News


Tracking Number:  183149

Title:  "UN Commission to Destroy Iraqi Weapons Begins Work." Swedish Ambassador to the UN Rolf Ekeus, who chairs the commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction said the UN plan is sound and will work. (910509)

Translated Title:  "La Destruction Des Armes Irakiennes" (910509)
Author:  AITA, JUDY (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:   19910509

Text:
*POL410

05/09/91 U.N. COMMISSION TO DESTROY IRAQI WEAPONS BEGINS WORK (Ekeus says plan for destruction is sound) (920) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The U.N. plan for the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "is sound" and there is "no reason to believe it will not work," says the chairman of the special commission overseeing the activity.

Ambassador Rolf Ekeus of Sweden told a news conference May 9 that the commission plans surprise visits to unnamed locations in Iraq to make sure that all stores of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are accounted for and destroyed.

The commission handling the first multilaterally organized disarmament was established by the Security Council's cease-fire Resolution 687 and began meeting May 6. Disarmament experts from 20 other nations serve on it.

Ekeus said the disarmament role is "a unique opportunity for the U.N. to prove its capacity and readiness to enter a completely new field. The success of this endeavor is crucial, and, more so, the commission must succeed.

"The resolution (687) is setting high standards for the special commission by requesting that all relevant items should be eliminated," he said. "That means that all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities are such items. Not only all the ballistic missiles over 150 kilometers of range but also related major parts and repair and production facilities fall within this category."

Ekeus said the council also requires a plan for future compliance by Iraq and continuing verification that it is not acquiring those weapons again. He described the commission's work as "straightforward" but called the location and destruction of the chemical and biological weapons "a complex and tricky task."

Ekeus said the commission estimates that Iraq has about 600 tons of chemical weapons. "We have so far no complaints in general with the Iraqi attitude," he said. "We feel there is a cooperative attitude from the Iraqi government. That doesn't mean we don't have our views on the declaration (of stockpiles) or the completeness of the declarations by Iraq on substantive issues."

GE 2 POL410 The commission sent letters to some governments asking if they have any additional information on Iraq's chemical and biological weapons stores and capability. Ekeus refused to name the governments contacted but said they are those which might have supplied the weapons or components and those whose intelligence capabilities could have located additional sites.

The commission has "some indication from some governments that there are more chemical weapons than Iraq has disclosed," he said. "We have thrown a very wide net to get any fish, so to say.".

"The name of the game of any arms control is you have to be suspicious...you have to be extremely careful," Ekeus said. "The Security Council asked us not to take care of what was declared but all items. So we have a responsibility to go and guarantee to the council that we took care of all items."

Iraq told the commission about its weapons, he said, "but in all arms control we know that what is declared is never enough. How you work is always to go to undeclared sites. When we go, we will not announce in advance. It has to be short notice (because) some items can be quickly removed."

Iraq informed the United Nations by the council's April 18 deadline that it has more than 1,300 chemical weapons bombs, 280 tons of mustard gas and 52 ballistic missiles, but it said it did not possess any biological weapons or related items.

Iraq said it has 16 sites for workshops, research and development labs and productions sites for mustard gas, sarin and intermediary materials, but all sites were destroyed. Also listed were sites of 53 conventional and chemical warheads, 4 missile launchers, 4 missile platforms, fuel storage tanks and tanker trucks. It said it does not possess nuclear weapons, nuclear-weapons-usable materials, or research and development facilities to produce nuclear weapons. It also accepted the provisions of the council's cease-fire resolutions requiring it to submit to on-site inspections.

The commission will be cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the nuclear weapons. "A team led by IAEA is going to Baghdad soon. That is the first team," he said. "We hope that the first (chemical weapons and biological weapons) inspection team will be able to enter Iraq during the month of May."

By May 18 the commission and the IAEA have to give the Security Council a detailed plan on how in 45 days they will carry out on-site inspections and take possession of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and installations, he said. The commission knows the weapons cannot be

GE 3 POL410 destroyed in 45 days, but it will be able to devise the destruction plan.

Commission members have been divided into five groups -- each with separate responsibility for biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, nuclear-weapons capabilities, future compliance, and operations support.

The special commission will be assisted by a number of technical experts serving as inspectors, disposal teams, and field support officers, U.N. Secretary General Perez de Cuellar said in a report to the Security Council in April. The total number cannot be determined until field inspections have been completed, but he suggested the number of personnel will be in "the several hundreds." NNNN


File Identification:  05/09/91, PO-410; 05/09/91, AE-408; 05/09/91, EP-428; 05/09/91, EU-409; 05/09/91, NE-420; 05/10/91, AF-508
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  French
Keywords:  UNITED NATIONS; IRAQ/Defense & Military; MILITARY CAPABILITIES; EKEUS, ROLF
Thematic Codes:  1UN; 1NE; 1AC
Target Areas:  AF; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  183149; 183294