Hans Martin Blix ( listen (help·info); 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 lead 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 byDimitris Perrikos. In 2002, the commission began searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately finding none. In February 2010, the Government of the United Arab Emirates announced that Blix will be the head of an advisory board for its nuclear power program.
Early life and career
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). 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.
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 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 favor of retention of the Swedish nuclear energy program.
Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1981–1997)
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 international law 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 aplutonium 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)
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 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 both Russia and France vetoed his appointment.
Hans Blix personally admonished Saddam for “cat and mouse” games and warned Iraq of “serious consequences” if it attempted to hinder or delay his mission.
In his report to the UN Security Council on 14 February 2003, Blix claimed that “If Iraq had provided the necessary cooperation in 1991, the phase of disarmament – under resolution 687 – could have been short and a decade of sanctions could have been avoided.”
Blix’s statements about the Iraq WMD program came to contradict the claims of the George W. Bush administration, and attracted a great deal of criticism from supporters of the invasion of Iraq. In an interview on BBC 1 on 8 February 2004, Dr. Blix accused the US and British governments of dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Ultimately, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were ever found.
In an interview with London’s The Guardian newspaper, Hans Blix said, “I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media”.
In 2004, Blix published a book, Disarming Iraq, where he gives his account of the events and inspections before the coalition began its invasion.
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. Although these suspicions were never directly substantiated, evidence of 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.
Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission
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.
In December 2006, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission said in a report that Pakistan‘s infamous and controversial scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan could not have acted alone or “without the awareness of the Pakistan Government“.
In 2009 joined the project “Soldiers of Peace”, a movie against all wars and for a global peace.
Head of Advisory Board for United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program
Blix will chair a panel of advisors who will oversee the establishment of the UAE’s Dh150 billion atomic energy programme. He will lead the nine-person board, which will meet twice a year. The International Advisory Board (IAB) will oversee progress of the nation’s nuclear energy plan and issue reports on potential improvements to the scheme. The IAB is expected to hold its first meeting later this month[when?] and will include other distinguished nuclear experts, such as Lady Barbara Judge, the chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
- Doctorate Honoris causa of the University of Moscow in 1987.
- Recipient of the Henry de Wolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award (Washington, D.C.), 1988.
- Honorary membership in the Cambridge Union Society.
- Gold Medal for distinguished service in the field of nuclear affairs by the Uranium Institute (now World Nuclear Association) in 1997.
- Otto Hahn Prize of the City of Frankfurt/Main, 1998.
- Doctorate Honoris causa of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2003.
- “Commander of the Légion d’Honneur” in 2004.
- Doctorate Honoris causa of the University of Padova in 2004.
- Sydney Peace Prize 2007.
- Doctorate Honoris causa of the University of Cambridge in 2007.
- Hans Blix is parodied in Team America: World Police, where he is fed to nurse sharks by Kim Jong-il, Dictator of North Korea, after threatening him with making an unfavourable report.
- Hans Blix appeared in the documentaries The World According to Bush  and Europe & USA: Behind the Scenes of a Political Rupture.