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UN Calls For 'Dramatic Change' in Iraq's Cooperation with Weapons Inspectors

The chief of U.N. nuclear inspections, Mohammed ElBaradei says it is time for Baghdad to show what he called "dramatic change" in its level of cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

The U.N. officials held an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Blair as they make their way to Baghdad by Saturday, for what could be a showdown over the future of arms inspections there.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, spoke after the talks. He said the U.N. Security Council is clearly running out of patience with Iraq's refusal to fully comply with disarmament resolutions.

"Iraq is not cooperating fully," he said. "They need to show drastic change in terms of cooperation. The message also coming from the Security Council at this time is very critical. So our mission in Baghdad this weekend [Saturday and Sunday] is crucial and we hope we will secure full 100 percent cooperation on the part of Iraq."

Mr. ElBaradei said he and Mr. Blix had good discussions with Mr. Blair and his foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He added that a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iraq's weapons remains his objective.

Mr. Blix said he would present a number of demands to the Iraqi government, including U.N. reconnaissance flights and private interviews with Iraqi scientists.

"We hope at this late hour, that they will come to a positive response," Mr. Blix said. "Because if they do not do that, then our reports next Friday [to the Security Council on Feb. 14] will not be what we would like them to be. We both search for disarmament, assured disarmament in Iraq, through inspection. That is the method we stand for and we would like to attain that."

A spokesman for Mr. Blair said the prime minister sought the U.N. officials' judgment on Iraq's attitude toward weapons inspections, and he offered whatever assistance Britain could provide to help them do their job.