Hans Blix: International inspections are now more vital than ever

From a speech by the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, delivered at the University of Edinburgh
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The Independent Online

One lesson from Iraq has been that professional international inspection, independent of individual member states, proved more reliable than national intelligence. Reporting to the whole Security Council, it was not carried away by any national thinking. This speaks in favour of the further and expanded use of international inspection.

UN inspection authorities do not have huge systems for the monitoring of global electronic communications, nor do they have agents in ports. But they do have the great advantage that they are not the agents of any nation and are entitled to go anywhere on the ground. They can both confirm suspicions and dispel erroneous suspicions and unjustified allegations.

International inspection supported by - but not remote controlled by - national authorities, including intelligence, can be an increasingly important instrument in the struggle against the further spread of weapons of mass destruction and for disarmament - whether in North Korea, Libya or other places.

The war operations are over. The justification for the war - the existence of weapons of mass destruction - was without foundation. The military operation was successful but the diagnosis was wrong. The states which we would have expected to support and strengthen some basic principles of the UN order, in my view, set a precedent of ignoring or undermining this order by acting too impatiently and without the support of the Security Council. As a result, their own credibility has suffered and the authority of the UN Security Council has been damaged.