The members of the U.N. Security Council who oppose going to war in Iraq are insisting that the inspectors working under Hans Blix must be given more time to determine if Saddam Hussein has carried out his promise to destroy his weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and Britain say that the evidence that he has not done so is clear and that he is in violation of Resolution 1441. The French have insisted that this is a matter that should be decided by Blix, not the Security Council.
We were warned last November from a variety of sources that Blix could not be trusted to conduct an effective search for weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was determined to hide. These sources ranged from Per Ahlmark, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden who has known Blix for over 40 years, to others who are familiar with his work as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and his participation in the U.N. search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction after the Gulf War.
Despite the evidence that he had been ineffective previously, Blix was chosen in 1999 to head the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to conduct a new search. His appointment was backed by France and Russia, and the Clinton administration went along with it. Per Ahlmark, who had been Blix’s boss in 1960 and had followed his career since then, said in an article published on November 1, 2002 that Blix was chosen after “Friends of Iraq in Paris and Moscow consulted Baghdad to see whom Saddam would prefer.” He added, “France and Russia then suggested Mr. Blix.” He took charge in January 2000, having met with no effective opposition from the Clinton administration. Addressing leaders of the Communica-tions Workers of America on March 12, Clinton described Blix as “an honest, competent man,” but the evidence shows that he has served his French and Russian backers well.
Ahlmark’s article was appropriately titled, “Sending in a Dupe to Disarm Saddam.” He described Blix as amiable but “politically weak and easily fooled.” He said, “I can think of few European officials less suitable for a showdown with Saddam.” He pointed out that Blix, as head of the IAEA, had assured the world before the Gulf War that nothing alarming was happening in Iraq. He gave Saddam the report he had hoped for when he began hiding his nuclear ambitions and facilities. Ahlmark said that Saddam was obsessed with procuring weapons of mass destruction?chemical and biological warheads as well as atomic bombs and the missiles to deliver them. Former experts involved with Iraq’s nuclear weapons program who have escaped to the West have confirmed this.
Blix, whose field was international law, worked with Rolf Ekeus, a hard-headed Swedish ambassador, as a leader of the U.N. disarmament inspectors at that time. Ahlmark charges that Blix was easily fooled by the Iraqis. He contrasts him with David Kay, whom he described as a highly-skilled inspector who discovered evidence that Iraq was only 12 to 18 months away from producing a nuclear device. He says that Kay’s distrust of Saddam’s henchmen led Blix to chide him for not accepting “official information.”
Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, shares Ahlmark’s low opinion of Blix. In an article in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 26, 2002, he pointed out that Blix had no intention of demanding that Saddam comply with the provision in U.N. Resolution 1441 that authorized U.N. inspectors to demand that Iraqi scientists be allowed to go outside Iraq with their families to be interviewed about weapons of mass destruction. Blix, he said, had dismissed this as having “practical difficulties.” He predicted that Blix would never uncover what Saddam wanted to hide.
Ahlmark ended his article with a sober warning and an optimistic guess, saying, “Saddam’s chemical and biological arms, and his determination to get nuclear weapons, are a threat to the world. The dictator could use these arms himself or make them available to terrorist organizations. And the issue of war and peace depends on a man repeatedly duped by the Iraqi regime. The Bush administration probably understands Mr. Blix’s weaknesses. My guess is that the United States will not allow Mr. Blix and the inspectors that he oversees to be deceived by Iraq again.” That means delivering the serious consequences promised for violating Resolution 1441.