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Blix: Iraq violated import bans

Blix
Blix in Brussels Thursday called the situation in Iraq "very dangerous"

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Chief U.N. weapons inspector Dr. Hans Blix talks with CNN's Richard Roth (January 16)
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Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Iraq must be proactive and produce evidence that it is no longer producing weapons of mass destruction. (January 16)
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BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- Calling the Iraqi situation "very dangerous," chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix Thursday said Iraq has illegally imported arms-related material, but it is not yet clear if the material is related to weapons of mass destruction.

Blix, who spoke bluntly at a briefing with reporters after meeting with European Union officials, said Iraq has to be more active in addressing the concerns of the United Nations and its inspectors. An alternative to cooperation, he indicated, would be the specter of military confrontation.

White House officials said they were pleased to hear the remarks, noting that Blix's rhetoric is more consistent with what they have been saying -- only the pressure and threat of military force will get Iraq's attention. Blix's comments come after his meeting Tuesday with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.(Full Story)

"It's clear they have violated the bans of the United Nations in terms of imports," said Blix, repeating the assertion he made last week before the U.N. Security Council.

The items include missile parts, such as engines.

"We have found things that have been illegally imported, even 2001 and 2002," he said. "The question of whether they are related to weapons of mass destruction is something that requires further technical evaluation."

Blix said the "situation is very tense and very dangerous and everybody wants to see a verified and credible disarmament of Iraq, of doing away with any weapons of mass destruction that may remain there," adding that the way to disarmament is through the United Nations and the inspections themselves.

"Iraq must do more than they have done so far in order to make this a credible avenue," Blix said.

"They need to be active to convince the Security Council through us that they do not have any more weapons of mass destruction or that if they are there, they deliver them to us so they can be destroyed.

"We try our best to make the inspections effective so that we can have a peaceful solution," but Blix warned that "if the U.S. were to walk in, that would be the end of inspections, clearly."

Blix said the Iraqi government has presented a weapons declaration of 12,000 pages but has not provided "any new evidence" of weapons programs or lack of them.

He said interviews of scientists are important ways to learn more about Iraq's weapons programs and that individual interviews were being planned.

"A precondition for the interviews to be credible will be that the persons can talk without feeling intimidated," said Blix.

During inspections under UNSCOM last decade, there were interviews interrupted by Iraqi minders, Blix said.

"If Iraq is absolutely sure that there is nothing that they have to hide then they should be anxious that the interviewees could speak without intimidation."


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