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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 10:14 GMT
Iraq war 'can still be averted'
United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, flanked by International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed El Baradei
Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei: Tough new mandate
The United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix says he is confident war against Iraq can "still be averted".

He was speaking in Cyprus after two days of talks in Baghdad which he described as constructive.

Key dates
8 Dec: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
27 Nov: Inspections expected to resume
26 Jan: First inspectors report to UN Security Council expected

Mr Blix said he and his advance team of inspectors had been promised full co-operation by the Iraqi Government, but added that the verbal commitment "has to be translated on the ground".

Mr Blix earlier said Iraq still needs to prove it has no weapons of mass destruction and urged it to re-examine its weapons stocks.

Iraq's position that it has no weapons of mass destruction "must be convincingly shown by documentation, by evidence," Mr Blix said. "We don't think that has yet been convincingly done."

US President George W Bush has insisted that Iraq must co-operate with the inspectors in order to avoid American military action.

Speaking in Prague, where he is attending a Nato summit, Mr Bush urged members of the alliance to unite against Iraq should the need arise.

UN deadline

Mohamed El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said he and Mr Blix had impressed on the Iraqis that they wanted an "accurate and complete report" on 8 December, the deadline set under the UN resolution for Baghdad to declare what weapons it has.

Open in new window : Iraq spotlight
Click to see maps of Iraq's suspected weapons sites

"They assured us they will do everything possible to make sure the declaration would cover all activities," Mr Blix said.


We had good discussions with representatives of the Iraqi Government... they assured us they will fully implement the resolution and co-operate with us

Hans Blix

General Amir al-Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, said: "Within 30 days, as the resolution says, a report from Iraq will be submitted on all the files - nuclear, chemical, biological and missile."

Inspections

Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei held talks with General al-Saadi, Iraqi chief liaison officer Brigadier Hossam Amin and Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei are part of a 27-member team of technical specialists who are expected to lay the groundwork for full inspections to begin by 27 November.

Most of the team stayed in Baghdad on Wednesday and additional inspectors will arrive in the Iraqi capital next Monday.

In another development, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took issue with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan over Iraq.

Mr Annan told reporters in Kosovo on Tuesday that he did not think the UN Security Council would see it as a breach of the new resolution if Baghdad were to continue firing on US and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones over Iraq.

UN employees and arms inspectors deliver equipment
The arms inspectors arrived in Iraq on Monday

But Mr Rumsfeld said Mr Annan did not necessarily represent "the centre of gravity of the Security Council, on any particular issue at any particular time".

And he said the United States would certainly not allow its aircraft to be shot at with impunity.

Allied warplanes patrolling the zones in northern and southern Iraq bombed Iraqi air defences on Monday.

US Central Command said the raids came after Iraqi forces fired at allied aircraft.

The US appears to be alone among the 15 member states of the Security Council in insisting that the no-fly zones are included in the resolution.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Adams
"The war on Iraq is about to take shape"
UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
"It was a very constructive visit"

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See also:

20 Nov 02 | Europe
19 Nov 02 | Business
19 Nov 02 | Europe
19 Nov 02 | South Asia
18 Nov 02 | Americas
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
19 Sep 02 | Europe
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