. Mr. President, as I have reported on numerous occasions, the IAEA concluded by December 1998 that it had neutralized Iraq's past nuclear program and that, therefore, there was no unresolved disarmament issues left at that time.

Hence, our focus since the resumption of our inspection in Iraq two and a half months ago has been verifying whether Iraq revived its nuclear program in the intervening years.

We have, to date, found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.

However, as I have just indicated, a number of issues are still under investigation, and we are not yet in a position to reach a conclusion about them, although we are moving forward with regard to some of them.

To that end, we intend to make full use of the authority granted to us under all relevant Security Council resolutions to build as much capacity into the inspection process as necessary. In that context, I would underline the importance of information that State (ph) may be able to provide to help us in assessing the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by Iraq.

The IAEA experience in the nuclear verification shows that it is possible, particularly with an intrusive verification system, to assess the presence or absence of a nuclear weapon program in a state, even without the full cooperation of the inspected states.

However, prompt, full and active cooperation by Iraq, as required under Resolution 1441, will speed up the process, and more importantly, it will enable us to reach the high degree of assurance required by the Security Council in the case of Iraq in view of its past clandestine WMD programs and past pattern of cooperation.

It is my hope that the commitment made recently in Baghdad will continue to translate into concrete and sustained actions.

Thank you, Mr. President.

FISCHER: I thank Dr. ElBaradei for his briefing. Before giving the floor to the council members, I wish to recall the understanding reached among ourselves, namely that all participants will limit their statements to no more than seven minutes in order to enable the council to work efficiently within its timetable.

I now call on the distinguished deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, his excellency, Mr. Farouk Al-Shara.

FAROUK AL-SHARA, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, three months ago our Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. Syria joined the unanimity after receiving assurances and clarifications that voting in favor of the resolution meant proceeding seriously toward a peaceful resolution to the issue of disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and that the resolution would not be used as a pretext for waging war against Iraq.

Just a little while ago, Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei submitted their reports and noted the progress made in the period that had elapsed since they last submitted their reports to the Council. What this means is that in no more than two weeks substantial progress has been made in the work of the inspectors.

The progress reached its peak today when Iraq issued a decree prohibiting weapons of mass destruction there. The progress is a proof that the inspections are bringing about important results, given the dialogue, cooperation and mutual confidence between the inspectors and Iraq.

The Council must therefore continue to support the inspectors and allow them sufficient time to undertake their tasks as prescribed in Resolution 1441.

Mr. President, our region stands at a grave crossroads, teetering between war and peace. Our region has tremendously suffered the scourge of many wars and continues to this very day to bear the brunt of a racist policy against the defenseless Palestinian people, a policy based on occupation and settlement and bent on destroying man and nature.

We have been advised since 1973 to seek through our policies a peaceful settlement for the Arab-Israeli conflict to normalize relations with Israel and to cooperate with it in different fields, despite the fact that Israel, first, continues to occupy Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese territories to build settlements there on and to threaten its neighbors.

Second, Israel continues to possess all kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be exclusively in possession of nuclear weapons and to reject any international oversight or inspection, unlike the states of the Middle East that accepted such international oversight and inspection.

And third, Israel continues to defy all the United Nations resolutions, over 500 of them, 31 of which were adopted by the Security Council, and refuses to recognize an independent Palestinian state endorsed by the international community, including the United States of America.

And even when the United States of America voted on the resolutions, these resolutions remain dead-letter, as we say in Arabic, "ink on paper." The ink has faded lately, the paper yellowed, and miraculously Sharon became a man of peace.

Against this backdrop, allow me to ask, where does today's Iraq stand? Hadn't Iraq recognized the state of Kuwait and its international borders that were demarcated by the Security Council?

Weren't no-fly zones imposed on Iraq in the northern and southern parts of the country without a legal terms of reference to justify such a ban? Hasn't Iraq opened all its doors without conditions or reservations to the inspectors and hasn't it cooperated with them positively at a time when Israel rejected any form of inspection over its nuclear facilities?

Against this paradoxical background, aren't many justified to wonder also whether such policies are indicative of double standards? Or perhaps we are to construe that the real danger lies in the fact that these policies are deliberately designed to put Iraq and Palestine in particular, and the Arabs and the Muslims in general, in a bind and jeopardize their present and their future. Wouldn't these policies also impact the vital interests of the world at large?

We are in favor of a peaceful solution to the question of Iraq. Common sense also dictates that there be no alternative to this solution. We, as neighbors of Iraq, with considerable experience in what is going on around us, understand more than anyone else that this is the first war in the Middle East region unanimously rejected by the Arabs. The majority, the great majority of the people of the world are saying no to this war.

This war will result in grave consequences for the unity and integrity of Iraq and its people. It will spill over to the entire region. The war will lead to total anarchy, benefiting solely those who take it upon themselves to spread fear and destruction everywhere.

Those who are beating the drums for war make no secret of their objective, which is not disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Rather, they have a hidden agenda that they are seeking to implement through the entire region, the prelude to which is their war against Iraq. Had they really been seeking the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction they would have done so by supporting the work of the inspectors and granting them enough time to accomplish what they were set out to do.

Mr. President, we support the peaceful solution to the question of Iraq, because we also believe that the war option will erode the international coalition to combat terrorism. The first signs of this erosion have already surfaced on the Afghan theater. We will spare you any details with which we assume you are all too familiar.

The simple thought that war would be one of the options before the Security Council is by itself a proof not only of the failure of the Security Council to discharge of its tasks, but also that of the entire international order. Under these circumstances, we believe that there is no alternative to respecting the charter of the United Nations and using its institutions to safeguard world peace, security and prosperity instead of putting the world for months on the edge of a volcano.

The efforts made by prominent members of the Security Council to stress the need to pursue a peaceful solution in order to implement Security Council Resolution 1441 gives us hope that the world order is still in good shape.

In this context, we recognize the French, German, Russian and Chinese efforts, as well as those of the majority of the Security Council members devoted entirely to the promotion of the United Nations, its charter and the central role it should play. Such efforts should be appreciated by us all.

We have considered the French proposals to strengthen the work of the inspectors. Inspections have brought about considerable achievements that could not be otherwise realized by military force. Therefore, we support the French ideas because they are an alternative to war. They constitute the basis for strengthening the inspections regime so as to allow it to fulfill the task entrusted to it as soon as possible.

The fulfillment of this task will immediately lead to the lifting through appropriate measures of the sanctions imposed on Iraq under Security Council Resolution 687.

It would also lead to the activation of paragraph 14 of that resolution, which calls for the declaration of the Middle East as a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, bacteriological and chemical -- without accepting any state, including Israel, which alone has acquired all of those lethal weapons.

Mr. President, in conclusion, I say it is truly a historic moment. War in the 21st century is not a game. It has become a tragedy condemnable by history. Let us work for peace because we can achieve peace if we pursue it in good faith with strong determination and armed with the political will.

These requirements are readily available among those who are faithful to the charter of the United Nations, a charter, when all is said and done, remains the sole authority capable of maintaining world peace and security.

Thank you, sir.

FISCHER: I thank the distinguished deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic for his statement.

I now call on the distinguished minister of foreign affairs of France, his excellency, Mr. Dominique Gallozoo (ph) De Villepin.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FOREIGN MINISTER OF FRANCE (through translator): Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished ministers, distinguished ambassadors.

I would like to thank Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei for the information they have given us on the continuing inspections in Iraq. I would like to reiterate to them France's confidence and complete support in their work.

You know the value that France has placed on the unity of the Security Council from the outset of the Iraq crisis. This unity rests on two fundamental elements at this time. We are pursuing together the objective of effectively disarming Iraq. We have an obligation to achieve results. Let us not cast doubt on our common commitment to this goal.

We shoulder collectively this onerous responsibility which must leave no room for ulterior motives or resumptions. Let us be clear: Not one of us fuels the least indulgence toward Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime.

In unanimously adopting Resolution 1441, we collectively expressed our agreement with the two-stage approach proposed by France, disarmament through inspections. And should this strategy fail, consideration by the Security Council of all the options, including the recourse to force. It was clearly in the event inspections failed and only in that event that a second resolution could be justified.

The question today is simple: Do we believe in good conscience that disarmament via inspections is now leading us to a dead end, or do we believe that the possibilities regarding inspections presented in 1441 have still not been fully explored?

In response to this question, France believes two things: First, the option of inspections has not been taken to the end. It can provide an effective response to the imperative of disarming Iraq. Secondly, the use of force would be so fraught with risk for people, for the region and for international stability that it should only be envisioned as a last resort.

So what have we just learned from the reports by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei? We have just learned that the inspections are producing results. Of course, each of us wants more, and we will continue to gather to put pressure on Baghdad to obtain more. But the inspections are producing results.

At earlier reports to the Security Council on 27 January, the executive chairman of UNMOVIC and the director general of the IAEA identified in detail areas in which progress was expected. Significant gains have now been made on several of these fronts.

In the chemical and biological areas, the Iraqis have provided the inspectors with new documentation. They have also announced they are establishing two commissions of inquiry led by former officials of weapons programs in accordance with Mr. Blix's requests.

In the ballistic area, the information provided by Iraq has enabled the inspectors to make progress. We now know exactly the real capabilities of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) missile. The unauthorized programs must now be dismantled in accordance with Mr. Blix's conclusions.

In the nuclear domain, useful information has been given to the IAEA on the most important points discussed by Mr. ElBaradei on 27 January; the acquisition of magnets that could be used to enrich uranium and the list of contacts between Iraq and the country likely to have provided it with uranium.

And so here we are at the heart of the logic of Resolution 1441, which must ensure effective inspections through precisely identifying banned programs and then eliminating them. We all realize that success in the inspections presupposes that we get full and complete cooperation from Iraq. France has consistently demanded this.

Real progress is emerging. Iraq has agreed to aerial reconnaissance over its territory. It has allowed Iraqi scientists to be questioned by inspectors without witnesses. A bill barring all activities linked to weapons of mass destruction programs is being adopted, which is in accordance with the longstanding request from the inspectors.

And Iraq is providing a detailed list of experts who witnessed the destruction of military programs in 1991.

France naturally expects these commitments to be durably verified as facts. Beyond that, we must maintain strong pressure (ph) on Iraq so that it goes further in its cooperation.

Progress like this strengthens us in our conviction that inspections can be effective, but we must not shut our eyes to the amount of work that still remains. Questions still have to be cleared up, verifications made and installations and equipment probably still have to be destroyed.

To do this, we must give the inspections every chance of succeeding. I made some proposals to the council on 5 February and since then, we detailed them in a working document addressed to Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei, which was distributed to council members.

What is the spirit of those proposals? They are practical and concrete proposals that can be implemented quickly. They are designed to enhance the efficiency of inspection operations. They fall within the framework of Resolution 1441, and consequently they do not require a new resolution by this council. They come to support the efforts of Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei who are at, naturally, the best place tell us which ones they wish to adopt to ensure maximum effectiveness in their work.

In their reports they have already made useful and operational comments. France has already announced it has additional resources available to Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei beginning with our Mirage-4 reconnaissance aircraft.

Well, yes, I hear criticism, there are those who think that inspections in their very essence cannot be effective at all. But let me recall that that was the very foundation of Resolution 1441 and that inspections are producing results. One may judge them inadequate, but the results are there. Then there are those who believe that continuing the inspection process is a kind of delaying tactic to prevent or avert military intervention. That naturally raises a question of how much time is allowed Iraq, and this brings us to the heart of the matter.

What is at stake is our credibility and our sense of responsibility. Let us have the courage to see things as they are. There are two options. The option of war might seem (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to be the swiftest. But let us not forget that having won the war, peace has to be built. Let us not delude ourselves, this will be long and difficult because it will be necessary to preserve Iraq's unity and to restore stability in a lasting way in a country and a region harshly effected by the intrusion of force. Faced with that perspective, there is an alternative, inspections, which allow us to move forward day-by-day with the effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq. In the end, is that choice not the most sure and most rapid?

No one today can claim that the path of war will be shorter than the path of inspections. No one can claim that it would lead to a safer, more just, more stable world. For war is always the sanction of failure. Would this be our sole recourse in the face of the many challenges at this time?

So let us give the United Nations inspectors the time they need for their mission to succeed. But also, let us all be vigilant and ask Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei to report regularly to the council.

France, for its part, would propose another meeting on 14 March at the ministerial level to assess the situation. We would then be able to judge the progress made and what remains to be done.

Given this context, the use of force is not justified at this time. There is an alternative to war, disarming Iraq via inspections. Moreover, premature recourse to the military option would be fraught with risks. The authority of our action is based today on the unity of the international community. Premature military intervention would bring this unity into question, and that would detract from its legitimacy and in the long run its effectiveness. Such intervention could have incalculable consequences for the stability of the this scared and fragile region. It would compound (ph) the sense of injustice, increase tension and risk paving the way to other conflicts.

We all share the same priority: fighting terrorism mercilessly. This fight requires total determination. Since the tragedy of September 11, this has been one of the highest priorities facing our peoples. France has been struck hard by this terrible scourge several times, and it is wholly mobilized in this fight which involves all of us, which we must pursue together.

That was the sense of the Security Council meeting held on 20 January on France's initiative.

Ten days ago, the U.S. secretary of state, Mr. Powell, reported alleged links between al Qaeda and the Baghdad regime. Given the present state of our research and intelligence in liaison with our allies, nothing allows us to establish such links.

But we must assess the impact that disputed military action would have on this level. Would such intervention today not be liable to exacerbate divisions between societies, cultures, peoples, divisions that nurture terrorism?

All along, France has been saying we do not exclude the possibility that force may have to be used one day if the inspectors' reports concluded it was impossible to continue inspections. The council would then have to take a decision, and its members would have to meet all of their responsibilities.

In such an eventuality, I just want to recall now the questions I stressed at our last debate on 4 February, which we must answer.

To what extent do the nature and extent of the threat justify immediate recourse to force?

How do we ensure that the considerable risks of such intervention can actually be kept under control?

In any case, in such an eventuality, it is the unity of the international community that would ensure and guarantee its effectiveness. It is the United Nations that, whatever happens, will still tomorrow be at the center of the peace to be built.

To those who are anguished, wondering when and how we are going to cede to war, I would like to say that nothing at any time in this council will be done in haste, in misunderstanding, out of suspicion or out of fear.

In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of a conscience. The onerous responsibility and immense honor we have must lead us to give priority to disarmament through peace.

This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Europe that has known war, occupation, barbarity. It is an old country that does not forget and is very aware of all it owes to freedom fighters who came from America and elsewhere.

And yet France has always stood upright in the face of history before mankind. Faithful to its values, it wants resolutely to act together with all members of the international community. France believes in our ability to build together a better world.

Thank you, Mr. President.

ZAHN: We're going to stay with the picture up. Next up is the Chilean foreign minister. I'm sitting here with ambassador Joe Wilson to get his reaction to some of what the Foreign Minister had to say of France. Not too many surprises here. He said what was widely expected, that he wants inspections to go on, that he feels that they are producing results and called for another meeting on March 14th, for yet another progress report.

WILSON: Which is a date that they're already supposed to produce another progress report anyway. We've always said that that March 14th has been superseded by the requirements of 1441. March 14th goes back to a prior resolution.

But yes, the French foreign minister laid out a case for ratcheting up the pressure if, and as necessary, step by step, rather than going directly from where we are now to a total war scenario.

ZAHN: What assurance, though, can anyone give that the inspection process is going to yield much more when you had Hans Blix saying himself, that banned Iraqi weapons still were unaccounted for, and that Baghdad must detail the status of anthrax and VX stocks, and the status of long-range missiles?

WILSON: Well, I mean, clearly, Hans Blix also said they had made some progress, and there was more cooperation and the French foreign minister was spinning the Hans Blix report to emphasize those positive aspects going forward.

ZAHN: But he ignored some of the other information Hans Blix provided to the U.N. today?

WILSON: I'm sure he did, yes. And again, he is building the case, which is coalition of the unwilling will repeat, I'm sure, going forward, that there are other steps to take between inspections and going to full war status.

ZAHN: That is indeed the critical divide, is it not...

WILSON: Absolutely.

ZAHN: ... when you have the United States and other members coalition of its coalition of the willing that believe that the current resolution 1441 gives them the right to enforce this resolution without going back to the U.N. for an additional resolution to authorize force.

The foreign minister of France making it very clear that he believes this is a two-step process.

ZAHN: Several step process. He probably sees this as a gradual raising of pressure on the Iraqi regime when and if necessary. He laid out that the inspections are yielding progress, but the pressure has to be maintained and, if necessary, pressure has to be enhanced. But I don't think in his formulation of this it is a one step or two step process. It is a several step process.

ZAHN: If everything we heard today from Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei, what leapt out at you?

WILSON: Well, it was a very mixed bag. One, there was some cooperation without compliance, but then, two, equally, there was a lot of work still to be done, and if in fact we were to achieve the short term goals of disarmament, there had to be far more cooperation on the part of the Iraqis, and it's questionable as to whether that progress or cooperation will be provided.

ZAHN: Before we let you go, one final question. What is it then that members of the Security Council do with this very mixed bag of information coming from both chief weapons inspectors?

WILSON: Well, they go behind closed doors, and they will determine where there is a sufficient support for another resolution, or whether there will just be a debate and the United States will move with its coalition of the willing.

ZAHN: Please stand by. We are going to check in with Wolf as the Chilean foreign minister continues her speech -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. The reaction, of course, is going to be assessed around the world. Our Christiane Amanpour is standing by in London.

Christiane, the French foreign minister very tough, not only saying that the U.N. inspectors need more time, should be granted more time to get the job done, but war is not justified right now, and he also took a slap at Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying the alleged links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, in his words, have not been established. There seems to be a huge crisis unfolding of the North Atlantic Alliance. France, Germany and Belgium still refusing to give NATO authority to begin preparations to defend turkey. How serious of a problem is this?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's clearly a very, very serious problem, and perhaps most serious for Tony Blair, who has stood shoulder to shoulder, as he likes to say, with the Bush administration. Let's start little bit from what Blix and ElBaradei said. The way I see this in terms of initial analysis, I don't believe that report to the Security Council gave the same kind of comfort to those who would prefer to disarm Saddam Hussein militarily if it comes to that, because it wasn't as scathing as his first report, and he did talk about progress that had been made, obviously with the caveats that certain other things need to be cooperated with.

He also challenged Secretary Powell's intelligence briefing back at the United Nations a week or so ago. And so this is going to add a great deal of fuel to the debate fire, if you like, that's going on now within the trans-Atlantic alliance.

And France, which is crucial to all of this, basically just said not only is war not an option, but there's no justification for a second resolution. We believe that it needs to take as long it takes, as long as it needs to take, that's how long the inspection process should last.

And so what does this mean for the United States, for Britain? Britain, much more than the U.S., wants and needs a second resolution, because Tony Blair has staked his entire support for this on the international acceptance and coalition building at the United Nations.

A new poll has come out a week or so ago in England, a few days ago rather, which said that only one in 10 people agree to go to war if there is no U.N. resolution. And so this is a big problem for Tony Blair, potentially, and a big problem for the entire alliance, because it is really almost spinning out of control, this massive divide between the permanent five members of the Security Council right now, Britain and the U.S. on one side, France, Russia and China on the other side. A massive, massive split within NATO, within the European Union, which is its own situation. They're going to be huge protests planned for this weekend around the world, and world public opinion is not for this.

So although the Bush administration can do what it wants militarily and has the protection of resolution 1441, in terms of international public opinion, it's going to pose some very big problems.

BLITZER: Christiane, stand by, I want to bring in Ken Pollack, our CNN analyst from the Brookings Institution here in Washington, also a former CIA and NSC official.

Ken, both Blix and ElBaradei seem to stress the positive, as Christiane was just saying, far as what the Iraqis are doing in cooperating. They've both said yes, they have not necessarily found any weapons of mass destruction. They can't necessarily account for everything, but they suggested they need more time.

POLLACK: Right, as Andrea Koppel said this morning, this is an act of political theater, and this act has not gone well for the Bush administration. And Christiane just said, the biggest problem out there for the Bush administration isn't building the coalition. The administration seems to have made up its mind, they're going to war. But the question is, how many countries are going to be able to come along? And the Blix and ElBaradei reports were very different from last time around. They said almost the same thing, but the body language was very different. They accentuated the positive, they accentuated the areas where Iraq was cooperating, and they really downplayed the areas where Iraq wasn't cooperating, and that is going to make it harder for public opinion to get behind the war around the world, and in particular Europe.

BLITZER: And the French foreign minister, we just heard, make a very compelling case against the use of force any time soon.

POLLACK: Right, a very compelling case, but also in many cases, just a flat out wrong case. De Villepin basically turned resolution 1441 on its head. 1441 says the Iraqis must disarm. And De Villepin entire presentation was we have to give inspections the time to disarm Saddam, which the inspectors themselves have said they cannot possibly do. But the problem is, it sounds so reasonable, and this was always one of the problems with going down the inspections regime.

BLITZER: But you remember Hans Blix ending his statement by saying they're moving in the right direction, they're showing more cooperation, they still have a chance of avoiding a military conflict, if they decide to make that decision to come completely clean, holding out hope the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein would do precisely that.

POLLACK: Right, and in fact, all through Blix and ElBaradei's presentations they were making that point. And there was one point where Blix said, we've only gotten interviews with three Iraqi scientists, but we are hopeful that will change. All of the body language was saying that we think that this should go on further. They didn't cross the line of treading into the realm of politics, but they were pushing as hard as they could in that direction.

Ken Pollack, stand by. I think the foreign minister of China is about to be introduced, an important statement, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

China, of course, has veto authority on the Security council. Let's listen in to Tang Jaixuan.

TANG JIAXUAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Mr. President, let me begin by thanking Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei for reporting to the Security Council their inspection work in Iraq.

Last November, this council adopted Resolution 1441 by consensus, reiterating the firm determination of the international community to verify and destroy weapons of mass destruction in Iraq's possession.

Now the Iraqi issue is at the most critical moment. It is the universal hope of the international community to see a political resolution of this issue within the U.N. framework, and tremendous expectations are placed on the inspection work of UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

Here, I wish to share with you some of my views.

First, Iraq must implement the relevant Security Council resolutions strictly, comprehensively and earnestly. We urge the Iraqi side to recognize fully the importance and urgency of the inspections and provide more cooperation in a more proactive way.

The latest visit to Baghdad by the two chief U.N. inspectors has achieved some positive results. The Iraqi side has made some commitments. We request Iraq to make good on those promises as soon as possible.

And Iraq must provide clarifications and explanations as soon as possible regarding the questions raised by the two chief inspectors in their reports just now.

Second, it is necessary for the inspection work in Iraq to continue. Resolution 1441 of the Security Council provides explicit authorization and specific requirements for the inspections.

It remains our important task to continue with the implementation of this resolution.

In this respect, a great deal of work still needs to be done by the Security Council and the two inspection bodies. Judging from what has been done in the recent past, the inspection work has made progress and clarified quite a number of issues. However, new elements have also been discovered in that process. The two bodies are duty bound and justified to further the inspections with the aim of finding out the truth and fulfilling the mission conferred on them by the Security Council.

Therefore, in agreement with the majority opinion among the council members, China believes that the inspection process is working and that the inspectors should continue to be given the time they need so as to carry out Resolution 1441.

Third, the Security Council has to step up its effort for the inspections. The Iraqi issue bears on the peace and stability in the gulf region and bears on the credibility and authority of the Security Council. The council should deal with this complex situation appropriately and in a responsible fashion, in accordance with the purposes and the principles of the U.N. Charter so as to fulfill its important task of maintaining international peace and security.

The top priority now is to strengthen its guidance to and support for the inspection work and to facilitate a productive political settlement. To intensive inspections is for the purpose of seeking a peaceful solution to the Iraqi issue. China stands ready to continue to provide the two bodies with personnel and necessary technical assistance, thereby continuing our efforts towards the political settlement of the Iraqi issue.

Mr. President, China is an ancient civilization. Our ancestors proposed long ago the idea of peace being the best option. At present, peace and development represent the common aspiration of all peoples around the world. Sitting on the Security Council, we simply have no reason not to make our utmost efforts towards that goal and we are obliged to try our best and use all possible means to avert war.

Only when we go along the line of political settlement can we truly live up to the trust and hope the international community places in the Security Council.

Thank you, Mr. President.

FISCHER: I thank the distinguished minister for foreign affairs of China for his statement. Now I call on the distinguished minister for foreign affairs of Spain, her excellency, Mrs. Ana Palacio.

ANA PALACIO, SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Distinguished ministers and ambassadors. Like hundreds of millions of citizens the world over, I have been following the words of the inspectors, Mr. Blix, Mr. ElBaradei with great care and attention, with an eagerness to hear just one sentence -- one sentence: an affirmation of active, immediate and complete cooperation by Saddam Hussein's regime. The inspectors have not been able to make that affirmation.

What resounds, as far as I'm concerned is the last sentence in Dr. Blix statement today, which is -- and I quote -- "Today, three months after the adoption of Resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short, if immediate, active, and unconditional cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA were to be forthcoming."

They have not been forthcoming. That is what has been observed. It's true, there have been some advances to which I will refer. But above all, what we see as a long list of areas of noncompliance, of unresolved issues that were mentioned in Dr. Blix's report. His last report, and which have not gotten any clear response.

Let us recall the question of VX agent, the question of chemical bombs, of 8,500 liters of anthrax. We've been told that as regard to the missiles, the inspectors have unanimously concluded that the Samud II missile is longer in range than is permitted and is, therefore, a proscribed system, and the information provided is not sufficient, we're told. We're told that it's possible to produce motors for long- scale missiles.

I have taken good note of the fact that in the field of chemical and biological weapons, the documents submitted on VX and anthrax do not provide further evidence, and do not resolve the pending issues. In addition, it's said that a list of persons has been provided that participated in the destruction of chemical weapons, but there's been no list of persons provided that participated in the destruction of biological materials.

As far as interviews are concerned, Dr. Blix told us that a number of persons have refused to be interviewed privately, and those private interviews are essential to get information.

So the question is, why? So in a word, all the questions remain. And above all, the most important question, and that is -- the cooperation, is it voluntary, or are these superficial concessions? Because time is pressing, because there is a review in the Security Council about to be conducted. Are the concessions a result of the inspections themselves? Is it the result of international pressure? International pressure including the credible threat of the use of force?

This being said, I would like to put forward a few thoughts on some proposals that have been circulated to change the inspection system. Question is -- question is that of the political will of Saddam Hussein's regime. The answer can only be "yes." For this purpose, what we don't need is more inspections. It's not a question of change in composition or in structure. Because the message that would easily be seen is that the Security Council has changed the terms of reference. The message would be the more noncompliance there is from Saddam Hussein, the more radically the international community needs to act. That is not the spirit and the goal of Resolution 1441, which, as has been recalled here, was adopted unanimously by this Security Council. We would be sending a message of weakness on the part of this council. We would give a message that we were prepared to rework the terms of reference of Resolution 1441 and, therefore, this council would lose its credibility.

On behalf of my government, I wish, first of all, to express thanks, deepest thanks, for the work of the inspectors, and I wish once again to express my government's support for their work.

Spain has worked, and continues to work for peace and security, and in this regard, it is in this way that the concerns I have expressed in this statement should be understood. We are resolutely in favor of a solution to this crisis being found within the United Nations and within the Security Council, and it is for this reason that we have been working and toward that end that we continue to work.

But Spain is aware that peace and security are insured through respect for and compliance with Security Council resolutions. And that the time will come if that change in political attitude, that change of will on the part of Saddam Hussein's regime does not take place, that this council will be obliged to assume its responsibilities -- its responsibilities for the peace and the security of the world. Thank you.

FISCHER: I thank the distinguished minister for foreign affairs of Spain for her statement, and I now call on the distinguished secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the right honorable Jack Straw, MP.

JACK STRAW, BRITISH SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. President, I speak on behalf of a very old country founded...


STRAW: ... founded in 1066 by the French.


STRAW: I'd like, in opening, Mr. President, to thank Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei for their reports and to express my very great appreciation to them and to their inspection teams for their great efforts in the face of what I think is still very clear, Iraq's failure, fully and actively, to comply with Resolution 1441.

Mr. President, the issue before us could not be graver. It is about the authority of the United Nations and about the responsibility of the Security Council for international peace and security.

Just three months ago, on the 8th of November, we unanimously agreed Resolution 1441, tabled by the United States and ourselves. We said then that Iraq's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of long-range missiles and its noncompliance with Council resolutions was a threat to international peace and security.

Now, we all know that they've had these weapons. That's why we said that Iraq had them, why all five permanent members, all 10 elected members, said the same thing. We knew that the issue was not whether Iraq had them, but whether Iraq was actively cooperating to get rid of them.

And we emphasized that Iraq had been found guilty 12 years ago by the world community. This was just reminding ourselves that Iraq is the only country in the world which has launched missile attacks on five of its neighbors, invaded two of its neighbors, both Muslim, and killed, without any justification, hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iran, in Kuwait and in Iraq itself.

Dr. Blix, in his report, refers to the decisions which were made in 1991, and he said regrettably the high degree of cooperation required by this Council of Iraq for disarmament through inspection was not forthcoming in 1991.

And it is worth reminding ourselves when we discuss this issue of time scales that on the 3rd of April 1991, this Council gave Iraq 90 days to disarm, by the 2nd of July 1991. And in the 11 years, 7 months and 12 days, quite a long of time, since the Council's deadline to Iraq ran out, what is it that they've done? Well, they've lied, they've concealed, they've played games. A game of catcher's catch can, as Dr. Blix told us on the 27th of January.

Saddam said for four years that he had no biological weapons program, no anthrax bacillus, no smallpox virus, no VX nerve agent. And indeed, the inspectors found absolutely nothing. It took the defection of Saddam's own son-in-law to uncover Saddam's biological weapons program, more terrible than anybody had thought.

And to bring us up to date, as Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei spelled out in their report on the 27th of January, Iraq has failed to account for thousands of tons of chemical weapons and precursor chemicals, of shells and bombs for anthrax, for mustard gas, for VX nerve agent. They have failed to make a full and complete disclousre as required of them on the 7th of December, failed to cooperate fully and actively on substance, as well as on process with the inspectors, and failed substantively to meet the obligations imposed on them.

Now, I've listened with very great care to the colleagues who've spoken so far. And we all agreed on the importance of 1441, and it was striking that nobody who's spoken so far -- and I warrant that nobody who speaks after me -- that nobody has spoken so far has suggested for a second that Iraq is fully and actively complying with the obligations that we imposed on him and on them on the 8th of November of last year. So Iraq's material breaches, which we spelled out on the 8th of November, are still there.

Now, in that regard, I'd be glad to put these questions to the inspectors. Why did Dr. Blix think that Iraq has refurbished equipment, like the engine casting chambers at Al Mahmoun (ph) and the chemical processing equipment at Fallujah, both of which were destroyed by UNSCOM because they were prohibited?

Since the last report, how many interviews have taken place with the officials which the inspectors have asked to interview? How many in places which the two inspectors are sure have not subject to electronic interception and bugging by Iraq?

Has any of the outstanding material identified by UNSCOM in early 1999 -- the missing 8,500 liters of anthrax, the one and a half tons of VX nerve agent, the 6,500 chemical bombs -- been satisfactorily dealt with by Iraq? Do recent documents provided by Iraq give any serious evidence for this?

As for the nuclear dossier, how many of the IAEA's open issues has it been able to close through Iraq's cooperation?

Mr. President, I thought that the most significant point made by Dr. Blix in his report, which has subsequently been echoed by everyone who has spoken so far, was his closing remarks when he said, "Three months after the adoption of Resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short if the immediate, active and unconditional cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA were to be forthcoming." I take those words to mean that Iraq has yet to be forthcoming with that immediate, active and unconditional cooperation.

And I'd like to ask Dr. Blix, picking up a phrase from his report of the 27th of January, whether he believes that Iraq has yet come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament which has been demanded of it.

Mr. President, the issue before us is of the authority of the U.N. and of the defiance of the United Nations resolutions. On the 8th of November, we said unanimously that Saddam was to have a final opportunity. Can anyone say, does anyone truly believe here that he has yet taken that final opportunity?

Like every other member of this Council and, I believe, of the international community, I hope and believe that a peaceful solution to this crisis may still be possible. But this will require a dramatic and immediate change by Saddam.

And this will only be achieved if we, the Security Council, hold our nerve in the face of this tyrant, give meaning to our words and to the decisions which we've already collectively taken, and make ourselves ready to ensure that Iraq will face the serious consequences which we all decided would have to happen if Iraq's defiance did not end.

And, Mr. President, I want to close by saying this. This period of 12 years since 687 was passed on the 3rd of April 1991 has frankly been a period of humiliation for this body, for this Security Council and for the United Nations, as games have been played with the Security Council's authority.

And the period after the inspectors were kicked out effectively by Iraq at the end of 1998 until the 8th of November will hardly be described as the best in the Security Council's history, because Iraq was in open defiance of the United Nations and nothing effectively was being done about its weapons of mass destruction.

I am proud that with the United States, the United Kingdom took the initiative on this issue and tabled what became 1441. And I'm glad to note the progress on process that has been made. I'm glad to note that, notwithstanding a clear statement by the government of Iraq on the 10th of September last year that the inspectors would never go back into Iraq, inspectors have now gone back into Iraq, and we note the progress on process that has been made.

But I also say this, that in securing a peaceful conclusion to this crisis, as all we must, I know and I think everybody else here knows that we have only got to this stage by doing what the United Nations charter requires of us, which is to back a diplomatic process with a credible threat of force and also, if necessary, to be ready to use that threat of force.

And if we back away from that, if we decide to give unlimited time for little or no cooperation on substance, then the disarmament of Iraq and the peace and security of the international community, for which we are responsible, will not get any easier, but very much harder. And this issue is not just about Iraq, it's how we deal with proliferators elsewhere across the globe. And if we send out the message to proliferators the world over that the defiance of the United Nations pays, then it will not be peace that we will have secured.

Thank you.

FISCHER: I thank the distinguished secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for his statement.

I'll now call on distinguished secretary of state of the United States of America, his excellency, Mr. Colin L. Powell.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished members of the council, it's a great pleasure to be here with you again to consider this very important matter, and I'm very pleased to be here as the secretary of state of a relatively new country on the face of the Earth.

But I think I can take some credit sitting here as being the representative of the oldest democracy that is assembled here around this table. Proud of that. A democracy that believes in peace, a nation that has tried in the course of its history to show how people can live in peace with one another, but a democracy that has not been afraid to meet its responsibilities on the world stage when it has been challenged; more importantly, when others in the world have been challenged, or when the international order has been challenged, or when the international institutions of which we are a part have been challenged.

That's why we have joined and been active members of institutions such as the United Nations and a number of other institutions that have come together for the purpose of peace and for the purpose of mutual security and for the purpose of letting other nations which pursue a path of destruction, which pursue paths of developing weapons of mass destruction which threaten their neighbors, to let them know that we will stand tall, we will stand together to meet these kinds of challenges.

I want to express my appreciation to Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei for their presentation this morning. They took up a difficult challenge when they went back into Iraq last fall in pursuit of disarmament as required by Resolution 1441. And I listened very attentively to all they said this morning, and I am pleased that there have been improvements with respect to process. I'm pleased that there have been improvements with respect to not having five minders with each inspector down to something less than five minders with each inspector.

But I think they still are being minded, they are still being watched, they are still being bugged, they still do not have the freedom of access around Iraq that they need to do their job well.

I'm pleased that a few people have come forward for interviews, but not all the people who should be coming forward for interviews, and with the freedom to interview them in a manner that their safety can be protected and the safety of their families can be protected as required by U.N. Resolution 1441.

I am glad that access has been relatively good. But that is all process, it is not substance.

I am pleased to hear that decrees have now been issued that should have been issued years and years ago, but does anybody really think a decree from Saddam Hussein -- directed to whom -- is going to fundamentally change the situation? And it comes out on a morning when we are moving forward down the path laid out by Resolution 1441. These are all process issues. These are all tricks that are being played on us.

And to say that new commissions are being formed that will go find materials that they claim are not there in the first place -- can anybody honestly believe that either one of these two new commissions will actively seek out information that they have been actively trying to deny to the world community, to the inspectors for the last 11-plus years?

I commend the inspectors. I thank they for what they are doing. But at the same time, I have to keep coming back to the point that the inspectors have repeatedly made, and they've made it again here this morning, they've been making it for the last 11-plus years: What we need is not more inspections, what we need is not more immediate access, what we need is immediate, active, unconditional, full cooperation on the part of Iraq. What we need is for Iraq to disarm.

Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Let me say that again. Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Resolution 1441 was about the disarmament of Iraq.

We worked on that resolution for seven weeks, from the time of President Bush's powerful speech here at the United Nations General Assembly on the 12th of September until the resolution was passed on the 8th of November.

We had intense discussions. All of you are familiar with it. You participated in these discussions. And it was about disarmament. And the resolution began with the clear statement that Iraq was in material breach of its obligations for the past 11 years and remains to that day, the day the resolution was passed, in material breach. And the resolution said Iraq must now come into compliance, it must disarm.

The resolution went on to say that we want to see a declaration from Iraq within 30 days of all of its activities, put it all on the table. "Let's see what you have been doing. Give us a declaration that we can believe and that is full, complete and accurate." That's what we said to Iraq on the 8th of November. And some 29 days later, we got 12,000 pages. Nobody in this Council can say that that was a full, complete or accurate declaration.

And now it is several months after that declaration was submitted. And I have heard nothing to suggest that they have filled in the gaps that were in that declaration or they have added new evidence that should give us any comfort that we have a full, complete and accurate declaration.

You will recall we put that declaration requirement into the resolution as an early test of Iraq's seriousness. Are they serious? Are they going to disarm? Are they going to comply? Are they going to cooperate?

And the answer with that declaration was no, we're going to see what we can get away with. We can see how much we can slip under your nose and everybody will clap and say, isn't that wonderful? They provided a declaration. That was of not any particular use.

We then had some level of acceptance of the fact that inspectors were going back in. We called that. Iraq tried to use this gambit right after the president's speech in September to try to keep Resolution 1441 from ever coming down the pipe. Suddenly in the following Monday after the president's speech, "Oh, we'll let inspectors back in."

Why? Because when the president spoke and when Iraq saw that the international community was now coming together with seriousness and with determination, it knew it better do something. It didn't do it out of the goodness of its heart or it suddenly discovered that it's been in violation for all of those years. They did it because the pressure. They did it because this Council stood firm. They did it because the international community said, "Enough, we will not tolerate Iraq continuing to have weapons of mass destruction to be used against its own people, to be used against its neighbors, or worse, if we find a post-9/11 nexus between Iraq and terrorist organizations that are looking for just such weapons."

And I would submit and will provide more evidence that such connections are now emerging, and we can establish that they exist.

We cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to show up in one of our cities and wonder where it came from after it's been detonated by al Qaeda or somebody else. This is the time to go after this source of this kind of weaponry.

And that's what 1441 was all about.

And to this day, we have not seen the level of cooperation that was expected, anticipated, hoped for. I hoped for it. No one worked harder than the United States. And I submit to you, no on worked harder, if I may humbly say, I did, to try to put forward a resolution that would show the determination of the international community to the leadership in Iraq so that they would now meet their obligations and come clean and comply. And they did not.

Notwithstanding all of the discussion we have heard so far this morning about give inspections more time, let's have more airplanes flying over, let's have more inspectors added to the inspection process -- Dr. Blix noted earlier this week that it's not more inspectors that it needed. What's needed is what both Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei have said what's been needed since 1991: immediate, active, unconditional compliance and cooperation.

I'm pleased that Iraq is now discussing this matter with South Africa. But it isn't brain surgery. South Africa knows how to do it. Anybody knows how to do it. If we were getting the kind of cooperation that we expected when 1441 was passed and we hoped when 1441 was passed, these documents would be flooding out of homes, flooding out of factories. There would be no question about access. There would be no question about interviews.

If Iraq was serious in this matter, interviewees would be standing outside of UNMOVIC and IAEA offices in Baghdad and elsewhere waiting to be interviewed, because they are determined to prove to the world, to give the world all the evidence needed that these weapons of mass destruction are gone.

But the questions, notwithstanding all of the level of letter, the questions remain, and some of my colleagues have talked about them. We haven't accounted for the anthrax, we haven't accounted for the botulinum, VX, both biological agents, growth media, 30,000 chemical and biological munitions.

These are not trivial matters one can just ignore and walk away from and say, "Well, maybe the inspectors will find them, maybe they won't."

We have not had a complete, accurate declaration.

We have seen the reconstitution of casting chambers for missiles. Why? Because they are still trying to develop these weapons. We have seen the kind of cooperation that was anticipated, expected and demanded of this body.

And we must continue to demand it. We must continue to put pressure on Iraq, put force upon Iraq to make sure that the threat of force is not removed, because 1441 was all about compliance, not inspections. The inspections were put in as a way, of course, to assist Iraq in coming forward and complying, in order to verify, in order to monitor, as the chief inspector noted.

But we so got an incomplete answer from Iraq, we are facing a difficult situation. More inspectors, sorry, not the answer. What we need is immediate cooperation. Time? How much time does it take to say, "I understand the will of the international community, and I and my regime are laying it all out for you and not playing guess -- not forming commissions, not issuing decrees, not getting laws that should've been passed years ago suddenly passed on the day when we are meeting"?

These are not responsible actions on the part of Iraq. These are contingent efforts to deceive, to deny, to divert, to throw us off the trail, to throw us off the path. The resolution anticipated this kind of response from Iraq. And that's why in all our discussions about that resolution we said they're in material breach. If they come into new material breach with a false declaration or not a willingness to cooperate and comply, as OP4 (ph) says, then the matter has to be referred to the Council for serious consequences.

I submit to you that, notwithstanding the improvements in process that we have noted and I welcome -- and I thank the inspectors for their hard work -- these improvements in process do not move us away from the central problem that we continue to have. And more inspections and a longer inspection period will not move us away from the central issue, the central problem we are facing. And that central problem is that Iraq has failed to comply with 1441.

The threat of force must remain. Force should always be a last resort. I have preached this for most of my professional life as a soldier and as a diplomat. But it must be a resort.

We cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out, as Iraq is trying to do right now: "String it out long enough, and the world will start looking in other directions, the Security Council will move on, we'll get away with it again." My friends, they cannot be allowed to get away with it again.

We now are in a situation where Iraq's continued noncompliance and failure to cooperate, it seems to me, in the clearest terms requires this Council to begin to think through the consequences of walking away from this problem, or the reality that we have to face this problem, and that in the very near future, we will have to consider whether or not we've reached this Council, as distasteful as it may be, as reluctant as we may be, as many as -- there are so many of you who would rather not to face this issue, but it's an issue that must be faced, and that is whether or not it is time to consider serious consequences of the kind intended by 1441.

The reason we must not look away from it is because these are terrible weapons. We are talking about weapons that will kill not a few people, not a hundred people, not a thousand people, but could kill tens of thousands of people, if these weapons got into the wrong hands.

And the security of the region, the hopes for the people of Iraq themselves, and our security rests upon us meeting our responsibilities and, if it comes to it, invoking the serious consequences called for in 1441.

1441 is about disarmament and compliance, and not merely a process of inspections that goes on forever without ever resolving the basic problem.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Serious consequences. Serious consequences, the diplomatic code word for military action. If necessary, war against Iraq, if the Iraqis do not fully comply. As we await the introduction of the Russian foreign minister, this programming note. Secretary of State Powell will be interviewed at 5:15 Eastern today by our own Andrea Koppel, a live interview here on CNN.

Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, speaking now.


IGOR IVANOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Our meeting today is in its way a unique occasion in the history of the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council is meeting again as an urgent matter at the level of ministers for foreign affairs to seek a solution to the most acute problem: a settlement of the situation around Iraq.

This fact is further evidence that the world community sees the United Nations as the most suitable mechanism for settling the most burning issues facing the world today, for it is precisely within the United Nations and the Security Council that all states have an opportunity on an equal footing to seek solutions to problems involving the interests of general security.

And that is why, with each additional meeting of the Security Council, the international community is further engaging hopes for strengthening the unity and solidarity of states in the face of common threats and challenges.

Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei's account today -- and we would welcome them and thank them for the enormous amount of useful work they are doing -- their accounts have shown very clearly that in Iraq a unique potential has been established in this area of inspections and monitoring.

I think that in our discussions and conclusions we should be guided not by feelings, emotions and sympathies or antipathies vis-a- vis one or another regime, rather we should be guided by the actual facts and on the basis of those facts draw our conclusions.

And this is why we supported the return of the inspectors to Iraq, and this is why we must continue to provide them with all necessary assistance, because it is only on the basis of the professional data they provide us with that we can, without making a mistake, come to a conclusion.

The inspections carried out by the international inspectors on a daily basis are proceeding smoothly, with the cooperation of the Iraqis. Unimpeded access is available to all sites, including the most sensitive, as is required, indeed, under Security Council Resolution 1441.

During Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei's last visit to Baghdad, substantial progress was made, and we cannot disregard that fact.

Now there is no impediment to aerial monitoring of the territory of Iraq using the American U-2, the French Mirage and the Russian Antonov. The situation is improving with interviews with Iraqi scientists. They are now being held without minders. The Iraqis have provided to UNMOVIC a whole number of new documents about past military programs. The Iraqis have set up two commissions that are to deal with searching for additional materials.

We simply cannot ignore these newest (ph) facts. If we think back to our last meeting on 5 February, we discussed these matters as pending, and we were asking Iraq to resolve these matters. And now, thanks to the last visit by Mssrs. Blix and ElBaradei, these matters have now been resolved. So in fact there is movement, movement in the right direction, and we cannot ignore that.

We would urge Baghdad to continue increasing its cooperation with the international inspectors. This is, after all, first and foremost, in its own interests.

It is perfectly clear that UNMOVIC and IAEA have the necessary conditions for carrying out the tasks assigned to them. As far as we know, nobody is proposing changing the mandate of UNMOVIC or IAEA or introducing any changes into the unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. But all, or at the overwhelming majority of states in the world are saying that the Security Council of the United Nations must continue to provide the inspectors with all support they need.

At the same time, however, the work of the inspectors must be made more systematic and focused. It is necessary to set clear tasks and then consistently follow up on implementation.

In this connection, I would like to recall the inspectors' obligation to comply with the time frame enshrined in Resolution 1284, according to which they are to submit for approval by the Security Council the program of work of UNMOVIC and IAEA, including the list of key disarmament tasks.

The adoption of such a program would provide us with objective criteria not only for assessing the level of cooperation by Baghdad with the United Nations, but -- and this is the most important -- it would help us provide an answer to the question as to whether Iraq is a threat to intentional peace and security; and, if so, what specifically must be done to remove that threat. As soon as possible, this program of work must be submitted.

Perhaps Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei might be asked one small questions of clarification, but there is one point of principle that we must all answer.

Must the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors continue their work in Iraq in the interest of a political settlement? Have all the necessary conditions to that end been met? Russia answers yes to that question. The conditions are there. The inspectors must continue their inspections. And this is a position shared by the overwhelmingly majority of states in the world, including within the Security Council of the United Nations.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, we have a unique opportunity to reach agreement on how to solve this most burning international problem by political means, strictly in accordance with the charter of the United Nations. This is a real opportunity and it must not be missed.

Force can be resorted to, but only when all other remedies have been exhausted. As can be seen from the discussion today, we have not yet reached that point, and I hope we will not reach that point.

We are all fully aware of the exceptional responsibility that the international community has placed in us in accordance with the charter of the United Nations. And so our energies must be geared today not to competing one with the other, but rather to uniting our efforts.

It's symbolic that today's meeting is being held on St. Valentine's Day. This is a day when people get engaged, cementing their greatest hopes, and it is our hope that we will be able to do likewise.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

BLITZER: Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, joining the others who are questioning the need for force right now against Iraq.

Igor Ivanov, if you're keeping score, the latest in those saying the inspectors should be given more time to resolve this issue of Iraq's disarmament. France earlier made a very strong appeal along those lines, as did China and Syria.

The United States getting support so far in the Security Council session from Britain and Spain, Chile being in the middle right now, saying yes, more time should be given to inspectors. But in the end, if the Iraqis do not comply, use of force might be necessary.

We're going to break away from some of the speakers right now as we try to get some analysis and digest what we've learned in this debate that's unfolding, a deeply divided U.N. Security Council.

Joining us once again Terence Taylor, a former U.N. weapons inspector, now with the National Institute for Strategic Studies.

Mr. Taylor, based on what you've heard right now, the French, the Russians, the Chinese, the Syrians making a strong case, give the inspectors more time. Will that make a difference?

TAYLOR: I think we're hearing the same positions as we heard on previous presentations by the two chief inspectors on the 27th of January. It seems that the very strong determination expressed by both the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the UK Foreign Secretary Mr. Straw, show that they have not waivered at all.

In fact, I was struck by the strong statement by Mr. Straw of the UK, where he spoke of 12 years of humiliation of the U.N. by Iraq. So he was giving a very strong indictment of the situation, and calling for now this is the time for action. That's what we're hearing from those two countries. Still, as you say, all supported by the Spanish foreign secrtary as well. So we don't see any change in the positions.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, though, by how deeply divided they seem to be, these various members of the Security Council?

TAYLOR: Well, I suppose I'm not surprised, because I'm very close to the situation, but it's very worrying to see these division, but one can see why. Both Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei's presentations didn't demonstrate any movement at all of any seriousness on substance on the part of Iraq.

And what we get down to right now -- and I think it was interesting listen to the French foreign minister, when he really ended up his presentation with an appeal not to go to war, because the risks of war are far greater. He didn't really challenge the issue that there wasn't any progress on substance on Iraq.

So, I think we really get down to, is this an issue worth going to war over? So I think that's where we've moved to since the last Security Council meeting on this issue.

BLITZER: We did hear the French foreign minister appeal for yet another report from the two inspectors on march 14th, a month from today, meaning that they should be given more time. Realistically, the U.S. and its allies could not go to war with those inspectors, those 300 -- 250 or 300 inspectors still in Iraq. They would have to be removed first, isn't that right?

TAYLOR: Well, certainly they would have to be taken out of the country. Certainly during the 1990s, there were occasions when military operations were conducted, and from my own experience being there then, inspectors were withdrawn pretty rapidly. So that's the kind of thing that would have to be -- would have to happen. There would have to be some notice given to allow that to happen, but it can be very short indeed.

BLITZER: Those inspectors from 60 countries. Terrence, standy. We're going to contineu our analysis. We're all standing by for a White House briefing by Ari fleisher, expected to emerge soon and answer reporters' questions, getting a lot of additional reaction from the Bush administration to what's unfolding on this historic day before the United Nations Security Council.

Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: So in the meantime, Wolf, before we take to Ari Fleisher's briefing, we want to talk more of the divisions in the Security Council that were so evident in the foreign minister or foreign secretary's speech.

I want to turn to Christiane Amanpour, who joins us from our London bureau, to talk more about British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's message, as well as the very empassioned plea of Colin Powell, where he basically said, look, I'm very pleased and some of the improvements that I have heard today in the inspection process, but the inspectors are still being bugged, they are being monitored and they do not have the freedom of access.

Christiane, any early reaction to either one of those speeches? AMANPOUR: Paula, none that's actually come out officially, but certainly from analysts and observers watching. The basic reaction, basically Colin Powell leapt out of his seat and responded to realy what was a drumbeat against war from the previous speaker. He didn't look at his notes, and he was very firm. But certainly observed as saying the drama, the political drama of the moment right now, almost overshadows the drama of the war itself, if that does in fact happen. It is an unprecedented story of division within the United Nations, within NATO, within the Europe, within the European Union. And there is a very concrete sort of feeling right now that the basic issue here is whether war is justified now or whether containment continues.

I think everybody has agreed that saddam hussein needs to cooperate, that he hasn't done enough cooperation. But there's now boiling down to the nub of the issue here, which is, is this a warranted -- is military force warranted right now, or continued containment? And that is what is at the heart of the French, the Germans and those who oppose this, and there's a real sort of rise, as you've seen, of support for that position.

You saw a very rare outburst of applaud at the Security Council when the french foreign minister finished and also after the Russian foreign minister finished. What you have right now is Blix and El Baradei came to the Security Council. People are calling it a mixed bag, the reactions that I have seen trickling in right now. But one that may this time have tilted a little bit more in favor of the doves, where by the one two weeks ago January 27th tilted a little more in favor of the hawks.

And the question now is, how do these important countries, including the permanent members of the council, three of which have veto and three are saying there is no recourse to war right now, how now do their deliberations and debates continue behind closed doors? What happens next? For Britain, it's a very, very crucial moment, because Tony Blair has staked his support for military action, potential military action, on a second security council resolution, and at this precise moment, it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

ZAHN: I guess it's quite clear by looking at some of the public opinion polls in Great Britain how unpopular his position is. Is it possible he could lose his government over this?

AMANPOUR: Well, we've asked that specific question to analysts and operatives within the Labour Party. They don think so. They think that, first of all, an election is a way off. They believe that if a war goes quickly and well, if there is a war and it goes quickly and well, people will forget about it and Blair will be secure. But it's in the interim, it's now, that so much bad feeling has been raised, and that there is a great deal of anxiety all over the world. You know the polls all over the world are heavily against war.

So this is a very, very desperate moment for those who believe in the United States position, and who think that the course of action should be military, if Saddam Hussein does not change his ways and does not cooperate. You know, there are huge marches planned, or at least organizers expect millions to come out around Europe or other parts of the world this weekend, and there is a great drumbeat against the necessity to go to war now. People are saying more time, more time, more time.

ZAHN: Last question for you, Christiane, the secretary of state of the United States, Colin Powell, made it very clear that while they might be proceeding on issues of process, certainly not on issues of substance. And I'm just curious, when he talks about this timetable that keeps on shifting, how widely held perception is that this once again is Saddam Hussein benefiting from delay, delay, delay?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, it may be considered unfair, considering the United Nations resolutions that have been demanding disarmament from Saddam Hussein since 1991. It may be considered unfair taht really, the burden of proof is not being put on Saddam Hussein in international public opinion. It's more being put on the United States, and in this case Britain, that wants to disarm him militarily if that should be necessary.

So public opinion seems to put the burden of proof on the inspectors, if you like, or on United States to try and find something that may be hidden. Of course, we know the responsibility of the Iraqis over the last 12 years has been to cooperate, and they have not done that. But as you've seen over the last 12 years, that they have successfully exploited this public kind of opinion and successfully put these kinds of divisions that we're seeing right now at the very heart of the nations and the international community, and there has not been such a rift in the trans-Atlantic alliance over an issue so serious in recorded memory.

ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, thanks for that update.

And, Wolf, as I go back to you, I think Christiane raised a very important point when she talked ab the number of ref frens Secretary of State Powell made to 1441, the resolution. I counted at least five references, where he either said this was not about inspections, it is about disarmament, that another time he says, once again, this is about compliance, this is not about inspections.

BLITZER: And, Paula, he seemed, obviously, to be somewhat frustrated. He took a couple hits, as you note, from some of the speakers earlier, from Hans Blix, raising questions about some of Powell's own statements before the U.N. Security Council in late January, as well as a direct hit from the French foreign minister, who said the whole issue of Iraq's cooperation with Al Qaeda yet to be proven.

I think the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations is about to speak. The Pakistani ambassador, another Islamic country, could potentially be playing an important role.

Let's listen in to Pakistan's ambassador to the U.N., Munir Akham.

MUNIR AKRAM, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... and security. The importance of this meeting is evident, Mr. President, from your presence here to preside once again over the proceedings of the Security Council and the participation of nine other distinguished foreign ministers.

The Pakistan delegation has listened to the latest reports from Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. And we are grateful for them for having made the journey once again to provide us with the latest update of the situation.

These reports indicate some important developments since the 27th of January and also indicate what remains to be done.

The Iraqi government had responded positively to the three benchmarks on process identified by Dr. Blix. That is acceptance of aerial surveillance, interviews without minders, the adoption of national legislation.

There were also responses on substantive issues -- for example, the record of destruction of munitions.

Of course, as both Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei have made clear, there are a significant number of questions and concerns which remain outstanding and which must be addressed.

Mr. President, Mr. Blix continues to see a serious attitude toward cooperation on process from Iraq, with greater cooperation required on substance. Dr. ElBaradei continues to assess that it is possible to disarm Iraq through inspections.

Of course it is understandable that the patience of some important members of the Security Council is running out. It has been 12 years in which U.N. inspectors have had the job of seeking out Iraq's WMD capabilities. The intention of 1441 was that this process of discovery and destruction would be accelerated.

At the same time, we have also noted the call to caution in the statement issued by three members of the Council endorsed by some other member states.

The call by the Security Council in 1441 was credible, Mr. President, because it was unanimous. Iraq's new cooperation was due in no small measure to the credibility of the Council's determination to secure the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

We believe that the Security Council must maintain this unity of purpose and action.

We believe that there are, at present, three elements around which the Council can still unite: One, the general preference, even at this late stage, to secure the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction through peaceful means.

Two, the conviction that to achieve this, in the words of 1441, Iraq will have to offer immediate, active and unconditional cooperation -- that is, to actually participate in the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction capabilities, and to credibly demonstrate to inspectors of UNMOVIC that these weapons have been destroyed.

We believe that such cooperation would be in Iraq's supreme interest. We are open to proposals for strengthening the inspections mechanisms, if this can serve to accelerate the process.

Three, the readiness to allow some more time to achieve the peaceful elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but consistent with the spirit and sense of Resolution 1441. Dr. Blix has said that with Iraq's immediate, active and unconditional cooperation, this time could be relatively short.

Mr. President, obviously all people of good will desire that all the possibilities for a peaceful resolution of this crisis should be exhausted before the Council may decide to bring into play the enforcement mechanism.

The decision for the use of force cannot be an easy one for anyone. For Pakistan, an Islamic country from the region, such a decision will be a most difficult one. And we would therefore like to see every effort exhausted for a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

Mr. President, Pakistan attaches the highest importance to the preservation of the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. We have a stake in the preservation of peace and stability in the entire region.

And for us, the primary concern is the well-being and welfare of the Iraqi people. We must make every possible effort to ensure that the suffering of the Iraqi people is not further exacerbated. Indeed, our aim must be bring an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people. We trust and hope that the Iraqi leadership will also put its people first.

I thank you, sir.


ZAHN: This is one of those days where I have renewed respect for the art of juggling. We take you very quickly back to the Security Council now, where the Iraqi ambassador Mohammed AlDouri is responding to what he heard from Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei earlier today.

MOHAMMED ALDOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: ... we know that some states were not very happy with this cooperation, in fact, some would have wished Iraq had obstructed inspections or locked some doors. However, this did not and will not happen because Iraq has genuinely decided to prove that it is free of weapons of mass destruction and to lift any doubt in that regard.

And let me mention what Drs. Blix and ElBaradei stated this morning; 675 inspections have taken place so far within Iraq. In this short of period of time, the inspectors have found no evidence contradicting Iraq's declarations or bolstering the allegations asserted by the United States and the United Kingdom on the proscribed weapons programs or, indeed, the weapons alleged by the distinguished representative of the U.K. this morning.

Now, concerning interviews with Iraqi scientists, the government of Iraq continues to encourage those scientists to accept interviews. Additional lists of names containing other scientists have been submitted following the requests by Drs. Blix and ElBaradei. Other lists are on their way, as they know.

Four, Iraq did agree to over-flights by U-2 aircraft, by Mirage aircraft and by Antonov 2 aircraft in Iraqi airspace for surveillance purposes. It is logical and reasonable that while these aircraft are undergoing their missions, it is reasonable and logical for British and U.S. warplanes to cease airstrikes, because this will affect the security. Thus, inspectors have six levels of aerial surveillance, beginning with satellites, followed by high altitude surveillance aircraft, the U-2, then medium-level aircraft, the Mirage aircraft, then low-level aircraft, Antonov 2, followed by helicopters and other means for aerial surveillance.

As for the issue of the Iraqi penal (ph) legislation that some have considered among the important elements of Iraqi's cooperation, Iraq had not had a negative position in this regard. We had technical considerations.

At any rate, the decree was enacted today in order to end the controversy surrounding this matter. I was surprised to hear some say that this decree was unimportant or late in coming.

Concerning other issues, UNMOVIC following its establishment adopted a process that includes merging outstanding disarmament issues within the reinforced monitoring system, and this was referenced in its report to the Security Council S-2292 (ph). However, in order to facilitate UNMOVIC's mission in identifying these issues and resolving them, Iraq in its full, comprehensive and updated declaration of the 7th of December 2002, provided full details on these outstanding issues and the means to resolve them. Nevertheless, Iraq has begun to proactively cooperate with UNMOVIC, having lately agreed to discuss these issues with Iraq. And we have provided 24 documents pertaining to many of the outstanding issues.

Two commissions have been set up, made up of high Iraqi officials and scientists to consider these issues and to provide all the information thereon. And this has been requested by Drs. Blix and ElBaradei on more than one occasion.

After all that, we continue to face allegations by some that Iraq not only has not cooperated, but rather that Iraq is in material breach of 1441. Our question is, where is this material breach? Is it as asserted in the allegations made by the United States of America at the previous session, which did not gain acceptance by many states in the world or is the matter related to the concept of proactive cooperation required of Iraq? Many in this forum have called for proactive cooperation.

What is this proactive cooperation? If it means that Iraq is to show weapons of mass destruction, we would respond saying: Mr. President, by -- an Arab proverb I hope will be interpreted correctly -- an empty hand has nothing to give. You cannot give what you don't have. If we do not possess such weapons, how can we disarm ourselves of such weapons? Indeed, how can they be disarmed when they do not exist?

At any rate, we join the cause of those who do believe that the best means to resolve these issues is continuing proactive cooperation with the inspectors. We do not stand with those who want failure for the inspection work.

And I would refer to the quote in The Washington Post from members of the U.S. Senate, and I quote, "We, the U.S. government, have undermined the inspectors."

As for the missile issue, I should like to point out, distinguished ministers and ambassadors, that Iraq -- and I say that to the uninformed -- Iraq declared these missiles in its biannual declaration and in its full declaration to the Security Council. They were not uncovered by the inspectors. Iraq continues to stress that these missiles delivered to our armed forces do not have a range of over 150 kilometers. The issue was lately discussed with the UNMOVIC experts.

Iraq believes that this issue can be taken up toward a technical solution, and therefore it is not logical to accuse Iraq that it is going beyond the permitted range so long as Iraq is dealing with these issues in full transparency, so long as its establishments and test areas are open and under oversight. Iraq would suggest in this regard that test-firings can be undertaken through a random choice of missiles in order to ascertain the range. However, the option of dialogue is open between technical parties in Iraq and within UNMOVIC in order to reach a satisfactory solution to this issue.

Mr. President, when it comes to VX and anthrax, which were also mentioned, Iraq has put forward practical proposals to resolve these issues among other outstanding issues. These are related to VX, to anthrax, as well as some chemical precursors, as well as information on growth media. Iraq suggested that one could ascertain the amount of VX and anthrax destroyed through measuring the dissolved quantities of VX and anthrax in the unilateral destruction sites. And that there is a means to extrapolate the quantity destroyed through scientific investigation and comparing that with Iraq's declaration. And therefore, the issue needs perseverance because it is a difficult subject.

Mr. President, in conclusion, at a time when voices in the world are rising, calling on the United States and Great Britain to heed reason and to respect international legitimacy, the United States of America and the United Kingdom continue to mass forces against Iraq in an unjust cruel campaign, believing that this vast media campaign will make the world silent.

We would like to stress that Iraq has chosen the path of peace. We want to reach solutions that satisfy the international community. We are prepared to provide all means to assist in clarifying the real picture to avoid the objectives of those who are ill-intentioned who wish to ignite a war in Iraq with incalculable and consequences toward a clear colonial objectives.

We wish the Security Council to follow the wish of the vast majority of member-states in the United Nations. It is to give the inspectors their full role by undertaking their tasks through the path of dialogue and proactive cooperation leading certainly to peace and not war. We would also seriously call on the Security Council to consider lifting the unjust embargo imposed on Iraq and to rise to its commitments by respecting Iraq's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. We call upon it to continue to work toward the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in implementation of paragraph 14 of Resolution 687.

I thank you, Mr. President.

ZAHN: Once again, we'll do our best to juggle back and forth through some very important things going on today. For those of you just joining us, just a quick recap of what the Iraqi ambassador had to say to the Security Council. He came out swinging, trying to shoot down much of what Secretary of State Powell had to say earlier today. He posed the question, where is the material breach? He went on to say that inspectors have found no evidence, contradicting the declaration. That, after Secretary of State Powell told us that Iraq remains in material breach. He went on to say, referring to the 12,000 pages of documents, they are neither full, complete, nor accurate declarations.

So there's a lot to keep our eye on from this point on. Members of the Security Council will be meeting behind closed doors. Among them, Secretary of State Powell, and we are hoping to get some information from our own Richard Roth who is very good about learning what goes on at those closed-door meetings.

We'll go back to Wolf now in Washington.

BLITZER: Thanks, Paula.

I just want to update viewers, Andrea Koppel, our State Department correspondent, her exclusive interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell, will now air at 3:45 p.m. Eastern. It was originally supposed to air at 5:15 p.m., but because of the secretary's scheduling issues, that is now being moved up to 3:45 p.m. Eastern, an exclusive interview here live on CNN, the secretary of state and our own Andrea Koppel.

I will still be interviewing the French foreign minister live during the 5:00 hour, Dominique De Villepin, one of the critics of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq.

I want to go to Rome now, Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister of Iraq, has been meeting with John Paul II, the pope, and he's answering reporters questions now at a news conference.

TARIQ AZIZ, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: ... norms when the foreign secretary of the United States speaks about appointing General Franks as the ruler of Iraq and changing the political system in Iraq and bringing a reshape of the whole region? The United States is violating U.N. resolutions. We have done our best. The inspectors worked in Iraq for 7-1/2 years. They destroyed everything they wanted to destroy. Now they are back in Iraq, they are visiting each and every site they want to visit, they are interviewing every person they want to interview, they are getting answers to every question they are making.

So we are implementing U.N. resolutions. The outlaw here is America, not Iraq.

QUESTION: Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, you're saying that Iraq is doing all it can to cooperate with the U.N. inspectors. Mr. Blix said that you are cooperating in principle, that he would like to see more substantive cooperation. Pope John Paul II today said that he would like to see concrete (ph) commitments to faithfully fulfill the U.N. resolutions.

Given these last two calls coming from the U.N. and from the Holy Father, is Iraq going to show perhaps bigger initiative in trying to persuade the world that he has ridden himself of the weapons of mass destroying that he allegedly possesses, especially those who are still unaccounted for?

AZIZ: We are genuinely working with the inspectors to help them to reach the truth. We will do whatever possible in our hands, in our capability to help them to reach the ultimate truth about the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I am not annoyed by what His Holiness said or with what Mr. Blix said, because we are in this line.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Aziz. In an interview to the Spanish (OFF-MIKE), you talked that if Jose Maria Aznar supports Mr. Bush in his attack to Iraq, the traditional friendly feelings of the (OFF-MIKE) towards the Spanish will become hostility. Is it the same for Italy if the Italian government supports the American operation?

And second question, if you talked today with Mr. Saddam Hussein about the Security Council?

AZIZ: No, I didn't. I am here and I have been working. Father Benjamin (ph) is a witness from early morning until now. So I didn't have any contact with Baghdad.

But, yes, I just said that Italy, Spain and other European countries are not the enemies of Iraq and Iraq is not their enemy. America has its imperialist ambitions in Iraq and in the Middle East. Why should countries like Italy or Spain and others participate in a war of aggression which is an imperialist, unjust, immoral, illegal war?

Of course this will create reaction of hatred and enmity between the peoples. And what I said in this regard, we genuinely want those friendly nations not to commit a mistake and go along with the American imperialist ambitions. They have to be balanced, they have to be fair, they have to strict (ph) to international law, and by that we will keep, maintain our friendship and our coexistence, friendly coexistence, which we need for our present and for the future. QUESTION: In your previous declaration yesterday you announced that Iraq doesn't have any missiles that can reach Israel. Nevertheless, the report today said that still Iraq has missiles (OFF- MIKE) capacity. And anyway, there are also other ways to attack Israel, I guess. Are you considering any kind of attack as a possibility against Israel in case of American attack?

And as to allied countries with the U.S., some of the brother countries of the Arab world took position with the United States, countries like Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. How does the Iraqi government intend to act toward these kind of countries?

Thank you very much.

AZIZ: When I came to this press conference it was not in my agenda to answer questions from the Israeli media. Sorry.

MODERATOR: I'm sorry, is it possible for you to answer...

BLITZER: Tariq Aziz, refusing to answer a reporters question from the Israeli newspaper Mar-Arive (ph), the question about, does Iraq have capability of attacking Israel? Aziz attack the United States, saying plans for General Tommy Franks to rule over Baghdad, over Iraq, during some sort of interim, post-war period, unacceptable, underscoring U.S. aggression, U.S. aggressive policies seeking to dominate Iraq.

We're going to continue to monitor Tariq Aziz's news conference in Rome, a news conference held after about a 15-minute audience he had with Pope John Paul II earlier today. We're going to follow all the other developments, an historic day, Paula.

Today, Secretary of State Powell, by the way, will be sitting down, speaking to our own Andrea Koppel, 3:45 p.m. Eastern. That will be a live interview that will air here on CNN from New York, from the United Nations.

At 5:00 p.m., I'll be back on WOLF BLITZER reports. I'll have a live exclusive interview with Dominique De Villepin, the French foreign minister, who spoke out against the possibility of war over at the U.N. Security Council earlier today. I think you can testify and attest, Paula, that this has been a remarkable day so far, Paula, and it isn't over with yet.

ZAHN: Yes, and I hope we haven't made viewers too dizzy, as we juggle back and forth with these breaking news events. Wolf, I'll see you at 5:00. You're appointment television in our household.

And as we sit here and digest what we heard from members of the Security Council, I know a lot of you are wondering, are we going to go to war? I wonder that myself. Or is there any step between these very entrenched position we saw today at the Security Council and more.

Ambassador Wilson, you want to take a step at that? WILSON: Well, I think, first of all, you discount everything that he Iraqis said. AlDouri is not credible on this. The facts are pretty clear, Iraq remains in material breach, has always been in material breach of all the resolutions pertaining to it. The question is, how to best disarm him, consistent with the resolution, and what's the timeframe? And there are broad divisions that don't seem to be easily bridged at this point.

ZAHN: But next week is a critical. We'll see a lot of this come to a head.

WILSON: Next week, absolutely critical.

ZAHN: Ambassador Joseph Wilson, thanks for your expertise and your patience, as you've sat here most of the day with us today, and we want to thank all of our hard working members of the rest of the team that you've seen throughout the late morning, now into the afternoon.

Thanks so much for joining us, and Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour thank you for this special coverage.


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