Hans Blix headed the International Atomic Energy Agency for 16 years, aiming to cut the world’s nuclear arms build-up and contribute to the international legal infrastructure governing nuclear energy, conventions about safety and plant waste disposal.
His inspections found no trace of weapons of mass destruction before the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and his verdict is: “The US went in to create democracy but they found no weapons of mass destruction and created anarchy . . . The invasion was illegal. It was in violation of the UN charter . . . I do weep still over the result of the mad rush by Bush and Blair to go to war. Tragically, the US and UK trusted their own faulty intelligence more than the inspection reports we gave.”
He suspects that the Bush administration, which he says didn’t give a “damn” about the UN, counted on war from the outset, and that a March deadline had been picked because of the extreme heat.
Since he left the IAEA in 2003, Blix has been chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), an independent body funded by the Swedish government and based in Stockholm, opposing the world’s stockpiling of arms. He deplores the tremendous increase in military spending in China, Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and the Arab world:
“In 2012, the world spent some $1,700bn on the military – it all looks pretty black . . . Why do oil-rich Middle East states spend the money coming out of the ground from oil on the latest weaponry that will be obsolete in 10 years? There are 20,000 nuclear weapons ready to blow up. Nato has 200 of them, yet everyone knows they are useless. We must double our ambitions to stop war and stop the weapons build-up which is a bloody waste of the world’s resources.”
He roots the current crisis in Nato expansion:
“It was not subtly done. It’s the expansion that has triggered the [Ukraine] crisis. What Russia has done in Crimea and the east is unacceptable; at the same time the Russians fear being encircled. They won’t accept Ukraine in Nato.” Blix is urging the Swedes to stay out of Nato: “Embedding in Nato will increase tensions in the Baltics. Russia will take measures in response.”
A fine setting for the warlords
Using an expression which indicts the UN Security Council’s permanent members, he insists that the integration of Russia and China is crucial in international affairs:
“You need what I call the five warlords plus Germany in the UN – the junta of the big warlords”.
To read more about his work go to the informative Wikipedia entry, and for additional news of his taste in food, furnishing and art, find ‘Hans Blix – the diplomat with a disarming nature’ in the FT magazine.