UN weapons inspector says Iraqi guilt is still not proven

Un Blix durissimo attacca gli uomini del pentagono che cercarono di screditarlo anche a livello personale
11 giugno 2003
Helena Smith
Fonte: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,974969,00.html

The guardian
One last warning from the man who made an enemy of Bush UN weapons inspector says Iraqi guilt is still not proven Helena Smith in New York Wednesday June 11, 2003 The Guardian It is, even by the standards of understatement for which Hans Blix is now renowned, "something special". It stands where he can see it best - opposite his desk on the 31st floor of the United Nations: a cartoon depicting the balding Swede as a stick of dynamite with President George Bush demonically waving a match over his head. Given that the drawing also shows Mr Blix delivering one of his equally combustible reports to the UN security council in the run-up to the US-led war against Iraq, the joke is hard to miss. "Have you seen this?" he asks, trying not to chuckle. "It was given to me by my friends in British intelligence. I think it's great." That the droll chief weapons inspector should draw attention to the cartoon says more about his mood, 20 days before he leaves the post, than anything else. The almost other-worldly New York view that he has feasted on since being pulled out of retirement for the thankless task of heading the United Nations monitoring, verification and inspection commission (Unmovic) is "nice, yes". But, like his fastidiously neat office, he says: "I won't be missing it." The job has not been that stressful, he says. "It's just that it occupies you entirely. You don't do much else. There's been an advantage to having an old gentleman, like me, with no family around to do it." It will be with a sense of relief that the genial Mr Blix, 75 this month, returns to the Stockholm apartment he shares with his wife Eva, a former ambassador. "I like New York," he says. "My apartment also has a spectacular view over Manhattan and that has been a blessing. But I also like oriental antique rugs, the theatre, and Eva and I both love cooking." He sighs wistfully. "My work at the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency, which he headed for 16 years] was absorbing, but it's not the only thing in the world, is it?" Mr Blix never sought fame. When it came, in the form of a telephone plea from Kofi Annan three years ago, the lifelong civil servant accepted out of a sense of duty. "We were in Patagonia holidaying at the time and I was waiting in line for a bus to take us to the airport when a travel agent came asking for a Mr Blix. She said a Mr Kofi had phoned." Mr Blix certainly didn't need to accept the job for financial gain. Instead, he agreed to take it for a limited period because there was no one else who was acceptable to Iraq and the west. But with the post came state-sanctioned sniping from both camps. Before he had set foot in Baghdad, Mr Blix was being accused of ineptitude and inefficacy by detractors in Washington who loathed him for being a Clinton appointee. There were "enemies" dating from his days as a liberal student leader at Uppsala University; enemies in the form of disgruntled ex-employees closely connected to hawks in the US Pentagon; Iraqi enemies who spread rumours about his being "homosexual, and going to Washington to pick up my instructions every two weeks". There were even media jibes about his talent for inspection lying exclusively with menus at fancy East Side restaurants. But the accusations of "softness", levelled more often than not by senior American officials, were most galling. "They would say I was too compliant with the Iraqis when in reality [they meant] I was not compliant enough with what the US wanted. I have never criticised the US or UK for lack of sincerity." Mr Blix tried to focus on the reports for his bosses at the UN security council, pointing out that they were always "happy" with him. Even now, he refuses to be explicitly drawn on just what he feels, insisting he is not "frustrated, bitter or betrayed". But, despite his apparent equanimity, he cannot conceal his anger at the constant vilification by "bastards" who "planted nasty things in the media". "Not that I cared very much," he insists. "It was a bit like a mosquito bite in the evening that is still there in the morning, an irritant." What riles him most is that Iraq was not disarmed peacefully. He cups his head in his hands. "The lowest point was at the end when we realised it was not going to happen. That was very disappointing. The war cost a lot in destruction and lives." As to whether Iraq still harbours weapons of mass destruction (WMD), he says he "remains agnostic". Only time will tell - although that is passing by "quite fast and instead of talking about [finding] WMD they're talking about the programmes. "We know for sure that they did exist ... and we cannot exclude they may find something," he says. "I was always more prudent in my approach. I am a lawyer ... in a court things should be beyond reasonable doubt. "It's true the Iraqis misbehaved and had no credibility but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were in the wrong. It could have been bad brinkmanship. Saddam could have misjudged and read about the demonstrations in London, Paris, here and thought they won't dare to go after me." Mr Blix is worried about the future, expressing "nervousness" at the US adminstration's belief in pre-emptive strikes. "Obviously it raises the need for solid evidence and quality intelligence," he says, adding that intelligence material was treated in "a lighthearted way" by the US and Britain. He insists the UN has a role, despite it being seen as an "alien power" by some within the US administration who "would not care if it sinks into the East river". So does he feel that it was worth the personal pain, that he was effective? "Oh yes," he says without hesitation. "We proved beyond a doubt and under immense pressure that independent, impartial, objective monitoring can be achieved. We were in nobody's pocket. Every day I get letters from inspectors who would like to work again. We're immensely proud of what Unmovic achieved." The CV Hans Martin Blix Born June 28 1928, Uppsala, Sweden Family Married with two sons Education Uppsala University, Cambridge University, Columbia University, New York, University of Stockholm Career Assistant professor of international law, University of Stockholm 1960-63; legal consultant on international law, foreign ministry 1963-76; under-secretary of state for international development cooperation, 1976-78, 1979-81; minister for foreign affairs 1978-79; director general, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1981-97 Member: Swedish delegation to UN general assembly 1961-81; delegation to conference on disarmament, Geneva 1962-78 Executive chairman, UN monitoring, verification and inspection committee for Iraq, 2000- ; honorary chairman, World Nuclear Association High point Getting UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq last year Low point As director of the IAEA claiming Iraq had no nuclear programme, only to be proved wrong after the first Gulf war
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