Blix Describes Iraqi Cooperation as Proactive

Chief United Nations arms inspector Hans Blix on Friday described Iraq's cooperation with UN weapons inspectors as "active" or even "proactive" but not "immediate."

Presenting an update on arms inspection in Iraq to a high-level UN Security Council meeting on Friday morning, Blix said, "It is obvious that, while the numerous initiatives, which are now taken by the Iraqi side with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can been seen as 'active,' or even 'proactive,', these initiatives 3-4 months into the new resolution (Resolution 1441) cannot be said to constitute 'immediate' cooperation."

"Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance. They are nevertheless welcome and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is responding to them in the hope of solving presently unresolved disarmament issues," Blix said.

He said the Iraqi side had tried on occasion to attach conditions, as it did regarding helicopters and U-2 planes. "It has not, however, so far persisted in these or other conditions for the exercise of any of our inspection rights," he added.

Resolution 1441 adopted by the Security Council last November requires that Iraq cooperate with UN inspectors "immediately, unconditionally and actively."

Blix also said Friday that it would not take years or weeks, but months to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks in Iraq.

Mohamed EiBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Friday that his agency has made important progress in identifying Iraq's remaining nuclear-related capabilities.

Addressing the Security Council session on Iraq, he said that the UN nuclear watchdog has so far found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq after three months of intrusive inspections.

"In the area of nuclear weapons -- the most lethal weapons of mass destruction -- inspections in Iraq are moving forward," he told the council.

He specified by adding that no indication had been found on Iraq's resumed nuclear activities, on its alleged attempt to import uranium, aluminum tube for use in centrifuge enrichment, and magnets for use in centrifuge enrichment program.

The chief weapons inspector said he intended to continue the inspection activities, making use of all the additional rights granted to the inspectors by Resolution 1441 and all other additional tools available.

He urged the Iraqi government to continue expand the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation with the UN inspectors.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Security Council on Friday that despite some progress reported by chief inspectors, he still sees "noncooperation" on the Iraqi side.

"I still find what I heard this morning a catalogue of noncooperation," Powell told a ministerial council meeting on chief inspectors' quarterly reports.

He said recent progress in Iraq's cooperation came "in a grudging manner" and it did not "constitute proactive cooperation" as required by Resolution 1441.

An amended draft resolution circulated by Britain sets a March 17 deadline for Iraq to comply with its obligations to disarm.

"Iraq will have failed to take the final opportunity afforded by Resolution 1441 unless, on or before March 17, 2003, the council concludes that Iraq has demonstrated full, unconditional, immediate and active cooperation in accordance with its disarmament obligations under Resolution 1441," said the amendment.



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