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Iraq Provides Some Info, but not Enough to Answer Questions

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2003 – Iraq provided some additional information to U.N. inspectors over the weekend, but not enough to answer serious questions about chemical and biological weapons materiel.

In a Feb. 9 interview with NBC's Katie Couric, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said he believes Iraq had been "belittling" the substance of what the United Nations required regarding disarmament.

The latest revelations by Iraq over the weekend have him "cautiously optimistic," but not convinced the Iraqi regime has had a change of heart.

"I do not think there is a belittling any longer," Blix said in the televised appearance from Baghdad. "But that does not mean that they are documenting or providing adequate evidence yet."

In a late January report to the Security Council, Blix mentioned several unanswered questions about Iraqi weapon programs, among them being Iraq's intentions and ability to "weaponize" anthrax and the nerve gas VX.

He told Couric Iraq "did provide some papers which were pointed specifically to some high-profile issues like the VX and like the anthrax and some missile issues." But, he added, these disclosures are only the beginning of what is necessary.

Blix also shed some light on Iraqi interference when inspectors interview that country's scientists. "We have had in the past interviews with Iraqi officials present, and they could be quite useful," he said. "However, there were also cases in the past in which the so-called monitors, the Iraqi officials, were numerous in the room and where people were clearly intimidated. They were interrupted by the monitors.

"And that was why the Security Council said that we should have the right to undertake interviews in private, either in Baghdad or outside Iraq," Blix said. To date, private interviews with scientists have been thwarted by the Iraqi regime.

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