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Hans Blix Appeals for More Information on Location of Iraqi Weapons - 2002-12-20

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says the United States and Britain need to give him more intelligence on where Iraq is hiding suspected weapons of mass destruction. He made his comments on British radio and television.

The U.N. chief inspector says his team could be more effective if it got better information from the United States and Britain.

In a broadcast interview, Mr. Blix said the American and British governments should tell his inspectors where Iraq might be hiding banned weapons. "We get a lot of briefings about what they believe that Iraqis have," said Hans Blix. "But of course what you really need to have is an indication of a place where things are stored, if they know it. I mean, they have all the methods to listen to telephone conversations. They have spies. They have satellites, etcetera. So they have a lot of sources, which we do not have."

There was no immediate reaction to the Blix appeal from Washington or London. In the past, U.S. and British officials have said they are reluctant to share information that could expose methods and sources that they want to protect.

Mr. Blix gave the interview after briefing the U.N. Security Council on the 12,000 - page arms dossier Iraq gave to the U.N. earlier this month. He said there are gaps in the document that must be explained.

The United States and Britain say the document is full of lies and omissions. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein now interferes with the inspectors, it could trigger a war. "Iraq has already failed one test," he said. "There has already been one trigger pulled. They now, in a sense, have their finger on the other trigger. And the choice now, as to whether this issue is resolved peacefully, or if the international community is forced to resolve it by military action, is a choice before Saddam Hussein."

Mr. Straw says the next key test for Iraq will come on January 27, when Mr. Blix returns to the Security Council to give a detailed report on the inspectors' progress.