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Blix: Iraq must destroy missiles without delay

Iraqi science official: 'It's been studied very carefully'

Hans Blix talks with reporters Monday morning at the United Nations.
Hans Blix talks with reporters Monday morning at the United Nations.

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Saying he expects the deadline to be respected, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday that Iraq must begin destroying its Al Samoud-2 missiles without delay by Saturday.

"We would expect them to accept what we have said and to destroy the missiles as we have stated," Blix said. "They are to start the destruction by March 1 and we will discuss with them the pace and order."

U.N. experts have said the missiles violate a 150-km (93-mile) range limit imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Blix said Monday that he is willing to discuss how the process would be carried out, but will accept no delays.

In Baghdad, Iraqi officials said they were considering Blix's demand, issued Friday. U.N. officials estimate Iraq has produced between 100 and 120 of the missiles. Iraq says the installation of guidance systems would lower their range to within the U.N. limits.

"It's been studied very carefully, and the channels are still open between us," said Gen. Amer al-Saadi, science adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "We will come up with a decision quite soon."

Mohamed Aldouri, Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, said the Iraqi side "is considering carefully the letter from Blix," and he doesn't think there will be a response to it Monday.

Blix aide Demetrios Perricos is heading to Baghdad "soon" and will discuss the pace and order issue.

"We expect them to accept what we have said and destroy the missiles as we have stated," Blix said. "They have done so in past always when we have requested so."

Blix is to discuss the outstanding questions about Iraq's weapons programs Monday and Tuesday with an advisory committee. Saturday, Blix will submit his quarterly report to the Security Council on Iraq's cooperation and the status of weapons inspections, which resumed in November after four years.

"We have two subjects on the agenda. The is the normal quarterly report of our work, covering the last three months and the second is a list of unresolved disarmament items as we see them."

Blix is to give another progress report to the Security Council March 7.

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