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Blix Says Nix on Iraqi Disarmament Cooperation

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2003 – After 60 days of inspections by U.N. officials, Iraq appears not to be cooperating with Security Council Resolution 1441.

"Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace," chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix told Security Council members this morning.

Security Council members unanimously approved Resolution 1441 on Nov. 8, 2002. The resolution lays out requirements for Iraq to declare its weapons and weapons programs and to assist inspectors in their verification of the declaration.

Iraq is failing in several specific areas, Blix explained today. The country has refused to guarantee the safety of missions by a U-2 aerial reconnaissance plane at the inspectors' disposal. Iraq has also failed to account for 6,500 chemical bombs and an unknown quantity of VX gas, a chemical nerve agent, some of which may have been weaponized.

Blix referred to the highly publicized discovery Jan. 16 of 12 empty chemical warheads and Iraq's subsequent disclosure of four more a few days later. He said the 12 discovered by inspectors were in a "relatively new" bunker.

"The rockets must have been moved (there) in the past two years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions," he said. Iraqi government officials claimed the warheads had simply been missed in accounting. "They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg," Blix said.

Investigators also have found small quantities of a mustard gas precursor and evidence that the country produced significantly more anthrax than it disclosed.

To date, inspectors have carried out roughly 300 inspections at about 230 different sites. Eleven scientists have declined to be interviewed without Iraqi government "minders" being present. Blix said this might be because they don't want government security officials to think they've disclosed anything.

He disclosed that inspectors found 3,000 pages of classified documents regarding enriching uranium in an Iraqi scientist's home. He said this supports a long-held concern that Iraq is hiding sensitive documents in the homes of private citizens.

He also expressed concern over a few acts of civil unrest that have occurred near the inspectors' offices in Baghdad and at inspection sites. "Demonstrations and outbursts of this kind are unlikely to occur in Iraq without initiative or encouragement from the authorities," Blix said. "We must ask ourselves what the motives may be for these events."

In an impromptu press conference after the meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said nothing he heard today gives him hope Iraq intends to comply with Resolution 1441.

"What we have seen over the past 80 days is that, in spite of the urgency introduced in Resolution 1441, Iraq is back to business as usual," he said. He urged the Security Council members to face their responsibilities in disarming Iraq.

"It benefits no one to let Saddam think he can wear us down into business as usual as he has practiced it over the past 12 years," Negroponte said.

American officials in recent days have taken a hard stand that time is running out for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to disarm and that the United States isn't afraid to move ahead alone if need be. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today said President Bush still feels it's important to consult with world leaders on the issue.

"The president will continue, as I said, to consult and to talk to our allies," Fleischer said at the White House. "But I think it's important for the world to know what the president has said -- that time is running out."

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