CNN BREAKING NEWS
U.N. Inspectors Arrive in Iraq
Aired November 18, 2002 - 06:32 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get you right up-to-date with what's happening with the U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. Within the past hour, a C-130 plane, carrying an advance team, arrived at Baghdad's airport.
Hans Blix, head of the U.N. commission, and Mohamed el-Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are among the people in this group; so are about 25 workers. They'll set up offices. They'll get their labs and computers up and running and repair vehicles, so that they can drive around.
A small group of inspectors is expected to begin work in November 27 with teams at full strength by the end of this year.
It is the deadline time. As we've said, an advance team of U.N. weapons inspectors are back in Iraq. They landed about an hour ago at Saddam International Airport.
Nic Robertson is in Baghdad now, and I suspect they're in a car now coming towards you.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I suspect they are, but very significant that they flew into Saddam International Airport just outside of Baghdad. In the past, in the 1990s, U.N. inspection teams had to fly into a military airfield 50 miles to the west of the city. So, it would take them an hour to get into the city.
Now, Hans Blix is likely to be meeting with Iraqi officials today; part of the group -- the delegation greeting him at the airport, the head of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate, Major General Hasam Amin.
Now, he was the -- he will be Hans Blix's primary interlocutor here, and he was their last U.N. inspections teams' interlocutor. So, he has a lot of experience in dealing with the U.N. teams.
Now, Hans Blix said he has one question to answer when he's here, and that is: Does Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: We have come here for one single reason, and that is because the world wants to have assurances that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The situation is tense at the moment, but there is a new opportunity, and we are here to provide an inspection, which is credible. An inspection that is credible is the only thing that is in the interest of Iraq and in the interest of the world, and we'll try to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Well, indeed, that's exactly what the editorials in the Iraqi newspapers are telling their readers today, that they want these inspectors to be independent, they want them to be honest, and they also want them to be neutral, they say.
The editorials reminding their readers in Baghdad and around the rest of the country that, in their opinion, amongst the last U.N. inspectors, there were spies. They accuse the United States of sending spies here amongst those U.N. inspectors to inform the United States government before they informed the U.N.
Now, Hans Blix has said he cannot rule any spies being amongst his members -- he cannot rule that out 100 percent, but he has said that if he finds out anyone is reporting to anyone else other than the U.N., in his words, it will be "bye-bye," and they will be off the mission -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Let's talk about the agenda for the day. This partial U.N. weapons inspection team will probably meet with Iraqi officials, and then they'll go to their offices to clean up things, so to speak.
ROBERTSON: Indeed. We were talking before about the fact that one of the things we know that they have on board that aircraft is Hoover and cleaning equipment.
Now, it may sound a little bit surprising, but then perhaps the fact that they have high-tech laboratories there and that they will do detailed analysis of really high-tech equipment, that perhaps gives us an indication of just how clean they need those facilities to be. They've been empty for almost four years. Of course, they are taking over exactly the same offices the last U.N. inspection teams had when they were here in Baghdad. They will be putting in computers as we know.
They'll also be readying some of the vehicles. Now, those vehicles have been standing in a parking lot outside that building, in what is, for most of the time here, pretty much a baking sun for almost four years now -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks for bringing us up- to-date. We'll get back to you a little later.
And the actual inspections, by the way, begin on November 27.
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