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Iraq Must Offer More Active Cooperation, say UN Inspectors - 2003-01-19

The top two United Nations arms inspectors have arrived in Baghdad saying Iraq must offer more active cooperation in the search for banned weapons if it is to avoid possible armed conflict. The visit to Baghdad comes one week before the two men are to report to the U.N. Security Council on their assessment of Iraq's claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei arrived in Baghdad Sunday concerned about 3,000 pages of documents discovered in the home of a former Iraqi nuclear scientist.

The two arrived in the Iraqi capital saying Baghdad is still not fully cooperating with inspectors two months after the U.N. inspection team resumed their hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday Mr. ElBaradei said the possibility of war very much depends on progress the inspectors make during the next several weeks.

Last Thursday weapons inspectors investigated the home of a former Iraqi nuclear scientist and said they found thousands of pages of documents possibly related to uranium enrichment that could be used for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Blix said the discovery was troubling because Iraq has an obligation to give a full declaration of its weapons systems that includes all related documents. The discovery caused Mr. Blix to ask why the documents were in the scientist's home, why they hadn't been turned over and if there are more such documents.

Mr. ElBaradei said the inspectors shouldn't have to find such documents on their own.

The two men are expected to press Iraq for greater cooperation and discuss several issues including the recently discovered documents, empty chemical warheads also discovered last Thursday and Iraq's 12,000 page weapons declaration which U.N. inspectors have said provided no new information.

The inspectors are due to leave the Iraqi capital Monday. One week later, they are scheduled to deliver a progress report to the U.N. Security Council.

In the meantime U.N. arms experts in Iraq fanned out across the country Sunday, some wearing protective chemical suits, in their search for banned weapons systems.

U.N. teams traveled to a military complex south of the capital, a solar energy research center associated with Baghdad University and the medical facility at the university in Babel, also south of Baghdad.