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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 00:32 GMT
Blix: Inspector set for mission
Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
Dr Blix said there were hundreds of sites to be checked
The head of the inspectors being sent to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction has said there will be no tolerance of any hindering of their work.

Dr Hans Blix told the BBC that he planned to start the search for illegal production of weapons of mass production almost as soon as he arrived in Iraq on 18 November.


We will report objectively what we see and if there are any violations or any interference with our work, but it's not we who decide whether there is a war

Hans Blix

He will head an advance team of about 30 people which will grow to as many as 200 officials from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

They have been given new powers under the UN resolution to demand access to any site and any person in Iraq which they think could help them establish what weapons are being made where.

Dr Blix told the BBC's Newsnight programme: "The principle is no-notice inspections.

"So we will get out from our headquarters in the morning and we will tell them we will go in this direction and only when you get to the target will they normally be told this is the target."

List of targets

He said they would go to sites such as presidential palaces which had been off-limits to inspectors under earlier agreements.

There were 700 sites identified by previous inspection missions, others detailed in documents such as the British Government's dossier released in September and still more which he wanted to keep secret.

Hans Blix sits behind Kofi Annan in the UN Security Council
Dr Blix listened to the Security Council meetings with Kofi Annan
Dr Blix told Newsnight that the list of targets to be visited would lengthen once Iraq declares all of its plants, programmes and materials which could be used for weapons production.

That declaration is demanded within 30 days should Iraq agree to be bound by the resolution as Dr Blix believes it will.

The resolution calls on inspectors to report back to the Security Council within 60 days but Dr Blix said he would follow the instructions to reveal difficulties earlier if they occurred.

Delaying tactics

On previous missions, Iraqi officials often tried to hinder inspectors by saying they did not have keys to sites, Dr Blix said, though he added he would not necessarily report every hitch.


This time there is no such readiness to show tolerance, there is no readiness to accept any cat-and-mouse play

Hans Blix
"If you're out on the road and if there is one flat tyre and a delay of 10 minutes or a half an hour that's one thing," he said.

"But if you have four flat tyres that may be a different thing - you have to exercise some common sense in this work."

Nevertheless, he said inspectors would not be cowed by the possibility of war should they reveal problems.

"We will report objectively what we see and if there are any violations or any interference with our work, but it's not we who decide whether there is a war," he said.

'No spies'

He acknowledged that there had been American spies placed on inspection teams before but said he was determined that his teams would remain fully independent.

"I also said explicitly that if I find anyone with two hats, I will toss them out. I think everybody is aware of that."

And while he hoped the Iraqis would take the opportunity "to come out of the dark tunnel", Dr Blix said there was a new determination, far greater than when inspections first started in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.

"This time there is no such readiness to show tolerance, there is no readiness to accept any cat-and-mouse play."

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Chief UN Weapons Inspector Dr Hans Blix
"I expect Iraq will accept the new resolution"

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08 Nov 02 | Middle East
08 Nov 02 | Americas
07 Nov 02 | Americas
08 Nov 02 | Middle East
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