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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 22:45 GMT
Iraq must do more, UN told
UN inspections team in Iraq
Inspectors have now been in Iraq for two months
Iraq has complied with United Nations demands only reluctantly and may still possess biological weapons and rockets, the chief UN weapons inspector has said.

Hans Blix was sharply critical of the Baghdad government in his keenly-awaited report to the 15-member Security Council on Monday.

"Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance - not even today - of the disarmament which was demanded of it," he said.

Colin Powell speaks to reporters at the State Department
Iraq's time for choosing peaceful disarmament is coming to an end

Colin Powell,
US Secretary of State
US Secretary of State Colin Powell called that "the essence of the problem".

He told reporters that there was "not much more time" for Iraq to comply with UN resolutions demanding that it disarm.

"Iraq's refusal to disarm still threatens international peace and security," he said.

Its opportunity to do so peacefully is "fast coming to an end", he added.

But Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, Mohammed al-Douri, said Iraq had "opened all doors to Mr Blix and his team".

No evidence

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said his inspectors had found no evidence that Iraq had resumed the nuclear programme it discontinued in the early 1990s.

But Mohamed ElBaradei said the inspectors needed "a few months" to continue their work, describing this as "a valuable investment in peace".

In his report, Mr Blix said Iraq had largely given inspectors prompt access to suspected weapons sites.

But he highlighted a number of outstanding concerns:

  • Iraq has not produced proof it destroyed stocks of anthrax
  • Baghdad has failed to account for up to 300 rocket engines
  • there was evidence it had not destroyed all its VX nerve gas
  • Its weapons declaration last month contained no new material

Monday's assessment will have a direct bearing on whether the UN moves to sanction military action against Iraq.

Possible trigger

Washington and London have indicated that any failure of compliance with UN resolutions demanding Iraqi disarmament could be a trigger for war.

Other key Council members say the inspections should be allowed to continue.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan called for more time for inspections

Mr Blix told the Security Council that Iraq had "decided in principle to co-operate on [the] process, notably access" to sites the inspectors wanted to visit.

But he said Baghdad did not seem to be co-operating on the "substance" of the resolution.

He also said there had been some "disturbing" harassment of inspectors.

Pressure

Mr Blix did not specifically ask for more time to carry out inspections, saying he was aware there was a "sense of urgency".

CRUCIAL WEEK
27 Jan - First full report on inspections presented to UN
28 Jan - Bush's State of the Union speech
29 Jan - UN discusses report
31 Jan - Bush meets Blair
The reports represent their assessment of two months of weapons inspections in Iraq, but not - they have stressed - a conclusion on whether Baghdad has weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking before the reports were submitted, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the inspectors should be given more time to complete their work.

False statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq... and failure to comply with and co-operate fully in the implementation of this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations

UN Security Council resolution 1441
The Security Council will hold closed discussions on Wednesday to consider the next step.

The United States has made it clear it would be prepared to go to war without UN backing, if necessary.

Britain backs Washington on the issue of Iraq.

But France, Russia and China - the other permanent, veto-wielding members of the Council - want the inspectors to be given more time to complete their task.

George W Bush is meanwhile preparing to deliver his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in which he will again seek international support for action against Iraq, and counter the apparently growing doubts of the US public.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

The US president will then meet UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on 31 January, for talks which some analysts have already dubbed a council of war.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's James Robbins
"The fifteen nations of the council hung on Hans Blix's every word"
  Dr Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector
"Access has been provided to all sites we wanted to inspect"
  Colin Powell, US Secretary of State
"Iraq's refusal to disarm ... still threatens international peace"

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See also:

27 Jan 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
24 Jan 03 | Middle East
19 Nov 02 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Americas
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Americas
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