| On a mission
This was the background to Resolution 1441’s provision for a right for United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency 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 Iraqi 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.
Mr President, I must not conclude this update without some notes on the growing capability of UNMOVIC. In the past two months, UNMOVIC has built up its capabilities in Iraq from nothing to 260 staff members from 60 countries. This includes approximately 100 UNMOVIC inspectors, 60 air operations staff, as well as security personnel, communication, translation and interpretation staff, medical support and other services at our Baghdad office and also the Mosul field office. All serve the UN and report to no one else. Furthermore, the roster of inspectors will continue to grow as our training programme continues. Even at this moment, we have a training course in session in Vienna. At the end of that course, we should have a roster of about 350 qualified experts from which to draw inspectors.
The team supplied by the Swiss government is refurbishing our office in Baghdad which had been empty for four years. The government of New Zealand has contributed both a medical team and a communications team. The German government will contribute unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and a group of specialists to operate them for us within Iraq. And the government of Cyprus has kindly allowed us to set up a field office in Larnaca.
All of these contributions have an assistance in quickly starting up our inspections and enhancing our capabilities, so has help from the UN in New York and from sister organizations in Baghdad.
In the past two months, during which we have built up our presence in Iraq, we have conducted about 300 inspections to more than 230 different sites that had not been inspected before.
By the end of December, UNMOVIC began using helicopters, both for the transport of inspectors and for actual inspection work. We now have eight helicopters. They have already proved invaluable in helping to freeze large sites by observing the movement of traffic in and around the area. Setting up the field office in Mosul has facilitated rapid inspections of sites in northern Iraq. We plan to establish soon a second field office in the Basra area where we have already inspected a number of sites.
Mr President, we now have an inspection apparatus that permits us to send multiple inspections teams every day all over Iraq by road or by air. Let me end by simply noting that that capability, which has been built up in a short time and which is now operating, is at the disposal of the security council.