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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ban voices serious concern over stalemate in recovering missing Kuwaitis from Iraq

9 December 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “serious concern” today at the inactivity on recovering the remains of Kuwaiti and other nationals missing since the 1990 Gulf war, in a report made public today.

“I am also concerned at the absence of progress with regard to finding the Kuwaiti archives,” Mr. Ban wrote in his report to the Security Council.

Mr. Ban noted that Gennady Tarasov, the High-level Coordinator for the issue, reported that security conditions in Iraq had improved enough to allow exhumation work to resume at sites known to contain Kuwaiti prisoners of war and to permit the assessment of new mass graves.

The Iraqi Minister for Human Rights, who heads the only body authorized to exhume graves in the country, explained that it only had one team of 12 individuals able to perform the task and that they were currently occupied with the exhumation and identification of victims of the previous regime as well as casualties of the Iran-Iraq war.

In his report, the Secretary-General extended his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the 236 Kuwaiti and third-country nationals whose remains have been identified to date – one more since his previous report in June – adding that no new information had been received on the fate of the missing American Serviceman, Captain Michael Scott Speicher.

Mr. Ban also stressed that despite constant encouragement by his Coordinator and himself, no information had emerged pointing to the whereabouts of Kuwaiti State and historical documents, nor had anyone confirmed that the archives had been destroyed.

“No credible facts or possible leads have emerged since my last report regarding missing Kuwaiti national archives,” said Mr. Ban.

While noting Iraq’s positive stance over the humanitarian process of identifying and repatriating missing Kuwaitis as well as finding the documents, he stressed that statements of goodwill need to be translated into concrete action.

“My appeal is directed to Iraq, as the side responsible for returning the Kuwaiti prisoners of war and archives, as well as to other parties concerned.”

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