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Blix: Iraq Actively Cooperating to Disarm

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    BLIX: IRAQ ACTIVELY COOPERATING TO DISARM By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS - In a key report before the U.N. Security Council, chief
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7 11:33 AM
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      BLIX: IRAQ ACTIVELY COOPERATING TO DISARM
      By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

      UNITED NATIONS - In a key report before the U.N. Security Council, chief

      weapons inspector Hans Blix on Friday said Iraq (news - web sites)'s
      destruction of its Al Samoud 2 missiles constitutes a "substantial
      measure
      of disarmament." His counterpart, nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei, made
      his
      strongest statement yet in support of Iraqi cooperation.

      Blix noted that Iraq is now providing inspectors with pro-active
      cooperation, something he had asked for repeatedly through the winter.

      "The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of
      disarmament," Blix said. "We are not watching the destruction of
      toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed."

      But Blix didn't declare Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.

      ElBaradei also took a swipe at U.S. intelligence, saying his analysis
      now
      definitively showed that suspect aluminum tubes were not destined for
      equipment that could be used to refine uranium for nuclear weapons use.

      "Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to
      uncover
      any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project
      other than the reverse engineering of rockets," ElBaradei said.

      Blix noted that Iraq is now providing inspectors with proactive
      cooperation, something he had asked for repeatedly through the winter.

      But said that even with continued cooperation from Iraq, it will take
      some
      time to ensure that Iraq has carried out key remaining disarmament tasks

      which he intends to present to the Security Council later this month.

      "It will not take years, nor weeks, but months," he said, stressing that

      even after this is completed, Iraq should be subject to ongoing
      inspections
      and monitoring of its facilities.

      The chief inspector, whose teams are responsible for the hunt for
      biological, chemical and missile programs, said Iraq had recently
      provided
      additional documentation on anthrax and the VX nerve agent.

      "Many have been found to restate what Iraq has already declared."

      Blix didn't declare Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.

      And in a veiled jab at the United States, he said inspectors had been
      unable to verify some claims about hidden Iraqi weapons and he asked
      again
      for more information about suspect sites.

      CIA (news - web sites) Director George Tenet has said all relevant
      information had been passed along already.

      ElBaradei told the council that the IAEA found no evidence to support
      reports that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

      "Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the
      concurrence
      of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the
      reports
      of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not
      authentic," he said. "We have therefore concluded that these specific
      allegations are unfounded."

      "In the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing
      pressure
      by the international community, Iraq has been forthcoming in its
      cooperation," ElBaradei said. "I do hope that Iraq will continue to
      expand
      the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation."

      He reported again that in the area of nuclear weapons, inspections were
      moving forward.

      "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no
      evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons
      program in Iraq."
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