Monday, January 27, 2003

Blix gave his report today.

Like many of these kinds of things, it was mixed. On the plus side, the Iraqis have not been overly belligerent, and appear to be cooperating with the inspectors without the sort of silly games that they were playing back during the last round of inspections. On the other hand, they haven't been as forthcoming with documents as they should be and could be, and have been less forthcoming than they could be about interviews:

Some 400 names for all biological and chemical weapons programs, as well as their missile programs, were provided by the Iraqi side. This can be compared to over 3,500 names of people associated with those past weapons programs that UNSCOM either interviewed in the 1990s or knew from documents and other sources.

At my recent meeting in Baghdad, the Iraqis have committed themselves to supplementing the list, and some 80 additional names have been provided.

In the past, much valuable information came from interviews. There are also cases in which the interviewee was clearly intimidated by the presence of an interruption by Iraq officials.

This was the background to Resolution 1441's provision for a right for UNMOVIC and the IAEA to hold private interviews "in the mode or the location" of our choice in Baghdad or even abroad.

Today, 11 individuals were asked for interviews in Baghdad by us. The replies have been that the individual would only speak at Iraq's Monitoring Directorate or at any rate in the presence of an Iraq official.

This could be due to a wish on the part of the invited to have evidence that they have not said anything that the authorities did not wish them to say. At our recent talks in Baghdad, the Iraqi side committed itself to encourage persons to accept interviews in private, that is to say alone with us. Despite this, the pattern has not changed.

However, we hope that with further encouragement from the authorities, knowledgeable individuals will accept private interviews in Baghdad or abroad.
There's no doubt that the Bush administration is going to take each and every negative bit of Blix's report and try to spin it into a justification for war. They've said they're going to do it, everybody knows they're going to do it, and the raw intimidation by the U.S. of countries that believe that the inspections are a little more than justification for U.S. doing what it was going to anyway. The question, of course, is whether anybody is going to call them on it when they do it.

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