Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says he will tell Iraqi officials Saturday in Baghdad that they must cooperate more closely with his inspectors to avert a war.
Mr. Blix briefed E.U. officials on the Iraqi crisis in Brussels.
After meeting with E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Mr. Blix said a peaceful solution to the crisis depends on Iraq. "The message that we want to bring to Baghdad is that the situation is very tense and very dangerous," he said. "Everybody wants to see a verified and credible disarmament of Iraq, doing away with any weapons of mass destruction that may remain there."
Mr. Blix says there are two ways to accomplish that. One, he says, is through Iraqi cooperation with the U.N. Security Council and the team of weapons inspectors that he heads. "Iraq must do more than they have done so far in order to make this a credible avenue," he said. "They need to be active...in order to convince the Security Council through us that they do not have any more weapons of mass destruction, or else, if they are there, that they deliver them so that they can be destroyed under our supervision."
So, what happens if Iraq does not cooperate more fully? "The other major option...is the one that we have seen taking shape in the form of an armed action against Iraq," he said.
The U.N. official says weapons inspectors have found illegally imported conventional arms materials, some of them dating from 2001 and 2002. But he says it remains to be determined whether they are related to Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Blix suggests Iraq can cooperate more closely with the United Nations by allowing its scientists to be interviewed by the inspectors. "If Iraq is absolutely sure that there is nothing that they have to hide, then they should be anxious that the interviewees could speak without intimidation," he said. "One way would be to let them talk without any minder present. Another one would be to accept that they go abroad if they want to do so."
E.U. foreign policy chef Solana agrees with Mr. Blix that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein must cooperate more with the inspectors. "I think that a war in Iraq can be averted. And the responsibility is basically on the side of Saddam Hussein," he said.
The European Union is trying to come up with a consensus among its 15-members on its policy toward Iraq. Most E.U. nations say an attack on Iraq must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council.