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Blix: Iraq's actions 'very limited'

From Ronni Berke
CNN

Blix will formally deliver his next report to the Security Council Saturday.
Blix will formally deliver his next report to the Security Council Saturday.

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    UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- In a report to be submitted to the Security Council Saturday, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix will recommend steps Iraq can take to resolve several disarmament issues.

    Blix also notes that so far, Baghdad's actions to comply with the United Nations demand to disarm "have been very limited."

    "During the period of time covered by this report, Iraq could have made greater efforts to find remaining proscribed items, or credible evidence showing the absence of such items," says a draft of the report, which covers the period from December 1 - March 1.

    CNN obtained a draft copy of the report, which is due Saturday but will be distributed to council members Friday night.

    "UNMOVIC is finalizing their internal document of some importance, namely a list of disarmament issues, which it considers currently unresolved, and the measures Iraq could take to resolve them, either by presenting proscribed stocks and items, or by providing convincing evidence that no such stocks or items exist," the draft says.

    Blix writes that even if Baghdad begins to cooperate in earnest with inspectors, the complete disarmament of Iraq will take time.

    "Under Resolution 1284, Iraq was required to provide cooperation in all respects to UNMOVIC and IAEA ... while the objective of the cooperation under this resolution, as under Resolution 1441 is the attainment without delay of verified disarmament, it is the cooperation that must be immediate, unconditional and active. Without the required cooperation, disarmament and its verification will be problematic, however, even with the requisite cooperation it will inevitably require some time."

    Blix: Iraq has been slow

    He said Iraq has been slow in getting started.

    "The destruction of missiles requested has not yet begun. Iraq could have made full use of the declaration which was submitted on 7 December. It is hard to understand why a number of the measures which are now being taken, could not have been initiated earlier. If they had been taken earlier, they might have borne fruit by now," Blix writes in the draft.

    The missiles Blix is referring to are the Al Samoud 2 weapons, which U.N. experts say have a range beyond the 150 kilometers (93 miles) allowed under U.N. resolutions. In a letter sent last week, the chief inspector ordered Baghdad to begin destroying the missiles by March 1, which is Saturday.

    Thursday afternoon, Iraq sent a short letter to weapons inspectors, in which it agreed in principle to begin destruction of the missiles, even though it said the request is unfair.

    However, Baghdad said it does not know how to destroy the weapons and wants a technical mission to discuss the details. It also did not say when it would begin the destruction.

    A U.N. official said any technical mission on how to destroy the missiles would involve how the destruction would be verified.

    Powell: 'An excuse'

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the missile issue shows Iraq is "trying to use process as an excuse for not cooperating."

    "They were told to destroy them some days ago, and they've been stringing it out," he said.

    The chief inspector also noted in his draft report that Baghdad is only lately taking some steps to comply with weapons inspectors.

    "It is only by the middle of January and thereafter that Iraq has taken a number of steps which have the potential of resulting either in the presentation for destruction of stocks or items that are proscribed or the presentation of relevant evidence solving long-standing unresolved disarm issues."

    There are some issues which Blix was not able to address in his report due to the fact that he was obligated to give a draft to his 16-member advisory board when they met Monday and Tuesday.

    Blix has told some diplomats about six letters he received recently from Iraq, which require further study.

    "He said March 7 (the date he's expected to brief the council), he'll be able to give more information about what happened," with the letters and other new documents the inspectors have received from Iraq, a council diplomat said.

    In addition, the inspectors have not yet been able to interview anyone from a list of people whom Baghdad says witnessed the destruction of weapons of mass destruction.

    Closed-door meeting

    Also on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council held a closed meeting on Iraq as the United States tried to line up support for a proposed resolution declaring Baghdad has missed its last chance to disarm.

    It was the first time the full council has met to discuss the new resolution, which could clear the way for possible military action against Iraq.

    The United States, Britain and Spain have proposed the resolution, which declares that Iraq "has failed to take the final opportunity" to disarm.

    Russia, France and rotating member Germany have proposed, in a memorandum submitted at the same meeting as the draft resolution, extending inspections and beefing up inspectors' staff, equipment and surveillance capabilities and saying war "should only be a last resort."

    "We think there is no need at all for a resolution authorizing the end of inspections and basically leaving it to anyone to start using military means," Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said. "The situation doesn't warrant it at all." (Full story)

    On Thursday, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations called on the council's permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- to work together to find a solution that would be seen as legitimate. He accused the veto-wielding powers of "throwing the decision on the backs of the elected members" while sticking to their positions.

    "We have thought important to open our participation in this debate, indicating that the council has to assume its responsibilities, and particularly the members who have a veto cannot continue in a debate in which there is no communication," said Juan Gabriel Valdes, the Chilean ambassador.

    Chile, Angola, Cameroon, Pakistan, Mexico and Guinea haven't taken an official position and have been the subject of intense lobbying efforts.

    A Western diplomat said that China had indicated it would not veto the latest Iraq proposal, possibly taking the option of abstaining. Russia was not expected to use its veto, but France remained a veto threat, the diplomat said.

    In the Security Council, the U.S.-backed proposal needs nine votes to pass without vetoes from the permanent members. So far it has the clear support of Britain, Spain and Bulgaria.

    CNN Correspondents Jane Arraf and Barbara Starr contributed to this report. For latest developments, see CNN.com's Iraq Tracker.


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