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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Blix stung by 'Pentagon smear'
The UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
Hans Blix: Struggled with US officials sceptical of the UN
The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has lashed out at the US Defence Department, saying some "bastards" in Washington tried to undermine him in the run-up to the Iraq war.

In an interview with the UK's Guardian newspaper, Mr Blix said there were US officials who had "spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media".

"It was like a mosquito bite in the evening that is there in the morning, an irritant," he said.

According to Mr Blix, as the US build-up for an invasion of Iraq intensified, US administration officials had leaned on his weapons inspectors to use more damning language in their reports on Iraq.

There are people in this [US] administration who say they don't care if the UN sinks under the East river, and other crude things
Hans Blix

The UN inspectors searched more than 200 sites over three-and-a-half months but failed to find any weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

But the US-led coalition insisted there were weapons to be found. Its failure to find any WMD in Iraq to date has triggered a storm of criticism about the issue, which was the main US and UK justification for the war.

Mr Blix said that, despite the actions of his "detractors" in Washington, "by and large, my relations with the US were good".

However, he said Washington now viewed the United Nations as an "alien power".

"There are people in this [US] administration who say they don't care if the UN sinks under the East river, and other crude things."

Mr Blix's deputy Dimitri Perricos, a veteran UN arms expert, has been named to replace him as head of the UN Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Commission (Unmovic).

Mr Blix is retiring after more than three years as UN chief weapons inspector.

Last week Mr Blix criticised the quality of the US and UK intelligence given to him on alleged Iraqi WMD, saying his inspectors had found nothing after acting on tip-offs.

In his last report to the UN Security Council, he recorded an open verdict over whether Iraq had WMD.

Saddam Hussein's regime might have hidden weapons, or it might have destroyed them, Mr Blix said.

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