Blix, Hans (Martin) 1928-

views updated

BLIX, Hans (Martin) 1928-


Born 1928, in Uppsala, Sweden; son of Gunnar and Hertha (Wiberg) Blix; married Eva Kettis, March 17, 1962; children: Marten, Goran. Education: University of Uppsala, LL.B., 1951; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1959; Stockholm University, LL.D., 1960.


Home—Stockholm, Sweden. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pantheon Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.


University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden, associate professor of law, 1960; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Stockholm, legal advisor, 1963-76, undersecretary of state, 1976-78, minister of foreign affairs, 1978-79, undersecretary of state, 1979-81; International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria, director general, 1981-97; U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, New York, NY, executive chairman, 2000-03. Member of Swedish delegation to United Nations, 1961-81. Swedish delegate, International Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, Switzerland, 1962-78. Writer.


Institute de Droit Internationale.


Global Award, International Nuclear Society, 1998; honorary degrees from University of Bucharest, University of Managua, and Moscow State University.


Treaty-making Power, Praeger (New York, NY), 1960.

Statsmyndigheternas internationella förbindelser, Norstedt (Stockholm, Sweden), 1964.

Sovereignty, Aggression, and Neutrality, Almqvist & Wiksell (Stockholm, Sweden), 1970.

The Treaty Maker's Handbook, Oceana Publications (Dobbs Ferry, NJ), 1973.

Can International Safeguards Stop Nuclear Proliferation?, International Atomic Energy Agency (Vienna, Austria), 1983.

Can We Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons?, International Atomic Energy Agency (Vienna, Austria), 1990.

Disarming Iraq, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.


Swedish diplomat Hans Blix came out of retirement to head the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in 2000. As chairman of that commission, Blix took responsibility for the examination of sites in Iraq in search of evidence of the resence of chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons of mass destruction. Blix and his team first had to persuade the Iraqi government to allow them to inspect locations as varied as nuclear power facilities and presidential palaces. Then they traveled throughout Iraq—with scanty cooperation from its government—in search of proof that would indicate whether or not Iraq stockpiled certain weapons or had the means to make them. Blix was still engaged in the task of compiling data on Iraq's weaponry when the United States decided to invade Iraq in 2003. Blix documents this tense period in international history in his 2004 book, Disarming Iraq.

In the two years before Blix became the UNMOVIC leader, Iraq had ousted foreign weapons inspectors from its territories. Blix notes in Disarming Iraq that he felt Iraq's non-compliance with United Nations mandates may have indicated that the country did have weapons of mass destruction. However, when he was allowed into Iraq, his team did not find significant weapons violations, and he was led to conclude that it appeared that the Iraqis had destroyed their chemical, biological, and nuclear arsenals. He could not be certain of this, but as the United States and its allies prepared to invade Iraq, he did ask for more time to conduct inspections. Acting on their own intelligence, America and its allied nations invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003.

In Disarming Iraq Blix describes his visits to Iraq as well as his private conferences with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and other members of the George W. Bush administration. Blix concludes in his book that the invasion of Iraq was driven by faulty intelligence and by such factors as the Al Qaeda bombing of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. To quote Robin Cook in New Statesman, Blix's "decent, dutiful character informs Disarming Iraq. … This is a valuable, authoritative work of record by a diplomat who did his best to prove that the crisis could be resolved without resort to war." Jeremy Gordon, writing in Nuclear Engineering International, stted that Disarming Iraq is "a personal view from the inside of a great game and remains evenhanded throughout."

As might be expected, Disarming Iraq sparked controversy, but most critics noted its author's fair and tempered presentation of his role in the events surrounding the invasion of Iraq. "Historians will thank him," declared Bruce Ramsey in the Seattle Times. Newsweek International correspondent Stryker McGuire wrote that, like Blix himself, "the book is punctiliously diplomatic. Even so, it makes unsettling reading for anybody with doubts about the legitimacy of the war." A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that the book "offers insightful perspective on how the Iraq situation snowballed into a geopolitical crisis." Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewer Joe Frolik described the work as "a quick read," concluding that "Americans still trying to understand how we were drawn into battle will find it of interest, as will those who believe the world must find alternatives to war."



Blix, Hans, Disarming Iraq, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.


Arms Control Today, June, 2004, Greg Thielmann, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 46.

Booklist, April 15, 2004, Brad Hooper, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 1402.

Chicago Tribune, March 18, 2004, David Greising, "Hans Blix Offers Opinion on War in Iraq."

Guardian (Manchester, England), March 20, 2004, James Buchan, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 12.

New Statesman, May 3, 2004, Robin Cook, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 34.

Newsweek International, March 15, 2004, Stryker McGuire, "Vindication for a Skeptic" (interview), p. 82.

New York Times, March 20, 2004, "Blix Blames Politicians, Not Intelligence, for Iraq," section B, p. 11.

New York Times Book Review, April 11, 2004, Fareed Zakaria, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 8.

Nuclear Engineering International, May, 2004, Jeremy Gordon, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 39.

Observer (London, England), March 14, 2004, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 15.

Plain Dealer, April 4, 2004, Joe Frolik, review of Disarming Iraq, section J, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004, review of Disarming Iraq, p. 67.

Seattle Times, March 21, 2004, Bruce Ramsey, review of Disarming Iraq, section L, p. 8.


British Broadcasting Corporation News Web site, (October 8, 2004), "Profile: Hans Blix."*