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Blix: Iraq unlikely to use WMD

Blix at the United Nations on Monday.
Blix at the United Nations on Monday.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Tuesday it is a "theoretical possibility" Iraq could use chemical or biological weapons in the event of a U.S.-led war, but he believes such a scenario is "unlikely."

Blix made his comments as U.N. inspectors arrived in Cyprus after being told to leave Iraq.

Blix said Iraq has never used biological weapons, but has "used chemicals extensively" on the battlefield in the past.

"We have not seen delivery means, but they are capable of producing delivery means, of building their own warheads, so it is a theoretical possibility," he told reporters.

"I think personally it is unlikely they will do that because I think the world public opinion, which they study quite a lot, is in a large measure feeling that going to war is too early."

Blix said there is skepticism about the likelihood Iraq would use weapons of mass destruction, but "that skepticism would turn immediately around if they used chemical or biological weapons."

The chief inspector said the Bush administration showed good faith early on in the inspection process, but "clearly there have been many in the administration all the way through who have been very skeptical."

He said the inspections ended in part because some members of the U.N. Security Council "lost patience" in the process.

Blix said inspectors would have needed months to finish inspecting Iraqi weapons sites to come to a conclusion about whether Iraq has biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

He said he could not comment on whether the Iraqis cooperated fully.

"You don't know what you don't know," he said. "You don't know what might have been held back."

Blix said weapons inspectors never claimed Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction.

"We have said there are lots of things unaccounted for, but that's not the same thing to say there is VX," Blix said, referring to a lethal nerve gas that Iraq claims it destroyed in 1991 after the Persian Gulf War.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered all inspectors and U.N. humanitarian aid workers out of Iraq Monday ahead of an apparently imminent U.S.-led war against the Saddam Hussein regime.

Blix told reporters all inspectors from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency had arrived safely in Larnaca, Cyprus.


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