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Hans Blix

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Hans Blix
Hans Blix

Hans Blix in Vienna 2002. Photo by Dean Calma, IAEA

In office
January 2000 – June 2003
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Demetrius Perricos

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
In office
1981 – December 1, 1997
Preceded by Sigvard Eklund
Succeeded by Mohamed ElBaradei

Born 28 June 1928
Uppsala, Sweden

Hans Blix  (born 28 June 1928 in Uppsala, Sweden) is a Swedish diplomat and politician. He was Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs (1978 - 1979). Blix was also the head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission from January 2000 to June 2003, when he was succeeded by Demetrius Perricos. In 2002, the commission began searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately finding none.

He is the son of professor Gunnar Blix and Hertha Wiberg and comes from a family of old Norwegian nobility.


[edit] Early career

Hans Blix studied at Uppsala University, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall), from which he holds a doctorate in law. In 1959, he graduated in International Law at the University of Stockholm. In 1960, he was appointed Associate Professor in International Law.

Between 1962 and 1978 he was a member of the Swedish delegation at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. He also held several other positions in the Swedish administration between 1963 and 1976, and from 1961 to 1981 he was a member of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations. From 1978 to 1979, he was the Swedish Foreign Minister.

Hans Blix chaired the Swedish Liberal Party's campaign during the 1980 Referendum on nuclear power, campaigning in favor of retention of the Swedish nuclear energy program.

[edit] Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1981-1997)

Blix was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency between 1981 and 1997.

He personally made repeated inspection visits to the Iraqi nuclear reactor Osiraq before its attempted destruction by the Iranians, in 1980, and its eventual destruction by the Israeli Air Force in 1981.

Although most agreed that Iraq was years away from being able to build a nuclear weapon, the Iranians and the Israelis felt any raid must occur well before nuclear fuel was loaded to prevent nuclear fallout. The attack was regarded as being in breach with the United Nations Charter (S/RES/487) and international law and was widely condemned.

Blix and the IAEA never discovered the clandestine nuclear program that was "initiated" by Iraq in the 1970s [1] on the site where Osiraq was harbored. In 1982, the Reagan Administration removed Iraq from the State Department's list of countries that allegedly supported terrorism.

The collaboration with Saddam during and after the Iran-Iraq War by several industrialised countries has lead many to believe that there was no strong political will to fully utilise the IAEA [2].

Iraq was alternately praised and admonished by the IAEA for its cooperation and lack thereof. It was only after the first Gulf War that the full extent of Iraq's nuclear programs, which had switched from a plutonium based weapon design to a highly enriched uranium design after the destruction of Osiraq, became known.

[edit] Iraq disarmament crisis (2002-2003)

During the Iraq disarmament crisis before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Blix was called back from retirement by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to lead United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in charge of monitoring Iraq. Kofi Annan originally recommended Rolf Ekéus, who worked with UNSCOM in the past, but both Russia and France vetoed his appointment. Hans Blix personally admonished Saddam for "cat and mouse" games [3] and warned Iraq of "serious consequences" if it attempted to hinder or delay his mission [4].

In his report to the UN Security Council on February 14, 2003, Blix claimed that "If Iraq had provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of disarmament -- under resolution 687 -- could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided." [5]

Blix's statements about the Iraq WMD program came to contradict the claims of the Bush administration, [6] and attracted a great deal of criticism from supporters of the invasion of Iraq. In an interview on BBC TV on 8 February 2004, Dr. Blix accused the U.S. and British governments of dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Newt Gingrich stated that approving Hans Blix as chief U.N. weapons inspector was a mistake made "even though he was clearly opposed to war and determined to buy time and find excuses for Saddam Hussein." [7]

In an interview with London's Guardian newspaper, Hans Blix said, "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media" [8].

In 2004, Blix published a book, Disarming Iraq, where he gives his account of the events and inspections before the coalition began its invasion.

Ultimately, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found.

[edit] Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission

Since 2003 Blix has been chair of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, an independent body funded by the Swedish government and based in Stockholm [9].

[edit] Honours

[edit] Cultural references

  • Hans Blix is parodied in Team America: World Police, where he is fed to sharks by Kim Jong-il, President of North Korea. The film depicts many major political figures, including Blix, as marionettes.
  • Hans Blix appeared in the documentaries The World According to Bush [10] and Europe & USA: Behind the Scenes of a Political Rupture [11] .

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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Preceded by:
Karin Söder
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
1978 – 1979
Succeeded by:
Ola Ullsten
Preceded by:
Sigvard Eklund
Director General of the IAEA
1981 – 1997
Succeeded by:
Mohamed ElBaradei
Preceded by:
Executive Chairman of the UNMOVIC
2000 – 2003
Succeeded by:
Demetrius Perricos
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