10 March 2003

United Nations Weapons Inspectors Report to Security Council on Progress in Disarmament of Iraq

Some Council Members Press for More Time, Strengthened Inspections; Others Insist That Iraq Has Not Made Strategic Decision to Comply

NEW YORK, 7 March (UN Headquarters) -- Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix reported to the Security Council this morning that, after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there had been an acceleration of initiatives by Iraq since the end of January, including an acceptance that its Al-Samoud 2 missiles must be destroyed.

As to whether Iraq had cooperated "immediately, unconditionally and actively", Mr. Blix, the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said that the Iraqi side had tried on occasion to attach conditions, but so far had not persisted in those or other conditions. The initiatives now taken by the Iraqi side, three to four months into resolution 1441, could not be said to constitute "immediate" cooperation.

A critical high-level debate that followed briefings to the Council today by Mr. Blix and the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, highlighted the main divergent views on how to proceed with disarming Iraq of banned weapons. On the one hand, Council members said that the time had not come for military action. They pressed for more time and strengthened inspections, aimed at Iraq's peaceful disarmament. Others insisted that Iraq had not made the strategic decision to comply and that recent disarmament measures had occurred only as a result of the imminent threat of military force.

In his briefing this morning, Mr. Blix added that while cooperation could and was to be immediate, disarmament, and its verification, could not be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude, induced by continued outside pressure, it would still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons, and draw conclusions. That would not take years, nor weeks, but months. To address unresolved disarmament issues and to identify key remaining disarmament tasks, he would submit a draft work programme to the Council this month.

The inspections, which began on 27 November, were mandated by the Security Council in resolution 1441 (2002), which gave Iraq a "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" dating to 1991 and the end of the Persian Gulf war.

The Director-General of the IAEA, Mr. ElBaradei, reported that, after three months of intrusive inspections, the Agency had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq. There was also no indication that Iraq had attempted to import uranium since 1990 or that it had attempted to import aluminium tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment.

Although the IAEA was still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet production, he continued, there was also no indication that Iraq had imported magnets for use in centrifuge enrichment programme. The Agency would continue to further scrutinize and investigate all of the above issues.

Several speakers pointed to examples of tangible progress, including the ongoing destruction of Al-Samoud 2 missiles and interviews with Iraqi scientists. Peaceful means to achieving Iraq's disarmament were, many stated, far from exhausted.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said his Government would not allow a resolution to pass that authorized the automatic use of force. The military agenda must not dictate the calendar of inspections. While he agreed to timetables and to an accelerated calendar, he could not accept an ultimatum as long as the inspectors were reporting cooperation.

Nobody wanted war, said United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, but it was clear that the limited progress and slight substantive changes in Iraq had come from the presence of a large military force. The unified political will of the Council, and the willingness to use force if it came to that, would ensure the disarmament of Iraq. The consequences of Saddam's continued refusal to disarm would be very, very real, he warned.

Igor S. Ivanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that thanks to pressure on Baghdad, including through military build-up, progress had been achieved in implementing resolution 1441, and a process of real disarmament was underway. Disarmament possibilities through political means existed, and no new resolution was needed.

As long as "we stick to the road of political settlement", stated China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, the goal of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction could still be achieved. The Council should let the inspectors continue their work and Iraq must strengthen its cooperation on substance. He did not favour a new resolution, particularly one authorizing the use of force, stating "there is no reason to shut the door to peace".

Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that continuing inspections with no end date would not achieve complete disarmament unless Iraq's full and active cooperation was immediately forthcoming. It was only by backing diplomacy with a credible threat of force that peaceful disarmament could be achieved. The pressure on Saddam Hussein had to be increased. It might take time to fabricate further falsehoods, but the truth took only seconds to tell.

Iraq's representative said the Americans and the British continued to attempt to "trump up" facts and evidence, pointing to Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, but they had fallen short in convincing the international community. The inspectors had proved that there were no such weapons and that the allegations were false.

He called on the Council to shoulder its responsibilities by thwarting aggression against his country. Let it not allow a new crime to be committed in its name, the impact of which would far surpass any crimes of the past century. War against Iraq would not unearth any weapons of mass destruction, but it would wreak destruction. All those who abetted in the commission of that crime, without a direct interest, would be sorry indeed, he warned.

Also speaking today were German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara', Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, Chile's Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear Valenzuela, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, and Angola's Deputy Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti. The President of the Council, Guinea's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Francois Lonseny Fall, made a statement in his national capacity. The permanent representatives of Cameroon, Bulgaria and Pakistan also spoke.

The Secretary-General attended today's meeting.

The meeting, which began at 10:28 a.m., adjourned at 2:20 p.m.


When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, it had before it a note from the Secretary-General (document S/2003/232) transmitting the twelfth quarterly report of the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), covering UNMOVIC's activities from 1 December 2002 to 28 February 2003.

According to the report, on 7 December, Iraq submitted a statement to provide a "currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems".

Since the arrival of the first inspectors in Iraq on 27 November 2002, UNMOVIC has conducted more than 550 inspections covering approximately 350 sites, 44 of which were new. All inspections were performed without notice and, in virtually all cases, access was provided promptly. In no case have the inspectors seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance of their impending arrival. The UNMOVIC has identified and started the destruction of approximately 50 litres of mustard declared by Iraq.

At the end of February, the number of UNMOVIC personnel in Iraq reached a total of 202 staff from 60 countries, including 84 inspectors. UNMOVIC air operations are carried out by one airplane and eight helicopters. A field office was opened in Mosul in January. A second field office, in Basra, is being planned. The Larnaca field office has been expanded.

On 19 and 20 January and on 8 and 9 February, the Executive Chairman, together with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited Baghdad to discuss relevant inspection and cooperation issues. The first meetings in January were devoted to stocktaking of the inspections which had taken place so far and to resolving certain operational issues. At the meeting on 8 and 9 February, the Iraqi side addressed some of the important outstanding disarmament issues. A number of papers were handed over to UNMOVIC, regarding unresolved issues in all three disarmament fields. However, they did not contain new evidence, nor did they resolve any of the open issues.

Other matters discussed included the possibility of verifying, through technical and analytical methods, the quantities of biological agents and chemical precursors, which had been declared unilaterally destroyed; the establishment of Iraqi commissions to search for proscribed items and relevant documents; the necessity of private interviews; and the enactment of national legislation in accordance with the monitoring plan approved by the Security Council in resolution 715 (1991).

During the review period, UNMOVIC requested 28 individuals to present themselves for interviews in Baghdad without the presence of observers. None of them agreed. During the January meeting, the Iraqi side committed itself to "encourage" persons to accept interviews "in private". The UNMOVIC is currently examining the practical modalities for conducting interviews outside Iraq.

Iraq has declared development and production of two types of missiles that were capable of surpassing the proscribed range limit of 150 kilometres. As a result of expert assessments, it was concluded that all variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were inherently capable of exceeding the range and, therefore, constituted a proscribed weapons system. Clarification of the Al Fatah missile data was required before the capability of the missile system could be assessed. On 21 February, UNMOVIC directed Iraq to destroy the proscribed missile system, as well as reconstituted casting chambers.

The report notes that the Government of Iraq has formally accepted UNMOVIC's use of aerial surveillance platforms. Although the Iraqi response at the end of December, to a request to provide names of all personnel currently or formerly associated with programmes of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, was deemed to be inadequate, Iraq has since supplemented its list of participants in the missile programme and is ready to do the same in other disciplines.

Among other developments, the report notes that, on 16 January, UNMOVIC inspectors discovered a number of empty 122-mm chemical munitions. Following that discovery, Iraq appointed a commission of inquiry. Later in January, Iraq expanded the mandate of the commission to search for any remaining proscribed items on Iraqi territory. A second commission was appointed with the task of searching for any documents relevant to the proscribed items and programmes. In the course of February, Iraq transmitted to UNMOVIC lists of persons involved in the unilateral destruction during the summer of 1991 in the chemical, biological and missile fields. On 14 February, a presidential decree was issued prohibiting persons and companies to produce or import biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

According to the report, the pace of work of the Office for Outside Information increased substantially since 27 November. To date, approximately a dozen countries have provided information of potential relevance to UNMOVIC's mandate. As a result of changes in the contents and procedures of the Goods Review List of the "oil-for-food" programme according to resolution 1454 (2002), UNMOVIC performed a reassessment exercise that involved the review of 200 contracts.

The UNMOVIC is presently finalizing an internal list of unresolved disarmament issues and of measures Iraq could take to resolve them. The list could serve as a yardstick against which Iraq's disarmament actions under resolution 1441 (2002) may be measured.

In assessing the degree of Iraq's cooperation with the inspection process, the report makes a distinction between cooperation on "process" and cooperation on "substance". In general, Iraq has been helpful on "process" and has, from the outset, satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site. Regarding cooperation on "substance'', the report notes that the declaration of 7 December has not been found to provide new evidence or data that may help to resolve outstanding disarmament issues.

Under resolution 1284 (1999), Iraq is to provide "cooperation in all respects" to UNMOVIC and the IAEA. While the objective of the cooperation under this resolution, as under resolution 1441 (2002), is evidently the attainment, without delay, of verified disarmament, it is the cooperation that must be immediate, unconditional and active. Without the required cooperation, disarmament and its verification will be problematic. However, even with the requisite cooperation, it will inevitably require some time.

The report concludes that Iraq could have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items. It is hard to understand why a number of the measures, which are now being taken, could not have been initiated earlier. If they had been taken earlier, they might have borne fruit by now. It is only by the middle of January and thereafter that Iraq has taken a number of steps, which have the potential of resulting either in the presentation for destruction of stocks or items that are proscribed or the presentation of relevant evidence solving long-standing unresolved disarmament issues.

Briefing by Chief Inspectors

HANS BLIX, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said that since UNMOVIC's twelfth quarterly report had been finalized 10 days ago, a number of relevant events had taken place. Since 27 November 2002, when inspections in Iraq had resumed, relatively few difficulties had been faced relating to process, notably, prompt access to sites. That might well be due to the strong outside pressure. Some practical matters had been resolved at meetings in Baghdad. Initial difficulties raised by the Iraqi side about helicopters and aerial surveillance planes operating in the no-fly zones had been overcome. Inspectors were now able to perform professional no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance.

Regarding documents and interviews, he said Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons programmes. It was a disappointment that Iraq's declaration of 7 December did not bring new documentary evidence. Interviews with persons who might have relevant knowledge might be another way of obtaining evidence. During the last month, Iraq had provided names of many persons who might be relevant sources of information. That reflected the fact that if such detailed information existed regarding those who took part in unilateral destruction, there must also remain records regarding the quantities of various items destroyed.

It had also become even more relevant to be able to conduct interviews which allowed inspectors to be confident that testimony was given without outside influence. Interviews outside the country might provide such assurance. He intended to request such interviews shortly. Thirty-eight individuals had been asked for private interviews, and 10 had accepted them under UNMOVIC terms, seven of those during the last week, he said.

Intelligence authorities had claimed that weapons of mass destruction were moved around Iraq and that there were mobile production units for biological weapons. No evidence of proscribed activities had been found so far. Iraq was expected to assist in the development of credible ways to conduct random checks of ground transportation. Inspections are continuing in the area of Iraq's programme for Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs). Inspection teams had examined building structures for any possible underground facilities and penetrating radar equipment had been used. No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage had been found so far. For monitoring of ground transportation and inspection of underground facilities, staff must be increased.

He said that, on 14 February, he had reported that Iraq had become more active in taking steps which might shed new light on unresolved disarmament issues. As of a week ago, there was still relatively little tangible progress in that regard. Today, there was more. Al Samoud 2 missiles had been declared, and Iraq had accepted that they must be destroyed. The process had been started. Today, however, no destruction work had taken place. He hoped it was a temporary break. To date, 34 Al Samoud 2 missiles, including four training missiles, two combat warheads, one launcher and five engines had been destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision. Two "reconstituted" casting chambers had also been destroyed. The legality of the Al Fatah missile was still under review.

More paper on anthrax, VX and missiles had recently been provided, and some would require further study, he said. There was a significant Iraqi effort under way to clarify a major source of uncertainty as to the quantities of biological and chemicals weapons unilaterally destroyed in 1991. Iraq had proposed an investigation using advanced technology to quantify the unilaterally destroyed anthrax. Even if that were possible, results would still be open to interpretation. Defining the quantity of anthrax destroyed must be followed by efforts to establish the produced quantity.

Iraq had recently informed inspectors that, following adoption of a presidential decree prohibiting private individuals and mixed companies from engaging in work related to weapons of mass destruction, further legislation on the subject was to be enacted, he continued.

Mr. Blix said one could hardly avoid the impression that, after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there had been an acceleration of initiatives since the end of January. Regarding the question whether Iraq had cooperated "immediately, unconditionally and actively", he said the Iraqi side had tried on occasion to attach conditions, but so far not persisted in those or other conditions. The initiatives now taken by the Iraqi side, three to four months into the new resolution, could not be said to constitute "immediate" cooperation.

Resolution 1284 (1999) instructed UNMOVIC to "address unresolved disarmament issues" and to identify "key remaining disarmament tasks". A draft work programme in that regard would be submitted this month. He would disclose a list of clustered issues regarding key remaining disarmament tasks to Council members upon request. The working document contained much information about issues that existed at the end of 1998. It contained much less information about the period after 1998, primarily because of a paucity of information. Intelligence agencies had expressed the view that proscribed programmes had continued or restarted in that period. The working document contained some suggestions on how those concerns might be tackled.

In conclusion, he said that, while cooperation could and was to be immediate, disarmament and its verification could not be instant. Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude, induced by continued outside pressure, it would still take some time to verify sites and items, analyse documents, interview relevant persons, and draw conclusions. That would not take years, or weeks, but months. In accordance with the governing resolutions, a sustained inspection and monitoring system were to remain in place after verified disarmament to give confidence and to strike an alarm if signs were seen of the revival of any proscribed weapons programme.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that during the past four years, at the majority of Iraqi sites, industrial capacity had deteriorated substantially, due to the departure of the foreign support that was often present in the late 1980s, the departure of large numbers of skilled Iraqi personnel in the past decade, and the lack of consistent maintenance by Iraq of sophisticated equipment. At only a few inspected sites involved in industrial research, development and manufacturing had the facilities been improved and new personnel been taken on. That overall deterioration in industrial capacity was of relevance to Iraq's capability for resuming a nuclear weapons programme.

The IAEA had now conducted a total of 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites, including 21 that had not been inspected before, he said. In addition, IAEA experts had taken part in many joint UNMOVIC-IAEA inspections. Technical support for nuclear inspections had continued to expand. The three operational air samplers had collected, from key locations in Iraq, weekly air particulate samples that were being sent to laboratories for analysis. Additional results of water, sediment, vegetation and material sample analyses had been received from the relevant laboratories.

Interviews, he stated, had continued with relevant Iraqi personnel -- at times, with individuals and groups in the workplace during the course of unannounced inspections, and, on other occasions, in pre-arranged meetings with key scientists and other specialists known to have been involved with Iraq's past nuclear programme. The Agency had continued to conduct interviews even when the conditions were not in accordance with the IAEA's preferred modalities, with a view to gaining as much information as possible -- information that could be cross-checked for validity with other sources and which could be helpful in assessing the areas under investigation.

When the Agency first began to request private, unescorted interviews, the Iraqi interviewees insisted on taping the interviews and keeping the recorded tapes. Recently, on the Agency's insistence, individuals had been consenting to being interviewed without escort and without a taped record. The IAEA had conducted two such private interviews in the last 10 days, and hoped that its ability to conduct private interviews would continue unhindered, including possibly interviews outside Iraq.

The Agency, he added, was looking into further refining the modalities for conducting interviews, to ensure that they were conducted freely, and to alleviate concerns that interviews were being listened to by other Iraqi parties. It was also asking other States to enable the Agency to conduct interviews with former Iraqi scientists that now resided in those States.

In the last few weeks, he noted, Iraq had provided a considerable volume of documentation relevant to the issues he reported earlier as being of particular concern, including Iraq's efforts to procure aluminium tubes, its attempted procurement of magnets and magnet-production capabilities, and its reported attempt to import uranium. He briefly touched on the progress made on those issues.

First, on aluminium tubes, the IAEA had conducted a thorough investigation of Iraq's attempts to purchase large quantities of high-strength aluminium tubes. As previously reported, Iraq had maintained that those aluminium tubes were sought for rocket production. Extensive field investigation and document analysis had failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use those 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets.

The Iraqi decision-making process concerning the design of those rockets was well documented, he said. Iraq had provided copies of design documents, procurement records, minutes of committee meetings and supporting data and samples. A thorough analysis of that information, together with information gathered from interviews with Iraqi personnel, had allowed the Agency to develop a coherent picture of attempted purchases and intended usage of the 81mm aluminium tubes, as well as the rationale behind the changes in the tolerances.

Based on available evidence, the IAEA team had concluded that Iraq's efforts to import those aluminium tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges and, moreover, that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable redesign needed to use them in a revived centrifuge programme. However, that issue would continue to be scrutinized and investigated.

On the issue of magnets, he said that since 1998 Iraq had purchased high-strength magnets for various uses. Iraq had declared inventories of magnets of 12 different designs. The Agency had verified that previously acquired magnets had been used for missile-guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment had verified that none of the magnets that Iraq had declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.

In June 2001, he continued, Iraq had signed a contract for a new magnet- production line, for delivery and installation in 2003. The delivery had not yet occurred, and Iraqi documentation and interviews of Iraqi personnel indicated that that contract would not be executed. However, the contract had been evaluated by the IAEA centrifuge enrichment experts. The Agency would continue to monitor and inspect equipment and materials that could be used to make magnets for enrichment centrifuges.

Turning to flow forming capabilities, he said that Iraq had used its relatively low-accuracy flow forming capability for the production of rocket parts in steel. Investigations in the field indicated that Iraq had recently started to flow form its own tubes in aluminium as well. Based on Iraqi documentation, experts' observations of Iraq's industrial capabilities and the Agency's knowledge of Iraq's industrial assets, the IAEA's assessment to date was that Iraq still possessed an abundance of high-strength aluminium materials procured during the 1980s, and had the expertise needed to produce pre-forms of high quality, but that it currently had low-quality flow-forming equipment.

In addition, Iraq's lack of experience and expertise in that field made it highly unlikely that it was currently able to produce aluminium cylinders consistently to the tolerance required for centrifuge enrichment. Nevertheless, the IAEA would monitor all potentially capable machines and facilities using 24-hour camera surveillance, supported by a regime of unannounced inspections. The IAEA would also continue to assess the level of centrifuge-related expertise remaining in Iraq.

The IAEA had made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from the Niger in recent years, he said. The investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of States that pointed to an agreement between the Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001. Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA had concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that those documents -- which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and the Niger -- were, in fact, not authentic. Therefore, the Agency had concluded that those specific allegations were unfounded. However, it would continue to follow up any additional evidence, if it emerged, relevant to efforts by Iraq to illicitly import nuclear materials.

The issue of procurement efforts remained under thorough investigation, and further verification would be forthcoming, he said. An IAEA team of technical experts, customs investigators and computer forensic specialists was currently conducting a series of investigations, through inspections at trading companies and commercial organizations, aimed at understanding Iraq's patterns of procurement.

He reported that, in the area of nuclear weapons -- the most lethal weapons of mass destruction --inspections in Iraq were moving forward. Since the resumption of inspections a little over three months ago, and particularly in the three weeks since his last briefing, the IAEA had made important progress in identifying what nuclear-related capabilities remained in Iraq, and in its assessment of whether Iraq had made any efforts to revive its past nuclear programme during the intervening four years since inspections were halted.

At the current stage, he said, there was no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites. Also, there was no indication that Iraq had attempted to import uranium since 1990. Further, there was no indication that Iraq had attempted to import aluminium tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminium tubes in question.

Although the Agency was still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet production, there was no indication to date that Iraq had imported magnets for use in centrifuge-enrichment programme. The Agency would continue to further scrutinize and investigate all of the above issues.

After three months of intrusive inspections, he stated that the IAEA had to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq. The Agency intended to continue its inspection activities, making use of all the additional rights granted to it by resolution 1441 and all additional tools that might be available to it. The Agency also hoped to continue to receive from States actionable information relevant to its mandate. He noted that, in the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing pressure by the international community, Iraq had been forthcoming in its cooperation, particularly with regard to the conduct of private interviews and in making available evidence that could contribute to the resolution of matters of IAEA concern. He hoped that Iraq would continue to expand the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation.

The detailed knowledge of Iraq's capabilities that IAEA experts had accumulated since 1991 -- combined with the extended rights provided by resolution 1441, the active commitment by all States to help the Agency fulfil its mandate, and the recently increased level of Iraqi cooperation -- should enable the Agency in the near future to provide the Council with an objective and thorough assessment of Iraq's nuclear-related capabilities. However credible that assessment might be, the Agency would endeavour -- in view of the inherent uncertainties associated with any verification process, and particularly in light of Iraq's past record of cooperation -- to evaluate Iraq's capabilities on a continuous basis as part of the Agency's long-term monitoring and verification programme, in order to provide the international community with ongoing and real time assurances.


JOSCHKA FISCHER, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the aim of the international community remained the complete disarmament of Iraq and the elimination of the international threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. What was at stake now was the unity of the international community, which had taken a forceful stance in its common fight against international terrorism. It fought together against the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, and it stood united in its condemnation of the Iraqi regime. Where the views differed was in strategy on how to achieve the effective and total disarmament of Iraq. The Council must not spare any effort to find a joint approach to attain its common goal.

He said that the briefings today had made clear, once more, that Iraq's cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA had not yet fully met United Nations demands. Baghdad could have taken many of the recent steps earlier and more willingly. Nevertheless, cooperation had notably improved in recent days. That was a positive development, which made it all the less comprehensible that that development should now be abandoned. There had been real progress on implementation of the relevant resolutions. In the sphere of missile technology, Iraq had begun to destroy the banned missiles within the prescribed time frame. That had shown that peaceful disarmament was possible and that there was a "real alternative" to war. That positive development also showed that Hans Blix's approach of giving the Iraqi regime concrete time frames was successful and should be used for other unresolved problems.

There had also been progress regarding the elimination of Iraq's nuclear potential and, in certain spheres, concerning biological weapons, he said. Interviews with Iraqi scientists were now taking place without monitoring or recording, and plans were being made to conduct them abroad. The inspections should be "stepped up and accelerated", and each remaining problem should be given a time frame. Drs. Blix and ElBaradei, therefore, should present the Council with a detailed, comprehensive working programme that clarified how they and their teams intended to tackle Iraq's complete disarmament. At the same time, the inspections could not go on forever. But, given the current situation, there was no need for a second resolution. "Why should we leave the path we have embarked on now that the inspections on the basis of resolution 1441 (2002) are showing viable results?" he asked. Peaceful means were far from exhausted.

FAROUK AL-SHARA', Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that since the last discussion of the question of Iraq three weeks ago, the fast and important developments witnessed should be recalled if only because of their grave impact on the situation in the Middle East and perhaps on the future of international relations. The day after that meeting, millions of people around the world took to the streets to say "No to War on Iraq". The day after, Arab ministers for foreign affairs had held an emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt. All participants expressed their opposition to war and stressed the need for a peaceful solution. France, Russian Federation, China and Germany had repeatedly and clearly stressed that there was an alternative to war. Appeals to prevent war had been crowned by the message the emissary of the Holy See had carried to the President of the United States two days ago.

He said Mr. Blix had reported that Iraq had cooperated actively and that that cooperation was on process and substance. The destruction of missiles was currently under way. That could not be considered deceptive or insignificant. It was happening while inspectors were achieving tangible progress in implementing resolution 1441 (2002). Why was there such insistence on adopting a new resolution allowing the use of military force as if war were the best and not the worst option? he asked.

He said one could wonder what logic could explain the cooperation of the United States with Israel in developing advanced missiles and what logic allowed Israel to possess all kinds or weapons of mass destruction. If resolution 1441 (2002) did not set a time frame for the inspectors' works, what then could be the background of arguments that time was up and that Iraq had only days left to comply, or else ... ? It was ironic that some might claim that war against Iraq would disclose the undeclared weapons of mass destruction, while inspectors could not find those weapons despite all unprecedented facilities provided to them. Unfortunately, some believed that the huge build-up of forces was by itself sufficient to justify war against Iraq, "because no one who is realistic can accept that these forces would go back to their barracks empty-handed". If that were the case, were we facing a just cause or an armed robbery? he asked.

Arabs, in particular, and the international community, in general, were very apprehensive, he said. He was gravely concerned over the possible massacres against the Palestinian people, the demolition of their homes and their forced transfer when war against Iraq was in full swing. Given the developments in the occupied territories since September 2001, the Council must take those apprehensions into account. He was confident that the United Nations, which represented the will of the international community, would opt for peace and that that option would prevail over the use of force.

LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said that even if positions had drifted apart with regard to the best way to proceed in achieving the definitive disarmament of Iraq, multilateral diplomacy was still ongoing. "We are still sitting around this table trying to figure out a common course of action", he said. The search for a consensus that expressed the collective will of States was what brought everyone together and what everyone hoped to achieve. He was keen to surpass the differences, which were impeding a common agreement to act together. Advancing those agreements would revitalize the credibility and solvency of the Council's authority. "Let us not lose this opportunity", he urged.

He wished to express his distress regarding the situation in Iraq and the lack of active, immediate and effective cooperation by its regime. There was clear consensus on the objectives to be achieved, yet the latest development and declarations on the Iraqi issue made it clear that there were different visions towards disarming that country. He was particularly distressed at the fact that affinities and common values, built with great effort during several decades, were being eroded. If the polarization deepened further, that might gravely affect the handling of such important issues as disarmament. "This is a definitive moment", and it was imperative to search the widest consensus among the Council members. In its unity lay the strength of a collective security system, as represented by the United Nations.

He said his country was "alarmed" by the damage caused by the Iraqi issue in the international arena and the uncertain effect on financial markets and investments. He wished to widen the range of formulas to achieve the effective disarmament of Iraq. Active cooperation was indispensable, leading to absolutely certain knowledge of the whereabouts of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Regrettably, Iraq reacted promptly to political pressure and the threat of the use of force, and not to the continuous demands of the international community. Even more regrettably, its cooperation was still limited and in small doses. He had true and valid reasons to defend multilateralism and to see that the decisions to disarm Iraq were not unilateral and without any ambiguity, in the context of international law. He was convinced that all paths had to be explored and all opportunities taken to solve that issue through peaceful means.

COLIN L. POWELL, Secretary of State of the United States, said today's meeting concerned a very, very important question, namely, whether the Iraqi leadership had made the decision to comply with Security Council resolutions and to rid itself of all weapons of mass destruction and infrastructure for such weapons. The answer was not about how many inspectors were on the ground, or how much more time and effort should be given, nor whether more benchmarks were needed. The answer depended on whether Iraq had made the choice to actively cooperate in every possible manner in the immediate and complete disarmament of its prohibited weapons.

Today's briefings had shed more light on that difficult question, he said. He had listened very carefully to hear if Iraq had finally understood that the will of the international community must be obeyed. He was pleased to hear some new progress and activity with respect to substance, but he was sorry that that was all still coming in a grudging manner and that Iraq was still refusing to offer immediate, active and unconditional cooperation -- not late, but immediate, not passive, but active, and not conditional, but unconditional in every respect. Despite some progress, he still found a catalogue of non-cooperation. If Iraq genuinely wanted to disarm, he would not have to worry about setting up the means to look for mobile biological units, and search extensively for the underground facilities he knew existed.

Iraq must not be allowed to shift the burden of proof onto the inspectors nor could the world return to the failed bargain of resolution 1284 (1998), which offered partial relief for partial disclosure. Iraq's "initiatives" were small steps, which had not come forward willingly and freely, but had been "pulled out" or "pressed out" by the possibility of military force and the political will of the Security Council. Iraq had taken those "initiatives" only grudgingly and primarily under the threat of force. He was pleased that some Al Samoud 2 missiles were being broken up, although that had perhaps paused for the moment. But, the problem was it had not been disclosed how many missiles were there and whether there was the infrastructure to produce more. The intent of the Iraqi regime was to keep from turning over all of its mass destruction weapons, and that had not changed. If Iraq had made that strategic decision to disarm, cooperation would be enthusiastic, and not coerced or pressured.

Turning to Dr. ElBaradei's briefing, he said that, in 1991, the IAEA was just days away from determining that Iraq did not have a nuclear programme, but it soon found out otherwise. The Agency was now reaching a similar conclusion, but it should be cautious and keep the books open. There was still some dispute about some specific items, including the use for the aluminium tubes, which Iraq had been trying to acquire over the years. A European country where Iraq had shopped for such tubes had provided evidence that the tolerances being sought by Iraq could not be justified for use by unguided rockets. The UNMOVIC had put together a solid piece of research that added up, fact by chilling fact, to a damning record of 12 years of lies, deception and failure to come clean by Iraq.

He said he had looked carefully at the document and found nearly 30 instances where Iraq had refused to provide credible evidence substantiating its claims, and 17 examples where the inspectors actually uncovered evidence contradicting Iraq's claims, including the planting of false evidence. There was page after page of how Iraq had obstructed the inspectors at nearly every turn over the years. On the bombs capable of carrying chemical and biological warfare agents, the report said that during 1992 Iraq had changed its declaration on the number of bombs it had produced, saying that it had produced a total of 1,200. That number was subsequently changed to 1,550. Given that information by Iraq, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had been unable to calculate the total number of such bombs. The present report says it had proved impossible to do so, but UNMOVIC had not discounted the possibility the chemical- and biological-filled bombs in the hundreds remained in Iraq.

All outstanding questions could easily have been cleared up in the 7 December 2002 declaration from Iraq. There should not be those outstanding issues to resolve, but there were. The present document showed that Iraq still had the capability to manufacture, not only chemical, but also biological weapons, and that it still had tens of thousands of delivery systems, including dangerous unmanned vehicles. In his report today, Dr. Blix had remarked on the paucity of information on Iraq's programmes since 1998. Everyone was working hard to fill that gap, but Iraq was the one to do that if it was truly complying. Indeed, it would be inundating the inspectors with new information, setting out in detail all of its banned weapons programmes. Then, and only then, could the inspectors do the credible job of verifying, destroying and monitoring.

He said that Iraq's current behaviour revealed a strategic decision to delay, deceive and throw us off the trail, leading to a fracturing of the international community. The Iraqis still were not volunteering information, and when they were, it was partial and misleading, and stories changed whenever they were confronted. The Council's membership carried a heavy responsibility to take hard decisions on tough issues, including the one it faced today. Last November, the Council had stepped up to its responsibility. It must not walk away now with Iraq, once again, marching down the merry path of weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region and the world. Members must not forget the horrors going on in Iraq. Now was the time for it to send a clear message to Saddam Hussein that it had not been taken in by his transparent tactics.

Nobody wanted war, he said, but it was clear that the limited process and slight substantive changes in Iraq had come from the presence of a large military force, from nations willing to put their military men and women in harm's way. The unified political will of the Council, and the willingness to use force if it came to that, would ensure that the disarmament of Iraq was achieved. Now was the time for the Council to say that the clock had not been stopped by Saddam Hussein's stratagems and machinations. The resolution put forward for Council action was appropriate, and it should be brought before it in the very near future. The consequences of Saddam Hussein's continued refusal to disarm would be very, very real.

IGOR S. IVANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the Iraq problem had many aspects. Success of the joint efforts at resolving the crisis would have a positive effect on efforts on other conflicts and would become an important step towards a new and secure world order. That was why his country had tried to solve the problem based on international law and Council resolutions, which had proven to be the most reliable way.

The submitted report demonstrated that, thanks to pressure on Baghdad, including through military build-up, progress had been achieved in implementing resolution 1441 (2002). Enhanced inspections were under way. Inspectors had been given immediate and unconditional access to all sites, and, on the whole, the level of cooperation was thoroughly different from the practice that UNSCOM had encountered. Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei had pointed out problems with interviews. He agreed that the Iraqi leadership must further encourage its citizens to take part in those interviews without minders.

A process of real disarmament was under way, he continued, as Al Samoud 2 missiles were being destroyed under UNMOVIC supervisions. Iraq had transmitted fragments of aerial bombs, as well as dozens of new documents. Those were facts that showed the process was developing. He agreed with Mr. Blix that if the latest positive steps had been undertaken earlier, results now would be more convincing. But it was important that steps had been taken and had opened up the way to solving remaining problems.

He drew attention to another aspect Mr. Blix had highlighted: long-term monitoring for non-production of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was another important way to prevent Iraq from producing weapons of mass destruction in the future. Was it then reasonable to stop the inspections and eliminate progress made? he asked. It should be acknowledged that disarmament possibilities through political means existed. No new resolution was needed, but active support for the inspectors was necessary. His country was in favour of continuing and strengthening inspections, and that goals would be furthered by speedy submission, for approval by the Council, of the UNMOVIC work programme, including a list of key remaining disarmament tasks. That would enable the Council to evaluate the level of Iraq's cooperation and to provide an answer to remaining questions.

A difficult choice was being faced, he said. Nobody was in possession of the truth. Therefore, it was natural that there were different points of view. Such differences should, however, not lead to a rift. "Only acting in solidarity can we effectively face up to new global threats and challenges", he said. The Council must emerge from the crisis united and strong, and his country would work further towards that goal.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, wanted to ask the same question that was being asked by people all over the world -- "Why should we today engage in a war with Iraq?" "Why should we wish to proceed, at any price, by force when we can succeed peacefully?" War was always an acknowledgement of failure. At the same time, the inspections could not continue indefinitely. The pace must be stepped up. In that regard, he wanted to make three proposals.

First, the inspectors should be asked to establish a hierarchy of tasks for disarmament and, on that basis, to present as soon as possible a work programme as provided for in resolution 1284. It was necessary to know immediately what the priority issues were that could constitute key disarmament tasks to be carried out by Iraq.

Secondly, he proposed that the inspectors provide a progress report every three weeks. That would make the Iraqi authorities understand that in no case should they interrupt their efforts.

Thirdly, he proposed the establishment of a schedule for assessing the implementation of the work programme. Resolution 1284 provided for a time frame of 120 days. He was willing to shorten that, if the inspectors considered it feasible.

The military agenda must not dictate the calendar of inspections, he stressed. While he agreed to timetables and to an accelerated calendar, he could not accept an ultimatum as long as the inspectors were reporting cooperation. That would mean war. That would lead the Council to relinquish its responsibilities. By imposing a deadline of a few days, would the Council be reduced to seeking a pretext for war? he asked. As a permanent member of the Council, France would not allow a resolution to pass that authorized the automatic use of force.

His Government did not subscribe to what might be the other objectives of a war, he said. As to a regime change in Baghdad, while no one underestimated the cruelty of that dictatorship, that was not the objective of resolution 1441. And force was certainly not the best way to bring about democracy. It would encourage dangerous instability, there and elsewhere. As for fighting terrorism, war would only increase it, and the world would then be faced with a new wave of violence. As for remolding the political landscape of the Middle East, doing so ran the risk of exacerbating tensions in a region already marked by great instability.

While he understood the profound sense of insecurity with which the American people had been living since 11 September 2001, there was nothing today that indicated a link between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda. The world would not be a safer place after a military intervention in Iraq.

In the face of multiple and complex threats, there was no one response but a single necessity -- to remain united, he said. In a few days, the Council must fulfil its responsibility through a vote. It would be facing a crucial choice -- disarming Iraq through war or through peace. To make that choice, the heads of State and government must meet again here in New York, at the Security Council.

TANG JIAXUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the adoption of resolution 1441 (2002) fully manifested the Council's determination to destroy the mass destruction weapons possessed by Iraq and truly reflected the desire of the international community for a political settlement of the Iraqi issue. For that reason, the resolution was widely welcomed and supported the world over. Undoubtedly, it was a tough task to ensure implementation of the relevant Council resolutions and the complete destruction of Iraq's banned weapons, but it was gratifying to note that much progress had been made by the weapons inspections, thanks to unremitting efforts by UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

He said that, judging from the reports of those two inspection bodies, resolution 1441 (2002) had been implemented "smoothly on the whole", with progress made and results achieved. There had also been difficulties and problems in the inspections, which was why it was necessary for them to continue. As long as "we stick to the road of political settlement", the goal of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction could still be achieved. Given the current situation, it was necessary to resolve it, with determination, patience and wisdom. For that purpose, the Council needed to maintain its unity and cooperation, now more than ever, so as to preserve its authority. The Council should provide strong support and guidance to the two inspection bodies in their work, let them continue inspections and "find out the truth" to complete their mandate.

At the same time, he urged the Iraqi Government to strengthen its cooperation on substance in earnest and to create the conditions necessary for a political settlement. Under the current circumstances, "there is no reason to shut the door to peace". He did not favour a new resolution, particularly one authorizing the use of force. The Iraqi issue bore on peace and development in the Gulf region and the world at large. Full account must be taken of the shared interests of all nations and the long-term interests of human development. All the countries of the world, faced with the common task of maintaining peace and achieving development and prosperity, desperately needed a stable and peaceful international environment. The Council's power was derived from the United Nations Member States and from their peoples. There was no reason to remain indifferent to their strong demands and outcries, he said.

SOLEDAD ALVEAR VALENZUELA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said Chile was convinced that the Council must arrive at an agreement on a way to get Iraq to disarm. The reports contained detailed accounts of inspections carried out and enabled the Council to infer that Iraq's attitude of collaboration, even at a late stage, was insufficient. Signs of progress in specific areas, while important, did not detract from that conclusion.

She reaffirmed the need to achieve immediate and full disarmament and appealed to Iraq to unconditionally cooperate with the inspectors. She emphasized her country's guiding principle in foreign policy of multilateralism. Multilateral diplomacy prevailed, she said. The Council was the competent body to preside over questions of international peace and security, and its resolutions must be complied with fully. She emphasized the need for collective measures to deal with threats to peace and security.

She said Chile had made every effort to contribute to an agreed position. It had advocated continuation of rigorous inspections, but limited in time. It had also pointed out that use of force, as authorized under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, could only be invoked after every other way had been exhausted. In recent days, she had noted a more flexible way in the Council in reconciling differences. Her country had advocated insistently in the Council that an agreement could be reached through unity. Statements given today indicated that peaceful resolution was still possible through strengthening inspections with clear deadlines and demands. The Iraqi regime had the political and moral responsibility to achieve total disarmament.

ANA PALACIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said that on 14 February she had hoped to hear that Saddam Hussein had been unconditionally complying with inspections. However, she had not heard that. Nor had she heard that today. Today, the Council ran the risk of "not seeing the forest for the trees". The concrete progress achieved by the inspectors and the gestures made by Saddam Hussein were distracting the international community from the objective set 12 years ago, namely, the complete disarmament of Iraq. The international community had been marking time for 12 years. There were two questions she wanted to address: "Were we discharging our responsibility as members of the Security Council" and "what message were we sending to the world?"

Twelve years later, she said, the threat remained. Saddam Hussein had still not complied with the Council's resolutions; the scenario was the same as that in 1991; the main actor remained the same; his attitude was still a profound disregard for international law; and his strategy remained the same. How much time did it take to decide to cooperate? While many knew the answer to that question, they chose to ignore it. The Council ran the risk of becoming a media platform to showcase its differences. Saddam Hussein was achieving something dangerous by identifying the Council with the role of aggressor, while making himself out to seem like the victim, and shifting the burden of proof to the Council's shoulders. "How did we arrive at that situation?"

Turning to the second question -- the message to be sent by the Council -- she said that only maximum pressure or a credible threat of force had any effect on the Iraqi regime. That was the underlying element of resolution 1441 and the second draft resolution introduced by the United States, United Kingdom and Spain. The weapons did exist. The Council should send the message that it would not tolerate any more of Saddam's games. The Council had to give a clear message and stop playing hostage to those seeking to attain their own ends.

The complete disarmament of Iraq was not a matter of more inspectors or more time, she stated. That, in the words of a French thinker, was a "strategy of impotence". Up to now, Iraq had given no signs that it was willing to disarm.

JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said the evidence for all to see was that Iraq had been and remained in material breach of resolution 1441 (2002). All had voted to give the Iraqi regime a final opportunity to comply with its obligations. Nobody had said Iraq was now actively and immediately in compliance with resolution 1441 (2002). The so-called clusters report was a chilling read of the failure of Iraq to comply with Council resolutions over 12 years. The UNMOVIC had not been able to resolve any outstanding issues. Iraq had refused to admit inspectors for three years and only agreed to them after forceful pressure.

He said Mr. Blix had referred to the fact that Iraq had informed him that after a recent presidential degree, further legislation forbidding individuals and mixed companies from participating in the development of weapons of mass destruction was to be enacted. Iraq had been ordered to do that in 1991. What Iraq had so far done did not cover operations of the State, only private individuals and mixed companies. Iraq was still refusing to say that such activities by members of the Government were illegal.

He said Iraq had done everything possible to prevent unrestricted, unrecorded interviews. While there had now been 12 private interviews, against an UNSCOM list of 3,500 people previously associated with weapons of mass destruction, it was known "for a fact" that all 12 -- and all prospective interviewees -- had been threatened and intimidated by the regime beforehand and told that their exchanges were being recorded, by bugs placed in the wall. There had been no interviews outside Iraq. The restrictions placed on interviewees were in itself the most incriminating evidence that Saddam had something to hide.

He said it defied all experience that to continue inspections with no end date, as suggested by France, Germany and the Russian Federation, would achieve complete disarmament, unless Iraq's full and active cooperation was immediately forthcoming. To find a peaceful solution to the current crisis, the Council must not retreat from the demands it had set out clearly in resolution 1441 (2002). What was needed was an irreversible, strategic decision by Iraq to disarm -- a strategic decision like that taken by South Africa when it decided to abandon its secret nuclear programme. To achieve disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction by peaceful means, one had to recognize that reported progress represented only the tip of a very large iceberg. There was great unfinished business for Iraq.

He wondered why there had been a sudden bout of activity where there had been no progress at all for weeks. What had changes was "one thing and one thing only: the pressure on the regime". Mr. Villepin had described a lot of diplomatic pressure, and had said the United States and the United Kingdom forces lent support to that pressure. "With respect, my good friend, it is the other way around", he said. Mr. Villepin had said the choice before us was disarmament by peace or war, Mr. Straw continued, but that was a false choice. The paradox faced was that the only way disarmament by peace was being achieved was by backing diplomacy with a credible threat of force. The pressure on Hussein had to be increased. Saddam Hussein knew exactly what had to be done. It might take time to fabricate further falsehoods, but the truth took only seconds to tell.

Force should not be used automatically, he said, and his Government had never suggested that would be the case. He sought compliance by Hussein with resolution 1441 (2002). He did not suggest that Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei would be able to finish their work within weeks, but it was possible for Hussein to bring Iraq into compliance. [On behalf of the co-sponsors of the draft, an amendment was circulated that specified a further period for Iraq to comply before 17 March.]

GEORGES CHIKOTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, said that today's report testified to some welcome developments undertaken by Iraq to comply with resolution 1441 (2002), including the destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles. Nevertheless, Iraq's cooperation remained relatively insufficient. That posture was in no way assisting the Council in its mission. Iraqi cooperation was indeed an essential element. Iraq's progress had normally occurred when associated with specific benchmarks and dates, signalling the makings of a model for strengthening the scope and intrusiveness of the inspections.

He said that such an endeavour appeared to be, under the present circumstances, the "most suitable" way to maintain the Council's unity, uphold the course that could lead to a peaceful solution, and spare the Iraqi people, the region and the world from an armed conflict and its dangerous consequences. The manner and resolve of the Council in dealing with Iraq's disarmament would set the standard to which it would be held for the advancement of international peace and security. His Government shared the international community's view that the Iraqi Government must disarm, by providing unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to sites and information deemed relevant to the disarmament process. Furthermore, he joined other States in calling on Iraq to take a more energetic, proactive role in the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction and associated infrastructure.

The disarmament of Iraq represented an unequivocal and unconditional demand of the international community, he said. The Council should make absolutely clear about, and send a strong signal to, the Iraqi authorities that the debate should not be construed as an unwillingness to act, but rather about how to best act jointly to attain the common objective. He stood ready to fully cooperate in concert with all Council members to find the most appropriate solution to the crisis. It was valid and legitimate to debate the political, economic and humanitarian consequences of the use of force, but that should not be interpreted as an unwillingness to act. The fundamental essence of the issue was not whether the Council was unable to act or enforce its decisions. Its responsibilities included exhausting all diplomatic and peaceful means to achieve the disarmament of Iraq.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) was pleased to note that the momentum of inspections, interrupted since 1998, had once again begun. Resolution 1441, the road map for Iraq's disarmament, did not contain a deadline but did set up a process, which, in its major phase, should be carried out in a short period of time. Likewise, it did not provide for endless activity. The report stated that real progress had been achieved on process and procedure. However, it also emphasized clearly that disarmament results had been very modest. It was clear that better cooperation from the Iraqi authorities would have allowed for more rapid progress. The effectiveness and viability of the inspection regime rested on unconditional cooperation from Baghdad.

At this stage, he recognized that Iraq had not yet taken the final opportunity offered to it on 8 November 2002. Cameroon was against war, in Iraq or elsewhere. However, as a member of the Council, it was important to Cameroon to see to it that States fully implemented the Council's decisions, on Iraq and all other issues with which the Council dealt. He was for inspections, which could allow the Council to achieve the objectives set in resolution 1441. However, the inspections could not go on indefinitely. A credible alternative to war must be sought. The Iraqi authorities must be compelled to comply unconditionally and fully.

Rather than continuing to offer a show of the Council's divisions, members must work together to overcome differences, he stated. The Council could, in a single voice, order the Iraqi authorities to cooperate actively and fully with the inspectors. The Council must arrive at a consensual decision, thereby preserving unity. Thus, the United Nations and the Security Council would be strengthened, as would international peace and security. He urged the Iraqi authorities to show their complete readiness and firm commitment to cooperate in the context of 1441. He called on all Council members to work to build a common position, which would prove to the Iraqis that they had no alternative but to conform to the will of the international community. Finally, he urged the Council to use all means to convince Iraq to take up the last opportunity offered to it in 1441.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said the reports indicated that there was cooperation on procedural aspects, particularly in providing unlimited access to sites, but that cooperation on substance left a lot to be desired. Following the lack of that cooperation, the report concluded that the major objective of resolution 1441 (2002) -- the disarmament of Iraq -- had not been achieved. Disarmament results had been modest, but additional efforts had been made in recent days, according to Mr. Blix. He stressed that destruction of missiles must continue and speed up.

However, after three months, no breakthrough had been seen regarding anthrax and VX gas, he said, adding that partial successes would not have been possible without constant pressure by the international community. It was the threat of the use of military force, and the presence of a large number of American and British soldiers in the region, which made that pressure credible. On 5 February, Bulgaria had declared that Iraq was still in material breach of resolution 1441 (2002) and other resolutions. With regret, he reiterated that observation. However, war was not inevitable. The use of force was only a last resort once all diplomatic means had been exhausted.

The draft resolution submitted by the United Kingdom, United States and Spain and the memorandum circulated by France, Germany and the Russian Federation were not incompatible, he said. Both documents observed that inspections could not go on indefinitely. According to the memorandum, inspections must be enhanced. The draft was an effective means to put further pressure on Iraq, as that country continued to defy the will of the international community. Bulgaria was prepared to support the draft resolution, adoption of which would be a logical continuation of efforts of the Council to make clear to Iraq that patience was limited.

Unity in the Council remained an objective to achieve credibility of the United Nations but also to achieve Iraq disarmament. Nothing could replace innovative and courageous diplomacy. Dialogue alone could bring positions together which today appeared to be "too set and too rigid". Achieving unity of the Council would mean overcoming unproductive positions within the European Union and strengthening transatlantic ties. He appealed to all Council members to make an additional effort for the peaceful disarmament of Iraq. The credibility of the United Nations and the Council was at stake. "Peace will only have a final chance through our regained unity", he concluded.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that if war was to be avoided and a peaceful solution realized, the Council must impress upon Iraq at this session, once again, that it must comply fully and faithfully with the Council's resolutions demanding the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. That country must also extend active, immediate and unconditional cooperation in that process, which was in Iraq's own supreme interest. The Iraqi leadership must take all possible measures to prevent the suffering of the Iraqi people that could flow from a conflict. The weapons chief inspectors' assessments had a critical bearing on any judgement by the Council of whether its objectives were being met. Previous reports had shown mixed results: cooperation on process, but far from satisfactory cooperation on substance.

He said the latest UNMOVIC report noted the provision by Iraq of new documents, the beginning of private interviews, enactment of national legislation, and acceptance of aerial surveillance. Overall, however, it noted that the disarmament results had been very limited so far and asked why a number of measures presently being undertaken could not have been initiated earlier. Since issuance of that report, however, the destruction of Al Samoud missiles had been under way, in "the most spectacular and tangible" evidence of real disarmament, according to Dr. Blix. The Council must move quickly to address and resolve all remaining questions. An agreed approach could and must be evolved, through consultations among Council members and the inspectors.

The best assurance of success in the peaceful disarmament process was the Council's unity, he went on. He looked forward to the informal consultations this afternoon, at which measures to be taken by Iraq, the inspectors, and the Council should be identified, in order to establish, beyond a doubt, that the process was working and would result in the desired disarmament. Key outstanding disarmament tasks could be the basis of such consensus. The Council could then also agree on a relatively short time frame. That approach would be better than propositions that could result in the early use of force. He understood the legitimate views expressed today about preoccupation with the presence of hidden weapons of mass destruction assets or capabilities, and of the consequences of relieving the pressure. But, there was no imminent threat to international peace and security.

"The cost of delay would be much less than the cost of war", he concluded. A credible cost spent on peace would be worthwhile. The sentiments of the peoples and or regional groups worldwide must be considered, and the Security Council must uphold the principle of equity and non-discrimination in international relations. It must hold Iraq to its resolutions, but it must ask the international community to adhere to the same standards in addressing other problems and disputes. There should be no double standards.

Council President FRANÇOIS LONSENY FALL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea, speaking in his national capacity, said that the Council had adopted resolution 1441 to find a final solution to the Iraqi crisis. Since then, significant progress had been seen in the implementation of that resolution, and he hoped that trend would continue. Since the beginning of the crisis, he had remained convinced that if the chances for a peaceful solution still existed, they could only be realized if the Iraqi authorities did what was required of them.

Baghdad, he said, must provide precise responses to still-pending issues; give proof of the unilateral destruction of certain biological and chemical weapons; encourage scientists to give interviews; provide an updated list of those scientists; and expand the scope of legislation on the import and export of weapons of mass destruction. That was in the interest of Iraq and its people. The international community would not understand if Iraq continued its past procrastination. Guinea was in favour of inspections, but understood that they could not go on indefinitely. He was among those who believed that if the Council managed the crisis in an effective manner, its credibility would be enhanced. During his country's presidency of the Council, he would seek to ensure a consensus.

MOHAMMED ALDOURI (Iraq) said that the possibilities of launching a war of aggression against Iraq had become imminent, despite what the Council would decide and despite the official and public international stance, which strongly rejected aggression and war and demanded a peaceful solution. The French, German, Russian and Chinese positions clearly indicated there was no need for a second resolution. They had demanded the continuation of the work of the inspectors and giving them enough time to complete their task peacefully. The position taken at the most recent Arab summit unanimously confirmed the rejection of attacking Iraq because that constituted a threat to Arab national security and to the need to resolve the Iraqi crisis peacefully.

He said the Non-Aligned Movement, at its latest summit, also condemned military action and the threat of the use of military action, and considered that a flagrant violation of the principle of non-interference. The heads of State and representatives of 57 Islamic countries, recently meeting in Al-Duha, declared their absolute rejection of any aggression against Iraq and considered that a threat to the security of all Islamic States. He also expressed his appreciation for the efforts being made by all churches towards peace and by the Pope in insisting on peace and rejecting war. On behalf of the Iraqi people, he saluted all the peoples of the world who had taken to the streets in the millions expressing their attachment to peace and rejection of war.

On the other hand, he said, the United States and British Governments continued to attempt to "trump up" facts and evidence, pointing to Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, but they had fallen short in convincing the international community. The inspectors had proved that there were no such weapons and that the allegations were false. Iraq had taken the strategic decision to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction in 1991. The UNSCOM had worked for eight years, during which Iraq handed over many of those banned weapons. That was in addition to the weapons it had destroyed unilaterally in the summer of 1991, which had included all banned biological materials. That was the central fact of the matter.

Since then, nothing had been unearthed to contradict that fact, he stressed. Any proscribed weapons had been declared or unilaterally destroyed. It was for the accusers to prove otherwise, if they had any evidence. Regarding Iraq's VX programme, Iraq had no VX weapons agents to declare. It had never produced stable VX and never "weaponized" it. No one had any evidence, whatsoever, to the contrary. Mr. Powell should not jump to such hasty conclusions, as he had about aluminium tubes and the claims about importing uranium. The inspection chiefs' reports had asserted otherwise. And, when asked if Iraq represented a threat now, Dr. Blix said everyone agreed that Iraq had very limited military capacities, in comparison to 1991, and that the country was being monitored and very closely guarded by the inspectors. Regarding interviews, Dr. Blix said that those were now yielding results.

He said the statements made today by the United States and the United Kingdom showed "a state of confusion" because they were unable to provide any evidence proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They had also been unable to mask their own private agenda in the region and the world. There were allegations that Iraq was destroying the missiles, on the one hand, and manufacturing them, on the other. Then came talk about a regime change. All of that talk was an attempt to mask the issues and the real agenda, the objective of which was the complete takeover of Iraq's oil, domination of the entire Arab region, both politically and economically, and the remapping of the Middle East region.

When Iraq had accepted the Council's resolutions, it had sought justice from that esteemed body, but the tabling of the latest draft and its amendment did not relate to disarmament. The aim was to "drag the Council" into detrimental consequences, not only for Iraq, but for the United Nations' credibility, as well. He was grateful to all those opposing the draft. Iraq would not waiver in its continuing, proactive and rapid cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA. The Council should shoulder its responsibilities, especially today's, by thwarting aggression against his country. Let it not allow a new crime to be committed in its name, the impact of which would far surpass any crimes of the past century. War against Iraq would not unearth any weapons of mass destruction, but it would wreak destruction. All those who abetted in the commission of that crime, without a direct interest, would be sorry indeed, he warned.

* *** *