Media Advisory 2002/1811 (18 November 2002)News Update on Iraq Inspections
Activities of IAEA and UNMOVIC
The following is a summary following the press conference in Cyprus, 17 November 2002.
An Iraqi official (right) welcomes IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (2nd from left) and UNMOVIC Chairman Hans Blix (centre) on their arrival at Saddam International airport in Baghdad on November 18. (Credit: REUTERS/Faleh Kheiber)
17 November 2002 -- The Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Dr. Hans Blix, and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus on Sunday afternoon, 17 November.
Dr. Blix told the press at the airport that "We are going there (Iraq) to initiate cooperation with the Iraqis and to talk with the representatives of the Iraqi Government." He said that the UN team had a lot to organize, as there would be laboratories, a large number of jeeps, helicopters, aircraft and so on. The first inspectors would arrive a week later and they planned to start weapons inspections from 27 November onwards. Dr. Blix added that he would report to the Security Council two months after the resumption of inspections. The Iraqi declaration to be submitted no later than 8 December would be analyzed by UNMOVIC and serve as an important basis for verification.
Dr. ElBaradei told the press that this was a new phase in IAEA inspections in Iraq. They were fully backed by the Security Council to verify the disarmament of Iraq through inspections. He said that "This is an opportunity for peace." He hoped that Iraq would make full use of this opportunity and cooperate in the implementation of Security Council resolutions, which would "open the way for them to come back as a full member of the international community and suspend and eventually eliminate sanctions." He stressed that IAEA inspectors were going to do thorough and objective inspections. He also indicated that the IAEA would report to the Security Council two months after the resumption of their inspections.
In response to questions, Dr. Blix said that the question of "war and peace" was first of all in the hands of the Iraqis and the Security Council. "We will inspect and report on cooperation or a lack of cooperation. I will do so objectively to the Security Council." He noted that it was for the Security Council to assess Iraqi cooperation.
Dr. Blix thanked the Government of Cyprus for allowing UN inspection teams to have a field office and accommodations in Cyprus. Flying to Baghdad from Larnaca was very convenient
Dr. ElBaradei indicated that his IAEA team would include a number of Arab inspectors, and that his first team to go into Iraq would already have some such inspectors. He emphasized, however, that nationality was not an issue. Key were competence, integrity and impartiality.
The latest available information on IAEA Iraq missions will be posted on the IAEA WorldAtom web site at www.iaea.org.