- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

From combined dispatches
VIENNA, Austria The International Atomic Energy Agency sided with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix yesterday in seeking a U.N. resolution with teeth before sending its inspectors to determine whether Iraq had revived a secret atomic-weapons program.
"I would like the Security Council to make it clear that we have immediate and unfettered access throughout Iraq," said Mohamed El Baradei, chief of the agency, which is based in Vienna.
"I'd like the Security Council to make it clear that noncompliance would be met with adequate response on behalf of the international community, and I think that is what the Security Council rightly is deliberating on," Mr. El Baradei said in an interview on CNN.
In 1991, agency inspectors discovered a massive Iraqi effort to build atom bombs and conceal the action when they chased down a convoy of trucks loaded with huge electromagnetic isotope separators that are used to make weapons-grade uranium.
The energy agency, a U.N. agency that monitors nuclear energy worldwide, worked side-by-side with U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq until both groups were kicked out by Saddam Hussein in 1998.
"I would like the Security Council to strengthen our hand," Mr. El Baradei said yesterday.
The U.N. inspection team led by Mr. Blix had planned to return to Iraq in mid-October but has decided to hold off until the Security Council decides on a resolution.
In Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein met yesterday with his top military commanders for the second time in 48 hours, Iraqi television announced.
Among those at the meeting were his son Qusay, who leads his security services, his Defense Minister Abdul Al-Tawab Mulla Huweish and top air force and air defense officials, the television broadcast said.
Saddam pledged not to let President Bush succeed "in twisting the arm of the Iraqi people."
The United States and Britain accuse Iraq of developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and are pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution to allow intrusive inspections of suspected Iraqi arms sites, backed by the threat of force.
France, also one of the five veto-holding members of the Security Council, favors having two resolutions, of which only the second would threaten force. Russia favors France's more cautious approach over what it considers Washington's "unfulfillable demands."
Iraq denies having weapons of mass destruction and has said it would not be intimidated into accepting a new Security Council resolution by threats of war.
Mr. El Baradei held two days of talks in Vienna last week between inspectors and an Iraqi delegation on the logistics and details of a return of the arms experts to Baghdad.
The agency will provide experts to study Iraq's nuclear capabilities, while other U.N. arms experts will look for chemical weapons, biological weapons and missiles.
The agency said yesterday that it was analyzing satellite images of Iraq released by the White House.
President Bush said in a speech Monday that he was worried that Saddam would attack the United States with chemical or biological weapons.
The White House later released satellite images that it said showed Iraq rebuilding two facilities related to Baghdad's nuclear-arms program.
"We are doing some internal follow-up to verify that the content of our photos is consistent with the images released by the White House," Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the agency, said in Vienna.
The agency, like the White House, has been using commercial satellite imagery to keep tabs on movements in Iraq for several years.
"Our position remains that photographs showing new construction are of great interest to us," Mr. Gwozdecky said.
"However, it is only through inspections that we will be able to draw authoritative conclusions as to whether Iraq is complying with its nuclear-related obligations," he said.
After U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they said they had uncovered and neutralized Baghdad's capacity to build nuclear arms. Although there was no proof that Iraq had built an atomic bomb, it had successfully completed many steps toward making one.
On the diplomatic front, the United States and France continued to seek common ground on a U.N. resolution authorizing force if Iraq does not cooperate with inspectors.
Despite upbeat comments from Washington and Paris, the five main Security Council members were still discussing in New York "concepts" rather than detailed wording in the text, a sign that a resolution may not be introduced this week.
"Things are becoming clearer, and they could come together this week, but there is no indication yet of the movement needed," said one diplomat close to the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's between Paris and Washington."
Yesterday, Security Council members had their monthly lunch with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Iraq was the main topic of discussion. Later in the day, the five permanent council members with veto power the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China held another meeting.
The United States is seeking a resolution that would allow any U.N. member to conduct a military strike if it concluded that Iraq had violated new Security Council demands relating to its weapons of mass destruction.


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