17 February 2003

Iraq Cooperating With Disarmament Procedures, But Many Banned Weapons Remain Unaccounted for, Inspectors Tell Security Council

"Immediate, Unconditional and Active" Cooperation Needed to Resolve Questions; France, China, Russian Federation, Germany Support Continued Inspection Process

NEW YORK, 14 February (UN Headquarters) -- The heads of the weapons inspections regime in Iraq reported to the Security Council today that procedural cooperation in the disarmament process in Iraq continued to improve in recent weeks, and to date they had found no weapons of mass destruction, but many banned weapons remained unaccounted for and that could only be resolved through Iraq's "immediate, unconditional and active" cooperation.

The Council was meeting for the first time since United States Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case for disarming Iraq by force last week, presenting evidence intended to show Iraq was deceiving inspectors in its determination to obtain chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The inspections began on 27 November and were authorized by resolution 1441, which gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" dating to 1991 and the end of the Persian Gulf war.

The Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, who last briefed the Council on 27 January, said more than 400 inspections at 300 sites had been conducted without notice, access was almost always provided promptly, and there was no convincing evidence that Iraq knew in advance that the inspectors were coming. The recent acceptance of aerial surveillance and interviews of scientists without witnesses, as well as appointment by Iraq of a second commission entrusted with relevant documentation search, had also been positive developments.

The outstanding questions remained, however -- well known to Iraq -- concerning anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range missiles. Iraqi documents, for example, left some 1,000 tons of chemical agents unaccounted for and the issue must be resolved either by presenting such items for elimination, or by presenting convincing evidence that they had been eliminated. As for Al-Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah missiles, they could very well represent a prima facie case of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to ranges exceeding the 150-kilometre limit set by the Security Council.

Cooperation on substance required more than the opening of doors, he added. In the words of resolution 1441, it required immediate, unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament. In 1991, the disarmament through inspection period could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided, if Iraq had cooperated. Today, three months after the adoption of resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short, if the required cooperation with UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were forthcoming.

The Director-General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Council that although the Agency had found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq, it was not yet in a position to reach a conclusion on a number of issues still under investigation. To that end, the Agency intended to make full use of the authority granted to it under all relevant Council resolutions to build as much capacity into the inspection process as necessary. In that context, he underlined the importance of information that States might be able to provide to help the Agency in assessing the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by Iraq.

The Agency would continue to expand its inspection capabilities in a number of ways, he continued, including its use of unannounced inspections at all relevant sites. Now that Iraq had accepted the use of all of the platforms for aerial surveillance proposed by supporting States to UNMOVIC and the IAEA, the Agency planned to make use of them to support its inspection activities. While it was possible, particularly with an intrusive verification system, to assess the presence or absence of a nuclear weapons programme in a State even without the full cooperation of the inspected State, prompt, full and active cooperation by Iraq would speed up the process.

In the ensuing debate, several members of the Council, including France, Russian Federation, China and Germany, supported continued and enhanced inspections as an alternative to the United States' drive to disarm Iraq by force. France's Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin -- in a statement followed by applause in the Chamber -- said that the option of inspections had not been taken to the end and that the use of force against Iraq was today not justified. "No one can assert today that the path of war will be shorter than that of inspections", he said. "No one can claim either that it might lead to a safer, more just and stable world, for war is always the sanction of failure."

Syria's Foreign Minister, Farouk Al-Shara, insisted that the simple fact that war would be one of the options before the Council testified to its failure to discharge its tasks of maintaining peace and security. The looming war in Iraq was unanimously rejected by all Arabs, as it would have grave consequences for the region and spread fear and destruction everywhere. Iraq had opened all its doors without conditions to the inspectors. Today, it had adopted legislation implementing the United Nations prohibitions regarding weapons of mass destruction. As the inspections were accomplishing their goal, the Council must allow them sufficient time to complete their mandate.

United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, however, spoke out against "endlessly stringing out" the inspection process and insisted that what was needed was not more inspections, but compliance on behalf of Iraq. "So many here would rather not have to face the issue of whether it is time to consider the serious consequences referred to in 1441, but it has to be faced", he said. The pressure must continue on Iraq and the threat of force should not be removed.

United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jack Straw, said that he hoped and believed that a peaceful solution was still possible, but it would require Iraq to meet the obligations imposed on it. A peaceful solution could only be achieved if the Council held its nerve, gave meaning to its word and ensured that Iraq would face the consequences of its actions. In securing a peaceful solution, he knew that the Council had only come this far by backing the diplomatic process with a credible threat of force. If the Council backed away from that, then the disarmament of Iraq and international peace and security would get not easier, but harder.

Iraq's representative assured the Council that his country was now providing proactive cooperation with the inspections. He believed the Council should follow the vast majority of United Nations Members by giving the inspectors all that they needed to undertake their tasks, which would lead to peace and not war.

Also addressing the Council today were Foreign Minister of Chile Maria Soledad Alvear, China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Spain's Minister for Foreign Affairs Ana Palacio, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Igor S. Ivanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico Luis Ernesto Derbez, and Foreign Minister of Germany Joschka Fischer, as well as representatives of Guinea, Pakistan, Cameroon, Angola and Bulgaria.

Next Tuesday, 18 February, the Council will hold a follow-up meeting to give the wider United Nations membership an opportunity to discuss the issue.

The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:50 p.m.

Briefings on Iraq Inspections

HANS BLIX, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said that the Commission had continued to build its capabilities in Iraq. The regional office in Mosul was now fully operational as its temporary headquarters. Plans for a regional office at Basra were being developed. UNMOVIC's Hercules L-100 aircraft continued to operate routine flights between Baghdad and Larnaca, and its eight helicopters were fully operational. The total number of staff in Iraq now exceeded 250 from 60 countries, he said, including about 100 UNMOVIC inspectors, 15 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, 50 aircrew and 65 support staff.

With the resolution of the problems raised by Iraq for transporting minders into the no-fly zones, mobility there had improved, he said. He expected to increase utilization of the helicopters. In the beginning, the number of Iraqi minders during inspections had often reached a ratio as high as five per inspector. The situation had improved since the Iraqi side had agreed in January to keep that ratio to about one to one.

Since the Commission's arrival in Iraq, it had conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites, he continued, including industrial sites, ammunition depots, research centres, universities, presidential sites, mobile laboratories, private houses, missile production facilities, military camps and agricultural sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly. In no case had he seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming.

At all sites which had been inspected before 1998, "re-baselining" had been performed, which included identification of the function and contents of each building, verification of previously tagged equipment, application of seals and tags, taking samples and discussions with the site personnel regarding past and present activities. At some sites, ground-penetrating radar was used to look for underground structures or buried equipment.

Through the inspections conducted so far, the Commission had obtained a good knowledge of the industrial and scientific landscape of Iraq, he said, as well as of its missile capability, but, as before, it did not know every cave and corner. Inspections were effectively helping to bridge the gap in knowledge that had arisen due to the absence of inspections between December 1998 and November 2002. More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples had been collected at different sites. Three quarters of those had been screened using the Commission's own laboratory analytical capabilities at the Baghdad Centre (BOMVIC). The results to date had been consistent with Iraq's declarations.

He went on to say that the Commission had now begun destroying approximately 50 litres of mustard gas declared by Iraq. One third of that quantity had already been destroyed. The laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor, which had been found at another site, had also been destroyed.

Continuing, he recalled that in his 27 January update, he had said that it seemed 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. That impression remained, and he noted that access to sites had so far been without problems, including those that had never been declared or inspected, as well as to presidential sites and private residences. In January, he had also noted that cooperation required more than the opening of doors. In the words of resolution 1441, it required immediate, unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament -- either by presenting remaining proscribed items and programmes for elimination or by presenting convincing evidence that they had been eliminated. In the current situation, one would expect Iraq to be eager to comply.

"How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes?" he asked. So far, UNMOVIC had 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 -- was that many proscribed weapons and items were not accounted for. For example, the documents provided by Iraq suggested that some 1,000 tons of chemical agent were "unaccounted for". One must not jump to the conclusion that they existed. However, that possibility was also not excluded. If they existed, they should be presented for destruction. If not, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

Inspectors were fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations were convinced and asserted that proscribed weapons, items and programmes continued to exist, he continued. The United States Secretary of State had presented material in support of that conclusion. Governments had many sources of information that were not available to inspectors. Inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on evidence, which they could, themselves, examine and present publicly. Without evidence, confidence could not arise.

In his earlier briefings, he had noted that significant outstanding issues of substance were listed in two Council documents from early 1999 (S/1999/94 and S/1999/356) and should be well known to Iraq, he said. As examples, he had referred to the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX, and long-range missiles. The declaration submitted by Iraq on 7 December, despite its large volume, had missed the opportunity to provide the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions. That was perhaps the most important problem. Although he understood that it might not be easy for Iraq in all cases to provide the evidence needed, it was not the task of the inspectors to find out. Iraq itself must squarely tackle that task and avoid belittling the questions.

Regarding Al Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah missiles, he said that they could very well represent prima facie cases of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to ranges exceeding the 150-kilometre limit set by the Security Council. He also noted that Iraq had been requested to cease flight tests of those missiles until UNMOVIC had completed a technical review. Earlier this week, UNMOVIC missile experts had met for two days with experts from a number of Member States to discuss those items. The experts had concluded that, based on the data provided by Iraq, the two declared variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were capable of exceeding 150 kilometres in range. That system was, therefore, proscribed for Iraq pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) and the monitoring plan adopted by resolution 715 (1991). As for the Al Fatah, the experts had 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, he noted that the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had ordered and supervised the destruction of the casting chambers, which had been intended for use in the production of the proscribed Baers Badr-2000 missile system. Iraq had declared that it had reconstituted those chambers. The experts had confirmed that the reconstituted casting chambers could still be used to produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometres. Accordingly, those chambers remained proscribed. The experts had also studied the missile engine test stand that was nearing completion and had assessed it to be capable of testing missile engines with thrusts greater that that of the SA-2 engine. So far, the test stand had not been associated with a proscribed activity.

On the 380 SA-2 missile engines imported outside of the export/import mechanism and in contravention of paragraph 24 of resolution 687 (1991), UNMOVIC inspectors were informed by Iraq that those engines were intended for use in the AL Samoud 2 missile system, which had now been assessed to be proscribed. Any such engines configured for use in that missile system would also be proscribed. He intended to communicate those findings to the Government of Iraq.

At the meeting in Baghdad on 8 and 9 February, the Iraqi side had addressed some of the important outstanding disarmament issues and given the inspectors a number of papers, for example regarding anthrax and growth material, the VX agent and missile production. Experts present from the United Nations side had studied the papers 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, the presentation of the papers could be indicative of a more active attitude focusing on important open issues.

He said that the Iraqi side had 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 his experts were still assessing the suggestions, they were mot very hopeful that it could prove possible to assess the quantities of material poured into the ground years ago. Documentary evidence or testimony by staff that dealt with the items still appeared to be needed.

Against that background, he said, a letter of 12 February from Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate might be relevant. It presented a list of 83 names of participants "in the unilateral destruction in the chemical field, which took place in the summer of 1999". As the absence of any adequate evidence of that destruction had been, and remained, an important reason why quantities of chemicals had been deemed "unaccounted for", the presentation of a list of persons who could be interviewed about the actions appeared useful and pertained to cooperation on substance.

He said he trusted that the Iraqi side would 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 the inspectors that the commission that had been appointed in the wake of the finding of 12 empty chemical weapons warheads had had its mandate expanded to look for any still existing proscribed items. That was welcome.

A second commission had now been appointed with the task of searching all over Iraq for more documents relevant to the elimination of proscribed items and programmes. It was headed by the former Minister of Oil, General Amer Rashid, and was 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 needed to work fast and effectively to "convince us and the world" that it was a serious effort.

He recalled that the matter of private interviews had been discussed at length during their meeting. The Iraqi side had confirmed the commitment, which it had made on 20 January, to encourage persons asked to accept such interviews, whether in or out of Iraq. So far, interviews had only been conducted in Baghdad. A number of persons had declined to be interviewed, unless they were allowed to have an official present or were allowed to tape the interview. Three persons who had previously refused interviews on UNMOVIC's terms subsequently accepted such interviews just prior to the latest talks in Baghdad on 8 and 9 February.

Those interviews had proved informative, he said. No further interviews had been accepted "on our terms". Hopefully, that would change. Interviews conducted without any third party present and without tape recording would provide the greatest credibility. At the recent meeting in Baghdad, as on several earlier occasions, he and Dr. ElBaradei had urged the Iraqi side to enact legislation implementing the United Nations prohibitions regarding weapons of mass destruction. In a letter received just two days ago, they had been informed that that process was progressing well. This morning, he had a message that legislation had now been adopted by the Iraqi National Assembly in an extraordinary session. That was a positive step.

On intelligence in connection with the inspections, he said that a credible inspection regime required that Iraq provide full cooperation on "process" -- granting immediate access everywhere to inspectors -- and on substance, providing full declarations supported by relevant information and material. However, with the closed society in Iraq and the history of inspections there, other sources of information, such as defectors and government intelligence agencies, were required to aid the inspection process.

In 1991, he recalled, several inspections based on information received from a government had helped to disclose important parts of the nuclear weapons programme. It was understood that the information residing in the intelligence services of governments could come to very active use in the international effort to prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons. Those who provided such information must know that it would be kept in "strict confidence" and be known to very few people. The UNMOVIC had achieved good working relations with intelligence agencies, and the amount of information provided was gradually increasing, but there were limitations, and misinterpretations could occur.

He said that the presentation of intelligence information by the United States Secretary of State had suggested that Iraq had prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites and removing evidence of proscribed weapons programmes. Concerning the trucks identified by analysts as being for chemical decontamination at a munitions depot, that was a declared site and certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected to be inspected. 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 an imminent inspection. His reservation on that point did not detract from his appreciation of the United States' briefing.

Turning to plans for the immediate future, he said that yesterday UNMOVIC had informed the Iraqi authorities of its intention to start using the U-2 surveillance aircraft early next week under arrangements similar to those UNSCOM had followed. He was also in the process of working out modalities for the use of the French Mirage aircraft starting later next week and for the drones supplied by the German Government. The offer from Russia of the Antonov aircraft, with night vision capabilities, was a welcome one and was next on the agenda for further improving UNMOVIC's and IAEA's technical capabilities. Those developments were in line with suggestions made in a non-paper recently circulated by France, suggesting a further strengthening of the inspection capabilities.

He said he intended to examine the possibilities for surveying ground movements, notably, by trucks. In the face of persistent intelligence reports, for instance, about mobile biological weapons production units, such measures could well increase the effectiveness of inspections. The UNMOVIC was still expanding its capabilities, both in terms of numbers of staff and technical resources. On his way to the recent Baghdad meeting, he stopped in Vienna to meet 60 experts, who had just completed the general training course for inspectors. They came from 22 countries, including Arab countries.

On time lines, he said that UNMOVIC was often asked how much more time it needed to complete its task. That answer depended upon which task one had in mind: the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and related programmes, which were prohibited in 1991 -- the disarmament task; or the monitoring that no new proscribed activities occurred. The latter task was highly significant, and not controversial. It would require monitoring that was ongoing, in that it was open-ended until the Council decided otherwise.

By contrast, he continued, was the disarmament task foreseen in resolution 687 (1991) and the progress on key remaining disarmament tasks foreseen in resolution 1284 (1999), as well as the disarmament obligations contained in resolution 1441 (2002), in which Iraq had been given a "final opportunity to comply". Regrettably, the high degree of cooperation required for Iraq for disarmament through inspection was not forthcoming in 1991. Despite the elimination, under UNSCOM and 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.

He concluded by saying that if Iraq had provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of disarmament could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided. Today, three months after the adoption of resolution 1441 (2002), the period of disarmament through inspection could still be short if, "immediate, active and unconditional cooperation" with UNMOVIC and the IAEA were forthcoming.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that the focus of the Agency's inspections had now moved from the "reconnaissance phase" into the "investigative phase". The "reconnaissance phase" was aimed at re-establishing rapidly the Agency's 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 workplaces of former key Iraqi personnel. The focus of the "investigative phase" was achieving an 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 Agency on the basis of its own analysis.

Since his 27 January report, the Agency had conducted an additional 38 inspections at 19 locations, for a total of 177 inspections at 125 locations. Iraq had continued to provide immediate access to all locations. In the course of the inspections, the Agency had identified certain facilities at which it would be re-establishing containment and surveillance systems to monitor, on a continuous basis, activities associate with critical dual-use equipment. Currently, the Agency was using recurrent inspections to ensure that that equipment was not being used for prohibited purposes.

As was mentioned in the last report, he continued, the Agency had a number of wide-area and location-specific measures for detecting indications of undeclared past or ongoing nuclear activities in Iraq, including environmental sampling and radiation detection surveys. In that regard, a broad variety of samples were being collected, including water, sediment and vegetation, at inspected facilities and at other locations across Iraq, and analysing them for signatures of nuclear activities. The Agency had also resumed air sampling at key locations.

The IAEA, he said, had continued to interview key Iraqi personnel. It had been able to conduct four interviews in private -- that was, without the presence of an Iraqi observer. The interviewees, however, had tape recorded their interviews. In addition, discussions had continued to be conducted with Iraqi technicians and officials as part of inspection activities and technical meetings. During his recent meeting in Baghdad, Iraq reconfirmed its commitment to encourage its citizens to accept interviews in private, both inside and outside of Iraq.

In respect to a request by the Agency, Iraq had expanded the list of relevant Iraqi personnel to over 300, along with their current work locations. The list included the higher-level key scientists known to the Agency in the nuclear and nuclear-related areas. The Agency would continue, however, to ask for information about Iraqi personnel of lesser rank whose work might be of significance to the Agency's mandate.

Turning to specific issues, he said that shortly before the recent meeting in Baghdad, Iraq had provided documentation related to the following issues: the reported attempt to import uranium; the attempted procurement of aluminium tubes; the procurement of magnets and magnet-production capabilities; the use of HMX; and those questions and concerns that were outstanding in 1998. Iraq continued to state that it had made no attempt to import uranium since the 1980s. The Agency recently received some additional information relevant to that issue, which would be further pursued, hopefully with the assistance of the African country reported to have been involved.

The Agency was continuing to follow up on acknowledged efforts by Iraq to import high-strength aluminium tubes, he said. Iraq had declared that those efforts were in connection with a programme to reverse engineer conventional rockets. The Agency had verified that Iraq had indeed been manufacturing such rockets. However, it was still exploring whether the tubes were intended rather for the manufacturing of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Iraq had been asked to explain the reasons for the tight tolerance specifications that it had requested from various suppliers. Iraq had provided documentation related to the project for reverse engineering and had committed itself to providing samples of tubes received from prospective suppliers. The Agency would continue to investigate the matter further.

In response to IAEA inquiries about Iraq's attempts to procure a facility for the manufacture of magnets, and the possible link with the resumption of a nuclear programme, Iraq recently provided additional documentation, which the Agency was presently examining.

In the course of an inspection conducted in connection with the aluminium tube investigation, IAEA inspectors found a number of documents relevant to transactions aimed at the procurement of carbon fibre, a dual-use material used by Iraq in its past clandestine uranium-enrichment programme for the manufacture of gas centrifuge rotors. The Agency's review of those documents suggested that the carbon fibre sought by Iraq was not intended for enrichment purposes, as the specifications of the material appeared not to be consistent with those needed for manufacturing rotor tubes. In addition, the Agency had carried out follow-up inspections, during which it had been able to observe the use of such carbon fibre in non-nuclear-related applications and to take samples. The Agency would continue to pursue the matter.

The IAEA had continued to investigate the relocation and consumption of the high explosive HMX, he continued. Iraq had declared that 32 tonnes of the HMX, previously under IAEA seal, had been transferred for use in the production of industrial explosives, primarily to cement plants as a booster for explosives used in quarrying. While the Agency had no indication that that material was used for any application other than that declared by Iraq, it had no technical method of verifying, quantitatively, the declared use of the material in explosions. The Agency would continue to follow that issue.

The Agency had conducted a more detailed review of the 2,000 pages of documents found on 16 January at the private residence of an Iraqi scientist, he said. The documents related predominantly to lasers, including the use of laser technology to enrich uranium. While the documents had provided some additional details about Iraq's laser-enrichment development efforts, they referred to activities or sites already known to the Agency and appeared to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents altered the conclusions previously drawn by the Agency concerning the extent of Iraq's laser-enrichment programme.

In the coming weeks, the Agency would 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 the Agency's ability to investigate matters of concern, and to reinstate and reinforce its ongoing monitoring and verification system that came to a halt in 1998, the IAEA intended to increase the number of inspectors and support staff. It would also be adding more analysts and translators to support analysis of documents and other inspection findings.

The Agency also intended to augment the number of customs and procurement experts for the monitoring of imports by Iraq, he said. It would also intensify and expand the range of technical meetings and private interviews with Iraqi personnel, in accordance with its preferred modalities and locations, both inside and outside Iraq. In addition, the Agency intended to expand its 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.

The Agency hoped to continue to receive from States actionable information relevant to its mandate, he said. Now that Iraq had accepted the use of all of the platforms for aerial surveillance proposed by supporting States to UNMOVIC and the IAEA, including U-2s, Mirages, Antonovs and drones, the Agency planned to make use of them to support its inspection activities, particularly with a view to monitoring movements in and around sites to be inspected.

To date, the Agency had found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq. However, a number of issues were still under investigation, and the Agency was not yet in a position to reach a conclusion about them, although it was moving forward with regard to some of them. To that end, the Agency intended to make full use of the authority granted to it under all relevant Council resolutions to build as much capacity into the inspection process as necessary. In that context, he underlined the importance of information that States might be able to provide to help the Agency in assessing the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by Iraq.

The Agency's experience in nuclear verification showed that it was possible, particularly with an intrusive verification system, to assess the presence or absence of a nuclear weapons programme in a State even without the full cooperation of the inspected State. However, prompt, full and active cooperation by Iraq, as required under resolution 1441, would speed up the process. More importantly, it would enable the Agency to reach the high degree of assurance required by the Council. He hoped that the commitments made recently in Baghdad would continue to translate into concrete and sustained action.


FAROUK AL-SHARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, recalled that it was three months since the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 1441. Syria had joined the consensus after it had received assurances that the resolution would not be used as a pretext for waging war against Iraq. In their briefing today, the inspectors had noted the progress achieved since their last briefing. That meant that in just two weeks significant progress had been achieved. It was also significant that today Iraq had issued a decree prohibiting weapons of mass destruction in the country. That testified to the fact that inspections were accomplishing their goals, and the Council must continue to support the inspectors, allowing them sufficient time to carry out their task as prescribed in resolution 1441.

The region of the Middle East was standing at a serious crossroads today, he continued. It had suffered the scourge of many wars and continued to bear the brunt of a racist policy against the defenceless Palestinian people. Since 1973, the Arab countries had been advised to seek a peaceful settlement for an Israeli-Arab conflict, despite the fact that Israel continued to occupy Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese territories and build its settlements there. Israel was also exclusively in possession of nuclear weapons in the region, refusing inspections by the IAEA. That country continued to defy all the United Nations resolutions -- over 500 of them, including 31 resolutions adopted by the Council itself.

As for Iraq, it had recognized the State of Kuwait; no-fly zones had been imposed on that country, and it had opened all its doors without conditions to the inspectors. It had cooperated with them positively at a time when Israel rejected all inspections. Wasn't it justified to perceive such a situation as a double standard?

There could be no alternative to a peaceful solution, he said. The looming war in Iraq was unanimously rejected by the Arabs, as it would have grave consequences for the region and spread fear and destruction everywhere. Those who were beating the drums of war had a hidden agenda. Were that not the case, they would allow the inspectors to conclude their tasks.

The simple thought that war would be one of the options before the Council testified to the failure of the Council to discharge its tasks of maintaining peace and security, he continued. The efforts made by prominent members of the Council to pursue a peaceful solution to implement resolution 1441 gave him hope, however. Among them, he recognized the French, German, Russian, and Chinese efforts. Inspections had brought about significant achievements, and he supported the French ideas, which implied strengthening the inspection regime in order to disarm Iraq. The fulfilment of that task would lead to the lifting of sanctions against that country

"Let us work for peace", he concluded. "We can achieve peace if we pursue it with determination and armed with political will." The Charter of the United Nations remained the sole authority for maintaining international peace and security.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that by unanimously adopting resolution 1441 (2002), the Council collectively had expressed its agreement with the two-stage approach proposed by France: disarmament through inspections and, should that strategy fail, consideration by the Council of all the options, including the recourse to force. It was clear that, in the event that the inspections failed and only in that scenario, a second resolution could be justified. The question today was simple: either consider in good conscience that the disarmament via inspections was now leading to a dead-end; or that the inspections possibilities presented in resolution 1441 had still not been fully explored.

In response to that question, he said his country was convinced that the option of inspections had not been taken to the end and that it could provide an effective response to the imperative of disarming Iraq. Also, the use of force would be so fraught with risks for people, for the region and for international stability that it should only be envisioned as a last resort. What had just been learned from the inspectors' reports was that the inspections were producing results. Significant gains had been made in those areas identified by the chief inspectors on 27 January.

In the chemical and biological areas, he noted that the Iraqis had provided the inspectors with new documentation. They had also announced the establishment of commissions of inquiry led by former officials of weapons programmes, in accordance with Mr. Blix's requests. In the ballistic missile domain, the information provided by Iraq had enabled the inspectors to make progress. He knew precisely the real capabilities of the Al-Samoud missile. The unauthorized programmes must now be dismantled.

In the nuclear domain, he continued, useful information had been given to the IAEA on the most important points discussed by Dr. ElBaradei on 27 January: the acquisition of magnets that could be used for enriching uranium, and the list of contacts between Iraq and the country likely to have provided it with uranium. Those points were at the heart of the logic of resolution 1441, which must ensure the effectiveness of the inspections through precise identification of banned programmes and then their elimination.

He said that real progress was becoming apparent. Iraq had agreed to aerial reconnaissance over its territory, and it had allowed Iraqi scientists to be questioned by the inspectors without witnesses. Also, a bill barring all activities linked to mass destruction weapons programmes was in the process of being adopted, and Iraq was to provide a detailed list of experts who witnessed the destruction of military programmes in 1991. Such progress strengthened France's conviction that the inspections could be effective, but "we must not shut our eyes to the amount of work that still remains" -- questions had to be cleared up, verifications made, and installations and equipment probably still had to be destroyed.

To do that, he said, the inspections must be given every chance of succeeding. His proposals submitted to the Council on 5 February were practical and concrete, and could be implemented quickly. They fell within the framework of resolution 1441 and consequently did not require a new resolution. Yes, he had heard the critics, those who doubted that the inspections could be the least effective. There were those who believed that continuing them was a sort of "delaying tactic" to prevent military intervention. At the core of the debates, then, was the question of the time allowed Iraq. At stake was the Council's credibility and sense of responsibility.

He highlighted two options: a long and difficult war, following which it would be necessary to preserve Iraq's unity and restore stability in a country and region harshly affected by the intrusion of force; or the day-by-day effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq. No one could assert today that the path of war would be shorter than that of the inspections. No one could claim either that it might lead to a safer, more just and more stable world. For war was always the sanction of failure. The United Nations inspectors should be given the time they need for their mission to succeed. He proposed a further meeting on 14 March at the ministerial level to assess the situation.

The use of force was not justified at this time, he emphasized. Furthermore, premature recourse to the military option would be fraught with risks and could bring the unity of the international community into question. That would detract from its legitimacy and, in the long run, its effectiveness. Such intervention could have incalculable consequences for the stability of that scarred and fragile region. He shared the same priority of fighting terrorism mercilessly. Given France's present state of research and intelligence, in liaison with its allies, nothing had allowed it to establish links between Al Qaeda and the regime in Baghdad. On the other hand, the impact of disputed military action on the plan to defeat terrorism must be assessed.

He said that France did not exclude the possibility that force might have to be used one day if the inspectors' reports concluded that it was impossible to continue the inspections. The Council would then have to take a decision. The Members of the United Nations were the guardians of an ideal and of a conscience. Their onerous responsibility and immense honour must lead them to give priority to disarmament in peace. That message came today from an old country. France, like the continent to which it belonged, had known wars, occupation and barbarity. France did not forget and knew everything it owed to the freedom-fighters who came from the United States and elsewhere. Yet, it had never ceased to stand upright in the face of history and before mankind. It wished resolutely to act with all members of the international community, which, together, could build a better world.

MARIA SOLEDAD ALVEAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said that what she heard this morning showed that the Iraqi regime still had an ambivalent attitude towards the inspection process. While there were indications of progress that might indicate a decisive change in attitude towards compliance with the demands of the international community, the negative and delaying attitudes revealed an intention not to cooperate and gave rise to suspicions about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Given that, she stressed that the Council's resolutions must be implemented fully and completely without a selective approach to its provisions. That was not what Iraq was doing. Maintaining pressure on Saddam Hussein's regime had proven to be the only mechanism capable of bringing about a certain openness and respect for the decisions of the Council. That pressure must be maintained relentlessly and without relaxation.

Second, she said, in keeping with the categorical and urgent tone of resolution 1441, the inspection process must be continued, strengthened and expanded to make it accurate and intrusive and, thus, capable of thwarting any effort at deception or evasion that the Iraqi regime might attempt. In that connection, she noted with interest the opinions of the inspectors on the usefulness and applicability of the French proposals. It was evident, however, that the time available was not infinite. The seriousness of the situation required immediate and definitive responses from the Iraqi regime to the inspectors.

Third, she said, the United Nations and the Security Council had a key role to play in the crisis. She had noted with dismay over the past month a growing division within the Council. The unity of the Council was the basis of any international action that sought to be both legitimate and effective. Only a united Council could credibly adopt the appropriate decisions for achieving the objective of the disarmament of the Iraqi regime. The Council should, as invited to do so by the Secretary-General, take the necessary time to continue to seek the broadest possible consensus for achieving comprehensive solution that would restore to the Iraqi people, who had suffered for so long, the opportunity to participate fully in the international community.

TANG JIAXUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that Iraq must implement the relevant Security Council resolutions -- "strictly, comprehensively and earnestly". He urged the Iraqi side to fully recognize the importance and urgency of the inspections and to provide more cooperation in a more proactive way. The latest visit to Baghdad by the chief inspectors had achieved some positive results. The Iraqi side had made some commitments. He asked it to make good on those promises as soon as possible. It was also necessary for the inspection work in Iraq to continue.

He said that, judging from what had been done in the recent past, the inspections had made progress and clarified quite a number of issues. New developments, however, had also been discovered in that process. The two bodies -- UNMOVIC and IAEA -- were 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 Council. In agreement with the majority opinion of the Council, therefore, China believed that the inspection process was working and that the inspectors should continue to be given the time they needed to carry out resolution 1441 (2002).

The Council should step up its support for the inspections, he went on. The Iraqi issue bore on the peace and stability in the Gulf region and bore also on the Council's credibility and authority. The first priority now was to strengthen its guidance and support for the inspection work and to facilitate a productive political settlement. Intensifying inspections was aimed at a peaceful solution. The Chinese side stood ready to continue to provide the two bodies with personnel assistance and necessary technical aid. The Council had no reason not to make its utmost efforts towards averting war. Indeed, it was obliged to try its best and use all possible means to do so.

ANA PALACIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said that as much as she had been eager to hear an affirmation of active, immediate and complete compliance with the Council's demands by Iraq, she had been unable to find it in the inspectors' reports. Unconditional cooperation was not forthcoming. What the Council saw was a long list of unresolved issues mentioned in Mr. Blix's report, including VX agent, chemical bombs and anthrax. Al-Samoud missiles were longer in range than that prescribed by the Council. The Council had been also told that Iraq could produce engines for those missiles. A number of persons had refused to be interviewed privately. In a word, all the questions remained, including the most important one: was Iraq's cooperation voluntary, or did it represent superficial concessions because time was pressing? Was it a result of international pressure, including a credible threat of the use of force?

Regarding the proposals to change the inspection system, she said that the political will of the Saddam Hussein regime remained a question. What was needed was neither more inspections nor changes in the composition or structure of the inspection regime. Such measures would send a message that the Council was prepared to rework the terms of resolution 1441, leading to questions about the Council's credibility.

Her remarks should be seen in the right context, she explained. Her Government appreciated the inspectors' work and was in favour of a solution being found within the Council. Spain was aware that peace and security were assured through respect for and compliance with the Council's resolutions. Unless there was a change of will on behalf of Saddam Hussein, the Council should discharge its responsibilities for peace and security.

JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that the issue was about the authority of the Council and the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. Three months ago, the Council adopted resolution 1441. At that time, everyone, including all five permanent members, knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They knew that the issue was not whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but whether it was cooperating to get rid of them.

On 3 April 1991, the Council had given Iraq 90 days to disarm. In the 11 years, seven months and 13 days since that deadline ran out, what had Iraq done? It had lied, deceived and played games. For four years, Iraq had said that it had no biological and chemical weapons. It took the defection of Saddam Hussein's own son-in-law to discover just what a dangerous biological weapons programme they had. As stated on 27 January, Iraq had failed to account for various materials and weapons, failed to make a full and complete disclosure, failed to cooperate fully and failed to meet the obligations imposed on them.

He put forward several questions to Drs. Blix and ElBaradei. How many places were not subject to electronic surveillance and bugging by Iraq? Had any of the outstanding material, such as litres of anthrax and chemical bombs, whose destruction they claimed, had been supported by the documentation received thus far? How many open issues of the IAEA had it been able to close with Iraq's cooperation? The most significant point by Dr. Blix was that, three months after the adoption of resolution 1441, the period of disarmament through inspections could still be short if immediate and active cooperation were to be forthcoming. He took that to mean that Iraq had yet to be forthcoming with such cooperation. He asked Dr. Blix whether he believed Iraq had yet come to the "genuine acceptance of the demands put to it".

He hoped and believed that a peaceful solution was still possible, but it would require Iraq to meet the obligations imposed on it. A peaceful solution could only be achieved if the Council held its nerve, gave meaning to its word and ensured that Iraq would face the consequences of its actions. The 12 years since the adoption of resolution 687 (1991) had been a period of humiliation, as games had been played with the Council's authority. The period after the inspectors were kicked out until 8 November was not the best in the Council's history, since Iraq was in open defiance of the Council's authority.

In securing a peaceful solution, he knew that the Council had only come this far by backing the diplomatic process with a credible threat of force. If the Council backed away from that, then the disarmament of Iraq and international peace and security would not get easier, but harder. The issue was not only about Iraq, but how to deal with proliferators around the world.

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State of the United States, said that the inspectors had taken up a difficult task when whey they returned to Iraq last fall. He was pleased about the improvements with respect to process, but the inspectors still did not have freedom of access around Iraq to do their job well. People had come forward for interviews, but more should be doing so, in a manner that their safety and that of their families could be protected. Decrees that should have been issued years and years ago had been issued this morning. But, did anyone think that a decree from Saddam would change the situation? Those were all tricks that were being played.

Now, he continued, new commissions were being formed to find materials the Iraqis say were not there in the first place. Did anyone believe they could succeed in finding material that was actively being denied? He commended the work of the inspectors, but what was needed was not more inspectors or more immediate access, but immediate, active, unconditional cooperation on the part of Iraq. Resolution 1441 was not about inspections; it was about the disarmament of Iraq. And it began with a clear statement that Iraq was in a material breach of its obligations. It went on to say that there should be a declaration within 30 days of all its activities -- "put it all on the table" was the request.

Some 29 days later, 12,000 pages were received, he said, adding that no one in the Council could say that declaration was complete, full and accurate. He had heard nothing to suggest that the gaps had been filled or that new information had been provided. The declaration was seen as an early test of Iraq's seriousness to comply. What came back was that, "no, we're going to see what we can get away with". Then, suddenly, after President Bush's speech, Iraq said it would let the inspectors back in, because it knew it had better do something. That was not "out of the goodness of its heart". Iraq did that because the Council had stood firm and the international community had said, "enough".

He said he could not continue to allow Iraq to possess weapons of mass destruction to use against its neighbours and others, or to provide to terrorist organizations. Such connections were now emerging and he could establish that they existed. The world could not wait until one of those terrible weapons showed up in one of its cities. That was what 1441 was all about. To this day, he had not seen the level of cooperation that was expected, indeed, hoped for. No one had worked harder than he had to put forward a resolution of the international community to show the Iraqi leadership that "the time was now to come clean and comply".

If he had seen the kind of inspections that had been expected, relevant documents would be flooding out of homes and factories, and there would be no question about access or interviews. Scientists would be lined up to be interviewed, if they were determined to prove to the world that the weapons of mass destruction were gone. But, questions remained. For example, Iraq had not accounted for the anthrax, VX-nerve agent, biological agents, growth media, or 30,000 chemical and biological munitions. He had not seen a complete accurate declaration, but he had seen the reconstituted chamber for casting missiles. The pressure must continue on Iraq and the threat of force should not be removed. Resolution 1441 was all about compliance and not about inspections, which were to assist Iraq in coming forward.

He said that was a difficult situation. More inspections was not the answer. He had not seen responsible actions on the part of Iraq, but rather "continued efforts to deceive, deny, divert, and throw us off the path". The resolution had anticipated that kind of response. Notwithstanding improvements in process, those did not move the situation away from the central problem, namely, Iraq's failure to comply with 1441, and more inspections or a longer inspection period would not move us away from that central problem. The threat of force must remain. It should always be a last resort, but it must be a resort. "We cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out, as Iraq was trying to do", he said.

The Security Council was now in a situation where Iraq's continued non-compliance and failure to cooperate required it to begin to think through the consequences of walking away from that problem, or from the reality that it had to be faced. And, in the very near future, the Council would have to consider that point, as reluctant as it might be. So many here would rather not face the issue, but that issue, namely whether it was time to consider the serious consequences referred to in 1441, had to be faced. Those were serious weapons that could kill tens of thousands of people if they got into the wrong hands. "Our security rested upon us meeting our responsibilities and, if it came to it, invoking the serious consequences named in 1441", he stressed.

IGOR S. IVANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that today's meeting was, in its way, a unique occasion in history. Once again, the Council was meeting at the ministerial level to seek a solution to the Iraqi question. That testified to the fact that the international community saw the United Nations as the most suitable mechanism for resolving world problems. That was why, with each additional meeting, the international community was further engaging hopes for strengthening the unity and solidarity of States in the face of a challenge.

"We should not be guided by our emotions vis-à-vis a particular regime", he continued. "Rather, we should draw our conclusions on the basis of facts." For that reason, the inspectors must be provided with all possible assistance, as it was on the basis of their work that the Council could make an enlightened decision. The inspections were proceeding, as required under resolution 1441. One could not disregard the fact that during the inspectors' last visit to Baghdad much progress had been made. It had been agreed that inspections would continue with the help of aircraft, and the number of minders would be reduced. It was also important that the Iraqis had set up two commissions to search for new materials. Those matters had been discussed as pending in the past, and now they had been resolved. Thus, in fact, there was movement in the right direction.

Continuing, he urged Iraq to increase its cooperation with inspectors. It was perfectly clear that UNMOVIC and the IAEA had the conditions for carrying out their mandates. Nobody was proposing any changes to the 1441 regime, but the majority was advocating providing the inspectors with all the support they needed. At the same time, the inspections must be more systematic and focused.

In that connection, he recalled the inspectors' obligations to comply with the time frame, under which they had to submit the programme of work, including the list of key disarmament tasks. That would provide objective criteria for assessing cooperation by Iraq and provide an answer to the question whether Iraq represented a threat to international peace and security. One point of principle that all must answer was if the inspectors should continue their work in Iraq for the sake of a political settlement. Russia answered yes to that question. That was the position shared by an overwhelming majority of States, including members of the Security Council.

The Council had a unique opportunity to solve the problems by peaceful means in conformity with the United Nations Charter, he concluded. Force could be resorted to only when all other means had been exhausted. The international community was not now at that point. Energies must be directed, not at fighting, but at uniting efforts.

LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said that in the reports presented today he saw a degree of improvement in the working conditions of the inspectors. In the past couple of weeks, Iraq had changed its position regarding overflights and interviews and provided further documentation. While the report had indicated some improvement, it was also clear that the Iraqi Government continued to evade its international responsibilities. It had yet to respond to repeated appeals by the international community, under resolution 1441, that it cooperate unconditionally with inspectors.

The international community, he said, was calling for genuine and verifiable disarmament. It wanted to know when and how Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. It had been proven that, in the last two wars in which Iraq participated, it had used such weapons. Now, the international community wanted to know where those arsenals were, and if they had been destroyed. The international community was increasingly divided as to the most effective way to achieve the goal of Iraq's disarmament. The unity of the Council was crucial.

Having heard today's reports, he reconfirmed his confidence in the inspections. If, thus far, the inspections had not yielded the expected results, it was the obligation of the Council to ensure that the inspections fulfilled their intended mission. Iraq must make full use of the final opportunity presented to it. The damage the conflict was having could be seen in increased political polarization, and a global economy that was suffering from uncertainty. Iraq's disarmament and an end to its non-compliance would help bring about an end to that situation.

MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said that progress had indeed been made since the last progress report in late January, but many issues were still pending. The progress had included the fact that inspectors had been able to interview five Iraqi scientists without minders. Restrictions on flights by U-2 aircraft had been lifted, and a decree banning weapons of mass destruction had just been approved. Those developments were acts of cooperation on the part of Iraq, but the discoveries of large quantities of mustard gas, defended as destroyed, the development of a missile programme beyond the proscribed range, and omissions in the declaration had sown doubts about the sincerity and good faith of the Iraqi authorities to resolve the crisis peacefully.

He said he advocated continued inspections, although not indefinitely. A reasonable additional time period would help yield consensus and bring together the different views around the table. He was concerned about the tension in the international community around the crisis. He urged a direct and constructive dialogue among those with differing views, in order to move beyond that tension, which could deal a harsh blow to the United Nations system. Given Iraq's obligation to cooperate actively and strictly in accordance with the Council's resolutions, it must end its delaying tactics. A peaceful settlement of the crisis depended on it. He assured the inspection teams of his full support and urged them to explore all possibilities. The Council must continue working together as one to attain its goal.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the latest report by the inspectors had provided a useful update of the situation. They indicated some important developments since 27 January and described what remained to be done. The progress included acceptance of aerial surveillance, interviews without minders and access to new documentation. As made clear by the inspectors, however, a significant number of questions and concerns remained, and they needed to be addressed.

It was understandable that the patience of some important members of the Council was running out, he said. The intention of 1441 was that the process of discovery and destruction of weapons of mass destruction would be accelerated. At the same time, he noted the call for caution by several Member States.

Resolution 1441 was credible because it was unanimous, he continued. The Council must maintain that unity of purpose and action. At present, the Council could still unite around the need to secure the elimination of weapons of mass destruction through peaceful means, and the conviction that to achieve that, Iraq needed to offer immediate active and unconditional cooperation and credibly demonstrate that those weapons had been destroyed. Such cooperation would be in Iraq's supreme interests. Also needed was a readiness to allow some more time to achieve the peaceful elimination of Iraq's weapons, which should be consistent with the spirit of resolution 1441.

Obviously, all people of good will desired that all peaceful means be exhausted before the Council decided to bring force into play, he concluded. For Pakistan -- a Muslim country from the area -- such a decision would be most difficult. The primary concern should be the well-being of the Iraqi people. The aim must be to bring an end to their suffering. He trusted and hoped that the Iraqi leadership would also put its people first.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that in comparing today's reports with that of 27 January, he could see significant developments resulting from the wise and reasonable choice of the Iraqi authorities to begin, at last, to cooperate with inspectors. He noted the important advances regarding interviews and U-2 air surveillance. He also welcomed that Iraq had enacted legislation prohibiting illicit chemical, biological and nuclear activities in its territory. Despite that, certain questions regarding chemical and biological issues still remained. On the issue of missiles, he noted from today's reports that the range of the Al-Samoud missile manufactured by Iraq was beyond the range authorized by the Council. That was regrettable, since it contradicted the Iraqi declaration of 2002.

It was up to the Council to decide how to deal with that non-compliance, he said. During the ministerial meeting on 5 February, the United States delegation had raised the issue of small unmanned planes, which could be used as delivery systems for weapons and other unresolved issues. He asked what information had been provided by Iraq on that issue. The documentation submitted by Iraq last week could contain clarifications on the main issues before the Council. He hoped that, if it was not possible to obtain copy of those documents, Dr. Blix would be able to provide a summary in writing, accompanied by comments and assessment.

He emphasized the need for the Council to continue to safeguard its unity and cohesion. The progress made by the recent mission to Baghdad reflected a noticeable change in Iraqi attitude. That result, like the return of inspectors, was owed to the great demands of President Bush, to the collective pressure exerted by the Council, and the staunch determination of a united Council. The cacophony and confusion surrounding the Council could only harm its effectiveness. Cameroon was studying the non-paper from France, while awaiting the opinions of UNMOVIC and the IAEA. He wanted to know what the key threshold in the number of inspectors was to conduct robust inspections, and what its cost might be.

Further non-compliance with the demands of the Council would be one violation too many, and Iraqi authorities would leave the Council no other choice but to adopt, in unity, appropriate measures to have its decisions respected. He appealed to Council members for unity and cohesion at this crucial stage. The credibility of the Council and the United Nations could suffer if, in the future, that unity could not be preserved.

ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said he hoped the inspectors' reports would help cool the severe tension facing the world today. Angola experienced three decades of war, which had inflicted much suffering and destruction. Today's report provided a beacon of hope that it might be possible to save the world from an imminent conflict. The collective efforts of the Council, combined with military pressure, had increased Iraq's level of cooperation with the inspectors. Simultaneously, that had advanced the cause of multilateralism by translating the consensual will of the international community to disarm Iraq, peacefully and with determination.

He acknowledged the presentation last week of Secretary Powell. The progress made since then had showed what could be achieved by diplomacy, backed by a credible willingness to act. He was pleased by Iraq's decision to cooperate with South Africa in letting that country point the way towards disarmament. Africa had adopted a clear position on disarming Iraq through peaceful means. African countries themselves had decided to free the continent of weapons of mass destruction, an example that could be followed in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the international community was unable, at present, to declare that Iraq was free of such weapons or that it had embarked on an irreversible road towards disarmament. He was equally unable to unequivocally state that Iraq was fully armed with weapons that posed a clear and impending threat to international peace and security.

The international community had sent a clear message to the Iraqi Government with the unanimous adoption of 1441, backed by the credible willingness to use force, he emphasized. It had been able to secure Iraq's cooperation concretely, in the face of determined pressure, as reported today by the inspectors. That was an example of what could be achieved when the international community spoke with one voice. The use of force today would preclude that gathering of valuable information that could be retrieved from U-2 flights, scientists, and other sources that provided the necessary inputs to the intrusive inspections demanded by the Council. That process -- an investment in peace -- should be given sufficient time.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) stressed the importance of pursuing unity in addressing the issue of Iraq, saying that he greatly appreciated the important work by UNMOVIC and the IAEA there. The experience of the last 12 years showed that inspections depended on cooperation from Iraq to be successful. Baghdad tended to provide such cooperation only under serious pressure. The work of the United Nations was still the main factor in ensuring that country's cooperation with the inspectors.

Unfortunately, Iraq was still in material breach with resolution 1441, he continued. It was up to Iraq -- not the inspectors -- to achieve disarmament. It was essential that Iraq cooperated actively and unconditionally. Iraq must prove that it had no weapons of mass destruction and give clear and definitive answers to the remaining questions by UNMOVIC and the IAEA, as well as the issues presented by Secretary Powell last week. The most serious issues concerned the chemical and biological weapons.

His country had always advocated maximally effective inspections, and the French ideas regarding enhanced inspections could be one element in the overall strategy by the Council to achieve the disarmament of Iraq. Bulgaria remained in favour of a peaceful settlement, but active cooperation by Iraq was indispensable. All kinds of pressure, political and military, should be exerted on Iraq, in order to achieve the goals set by the international community. A peaceful solution was still possible, if Iraq wilfully disarmed, as required by resolution 1441. All responsibility for any undesirable outcome would lie squarely with Iraq. Bulgaria appealed to the Council to be united. That was an important condition for a peaceful outcome of the crisis.

Council President JOSCHKA FISCHER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, speaking in his national capacity, said that the deficits in Iraq's cooperation with the inspectors must be rectified by Baghdad without delay. Iraq must not be allowed to possess any weapons of mass destruction and must disarm completely. Baghdad must actively and fully cooperate with UNMOVIC and the IAEA and comply unconditionally with the requirements of the relevant resolutions. The inspectors had been able to score some successes. Now it was necessary to gain experience with the new measures in place and evaluate them in the light of the common goal of ensuring Iraq's complete disarmament. "Why should we now turn away from this path? Why should we now halt the inspections?" On the contrary, the inspectors must be given the time they needed to successfully complete their mission.

How to proceed was laid down in resolutions 1441 and 1284, he said. Crucial were the resolutions' three core elements -- cooperation, inspection and verification. First, Iraq must cooperate fully, unconditionally and actively with the inspectors if the looming tragedy was to be avoided. Secondly, the inspection regime must be made more efficient. France had made very concrete proposals on how that could be done, including increasing the number of inspection teams and improving the technical resources at their disposal. He strongly supported those proposals, for they helped ensure a response more appropriate to the size of the task.

Third, and in parallel with the inspections, the verification and monitoring mechanisms called for resolution 1284 needed to be developed and expanded, he said. An ongoing long-term monitoring regime must prevent any future rearmament. Such a reinforced inspection and verification regime could also be of service to the United Nations in other crises involving weapons of mass destruction.

All possible options for resolving the Iraqi crisis by peaceful means must be thoroughly explored, he said. Whatever decisions needed to be made must be taken by the Council alone. It remained the only body internationally authorized to do so. Military action against Iraq would, in addition to the terrible humanitarian consequences, endanger the stability of a tense and troubled region. The consequences for the Near and Middle East could be catastrophic. There should be no automatism leading to the use of military force. Diplomacy had not yet reached the end of the road.

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said that Iraq accepted to deal with resolution 1441 based on the fact that that was the means to reach a solution to the so-called issue of Iraq's disarmament. Following three rounds of technical negotiations with the United Nations on the return of inspectors, Iraq had provided proactive cooperation. It had submitted the declaration required under that resolution in record time. That declaration contained many documents on previous Iraqi programmes in the nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile fields. Those documents required in-depth study by the relevant authorities because they contained updated information responding to many questions. He asked that that file be reconsidered in total.

Iraq's doors were open to the inspection teams without conditions, he said. He knew that some States were not very happy with that cooperation, as some would have wished that Iraq had obstructed inspections or locked some doors. But, that had not, and would not, happen, because Iraq had genuinely decided to prove it was free of weapons of mass destruction and to lift any doubts in that regard. So far, 675 inspections had taken place in Iraq in a short period of time. The inspectors had found no evidence contradicting Iraq's declaration, or bolstering the assertion of the United States on the presence of proscribed weapons programmes or of proscribed weapons themselves.

Concerning interviews with Iraqi scientists, he said his Government continued to encourage the scientists to accept interviews. Additional lists of names containing other scientists had been submitted, following the requests by Drs. Blix and ElBaradei. Iraq had also agreed to overflights by U-2 and Mirage aircraft, and by Antonov 2 aircraft, for surveillance purposes. While those were undergoing their missions, it was reasonable and logical for the United Kingdom and the United States warplanes to cease their strikes. Inspectors had six levels of aerial surveillance beginning with satellites and followed by various levels of aircraft, helicopters, and other means.

Regarding legislation, a decree on banned weapons was enacted today, he said, adding that he was surprised to hear some now say that that decree was unimportant or late in coming. Overall, Iraq had begun to proactively cooperate with UNMOVIC and had provided 24 documents pertaining to many of the outstanding issues. Also, two commissions comprised of high-level Iraqi officials and scientists had been set up, as requested by the inspection chiefs. Yet, Iraq continued to face allegations that it had not only not cooperated, but was in material breach of resolution 1441. Where was this material breach? Was it, as the United States had alleged at the previous Council session, related to the concept of proactive cooperation required by Iraq? Many in this room had called for proactive cooperation. What was that? Did that mean that Iraq was to show its weapons of mass destruction -- weapons that it did not have? he asked.

He said he joined the calls of those who believed that the best way to resolve the issues was continued proactive cooperation with the inspectors. He did not stand with those who wanted failed inspections. Regarding the missile issue, Iraq declared those missiles in its full declaration to the Security Council. Those had not been uncovered by the inspectors. And, Iraq continued to stress that those missiles did not have a range of over 150 kilometres. That issue could be resolved technically: test firings could be undertaken with a random selection of missiles, in order to ascertain their range.

On VX and anthrax, he said his country had submitted practical proposals to resolve those and other outstanding issues, including some pertaining to chemical precursors and growth media. Iraq had suggested a way to ascertain the amount of VX and anthrax that had been destroyed. At a time when voices were calling on the United States and the United Kingdom to respect international legitimacy, those countries continued to amass forces against Iraq and wage an unjust and cruel media campaign. Iraq was prepared to provide all means necessary to clarify the picture and avoid igniting a war of colonial objectives with incalculable consequences.

He said that the Council should follow the vast majority of United Nations Members by giving the inspectors all that they needed to undertake their tasks, leading to peace and not war. He also called on the Council to consider lifting the unjust embargo against Iraq.

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