- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

With Saddam Hussein's deeply implausible denial that he possesses any weapons of mass destruction, the essence of the Iraq inspection process is no longer a search for truth, but a race against time. According to most military experts, rising temperatures in Iraq after March would make war-fighting in rubberized and hooded protective gear extremely difficult for our troops. Thus, if Saddam can delay President Bush's war decision past the winter, he probably forestalls war for another year (and given political vagaries, perhaps for good.)
It is in this context that chief weapons inspector Mr. Hans Blix's dilatory practices are most disturbing. He announced that he would not turn over Saddam's report to the United States government until U.N. "experts" had time to first go through the documents to "purge [the] documents of any technical information that, in the wrong hands, would lead to proliferation, meaning the spread of deadly weapons to rogue states or terrorists."
In other words, Mr. Blix is worried that the U.S. government might pass on Saddam's scientific secrets to terrorists. Generously excusing this absurdity as an excruciatingly proper exercise of disinterestedness on Mr. Blix's part, it remains disturbing that the United States will officially receive and on a delayed basis only an abridged version of the Saddam report.
There seems to be something of a game going on between the UN inspectors and the Anglo-American effort. Mr. Blix and Mr. Mohammed El Baradei (the Director if the International Atomic Energy Agency) have complained that the U.S and Britain have not provided them with our own intelligence, while we say we want to first look at the Iraqi declaration. Given the rumors rampant on both sides of the Atlantic that Mr. Blix's inspection team may have been compromised by intelligence efforts of both Muslim and Western countries, distrust would appear to be compounding divergent views of the inspection project. The further delay resulting from these frictions works against Anglo-American policy goals. What President Bush said a year ago about our war on terrorism now applies equally to the U.N. inspections process: Time is not on our side.


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