UNITED NATIONS (CNN) — The United Nations chief weapons inspector briefed the Security Council Tuesday, saying his inspectors would return to Iraq to resume looking for Iraqs weapons of mass destruction if that was what the council wanted.
But at the same time, the White House was saying the U.S.-led coalition had taken over the job.
The French ambassador to the United Nations presented a third view, saying some way should be found to coordinate the efforts of coalition inspection teams now working in Iraq with the U.N. inspectors.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States wanted to work with the United Nations, but he offered no official role for Hans Blix and his inspection teams.
“The coalition is taking on responsibility for the dismantling of Iraqs WMD and missile programs, which is part of the international communitys shared goal, which is laid out by the Security Council — a cause with which we agree,” Fleischer told reporters.
Later, Fleischer was more conciliatory, saying: “Hans Blix had a difficult job to do and he did his level best to do it. The blame lies with Saddam Hussein.”
Going into his closed-door session with the Security Council, Blix said, “I will talk about the readiness of UNMOVIC to go back to Iraq but also about the need for some signals and adjustments of the basis for our work there by the council. We are serving the council, as you know.”
After the session, Blix said his sense was that the Security Council is groping for some way forward in which efforts by the U.S.-led coalition can be combined with U.N. efforts.
On his way out of the session, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, the French ambassador, said: “I proposed that the decision (be) taken to immediately suspend the civilian sanctions.
“I also propose that there should be some work to find practical pragmatic arrangement which in our view is necessary to coordinate and combine the work of the American teams on the ground and the work of UNMOVIC and IAEA so that Iraqi disarmament could be initially verified. So I think its a preliminary exchange of views and well have more meetings on this question.”
In an interview with BBC radio aired just prior to the session, Blix took a swipe at the intelligence reports the United States and other nations offered prior to the war on Iraqs weapons of mass destruction, calling them “shaky.”
“I think its been one of the disturbing elements that