Blix: Iraq unlikely to use chemical, germ weapons
But still a lot of questions, the chief inspector says
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iraq is unlikely to use chemical or biological weapons to defend itself from a U.S.-led invasion because world opinion would turn against it, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told CNN Wednesday.
"If they have any -- and still, that's a big if -- I would doubt that they would use it because a lot of countries and people in the world are negative to the idea of waging war," Blix said.
"If the Iraqis were to use any chemical weapons, then I think the public opinion around the world would immediately turn against Iraq, and they would say, as well, that the invasion was justified."
President Bush has given Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a deadline of 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to leave Iraq and go into exile or face attack by more than 250,000 U.S. and British troops massed in the region. Iraq has rejected the ultimatum.
Even though top Iraqi leaders, including Saddam, could be in mortal danger from a U.S.-led invasion, Blix said pride may keep them from using poison gas against advancing allied troops.
"Saddam Hussein has certainly figured himself to be a sort of emperor of Mesopotamia and the leader of the Arab world," Blix said. "So I think he very likely cares very much about his reputation."
The United States and Britain accused Iraq of failing to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding it give up chemical and biological weapons, long-range missiles and any nuclear weapons program.
They say Iraq must be disarmed -- by force, if necessary -- to prevent Saddam from arming terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq says it has complied with U.N. disarmament resolutions.
Iraq showered U.N. with letters of explanation
Blix said there are "still a lot of question marks" about whether Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction.
"And I am among the people who are most curious to know whether they will find any or not," he said.
Weapons inspectors worked in Iraq for three and a half months before leaving Tuesday for Cyprus after the U.S. ultimatum.
Blix said Iraq offered them better conditions than earlier inspection teams and agreed to allow the destruction of many of its al-Samoud 2 missiles, which inspectors determined had a range beyond the 93 miles (150 kilometers) allowed in U.N. resolutions.
On the other hand, he said, Iraqi officials did not provide much new information until February, after a massive U.S. and British military buildup was under way.
"They sort of showered us with letters trying to explain this or that," Blix said.
But even then, he said, "When we examine it, we find relatively little new material in it."