- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

BAGHDAD U.N. inspectors urged Iraqi officials yesterday to review carefully their long-standing assertions that they have no more weapons of mass destruction, and Baghdad pledged to meet a Dec. 8 deadline to disclose all information about its arms programs.
With the United States closely watching for any Iraqi infractions and warning that it has adopted a "zero tolerance" approach to Iraq differences also emerged yesterday between the United Nations and Washington over what constitutes Iraqi violations.
Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix said that if the Iraqis stick with their assertion that they have no more weapons of mass destruction, they must provide convincing documentation by the promised deadline. "We don't think that has yet been convincingly done.
"We have tried to impress on them they must look into their stocks and stores, and see if there's something they should declare," Mr. Blix said late yesterday. "The production of mustard gas is not like the production of marmalade. You're supposed to keep some track of what you produce. There must be documentation, records of what was produced."
Meeting the Dec. 8 deadline is a key initial demand laid down in the new U.N. resolution aimed at peacefully disarming Iraq. President Bush has threatened military action if Iraq does not cooperate with the resolution that sent inspectors back to Baghdad after a four-year absence.
Asked by reporters whether Iraq would meet the deadline, presidential adviser Amir al-Saadi responded in English: "Yes, within 30 days [of passage of the U.N. resolution], as the resolution says, a report from Iraq will be submitted on all the files of nuclear, chemical, biological and missile files."
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the Iraqi delegation had confirmed that it had not developed any nuclear-weapons capacity since inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 ahead of U.S. bombing strikes on Baghdad. Iraq did not allow inspectors to return.
Earlier, Mr. ElBaradei told Associated Press Television News and Egypt's Nile television that Iraq promised to declare "all of its activities in the chemical, biological and nuclear fields, even those of civilian use."
Mr. ElBaradei, speaking in Arabic, said the Iraqis were cooperating so far and had pledged to continue doing so. "We hope that this oral commitment will be translated into fact when we begin inspections next week."
Mr. al-Saadi, asked whether Iraq was prepared to grant inspectors unfettered access, replied: "Yes, as stipulated in the resolution and as we have agreed with them."
The inspections are considered Saddam Hussein's last chance to avoid war with the United States. Washington has said that toppling Saddam might be the only way to contain the threat it believes Iraq poses to the world with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Mr. Blix and his team arrived in Baghdad on Monday as allied warplanes bombed Iraqi air-defense systems in the northern no-fly zone. The U.S. military said the attack was initiated after Iraqi gunners fired on the jets during routine patrols.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Iraqi anti-aircraft fire "appears to be a violation" of the latest U.N. Security Council resolution.
However, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan took issue with that interpretation, telling reporters in Kosovo, "I don't think the council will say that this is in contravention of the resolution that was recently passed."
The 15-member council never explicitly approved the flights over northern and southern Iraq, which Baghdad considers violations of its sovereignty.


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