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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 18:54 GMT
Iraq concessions unlikely says UN

UN car Iraq opposes the resumption of weapons inspections

The head of the new United Nations arms monitoring agency has said that he does not expect the international community to make concessions to Iraq in order to secure co-operation with fresh weapons inspections.

Hans Blix, was appointed last month after the UN Security Council decided to set up the new agency, send inspectors back to Iraq and promised to ease nine-year-old trade sanctions if Baghdad co-operated.

But Iraq has rejected the new agency, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

Instead it has urged the UN to change its resolution and lift sanctions completely while limiting weapons inspections to non-sensitive sites.

Hans Blix Hans Blix: Not expecting concessions to Iraq
But Mr Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister, said it was unlikely the Security Council would amend its resolution.

"The members worked for a very long time to re-establish consensus ... and the resolution is the result. I think they will stand behind this," he told his first news conference since his appointment.

"I think no points are off-limit here. No resolution has ever made such a concession in the past," he later added.

Mr Blix, 71, a retired director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he knew he faced a difficult task in trying to end the impasse over inspections of banned weapons.

He will take up his new position as UNMOVIC chairman in New York on 1 March.

'No magic formula'

"I have no magic formula to apply," he said. "I have no plans presently to go to Iraq."

Mr Blix said he had two tasks - to ensure all weapons of mass destruction were eliminated in Iraq and to ensure no new weapons were manufactured in or taken into the country.

UN arms inspectors left Iraq in mid-December 1998, shortly before the US and Britain bombed the Arab state for not co-operating with the inspectors from UNSCOM, the predecessor of UNMOVIC.

hussein Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: Wants UN sanctions lifted
Iraq has not allowed them to return.

Mr Blix said the present weapons situation in Iraq was unclear as only aerial verification had been possible over the past year in the absence of ground inspections.

He said the biggest question marks facing the agency were over possible biological and chemical weapons, though the nuclear area could also not be declared clean.

"We will never be able to come to certify that not even the smallest item, the smallest capacity, remains in a large country. UNMOVIC, the IAEA and the Security Council must wrestle with that," said Mr Blix.

Inspections were possible only with Iraqi co-operation, he said.

"The inspectors cannot shoot their way to any site but they need to be admitted. If they are not admitted - as they have been refused on several occasions - then the reaction will have to come through the Security Council and members," he said.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Middle East
UN rejects Iraq nominee
17 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Saddam defiant over Gulf War
15 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Iraqi paper slams UN over arms inspector
17 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: UN divided over Iraq
17 Dec 99 |  Middle East
UN offers Iraq sanctions deal
18 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Iraq rejects UN resolution

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