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Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 18:26 GMT
UN chief inspector 'will sack spies'
Hans Blix
Blix says previous UN teams were undermined by spies
United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says he cannot rule out the presence of spies in his team due to resume work in Iraq - adding that any intelligence agents will be ordered off the group.


If I see someone having two hats, then I would ask them to walk out

Hans Blix

Speaking in Paris on his way to Baghdad, he said it was important that the team should avoid the charges of bias which undermined the work of the inspectors who worked in Iraq between 1992 and 1998.

Mr Blix also said he was counting on full co-operation from Iraq after it accepted the new UN resolution on inspections.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Saturday reiterated that he had no weapons of mass destruction.

Legitimacy

"People have asked me: 'Can you be absolutely sure we will have no spies in any of the member states?' and I said no, I don't think either the KGB or the CIA can give that absolute assurance," Mr Blix told a news conference in Paris.

"All I can say is that if I see someone having two hats, then I would ask them to walk out from us and to be somewhere else," he added.

Iraqi soldier outside UN headquarters in Baghdad
Iraq accused inspectors of being spies in 1998
Mr Blix acknowledged that charges of spying had undermined the work of the previous UN inspection regime, known as Unscom.

"Unscom lost its legitimacy by being too closely associated with intelligence and with Western states," he added.

In 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said there was some justification for allegations that UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were involved in spying for Washington.

Mr Blix again urged Baghdad to comply with the inspectors.

"We hope and expect to have full Iraqi co-operation," he said after talks with French Foreign Minister Dominic de Villepin.

New technology

Mr Blix said that the UN Security Council's unanimous support for a robust new resolution on disarming Iraq had strengthened the hand of the returning inspectors.

He pointed out that technological advances since the last, aborted inspections which ended in 1998 meant his team could do their work more effectively.

"The tiniest little thing can be detected," he said.

Mr Blix said earlier that "cat and mouse" games by Baghdad would not be tolerated.

Before leaving New York, Mr Blix said he wanted an "effective" inspections regime and that would mean intrusive inspections due to fears that Iraq could conceal weapons of mass destruction underground or in mobile units.

He said an expected statement by Iraq listing the weapons it holds, which is due on 8 December, would be of particular importance.

Any omissions or false statements made in the declaration could provoke "serious consequences", the resolution threatens.

Iraqi defiance

In Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein issued a statement on Saturday insisting he had no nuclear weapons of mass destruction and justifying his acceptance of Resolution 1441 as a means of avoiding war.

The United States and Israel had "decided to wage war unilaterally after showing its claws and teeth", the Iraqi leader said in a letter to parliament which was read out on television.

He said he hoped the weapons inspectors would confirm that Iraq is "free of weapons of mass destruction" and work towards having UN sanctions lifted.

Mr Blix is due in Iraq on Monday and the inspectors have 60 days to report their findings to the Security Council.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"The inspectors will be able to go anywhere"

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15 Nov 02 | Americas
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
15 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
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