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U.N. Ambassadors React to Blix's Comments
Aired January 9, 2003 - 13:03 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The Iraqi official who briefs reporters emerged after Blix's comments. CNN's Rym Brahimi is standing by in Baghdad to tell us what he had to say -- Rym.
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, indeed he responded to a lot of questions on the part of reporters about that declaration and about the fact that U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has said it does raise some questions.
Now, the general that spoke to us, General Hossam Amin, who is in charge of the National Monitoring Directorate, essentially the interlocutor of the U.N. weapons inspectors here, said that he was confident all those issues, all those questions could be resolved in many ways. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. HOSSAM AMIN, HEAD, IRAQI MONITORING DIRECTORATE: We are ready to -- I said to react, to respond to the questions which would be directed to us, and we think that the majority -- or all of the questions could be resolved during the monitoring phase, and during the technical discussions that could be taken between both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRAHIMI: Now, the general also said that during the visit, the planned visit of the U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei to Baghdad later on this month, he was hoping to solve some of these questions, mostly those so-called pending issues that actually were not solved already in 1998, rather in 1999, and that have been carried through and that Dr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei have said may still be around.
Now, the other points that the general made in his briefing to reporters was that he also plans to raise another issue with Dr. Blix, and that was the issue of the questions to the Iraqi scientists during the inspections.
Now, the general told us that he believes that a lot of the questioning that was done on the sites when the U.N. weapons inspectors carry out their inspections had more to do with gathering intelligence than really searching for weapons.
He cited the example of an air base. He said there's an air base where inspectors went, they asked for the chain of command, they asked for the name of the commander, and then they asked the number of flights a day, what times the fighter jets would go out, and asked for some charts and maps, and finally they asked to videotape the entire air base.
He thought that was not relevant to weapons inspections, but rather to intelligence, and finally another issue came up, Kyra, that of the interviews of Iraqi scientists, possibly outside. The general told us that he had been approached by an inspector. It's not a formal request, but an inspector asked him if they were prepared to allow Iraqi scientists to travel to Cyprus to carry out interviews. He said that they haven't discussed this formally, but he believes no Iraqi scientists would be willing to leave his country for such interviews -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Live from Baghdad, Rym Brahimi. Thank you.
And now we want to take you to a live picture from the United Nations. We're waiting for Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix to emerge from this briefing about Iraq weapons inspections. Let's go ahead and listen in to the Russian ambassador to the U.N. right now.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... ... as Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei would be able to tell you themselves, I am sure. They want to continue, and they are encouraged with the access. They clarified some questions. They are clarifying some other questions. They still have no answer as to yet another set of questions, and they are going to Baghdad where they would continue this work.
And I do believe that this should be seen as a professional exercise, done by professional people, who are presenting their views as they go, and that this should not really warrant some political agitation around briefings like this one.
And we will be supporting them. We have full confidence in what they are doing, and it's up to them to decide how they implement 1441 on the basis of their mandate.
QUESTION: Why do you say "political agitation?" What exactly are you referring to?
LAVROV: Come on this side and see around.
QUESTION: (inaudible), that Dr. Blix is still saying that the Iraqis have not satisfied the requirement just for the declaration itself.
LAVROV: I think I said that they clarified some questions. They are in the process of clarifying others, and they expect answers to some other questions.
Well, you better ask him.
QUESTION: (inaudible) full access?
LAVROV: I don't understand this one.
QUESTION: How does Russia view the prospects of taking Iraqi scientists outside Iraq for interviewing with the ... LAVROV: It's not for Russia to view it. It's for Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei to make judgment and to decide how they approach this issue, which is not only about getting information, it's also about the rights of the persons.
Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: You've been listening to Russian ambassador to the U.N. Sergey Lavrov. We are waiting for Hans Blix, chief weapons inspector, to take to the podium there. I guess you could call it Iraq's midterm. We're waiting to see what he has to say about his crew in Iraq looking through -- weapons inspectors documents. So far, no smoking gun, but he will not -- looking to see whether he will say Baghdad is passing the test.
(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT)
PHILLIPS: ... but let's go to the U.N. and listen in.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... discussion that is that they went further into what they've learned from the declaration. There are some inadequacies there which they will describe. The procedural -- what I would call passive cooperation of Iraq has been good in terms of access and other procedural issues.
But there's no doubt that from the failure of their presentations, the proactive cooperation that we've looking for on substance from Iraq has not been forthcoming. The kind of cooperation that will be needed to clear up the remaining questions that are in the minds of the inspectors about what they've inherited from past history and from UNSCOM.
And I think there I have to say, Iraq is missing an important opportunity to clear up those remaining questions, which the declaration has failed to do, and that a number of members of the council were worried, as the UK is worried, by Iraq missing that opportunity.
And as the days go by, I think that the failure of Iraq proactively to cooperate, if that is continued, will become an increasingly serious matter.
The UK made very clear its support for what the inspectors are doing. We support their approach, and we will support them in every way that we can in the detail of what they're doing.
I want also to say a word about the timing of what we're doing. Today was a good example of the inspectors coming to us in a series of reports under the resolutions, and the 27th of January will be another in that series of reports, and probably not the last by any means.
We recognize that time is needed for the inspection process, but I will give you a reason why you shouldn't put too much emphasis on the 27th of January, and that is because the inspectors made it very clear to us today that, if there is a smoking gun found or if there is a denial of access or a blocking of the inspectors' business, then they will come to the council straight away on that.
So by definition, the 27th of January won't necessarily produce anything new or dramatic because, if that happened, it would come on another day, unless that new information is very recent, before the 27th of January.
So my advice is, calm down on the 27th of January. This is a series of reports to the council, and the inspectors need time to do their business, and within that business, the United Kingdom, as I've said, will be fully supportive in all sorts of ways of what they're doing.
QUESTION: At what point does a failure to proactively cooperate with the inspectors lead to triggering a material breach of this resolution? How long do you not have to proactively for before that's pulling the other trigger, as it were?
GREENSTOCK: I think you needn't (ph) affect the way that the inspectors themselves go about their business. It's up to them. We will rely on these professionals to explain to us what is happening and why they aren't resolving the remaining questions of doubt that they are in their minds as they will tell you.
And so we're going to leave it to the inspectors. We're not making any judgments on that point.
QUESTION: ... about the 27th of January in terms of it not being quite so important as some of us here believe it was going to be? How much consistency is there in what you've said between the UK position and the U.S. position?
GREENSTOCK: I could only speak for the United Kingdom. You must ask Ambassador Negroponte the same question. But I'm going on what the inspectors said to us today. That's why I wanted to put it on a slightly more objective basis.
QUESTION: ... more time for the inspectors? Are you advocating more time for the inspectors, then, to complete their work?
GREENSTOCK: I'm not advocating anything. I'm saying that the business of doing the inspections professionally clearly needs time. There are timelines under 1284, but if there is a clear failure by Iraq to cooperate, then those timelines are cut away.
So we are conscious of the realities on all of this.
QUESTION: ... is there something that's making you feel particularly at this stage...
GREENSTOCK: No, we just believe the inspectors need to build up the intensity of what they're doing, and we're asking them to step up the intensity of what they're doing. But they've got to do it professionally, and they need time. They've asked for time.
QUESTION: You seem to agree completely with Hans Blix that they need more time to increase the intensity of their work and do the job. Do you see it going until, for example, the autumn to, for example, I would like you to actually comment on the report in the Telegraph quoting some British officials that the Blair government is asking the American to put back any look at the military choices to the autumn?
And secondly, would the United Kingdom ask for a resolution for any military action in Iraq? And without it, maybe they are not going?
GREENSTOCK: On the first point, I'm not in a position to make those sorts of time judgments. We're taking this in steps as it comes.
And on your second question, I'm not going to get into that. No, we're not looking at criteria of that kind at the moment.
I think I must leave the microphone. I'll take one more.
QUESTION: Would Blix come in before the 27th if there is such a...
GREENSTOCK: I'm sorry, I can't hear at the moment.
QUESTION: If there is a failure -- significant failure -- to cooperate before the 27th, would Blix come to the Security Council in that case?
GREENSTOCK: Well, he can obviously say that on the 27th, but what I said earlier was that if there is a change in the situation, then I think they will come to us immediately.
PHILLIPS: You've been listening to Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the U.N., just one more member of the Security Council.
Now we'll listen to the French Ambassador to the U.N.
JEAN MARC DE LA SABLIERE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... make the following statement. Members of the Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by Dr. Hans Blix, executive chairman of UNMOVIC, and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
They listened with utmost attention and interest to the updates of the assessment Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei had made on the Iraqi declaration, and to their report on the progress of inspection activities in Iraq since they resumed on November 27, 2002.
Members of the council reiterated their full support for the work and action of Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei and to the continuation of inspection activities of UNMOVIC and IAA (sic) pursuant to Resolution 1441 in order to achieve the disarmament of Iraq.
I will now make -- in my national capacity, France, another statement. We note -- France -- we note with satisfaction that the build-up of inspection on the ground has accelerated since we last met with Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei on December 19.
Inspection are carried out -- carried out at this restated (ph) pace and without any incident so far. We reiterate our full support to UNMOVIC and IAA (sic) in the fulfillment of their mandate with the view to achieve and verify the disarmament of Iraq through peaceful means, which is our common objective.
It implies that all relevant information related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs be made available to UNMOVIC and IAA (sic) so as to ensure the full efficiency of the inspection and to enable the council to assess the facts.
It implies also, and above all, that Iraq comply fully in the implementation of Resolution 1441, especially through an active cooperation with the inspectors. Iraq must, in particular, provide UNMOVIC and IAA (sic) with additional information to answer the end result question and lift uncertainty. Thank you very much.
I'll take one question because I should point that Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei must have very important things to tell you. Yes, one question.
Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: ... said here that Iraq -- you've implied that Iraq hasn't given the council enough in this declaration, and it certainly hasn't followed up with Dr. Blix with enough answers. So, as France, how long are you willing to wait before the time runs out for Iraq to be able do that?
DE LA SABLIERE: The inspection are going on -- no -- we -- the inspection and the work done by Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei is going on with -- in very efficient way, and we are sure that the system, the mechanism which has been set up in Resolution 1441 is a very efficient one, and there is no reason to give now a time limit.
Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: U.N. Security Council president, and also U.N. ambassador -- French ambassador to the U.N., rather, Jean Marc De La Sabliere speaking. Now we are going to listen to the Gunter Pleuger, German ambassador to the U.N.
GUNTER PLEUGER, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... with the members of the Security Council the view of the German government with regard to the Iraqi crisis. And we made basically three points.
First of all, we reaffirmed Germany's firm objective in the complete disarmament of Iraq, and we made it clear that it is up to Iraq to make sure that this can be done in a peaceful manner by cooperation by Iraq. Number two, we also gave a first assessment of our assessment of the Iraqi declaration, and we found that in large parts that needs improvement and that many questions are left open that have to be dealt with by the Security Council and by further questioning of Iraq by Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei.
And my third point was that we subscribe to the recent statement of the secretary general that the inspections should continue, and for that reason alone there are no grounds for military action.
We reiterated that we are prepared to give Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei every assistance that is necessary. Dr. Blix expressedly mentioned the assistance he has received by Germany, and we assured him that we would continue to do so. And we also appealed to all other member states of the Security Council and the General Assembly to provide the mission of Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei with all necessary instruments, with information that they might need to fulfill their mission.
Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: Is the U.S. any closer to a war with Iraq? That's why we continue to monitor these meetings. Now stepping up to the microphone, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Next to him, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of IAEA.
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: ... and for my part, I said that we still get prompt access from the Iraqi side, that the inspections are covering ever wider areas and ever more sites in Iraq, that in the course of these inspections we have not found any smoking gun. However, we are getting more and more information and better knowledge about the situation and that the declaration, regrettably, has not helped very much 4to clarify any questions marks of the past.
Lastly, I can tell you that the council has given very good support, expressed confidence in our two organizations, and that they look forward to the briefing that we'll give on the 27th of this month.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: I think, as Dr. Blix mentioned, it was a very good meeting with the council today. We both reported that we are inching forward with implementation of our task. We are getting access to all the sites. However, both of us also indicated that we need more proactive support on the part of Iraq to be able to move quickly to implement our mandate. We also indicated that we need more actionable information on the part of governments. And we committed ourselves to intensify the process so we can achieve the result intended as soon as we can.
We will provide an update report on the 27th of this month. However, that report, we should emphasize, is an update report, it is not a final report. It's a work in progress. And this simply would register where we are on the 27th of January, but we obviously continue to -- we'll continue our work afterward, and we still have a lot of work to do.
QUESTION: You say you haven't found a smoking gun. You also said that the Iraqis are being cooperative. You also say that the Security Council is being helpful. Aren't you just sitting on the fence and trying to keep people happy all around?
BLIX: No, I was saying that the declaration didn't provide us any new evidence, that it didn't answer the questions that were put already in 1991 -- '99 by the Al-Marim (ph) report, and that the Iraqis could have looked at those questions and answered more -- answered better.
So we are not satisfied.
QUESTION: You said at many times that you are not a defection agency, you are not a refugee agency, not in anybody's pocket. How are you going to deal with the pressure being exerted upon you to interview Iraqi scientists outside Iraq? The Time magazine has already issued an article saying that you'll look into this within a few days. You don't seem to be warm the idea, you seem to see practical and legal.
Are you going to implement this? I know the choice is there, the option is there. Are you going to move on it or are you going to just...
BLIX: Are you trying to increase the pressure further?
BLIX: Well, let me say about interviews, and Mohamed and I are agreed on our view on this, that interviews has been in the past and it remains a very useful source of information, and we do carry out a lot of interviews as we go into installations, whether military or civilian, whatever. We carry out a lot of interviews, and we get a lot of information. And frequently the minders are present. So interviews with minders present are not useless. They were not in the past and they are not useless now.
However, Iraq is a totalitarian country, and we do not want to have interviews where people are intimidated. That happened in the past. That was why the Resolution 1441 stated explicitly that one should have the right to carry out interviews in private or take people outside.
We are ready to use the options we can. But at the same time, we cannot force any individual to speak if he doesn't accept that, or we cannot force anybody to go abroad or force them to defect.
The fear, of course, is that people's will, people's answers to us may be influenced by fears that they have anyway.
So we would like to exercise all these options. And we will. Already next week, for our part, we will ask for some interviews in Baghdad, I can tell you.
QUESTION: Maybe you'll answer...
ELBARADEI: Yes. I told the council today that we were not able, for example, to have interviews in Iraq in private. And that does not indicate the proactive cooperation we expect from Iraq.
I made it clear, and I think Dr. Blix shared this view, that if Iraq is willing to show proactive cooperation, we should be allowed to do private interviews inside Iraq. We also both are of the view that should we identify people whom we would like to interview outside of Iraq, we'll exercise that right.
We would like, however, to continue to work on the practical arrangement to make sure that we have the right people, that these people are ready to be interviewed abroad, and that we have the arrangement which would ensure their security outside should they decide to stay abroad or if they decide to go back to Iraq.
So we will exercise fully our right under the resolution.
QUESTION: Dr. Blix, you were quite critical of the list of experts that was provided...
QUESTION: ... by Iraq.
QUESTION: And I'm wondering, could you be more specific about why you think this list is inadequate? Have you or are you going to go back to Iraq with a direct petition for more information? And have you asked the council for help to improve this list?
BLIX: No, I think we can ask questions all by ourselves. And we intended to do so, to answer properly the question.
ELBARADEI: We are going there are on the 19th and 20th of this month, and obviously we have a list of questions we need to press on the Iraqi, and the list of scientists is clearly one of these questions we need to press on the Iraqis, that we need a comprehensive list of scientists.
BLIX: The list even failed to comprise a number of names that we have from the UNSCOM archives, which should have been there. So it was not an adequate list and we will bring it up in our talks in Baghdad.
QUESTION: Dr. Blix, you've said that you need proactive support...
QUESTION: ... from Iraq. Yet, you've also said that Iraq has left a lot of important questions unanswered about its chemical and biological weapons.
Now, how much time, for example, do you think is reasonable to give Iraq to comply with these requests for information? And do you consider, perhaps, this trip to Baghdad next week as maybe a last ditch effort to get these answers or do you expect to sort of have an open slate, maybe give them a month or two?
BLIX: Well, this is entirely in the hands of the Security Council. The history of inspection and disarmament in Iraq did not begin with Resolution 1441, nor does it necessarily end on the 27th of January.
It is for the members of the council and the council to decide where will they go. But we were set up on Resolution 1284 of 1999, and that has a timetable of its own, and our next regular quarterly report will be on the 1st of March.
QUESTION: Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador, suggested that on that question he would defer to you; i.e., how long you need before non-proactivity is considered a breach.
BLIX: No, I don't think that he defers to us. I think that's in the hands of the council to decide what patience do they have.
ELBARADEI: We report to the council. We give them a full account on where we are. The political evaluation of whether that's enough and what needs to be done next is really the prerogative of the Security Council, it is not us.
QUESTION: Have you received any information from council member or council members regarding to Iraqis' mass destruction program?
BLIX: Regarding what?
QUESTION: To Iraqis -- Iraq's mass destruction program.
QUESTION: Destruction. Sorry.
BLIX: Destruction program?
Yes, there were some questions raised about the destruction, and we both answered that. And the guidelines are given in the Resolution 687 from 1991, and destruction is -- we are ordered there to ensure destruction of items which were weapons of mass destruction or related to them or missiles of a range of more than 150 kilometers.
Now, we know, of course, that Iraq imports things outside the oil-for-food program. And these are then in violation of the resolutions. But they are not subject to this rule from 1991 about destruction. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether an item falls within one category or the other, and that is something that we are pondering in some current cases. (CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: ... to go back to the Security Council after the 27th of January to be able to follow up on your work (OFF-MIKE)?
BLIX: Well, we are certainly here under 1284, and they are there since the '60s.
QUESTION: Dr. ElBaradei, if I could, and also to Dr. Blix, what are the Iraqis telling you? We understand that they're telling you that they've unilaterally destroyed a lot of these old documents or old weapons; also that the U.S., in the Desert Fox campaign, a successful campaign that the U.S. called it, was successful in destroying these documents or these weapons programs.
What are they telling you? And what do you think of what they're telling you...
ELBARADEI: What they say, that, "We have no record of destruction." And we have told them that if you cannot produce documents, at least you should be able to produce people who have participated in that destruction process or at least provide residues of the items that were destroyed. So we cannot just simply take their word for it, that this item has been destroyed and we do not have a document. Because then we cannot provide the council any degree of certainty that that item has been destroyed.
And that's what we have been saying. There are a lot of open questions in that fashion. And unless the Iraqis come forward with convincing evidence, these questions will continue to remain open and the council, in our judgment, will not come to a closure on these issues.
BLIX: Now you can get more answers from Ambassador Negroponte.
QUESTION: Dr. ElBaradei, what have you found on the question of aluminum tubes. Dr. ElBaradei, you said you told the council something on the question of aluminum tubes, on the issue of aluminum tubes. What have you told the council? This is obviously something the U.S. is very interested in. Are they being used for uranium enrichment? What have you told the council?
ELBARADEI: We told the council that we have been investigating Iraqi report that they have imported aluminum tubes for rockets and not for centrifuge, not for uranium enrichment. We are investigating their effort to procure the aluminum tubes. We are in touch with some of the intended suppliers. And the question is still open, but we believe at this stage that these aluminum tubes were intended for manufacturing of rockets.
BLIX: One last question.
QUESTION: Dr. ElBaradei, you mentioned the problem with the missing HMX. Cn you give us sort of an indication of what that does and what your concern is and what role this plays in the weapons program?
ELBARADEI: Well, the HMX are high explosives, and we are now going through the material balance of what we know existed in Iraq with regard to the HMX. They have told us that some of the HMX material has been used in cement mines, and we are going now through the accounting of all the HMX material in Iraq before we come to a conclusion. So it is an ongoing process.
QUESTION: In a nuclear device, what role does HMX...
ELBARADEI: Well, high explosive, of course, can be used for detonating a nuclear weapon.
PHILLIPS: All right. No smoking gun, not yet. And, I am not satisfied, that word from chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. Now let's listen to U.S. ambassador to the U.N, John Negroponte.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... a couple of questions. But I'd like to say that six weeks have passed since the resumption of UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections in Iraq and a month since Iraq submitted its declaration.
We will hear a more detailed briefing from Drs. Blix and ElBaradei on January 27th, but today, the council had an opportunity to asses Iraq's response to Resolution 1441 thus far.
On the basis of both our own review of Iraq's declaration and the first few weeks of inspections, there is still no evidence that Iraq has fundamentally changed its approach from one of deceit to a genuine attempt to be forthcoming in meeting the council's demand that it disarm.
The declaration represents a deliberate effort to deceive by material omissions that, in our view, constitute a further material breach. The declaration states that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction or programs to develop them, but it fails to answer numerous, outstanding questions about its weapons of mass destruction.
How Iraq responds and the evidence it provides are important indicators of their cooperation. It is not, however, UNMOVIC's and IAEA's obligation to provide verifiable evidence of disarmament. That is Iraq's responsibility.
We have concluded that the Arabic portions of the declaration, which had previously not been translated but now have been, and they have been evaluated since the December 19th council meeting, contain no new information and provide no answers to the questions that have been raised.
The declaration consists largely of recycled information from earlier declarations to UNSCOM and the IAEA.
We do not believe this pattern is accidental nor do we believe that it is new. President Saddam Hussein's recent statements signal that he believes UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections are illegitimate and must be subverted by any feasible means.
These are not the comments of a regime ready to seize the opportunity to comply with its obligations and disarm peacefully.
What we have seen of Iraq's actions over the past six weeks does not constitute active cooperation. The United States is providing, as called for in Resolution 1441, the full extent of support to the inspectors -- experts, information, analysis and equipment. We support their work to date and reiterate our call that they use all authorities at their disposal to intensify their on-the-ground audit of the declaration and to begin out-of-country interviews.
Resolution 1441 calls for serious consequences for Iraq if it does not comply with the terms of the resolution. If Iraq chooses not to seize this final opportunity to disarm peacefully, Iraq itself will bear the responsibility for its actions.
I'll take some questions, yes.
QUESTION: ... declaring peace or war, how important is the 27th of January from the U.S. perspective?
NEGROPONTE: This is entirely up to Iraq. I think we'll have to see what happens between now, and then as Drs. Blix and ElBaradei said, they're going out to Iraq on the 19th and the 20th, and then they will make the report back to us on the 27th. We'll just have to see, but it's up to Iraq.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) talked about material omissions that equated to a material breach. Today, you're putting the second piece of the puzzle in, talking about there's not active cooperation, which Paragraph 4 in Resolution 1441. How convinced are you now, the United States case, that the conditions have been satisfied to call for a second Security Council meeting on the issue of Iraq violations of 1441 and perhaps to take on things necessary to enforce it?
NEGROPONTE: Well, look, I'm not going to go into -- I think you're getting out ahead of the process here. The point I'm making is -- and we said this after the last session -- that we considered their declaration to constitute a further material breach.
We are not the only ones who have commented on it -- Iraq's lack of proactive cooperation -- today. That, I think virtually every member who spoke on this subject talked about the importance of not only having a legalistic approach, if you will, to the inspection process, but proactive cooperation on the part of Iraq is required.
In other words, just providing access is not a sufficient condition to constitute active cooperation.
QUESTION: Have the United States given all intelligence that is required by the inspectors? Or do you keep intelligence for you?
NEGROPONTE: We are operative Paragraph 10 of Resolution 1441 calls on all members, including ourselves of course, to provide every possible support to the inspectors and to cooperate with the inspection regime. And we are fully living up to our responsibilities under the resolution in that regard.
QUESTION: Dr. Blix seemed to be indicating that he would not force Iraqi officials or scientists to be either interviewed without a minder or taken overseas if they did not agree to it.
Now, it seems -- are you concerned that every single person who is requested to be interviewed is going to say that they don't want to do this under sort of secure conditions and that you won't have those kinds of sort of private interviews? And would you like to see the U.N. exercising its authority and demanding Iraqi officials and scientists either privately, without a minder, or outside the country?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I think I'll answer you this way: We think that the concerns that Dr. Blix has mentioned and the strong desire on our part and as expressed in the resolution itself that there should be or can be interviews outside the country, those two objectives can be reconciled. And I think that that's something that, over time, we'll be able to accomplish.
And I repeated our strong urging today in the council that out- of-country, that ways be found to conduct out-of-country interviews as soon as possible, and we think that's very, very important indeed.
NEGROPONTE: I'm not going to go beyond what I just told you. I think I'll stick with my response to say that I think the concerns of both Dr. Blix and ourselves can be reconciled.
QUESTION: Is the United States going to wait on the whole process of the Security Council to decide if Iraq has arms of mass destruction before going into military action?
NEGROPONTE: I'm simply not going to get into that kind of discussion at the moment. I think the important point to stress is that it is incumbent upon Iraq to cooperate fully and proactively as soon as possible with the inspection regime.
And as I said today in the council that for it not to do so constitutes the loss of a very, very important opportunity to resolve this matter by peaceful means. And if it is not resolved by peaceful means, the responsibility will fall fully upon the shoulders of Iraq.
One last question.
QUESTION: What is your reaction to the EU bid to start their own separate peace mission as announced by Greece yesterday?
NEGROPONTE: I don't have any comment on that question.
Yes? QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) if there is no change of attitude by Iraq before January 27th...
NEGROPONTE: I think that would be an extremely serious matter, and I think that they've got to reflect very, very carefully and urgently upon the responsibilities that they have to comply fully, cooperatively and proactively with Resolution 1441.
Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Still no talk about whether the U.S. is closer to a war with Iraq, plenty of talk about how Iraq is not cooperating. Now, Mikhail Wehbe, Syrian ambassador to the U.N., important Arab voice on the Security Council.
MIKHAIL WEHBE, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... large gathering of the media people so, I have to say first of all happy new year for all. We would hope that the Middle East area would live safely and peacefully in the new year, and to feel in happiness like you felt here and to be as everywhere.
With regard the meeting today in the Security Council, the consultation, we listened very carefully to Mr. Blix and Mr. Baradei, but with regard the declaration of Iraq, we reiterated Syria's concern. As far as concern, we reiterated our position, or our stand that we did not share in the discussion again, protesting that we did not or we have not received the copy of the Iraqi declaration.
That's why we did not discuss on the basis this is a great mistake being committed, should be corrected. And we said we would not share as well in any conclusion and in any outcomes would come out of a discussion today as far as concern the declaration of Iraq.
With regard the inspection, we encouraged that the work and the efforts being paid or exacted by UNMOVIC and the IAEA, Mr. Blix and Baradei, they refer that Iraq is completely in cooperation with the inspections. And as everybody knows that Iraq accepted 1441, committed to 1441, and as well cooperating as referred by Mr. Blix, and as you listen to him and to Mr. Baradei. So I don't know what do they mean with the proactive -- more than this proactive cooperation.
I think giving the time -- more time to the inspection, as most of the members of the Council today they expressed that we have to give more time and enough time to the inspection to go ahead and to finish to achieve their goals from the inspections, and their missions according to the 1441 resolution.
QUESTION: Dr. Blix said that Iraqi's not presenting any more new evidence or any more explanation to UNMOVIC. And that is confirmed by U.N. inspectors.
What do you think about this fact: the Iraqis not cooperating fully? It's a kind of violation against the resolution. WEHBE: To me, the Iraqi, they are cooperating, as Mr. Blix mentioned as well in the consultation, and Mr. Baradei. But if there are any new elements, any new information, they needed or added by another countries, by other intelligence services all over the world, so they have to leave as well the time to the inspections to investigate them. That's what we need.
And that's why the countries concerned in the council they confirmed today to give enough time to the inspections to go ahead in their job.
PHILLIPS: Mikhail Wehbe, Syrian ambassador to the U.N., a very important voice on the Security Council, making the point plain and simple, there needs to be more time for weapons inspections in Iraq. He's just one member of the Security Council that's come forward and talked about the meeting between chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and the Security Council. They've been briefing about Iraq weapons inspections. Our Richard Roth at the U.N. also following what's come out of these various comments.
Richard, can you hear me all right?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: I can hear you. Basically that was a long questioning period, almost as long as Hans Blix had inside the Security Council. For Dr. Blix, he said he's not satisfied with the answers supplied by Baghdad in the lengthy declaration they supplied, also with other questions regarding the level of cooperation. They're getting inspector access there, but as one diplomat, British ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said, substantively, they're not getting the information and the inspectors still have problems.
But you saw somewhat of a split on the Security Council, European members, such as France and Germany, saying the inspectors need time to do their work, but the United States saying if Iraq by January 27th, the next time Blix returns, doesn't come up with some information and answer questions, that it would be -- quote -- "a very serious matter."
Blix said he may begin interviewing scientists within a week. The problem, will they do it outside of Iraq? No scientists, want to apparently give the permission to leave the country, and according to Dr. Mohammed El Baradei of the IAEA, he says Iraq is not living up to the agreement and to the resolution, because they want to have a minder, an Iraqi official present, when any of these interviews still are conducted -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Now, Richard, one of the ambassadors making the point that January 27th, a significant date, but not a deadline.
ROTH: That's right, and you might call it maybe the fourth inning of this ballgame. They are just really going to use that as another interim opportunity, Blix and Al Baradei to update the council. They were mandated by the resolution to come back within 60 days of its passage, and the inspectors say they need months to really do their work, but Blix says he's not satisfied, even though he's expanding his operations, and in this report, there were still gaps on a lot of issues. El Baradei saying that the aluminum tubes that U.S. officials say were possibly being diverted toward use in enrichment of uranium, he said it's for rockets and it's not really for enrichment of uranium. However, he said it's still not allowed under international arms agreements with inspectors.
He also says HMX, a possible detonative explosive used possibly for nuclear weapons, they also want to account for some missing amounts of that. But Iraq, of course, continues to deny they have any weapons of mass destruction -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Richard, still the question, no one wanting to address the fact that a war is pending. The questions were asked by reporters.
So, are we going to see military action on behalf of the U.S. against Iraq?
ROTH: Well, they are diplomats here, and those answers and those declarations may come from other capitals. You did hear the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte again use the phrase "further material breach," and hint that Iraq was not cooperating.
To get the Security Council to say that Iraq is possibly ready to be in a target of military offense, even by the U.S., backed by the council, you have to have two things on that resolution, key paragraph. You have to have noncompliance with the inspectors and lack of cooperation. They are getting the compliance on the inspectors. But if they don't cooperate on the answers for these declarations, maybe Washington will try to use that as a reason to attack, but they still would like to have true international support here at the council.
PHILLIPS: All right, a perfect time to bring in John King at the White House. Richard Roth at the U.N., thank you so much. Let's talk about the perspective from Washington -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, White House officials simply say they're in wait-and-see mode. They say that the January 27th deadline is significant in that they will get the first what they believe to be detailed accounting from the inspectors.
But they say at the White House the president has not decided whether he will invoke the military option, and that the president's position right now is get the military deployment escalating, so that if he can, if wants to use the military option, if he feels that it's necessary, do so sometime in mid-February. We are told the military will be ready, but the White House says the president simply has not made the decision. They are echoing here today what Dr. Blix says. They say Iraq has failed the test in the view of the Bush White House in terms of declaring and giving evidence it has destroyed, if it has destroyed past known stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
The White House, as Richard just noted, very sensitive to diplomacy, so the White House trying to building a coalition, while waiting to give the inspectors more time.
And we do know, that in recent days, just over the past week or so, the U.S. has begun sharing very sensitive intelligence with those inspectors on the ground inside Iraq.
PHILLIPS: So, John, what is the trigger for war? Is it continued lack of cooperation, or is it the discovery of a smoking gun?
KING: Ari Fleischer put it this way today, he said you can't see the smoke of a hidden gun. So the White House continuing to make the case that the burden is not on inspectors to find a smoking gun, the burden is on Iraq to prove that is has destroyed all its weapons programs and show how it did so.
But there is a sense of frustration here at the White House that at least the political debate seems to be centered around the fact that Hans Blix, saying there is no smoke being gun. The White House trying to turn the tables, if you will, and say that is not the test, the test is not that the inspectors have to find something. The test is, has Iraq fully complied? Has Iraq proven what happened with known stockpiles of mustard gas? What happened with known stockpiles of other chemical and biological weapons?
But the White House -- some officials do acknowledge privately that in the public debate about this, that argument appears to be getting lost, as people say, the inspectors are on the ground, let them stay there for months and months and months. That is a position that is untenable for this White House.
PHILLIPS: All right, John King, live from the White House, thank you.
John mentions the word "frustration." Let's go to the State Department with Andrea Koppel.
Is that frustration felt there, Andrea?
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wouldn't necessarily use that word here, Kyra. As you well know, Secretary of State Colin Powell is someone who has been pushing the go-it-slow approach and who wants very much for the inspections to run their course, be it months if necessary, and who feels that the inspections right now are working. In fact, one administration source told me that the likelihood is increasing right now that we're going to go into that January 27th meeting with Hans Blix and that the verdict will be -- and the U.S. will sign on to that verdict, that the inspections are working and that you just can't say right now that that is causus beli (ph), and that the inspectors should go back in there and continue the work that they're doing -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: So, Andrea, is there a belief, a feeling that exists there that it is possible that a war just may not happen?
KOPPEL: That is certainly a possibility. No one is ruling out that there might be a military confrontation. As one source put it to me, Saddam Hussein is fully capable of a boo-boo, that is, you know, that the inspectors might just stumble upon a cache of something that Saddam Hussein has said he doesn't have.
But the likelihood, again, and certainly the sense here at the State Department is that a smoking gun is a very difficult thing to come up with and it may not be found, and that as a result, because you're going to need to get the support of as many allies as possible, that's not to say the U.S. couldn't do it with just the support of Great Britain, but there is rationale for giving it more time so that you can build support for from countries like Turkey, from countries like Saudi Arabia and get strong support within the Muslim world, to say this really is the best course of action and, you know, that if you're going to wait to get that, that's the right approach.
PHILLIPS: Andrea Koppel at the State Department, thank you.
Now for the military perspective, let's go to Chicago. Our military analyst General David Grange.
General, all right, give us -- we've heard so much lately, the carriers being turned around, more soldiers being deployed. We're hearing about this ramp-up and this build-up. What's your take, because now, many people are saying, OK, let's take more time for inspections, let's back off a little bit. What do you think?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET.) CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it may take more time, but the military has to be prepared to go sometime after that January 27th date. Whether they go or not will be decided by politicians, but they have to be ready to go.
And the other aspect there is that Saddam, we know that at least since 1991, that if you don't have a strong force in a region, then the accomplishments that have been made to date by the U.N. inspectors never would have happened.
So the results may not be what we and other international partners want them to be right now, but nothing would have happened if the military was not in the region right now. So we'll see.
PHILLIPS: And there's this talk about February now, and a lot of money being spent to get forces overseas. The question was brought up in the White House briefing with White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, is it possible they could be hanging out for weeks, months, twiddling their thumbs, a lot of taxpayer money being spent. Do you really think that would happen?
GRANGE: Yes, I've sat around quite a long time in different places around the world as a soldier, and that's just part of the business, and it's always sometimes 90 percent boredom and 10 percent of sheer horror, and it may come to that. But the military still has to be -- it's one of the elements of power of any nation, and it has to be ready to go when asked to do so.
But I do think it a deterrent effect, and it also shows that we mean business. It's amazing that the United States and Great Britain are the really the ones that are cause and effect anyway in the region for this to take place when the rest of the members of the United Nations really did nothing. Someone has to take the lead. So I think it's appropriate.
PHILLIPS: All right. General David Grange, thank you very much.
GRANGE: Thank you.
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