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Blix: Iraq assistance insufficient

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UNSCOM inspectors test for leaks from Iraqi 122mm rockets after the Gulf War.

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Iraq's director of monitoring claims the empty chemical warheads are leftover from 1996 U.N. inspections. CNN's Rym Brahimi reports (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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BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has declared Iraq has not given sufficient or genuine cooperation in the search for weapons of mass destruction.

Blix, who arrived in Cyprus on Saturday on the eve of a visit to Baghdad, told reporters he would impress on Iraqi officials the "seriousness" of failing to cooperate with his inspectors.

"There has been prompt access. There has been access everywhere. That is fine. But on substance there has not been sufficient cooperation. We need to have sincere and genuine cooperation," he said.

Weapons inspections, now in their eighth week, have intensified ahead of a report to the U.N. Security Council on January 27 on the experts' findings and on Iraq's cooperation with them, Reuters reported.

The report could be key to any decision on launching a U.S. military invasion of the oil-rich country if Baghdad was found in "material breach" of a November U.N. Security Council resolution.

Meanwhile, a joint U.N. inspection team on Saturday returned to an ammunition storage area outside of Baghdad where they discovered 12 empty chemical warheads two days ago.

The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission team found the 122 mm warheads on Thursday at the Ukhaider ammunition storage area about 150 kilometers southwest of Baghdad.

The warheads were uncovered in a large group of bunkers constructed in the late 1990s.

Iraqi officials accused the United Nations of seizing on the discovery as a "pretext" to launch a U.S.-led war on Iraq.

President George W. Bush found the finding "troubling and serious" and a sign that Iraq is not disarming, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday.

But UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix played down the find earlier in the day, saying "it's not something so important" since the missiles were empty.

Also on Saturday, the leader of the U.N. inspection team in Baghdad, Dimitri Perricos, joined biological experts at a quality control site where all of Iraq's food products are stored, tested and distributed in rations.

The inspection team spent about three hours at the food production and testing site, run by the Iraqi government in central Baghdad.

They took samples and inspected two large trucks, one of which was a mobile laboratory, according to the director of the facility.

The inspections come a day before a visit to the Iraqi capital by Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear agency.

Both Blix and ElBaradei said they would demand more proactive cooperation from Iraq.

"Iraq has to come forward and take a proactive approach to prove they are clean," ElBaradei said Friday.

"If they do that, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them and they can become a full member of the international community."

Iraq insists it has fully cooperated with inspectors, even providing access to presidential palaces and the homes of scientists in recent days.

Other U.N. weapons inspection teams visited at least six other sites across Iraq Saturday, according to Iraq's Ministry of Information:

• A chemical team visited Al Qaqaa complex in Yousefiya, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Baghdad. Previously, Iraq's nuclear program used the site for the production of high explosive lenses, detonators and propellants for nuclear weapons.

• A biological team went to Al Koufa College of Medicine, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Baghdad;

• A nuclear team visited Baghdad University's science department;

• A joint team inspected Al Nuaman Company, located at the Al Rasheed military camp about 11 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of Baghdad

• A joint team went to an ammunition warehouse in Al Ukhadher, near the city of Karbala about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Baghdad;

• A nuclear team went to Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Baghdad. Several tons of uranium have been under seal at Al Tuwaitha since the previous round of inspections ended in 1998.

The United States and other nations have long suspected Iraq of using the Al Tuwaitha compound in Salman Bak to develop nuclear weapons capability. It was bombed by Israel in 1981 and by the U.S. military during the Gulf War. Recent satellite photos have shown construction at the site.

The complex includes more than 100 buildings. U.N. teams have visited the site at least four times since inspections resumed in November, carrying out a detailed inventory.

CNN Producer Ingrid Formanek and CNN Correspondent Rym Brahimi contributed to this report.


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