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Blix: No WMDs found before war

Bush 'to reveal the truth'

Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix addresses members of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix addresses members of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N.'s chief weapons inspector has said no evidence was found before the U.S.-led invasion that Iraq had restarted its chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs.

Hans Blix has said he cannot conclude that Iraq is free of banned weapons, but is urging the U.S.-led occupation forces to allow U.N. inspectors back into the country.

The comments from Blix are contrary to charges made by U.S. President George W. Bush in the run-up to the war.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar are also facing mounting criticism over the weapons issue. (Critics blast Blair, Spain's Aznar pressed on WMDs)

The U.S. is resisting calls to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte says the process of searching Iraq's weapons stockpiles has just begun and there are no plans to bring in the U.N. to assist.

France's ambassador has warned, however, that if there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they remain unguarded and he questioned the U.S. reluctance to oblige the U.N.

Meanwhile, one of the most prominent U.S. Senate democrats is adding to calls for an investigation into pre-war intelligence on Iraq's alleged WMDs.

Robert Byrd says the U.S. president's credibility is on the line. (Bush to 'reveal the truth)

Blix presented his finding to the U.N. Security Council Thursday, in what is expected to be his final report.

"The commission has not at any time during the inspections in Iraq found evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction ... whether from pre-1991 or later," Blix told the U.N. Security Council Thursday in what is expected to be his final report.

But he also said that the former Iraqi regime was unable to account for chemical or biological weapons it claimed to have destroyed and that weapons inspectors were unable to clear up discrepancies before leaving Baghdad in advance of the invasion.

A U.S.-led invasion toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in April, but U.S. experts have yet to find the banned weapons the Bush administration said existed and posed a threat to the United States.

U.N. inspectors left Iraq the day before the invasion began in March, and the United States has expressed no interest in letting them return now that its troops control the country.

Blix said that Saddam's totalitarian rule had raised questions about the credibility of interviews of Iraqi scientists.

"I trust that in the new environment in Iraq in which there is full access and cooperation and in which knowledgeable witnesses should no longer be inhibited to reveal what they know," he said, "it should be possible to establish the truth we all want to know."

Before the war, Bush and other U.S. administration officials said Iraq's suspected weapons programs and ties to al Qaeda posed a threat to the United States.

But nearly two months after the collapse of Saddam's government, all that has turned up are two trailers U.S. experts believe could have been used as mobile biological weapons laboratories. No such weapons were found in those facilities.

Blair pressed

Blair, Bush's strongest ally in the Iraq war, has faced questions about whether he misled the British public about Saddam's weapons program -- particularly allegations that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons ready to use against advancing troops within 45 minutes. (UK's source 'was top Iraqi')

From the U.S., 1,200-member Pentagon survey team is being dispatched to the Persian Gulf to continue the hunt for Iraq's suspected weapons.

Its leader, Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, said last week that he thinks credible evidence exists but doesn't know why such weapons haven't been found.

"Things could have either been taken and buried, they could have been transported and they could have been destroyed," Dayton said.

"It doesn't mean they weren't there when we thought they were there."

Dayton's team also will have responsibility for finding terrorists, war criminals and prisoners of war.

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