Chief U N Weapons Inspector
Blix: No Weapons of Mass Destruction Seen
The Associated Press, Fri 14 Feb 2003
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Friday
that inspectors hadn't found any weapons of mass destruction, interviews
with scientists have been useful and he cast doubt on evidence provided by
Secretary of State Colin Powell indicating Iraq may have cleaned-up sites
before inspectors arrived.
``In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in
advance that the inspectors were coming,'' Blix said.
Pointing to one case Powell highlighted using satellite photos of a
munitions depot, Blix said: ``The reported movement of munitions at the
site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of
proscribed munitions in anticipation of an imminent inspection. Our
reservation on this point does not detract from our appreciation for the
Regarding weapons of mass destruction, Blix said inspectors ``has not
found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions,
which should have been declared and destroyed,'' he said.
``Another matter and one of great significance is that many proscribed
weapons and items are not accounted for. One must not jump to the
conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not
excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they
do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.''
Blix also reported findings by a panel of experts that one of Iraq's new
missile systems exceeds the range limit set by Security Council
``The experts concluded that, based on the data provided by Iraq, the two
declared variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were capable of exceeding 150
kilometers in range. This missile system is therefore proscribed for
Iraq,'' Blix said.
On the Al Fatah missile, Blix said: ``the experts found that clarification
of the missile data supplied by Iraq was required before the capability of
the missile system could be fully assessed.''
Blix said private interviews with three Iraqi scientists ``proved
informative,'' but since the interviews conducted in Baghdad on Feb. 8-9,
``no further interviews have since been accepted on our terms.''
``I hope this will change,'' he said. ``We feel that interviews conducted
without any third party present and without tape recording would provide
the greatest credibility.''
Under intense pressure, Iraq agreed to press scientists to agree to
private interviews earlier this month. Previously, all scientists insisted
on being accompanied by an Iraqi official or having their interview tape
Also at the session, chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei said his
teams don't need Iraq's full cooperation to complete their work. He also
said he would expand the number of inspectors working in Iraq and at
offices in Vienna in order to determine whether Iraq has revived its
``It is possible, particularly with an intrusive verification system, to
assess the presence or absence of a nuclear weapons program in a State
even without the full co-operation of the inspected state,'' ElBaradei
said. However, prompt, full and active co-operation by Iraq ... will speed
up the process.''
ElBaradei told the Security Council that he would add more staff — an
apparent nod to a French proposal to beef up and continue inspections in
order to avert war.
``To strengthen and accelerate our ability to investigate matters of
concern, and to reinstate and reinforce our ongoing monitoring and
verification system that came to a halt in 1998, we intend to increase the
number of inspectors and support staff.''
``We will also be adding more analysts and translators to support analysis
of documents and other inspection findings.''
ElBaradei's speech, shorter than one delivered shortly before by his
counterpart Hans Blix, wasn't harshly critical of Iraq's cooperation this
He welcomed four private interviews the nuclear inspectors have conducted
with Iraqi scientists. But he noted that the scientists had ``tape
recorded the interviews.''
ElBaradei also reiterated his findings from two weeks ago that his
inspectors haven't found any evidence to date that Iarq is restarting its
But several important questions remain unanswered and his investigation is
ongoing, he said.
ElBaradei said the matter of high-strength aluminum tubes which Iraq tried
to import hasn't been closed. He has said previously that the IAEA
believes Iraq intended to use the tubing for conventional rockets. On
Friday he said Iraq provided new documentation on the tubes, a reported
attempt to import uranium, the procurement of magnets and magnet
production capabilities and the use of the explosive HMX.
``The IAEA has verified that Iraq had indeed been manufacturing such
rockets. However, we are still exploring whether the tubes were intended
rather for the manufacture of centrifuges for uranium enrichment,'' he
ElBaradei also used the opportunity to welcome a move by Iraq Friday to
pass legislation banning weapons of mass destruction.
``The resolution of this long-standing legal matter was a step in the
right direction for Iraq to demonstrate its commitment to fulfilling its
obligations under the Security Council's resolutions.''
He noted that Iraq had also accepted U-2 reconnaisance flights and said
inspectors planned to make use of the capabiltiires to monitor Iraq's
activities from the air.
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