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Blix: Iraq has no arms of mass destruction

UN chief inspector Hans Blix addresses the United Nations Security Council
UN chief inspector Hans Blix addresses the Un
ited Nations Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday. — Reuters photo

United Nations, February 14
UN weapons inspectors have not found any arms of mass destruction in Iraq, but UN chief inspector Hans Blix said many forbidden materials remain unaccounted for.

Inspectors have “not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed,” Blix 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, he said.

Blix also reported findings by a panel of experts that one of Iraq’s new missile systems exceeded the range limit set by the UN Security Council resolutions. “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 km in range. This missile system is therefore proscribed for Iraq,” Blix said.

On another missile, Al Fatah, 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 February 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 recorded.

Blix cast doubt on some of the evidence presented by US Secretary of State Colin Powell last week at the Security Council. “In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming,” Blix said. AP


Jets attack Iraq

Washington, February 14
Aircraft taking part in US-British patrols attacked Iraqi missile systems today, the fifth strike on Iraqi assets in a week, the US military said. Pentagon officials said the jets launched guided weapons against two Iraqi mobile surface-to-air missile systems located near Basra, about 395 km southeast of Baghdad. The strikes came as the USA and British forces massed in the Gulf region for a possible invasion of Iraq. Reuters

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