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Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 18:07 GMT
Blix demands more Iraq co-operation
US marines board assault ship in San Diego, California
The US military build-up is continuing
United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has called on Iraq to do more to substantiate its claims that it has destroyed banned weapons, or risk a US-led war.

Iraq must do more than they have done so far

Hans Blix
Chief UN inspector
Mr Blix was speaking in Brussels where he briefed EU officials on the progress of his inspection teams.

Mr Blix - who is going to Baghdad at the weekend - said the message he was sending to Iraqi leaders was that "the situation is very tense and very dangerous".

In the United States George W Bush warned that there were limits to American patience with Iraq.

"So far the evidence hasn't been very good that [Iraq] is disarming. And time is running out. At some point in time the United States' patience will run out," he said.


On Thursday, the UN announced the inspectors had found empty chemical warheads during an inspection of a storage area, the Reuters news agency reported.

The spokesman, Hiro Ueki, reportedly said the inspectors had found "11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads and one warhead that requires further evaluation".

UN inspectors also made surprise visits to two private homes, interviewing Iraqi nuclear scientists.

They took physicist Faleh Hassan to inspect what appeared to be a man-made mound of earth and thoroughly searched the home of nuclear scientist Shaker El-Jibouri.

Calling it a "provocative operation", he said inspectors looked at everything in his home, "including beds and clothes" as well as research papers.

It was the first time inspectors had gone to private homes.

General Hossam Mohammed Amin
General Amin did not criticise the inspectors
Iraq's chief liaison officer to the inspectors said the two men were not on a list of scientists given to the United Nations.

But General Hossam Mohammed Amin said that the inspectors were doing their jobs and had behaved properly.

"All is going well so far," another top aide to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein said at the same news conference.

"There are some complaints here and there and there but we expect to resolve [them] on Sunday," Amir al-Saadi said, referring to the upcoming visit of Mr Blix to Baghdad.


"We feel that Iraq must do more than they have done so far in order to make this a credible avenue," Mr Blix told reporters in Brussels earlier in the day.

He said Iraq had to either provide evidence that it had destroyed the suspected weapons of mass destruction - such as archives and budgets - or surrender what they might have for destruction under supervision.

Nearly four tons of VX nerve agents
Growth media for 20,000 litres of biological warfare agents
15,000 shells for use in biological warfare
6,000 chemical warfare bombs
Nuclear information

He said inspectors had found illegally-imported conventional weapons materials in Iraq, some dating from two years ago.

These were being examined to see whether they were destined for banned weapons programmes.

Supporting the chief inspector, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said war could still be averted and the responsibility was "basically on the side of Saddam Hussein".

The EU has made it plain that it does not want a war, the BBC's Chris Morris says, but there are clear divisions in its ranks.

President George W Bush is due to meet his main European ally, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, on 31 January.

That is four days after Mr Blix submits his first report on inspections to the UN Security Council, which could be a possible trigger for military action.

'Important date'

Mr Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer said the submission of that report was "an important date".

"Beyond that, events will dictate timetables," he said on Thursday.

Mr Blix has sought to downplay the significance of 27 January, saying he expected the Council to demand another report in February.

16 Jan - Chief UN inspector Hans Blix briefs EU
19 Jan - Blix meets top Iraqi officials in Baghdad
27 Jan - First full report on inspections presented to UN
29 Jan - UN discusses report
31 Jan - Bush meets Blair
15 Feb - Anti-war protests across Europe
27 Mar - Blix submits new report to UN

The US is reportedly increasing pressure on Mr Blix to scrap plans for another report on 27 March.

Thousands of UK and US troops are being deployed to the Gulf.

On Wednesday, the US formally asked for help from its allies in Nato in the event of a war.

But US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld said the request did not mean that a strike against Baghdad was imminent.

Russia role

Mr Blix is travelling to Baghdad with the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei.

We are concerned by the growing pressure being exerted on the international inspectors... by particular circles in Washington

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Dr ElBaradei has been visiting Russia where he received support for inspectors to be given several more months to complete the work.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has expressed concern about pressure being exerted on the inspectors by "particular circles in Washington".

Russia has sent a senior envoy to Iraq to seek to defuse the confrontation with Washington.

The BBC's Peter Biles
"The inspectors seem to be using more western intelligence"
Hans Blix, Chief UN Weapons Inspector
"We feel that Iraq must do more than they have done so far"
Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA
"We need pro-active co-operation from Iraq"

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See also:

16 Jan 03 | Middle East
16 Jan 03 | Middle East
15 Jan 03 | Middle East
16 Jan 03 | Politics
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
14 Jan 03 | Americas
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