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U.N. Chief Details Plans for Iraq Inspections

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2002 – Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told reporters today about the process his group will go through as they begin to ascertain the ground truth in Iraq.

Blix spoke at U.N. headquarters in New York. He said he will lead a U.N. support team into Baghdad on Nov. 18. The purpose of the trip is to initiate the new chapter of inspections, he said.

The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, will establish a field office camp in Cypress before moving to Iraq. The office will also contain members of the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei will travel with Blix to Baghdad.

Blix will stay through Wednesday. The support team will remain and begin work to ensure the inspectors have the logistics they need to carry out their missions. The first group of inspectors is scheduled to arrive around Nov. 25 and begin inspections around Nov. 27, he said.

The inspectors will have 60 days from the first inspection to update the U.N. Security Council. The Iraqi government must submit a declaration to the United Nations of its weapons of mass destruction apparatus on Dec. 8. "There will be a lot of work for us to analyze this declaration," Blix said.

The Swedish diplomat discussed what he would consider a material breach under the U.N. resolution. "Given that we are talking about something that might trigger war, I think it is important to 'nuance' it," he said. "What this points to is you may have to take into account whether you can read an intention into something. I think we still have to use our common sense in judging whether something is a way of hindering us in the inspections or not."

He said inspectors will not judge what constitutes a material breach under the resolution. "We will report factually on what has happened, and then it is for the Security Council to assess whether in its view it constitutes a material breach," he emphasized. "After having drawn such a conclusion, it is up to the council to decide what will they do about it."

Blix said Iraq's Dec. 8 weapons status declaration will be an important document, and he hopes Iraqi leaders take it seriously. "When (the declaration) gets here, we will have all of our people analyzing it and comparing it with the knowledge we have from the past," he said.

He said that once the Iraqi declaration arrives, those who have solid evidence of Saddam Hussein's WMD arsenal should come forward.

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