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Blix: Iraq Not Accounting for Suspected Banned Weapons - 2003-02-14


The top U.N. weapons inspector has told a divided U.N. Security Council it is of "great concern" that Iraq has not accounted for many suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Chief inspector Hans Blix says Iraq's government must explain what happened to suspected stocks of anthrax, VX gas and long-range missiles.

However, Mr. Blix says inspectors have not found any weapons of mass destruction during their more than 400 inspections at 300 sites since November. He also cast doubts on U.S. intelligence presented last week that Iraq prepared for inspections by cleaning up sites.

Mr. Blix did report that a panel of experts found that one of Iraq's new missile systems, the al-Samoud II, exceeds the range limit set by Security Council resolutions.

International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei says Iraqi documents recently handed over do not clarify outstanding nuclear issues.

Representatives from countries on the Security Council are now giving their responses. They will be followed by closed door meetings.

Permanent Security Council members France, China and Russia have called for the inspections to continue. The United States and Britain have indicated they might seek a new resolution saying Iraq is in material breach of its requirements to disarm.

Hours before Friday's presentation, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issued a decree in Baghdad banning the trade and development of weapons of mass destruction.

The decree orders his ministers to take all necessary measures to implement the ban. Mr. ElBaradei called it a step in the right direction, but the White House says it does not see any credibility in the decree.

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