Interview with Hans Blix

Some great quotes reported from former IAEA DG and UNMOVIC Director, Dr. Hans Blix, from a speech he recently gave in Dubai.  I think his remarks are exemplary in their objective, reasoned and prudent character, and in their respect for international law.  Dr. Blix was of course the Director of the IAEA’s Office of Legal Affairs before he was DG.  He is by training an international lawyer.  So the above mentioned exemplary attributes of his analysis should perhaps come as no surprise 🙂   But they are refreshing after having become better acquainted with Olli Henonen’s quite different world view and mode of analysis, and his unfortunate criticisms of the IAEA under both DG Blix and DG ElBaradei. 

Here is an excerpt from the news article:

The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is overhyped, and there is no evidence suggesting that the country has or intends to produce weapons of mass destruction, a UN expert on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) said at a forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

Dr Hans Blix, Head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said during a talk at Capital Club that with North Korea making a nuclear bomb test detonation, the world should focus more on tackling the state that has violated the NPT.

“So far Iran has not violated NPT and there is no evidence right now that suggests that Iran is producing nuclear weapons. The fact that Tehran has enriched uranium up to 20 per cent leads to suspicion of a secret weapons programme, however, no action can be justified on mere suspicions or intentions that may not exist,” said Dr Blix, who is the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

With a stockpile of more than 20,000 nuclear warheads still sitting with five UN Security Council members, and with Israel, Pakistan and India also possessing declared nuclear weapons, many suggest that the NPT has failed in its objective of nuclear disarmament. Dr Blix agrees partially.

“The primary objective of NPT was to contain profileration, which it has succeeded in doing to a certain extent as most signatory states don’t posses nukes and don’t have a programme. But those who already have nuclear weapons have not disarmed yet which is a concern,” said Dr Blix, who was also Sweden’s former minister of foreign affairs.

However, he added that since the time the treaty was signed most of the nuclear armed states have reduced their stockpile from a combined 50,000 warheads to the current number of 20,000, which is enough to obliterate the world 10 times over.

Suggesting the best way to counter the nuclear threat in the region, he said: “Countries from the Middle East should propose a nuclear-free zone in the region, which is a way to make sure the region is safe from any nuclear-armed state.”

He said that a recent attempt by Middle Eastern countries to initiate talks on forming a nuclear-free zone in the region was sabotaged by Israel and the US.



5 Comments on “Interview with Hans Blix”

  1. k_w says:


    Isn’t the statement about the primary objective of the NPT contradictory to your position?

    • Dan Joyner says:

      Yes, you’re right that I would disagree with him in substance on that point. I maintain that the NPT’s object and purpose is threefold, corresponding to the three principled pillars: nonproliferation, peaceful use, and disarmament. Who knows, he may have just been giving this answer off the cuff in order to make a particular point. I honestly dont know if this statement fully relects his view of the purpose of the NPT. I hazard to guess that if the question were put to him squarely, he would phrase his answer differently. But that’s only a guess on my part.

  2. “He said that a recent attempt by Middle Eastern countries to initiate talks on forming a nuclear-free zone in the region was sabotaged by Israel and the US.”

    So why bother advocating that they do it – since they can’t do it? See my post in the previous thread on that question.

    There’s no way there will ever be a “NWF Zone” in the Middle East that includes Israel. Not unless the international community, including the US, were to somehow be prepared to impose sanctions on Israel after a UNSC Resolution, supported by the US, that requires Israel to join the NPT, submit to inspection on the same scale as Iran, and commit to disarmament.

    Never happen. It would require a total revamp of US foreign policy in the region and the neutering of the Israel Lobby in the US. Again, never happen.

  3. yousaf says:

    Samuel Huntington in his book the “Clash of Civilizations” has an excellent quote on arms control post-cold war — excerpted in an essay here:

    Click to access The%20Clash%20of%20Civilizations%20-%20Samuel%20Huntington%20-%20-%20Foreign%20Affairs%20article.pdf

    “Another result is the redefinition of
    arms control, which is a Western concept and a Western goal. During the Cold War the
    primary purpose of arms control was to establish a stable military balance between the United
    States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. In the post-Cold War world the
    primary objective of arms control is to prevent the development by non-Western societies of
    military capabilities that could threaten Western interests. The West attempts to do this
    through international agreements, economic pressure and controls on the transfer of arms
    and weapons technologies.

    “The conflict between the West and the Confucian-Islamic states focuses largely, although not
    exclusively, on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles and other
    sophisticated means for delivering them, and the guidance, intelligence and other electronic
    capabilities for achieving that goal. The West promotes nonproliferation as a universal norm
    and nonproliferation treaties and inspections as means of realizing that norm. It also threatens a variety of sanctions against those who promote the spread of sophisticated weapons and
    proposes some benefits for those who do not. The attention of the Wests focuses, naturally
    on nations that are actually or potentially hostile to the West.”

    One should also read John Mueller’s “Atomic Obsession” for some straight dope.

    Every student in non-proliferation should read it as her/his first book.

  4. ‘But those who already have nuclear weapons have not disarmed yet which is a concern’.

    – In this connection, I’d like to point out that Iran participated, together with 126 other countries, in the recent Oslo Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear weapons, whereas the nuclear armed states US, UK, France, China and Russia shied away from discussing exactly what will happen if they, or another actor, ever accidentally or intentionally detonate a nuclear weapon.

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