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UN Report Shows Iraq Not Accounting for Weapons, says Bush Administration - 2003-01-27

The Bush Administration says a report by U.N. weapons inspectors is a "frightening reminder" that Iraq is not accounting for all of its weapons.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the report by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix shows that Iraq has not accounted for all of the weapons that U.N. inspectors found before they left Iraq in 1998.

"Hans Blix gave a report that is a frightening reminder of the fact that UNSCOM found chemical and biological weapons in the late 1990s and, according to the United Nations this morning, no one knows where they are," he said. "And the fear is, as Hans Blix said, that this is the submerged tip of the iceberg in terms of the little that has been found already."

Mr. Blix said Monday that his team has so far uncovered a dozen empty chemical warheads. When inspectors left five years ago, they said Iraq had 30,000 warheads.

"At the pace that Iraq is cooperating with the inspectors, it will take the inspectors almost another 300 years to find the remaining weapons that the United Nations said Saddam Hussein possesses," he said. "And this is why, the inspectors are doing their best job, but the more time they get, the more they are getting the run-around from Saddam Hussein."

Inspectors say they will need more time to complete their work. Mr. Fleischer says the president has no timeline for the U.N. but believes "time is running out" for Iraq.

Some U.S. allies say any use of force against Iraq should first be approved by the Security Council.

Mr. Fleischer says the president will continue to "consult" with allies but is ready to lead his own coalition against Iraq if he concludes that the U.N. is not doing enough.

"The president will continue to rally the world. One day, one way, sooner or later, Saddam Hussein will either disarm so peace can be preserved, or a coalition will be assembled to do the job and to protect the peace," he said.

President Bush Monday telephoned Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to discuss Iraq and the fight against terrorism. Mr. Fleischer says the president sought the Spanish leader's advice on how to address the Iraqi issue in the coming weeks.

Mr. Bush goes before Congress Tuesday for his second State of the Union address. White House officials say he will not declare war on Iraq but will warn that conflict is coming unless Saddam Hussein gives up weapons of mass destruction.