Hans Blix

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Hans Blix
Blix during a debate about NATO in Stockholm, 2015
1st Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission
In office
1 March 2000 – 30 June 2003
Preceded byNone
Succeeded byDimitris Perrikos
3rd Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
In office
1981 – 1 December 1997
Preceded bySigvard Eklund
Succeeded byMohamed ElBaradei
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
18 October 1978 – 12 October 1979
Prime MinisterOla Ullsten
Preceded byKarin Söder
Succeeded byOla Ullsten
President, World Federation of United Nations Associations
In office
2006 – 11 August 2009
Preceded byRhyl Jansen
Succeeded byPark Soo-gil
Personal details
Hans Martin Blix

(1928-06-28) 28 June 1928 (age 95)
Uppsala, Sweden
Political partyLiberal People's Party

Hans Martin Blix (listen; born 28 June 1928) is a Swedish diplomat and politician for the Liberal People's Party. He was Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs (1978–1979) and later became the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. As such, Blix was the first Western representative to inspect the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union on site, and led the agency response to them. Blix was also the head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission from March 2000 to June 2003, when he was succeeded by Dimitris Perrikos. In 2002, the commission began searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately finding none. On 17 March 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush delivered an address from the White House announcing that within 48 hours, the United States would invade Iraq unless Saddam Hussein would leave. Bush then ordered all of the weapons inspectors, including Blix's team, to leave Iraq so that America and its allies could invade Iraq on 20 March. In February 2010, Blix became head of the United Arab Emirates' advisory board for its nuclear power program. He is the former president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

Life and career[edit]

Blix was born in Uppsala, Sweden. He is the son of professor Gunnar Blix and Hertha Wiberg, and grandson of professor Magnus Blix. He comes from a family of Jamtlandic origin. Blix studied at Uppsala University and Columbia University, earning his PhD from the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall).[1] In 1959, he earned a Juris Doctor in international law at Stockholm University, where he was appointed associate professor in international law the next year.[2] Hans Blix has two sons, Mårten and Göran, who both have doctoral degrees.[3]

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

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

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

Blix became Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency between 1981 and 1997 after Sigvard Eklund.

Blix 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 during Operation Opera. 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 of the United Nations Charter (S/RES/487) and was widely condemned. 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.

Another significant event during his time as head of the IAEA was the Chernobyl disaster on 26 April 1986, a nuclear accident rated at the highest level 7 on the IAEA's International Nuclear Event Scale.

Iraq disarmament crisis (2002–2003)[edit]

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 the 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 Russia and France vetoed his appointment.

Blix personally admonished Saddam for "cat and mouse" games[4] and warned Iraq of "serious consequences" if it attempted to hinder or delay his mission.[5]

In his report to the UN Security Council on 14 February 2003, Blix claimed that "so far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons [of mass destruction], only a small number of empty chemical munitions."[6]

In 2004 Blix stated that "there were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction."[7]

Blix's statements about the Iraq WMD program contradicted the claims of the George W. Bush administration[8] and attracted a great deal of criticism from supporters of the invasion of Iraq. In an interview on BBC 1 on 8 February 2004, Blix accused the US and British governments of dramatizing the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein. Ultimately, U.S. troops found no active manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction, but found roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells, or aviation bombs that had been manufactured prior to 1991.[9][10]

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Blix said, "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media."[11]

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

CIA investigation[edit]

Senior U.S. officials ordered the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to investigate Blix to gather "sufficient ammunition to undermine" him so that the U.S. could start the invasion of Iraq. The U.S. officials were upset that the CIA did not uncover such information.[12][13]

Blix said he suspected his home and office were bugged by the United States, while he led teams searching for Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction.[14] Although these suspicions were never directly substantiated, evidence of a request for bugging of UN security council representatives around the time the US was seeking approval from the council came to light after a British government translator leaked a document "allegedly from an American National Security Agency" requesting that British intelligence put wiretaps on delegates to the UN security council.[15]

Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission[edit]

Since 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.[16]

In December 2006, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission said in a report that Pakistan's nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan could not have acted alone when passing on nuclear data and designs "without the awareness of the Pakistan government."[17]

President of WFUNA[edit]

In 2006 Hans Blix was elected president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations at its 38th Plenary Assembly.

Humanitarian initiatives[edit]

In 2009 Blix joined the project Soldiers of Peace, an anti-war film.[18][19]

Head of Advisory Board for United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program[edit]

Blix chairs a panel of advisors who oversee the establishment of the UAE's Dh150 billion atomic energy programme. He leads the nine-person board,[20] which meets twice a year.[21] The International Advisory Board (IAB) oversees the progress of the nation's nuclear energy plan and issues reports on potential improvements to the scheme.[22]


In media[edit]


  • Disarming Iraq: The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hans Blix, Pantheon (9 March 2004). ISBN 0-375-42302-8.
  • Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Hans Blix, The MIT Press (30 April 2008). ISBN 0-262-02644-9.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2002 Friedmann Award Given to Dr. Hans Blix – retrieved 21 March 2007". Archived from the original on 6 September 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  2. ^ "Chairman of the Commission: Hans Blix, Sweden". Archived from the original on 8 February 2006.
  3. ^ "Porträtt: Hans Blix".
  4. ^ Warren, Marcus (16 November 2002). "Don't mess with us, UN warns Saddam". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Blix warns Iraq over inspections". BBC News. 17 November 2002.
  6. ^ "Full text: Hans Blix's briefing to the UN security council". The Guardian. London. 14 February 2003.
  7. ^ "Blix: There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction". UC Berkeley News. 18 March 2004.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on 24 August 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ "U.S. finds 3,000 chemical suits in Iraq". USA Today. 26 March 2003.
  10. ^ "The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons". The New York Times. 14 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Blix: I was smeared by the Pentagon". The Guardian. 11 June 2003.
  12. ^ Pincus, Walter (15 April 2002). "Skirmish on Iraq Inspections". Washington Post.
  13. ^ The Institute for Public Accuracy, 24 April 2002, "Chemical Weapons Agency 'Coup'"?
  14. ^ "Blix suspected U.S. spied on him". CNN. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  15. ^ "Iraq war 'spy memo case' collapses". CNN. 25 February 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  16. ^ "www.wmdcommission.org - Active ISP". Archived from the original on 28 April 2004. Retrieved 4 June 2006.
  17. ^ "A Q Khan did not act alone says Hans Blix team". Deccan Herald. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Hans Blix — The Cast — Soldiers of Peace". Soldiersofpeacemovie.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
  19. ^ "Soldati di Pace (Soldiers of Peace)". Soldatidipace.blogspot.com. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
  20. ^ Baxter, Elsa (23 February 2010). "Hans Blix heads UAE's nuclear advisory group". Utilities Middle East. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Blix to Advise United Arab Emirates on Nuclear Program". NTI. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  22. ^ Yee, April (8 February 2011). "UAE's nuclear power programme on track". The National. Abu Dhabi. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  23. ^ "THE JOURNALISM PRIZE 'Archivio Disarmo Golden Doves for Peace'" (PDF). IRIAD. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Nuke-hunter Blix awarded Sydney Peace Prize". ABC News Online. 21 May 2007.
  25. ^ "Reporter 11/07/07".
  26. ^ "Fulbright Prize". Fulbright Association. 15 May 2014. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  27. ^ "Hans Blix tilldelas medaljen Illis quorum meruere labores". Regeringskansliet (in Swedish). 28 June 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  28. ^ "The World According to Bush". IMDb. 27 May 2004.
  29. ^ Europe & USA: Behind the Scenes of a Political Rupture (2004) at IMDb
  30. ^ "The America of 'Team America,' a Decade Later". The Atlantic. 4 November 2014.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Director General of the IAEA
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Executive Chairman of the UNMOVIC
Succeeded by