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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Blix: 'US undermined inspectors'
UN weapons inspectors in Iraq
Blix says his inspectors are ready to go back
American officials tried to discredit the work of inspectors in Iraq to further their own case for war, the chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has charged.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Blix said American officials leaked suggestions that inspectors had deliberately suppressed information to the media in an attempt to undermine their work in Iraq.

Excerpts of the interview were released just before Mr Blix went to address the Security Council in a meeting that could begin to determine whether he and his team are ever to return to Iraq.

Inspectors were withdrawn shortly before the US launched a war to topple Saddam Hussein, whom Washington insists possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The US has since deployed its own teams to look for weapons, which it cited as the key reason for launching war, but so far none are reported to have been found.

Many nations on the Security Council say UN inspectors should be the ones to verify any new discoveries, and Mr Blix says his team could return to Iraq within two weeks if he was told to do so.


Mr Blix said that in the run-up to war, the US had seized on his alleged failure to include details of a drone and cluster bomb found in Iraq in his oral presentations to the Council.

Iraqis with al-Samoud missile

"The US was very eager to sway the votes in the Security Council, and they felt that stories about these things would be useful to have, and they let it out," he said.

"And thereby they tried to hurt us a bit and say that we had suppressed this.

"It was not the case, and it was a bit unfair, and hurt us. [We] felt a little displeased about it."

He also reiterated his disquiet at how documents the International Atomic Energy Agency "had no great difficulty finding out were fake" managed to get through US and UK intelligence analysis.

Also disturbing, he said, was the question of who was responsible for the falsification.

US unenthusiastic

Washington has so far shown little interest in the return of UN inspectors to Iraq.

On Monday officials repeated that they saw "no immediate role for Dr Blix and his inspection teams".

Although no decision is likely to be made soon, correspondents say Tuesday's meeting could be the start of a diplomatic initiative aimed at persuading the Bush administration of the benefits to be gained from allowing the UN inspectors back.

The argument from many on the council is that independent UN verification that the weapons have been destroyed would help to win international support for the swift lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq.

The BBC's Frank Gardner
"Hans Blix is distrusted by the Americans"

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