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Blix: Iraq has 'many, many unanswered questions'

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Tuesday he has not asked the Security Council for more time to work inside Iraq because Baghdad has not cooperated enough with inspectors.

In an interview with the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera, Blix said he has not given up hope that inspections will succeed in verifying that Iraq has disarmed. But, he said, "they know very well what they should provide. We have not seen it yet."

"In the dossier for which I am responsible -- the biological and chemical [weapons] and missiles --there are a great many questions that relate to whether Iraq still has any of those left -- many, many unanswered questions," he said.

Blix told the Security Council Monday that Iraq had not fully accounted for its chemical and biological weapons programs and had not fully accepted the inspection regime mandated by U.N. resolutions.

He did not ask for more time for inspectors, leaving that decision up to the council.

"If I had felt confident that a few months more would suffice, would be enough for me to answer those, I would have asked for more time," he said Tuesday.

"But with the cooperational substance that is not sufficient from the Iraqi side, I didn't have that confidence."

Earlier, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told CNN he would like to see more time allowed for the inspection process, though he noted that Iraq must be more cooperative.

Blix said inspectors cannot prove that Iraq still has stocks of anthrax and VX -- the latter among the most deadly nerve agents ever developed -- but the 12,000-page Iraqi declaration of its weapons programs failed to back up Baghdad's claim to have destroyed those stockpiles.

He noted, however, that inspections have been going on for just two months after four years without them.

"We're just up and running, and I think it will be natural to continue ... before one gives up hope," he said.

Iraqi presidential adviser Gen. Amer Rasheed said Iraq has provided "complete cooperation in every aspect" but is willing to do more to help weapons inspectors.

Rasheed accused Blix of skewing the facts in his report Monday and said Iraq has accounted for its stocks of nerve gas and anthrax.

Blix said Monday that no Iraqis have agreed to private interviews with inspectors so far, despite Iraq's agreement to encourage such interviews.

Nor has Iraq agreed to guarantee the safety of an American U-2 spy plane inspectors want to conduct reconnaissance missions unless they are allowed to import new radar systems capable of tracking the aircraft, he said.

Blix told reporters earlier Tuesday that inspectors were willing to use the aircraft under the same conditions as under the previous U.N. inspection regime, which ended in 1998.

"We were ready to take the same conditions that UNSCOM had, and they went farther than that," Blix said.

Iraqi air defense radar systems have been battered by U.S. and British warplanes enforcing the no-fly zones imposed over northern and southern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Bush administration officials have said they are likely to declassify some intelligence on Iraq next week.

They said the material will show that senior Iraqi officials have been actively working to conceal weapons and evidence of weapons programs from inspectors.

Blix said he would welcome the release of U.S. intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs.

He told reporters U.S. officials already are providing information about Iraq's efforts to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, "and that is helpful."

Secretary of State Colin Powell is considering presenting U.S. intelligence on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council next week. The information includes satellite photographs and "intercepts," according to administration officials, who declined to be more specific. (Full story)

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