- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2003

NEW YORK Charles Duelfer, a former State Department official who once led a weapons inspection team in Iraq, is in Baghdad directing the U.S. search for banned weapons, diplomatic sources said.
According to the sources, White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a friend of Mr. Duelfer, tapped him to lead the new inspection effort. Neither the State Department nor the United Nations would confirm his arrival in the Iraqi capital.
The United States has enlisted about 10 former U.N. weapons inspectors to help the search in Iraq, Reuters news agency reported yesterday.
A Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that "approximately 10 former U.N. inspectors and personnel" have been "applying their experience and expertise to the effort." The official said some are inside Iraq and that others are preparing to go there.
The official did not identify the former inspectors other than to say that they are Americans, with some British possibly involved as well, and did not define their role.
The official said several U.S. government teams have been in the region since the operations in Iraq began, and are "deploying to suspect sites across Iraq to perform analysis of [weapons of mass destruction]-related finds." More than two dozen sites have been visited "and the pace of such visits is expanding," the official said.
From 1988 to 2000, Mr. Duelfer led the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM). Before that, he was the deputy to chief inspectors Rolf Ekeus and later Richard Butler.
During Mr. Duelfer's tenure, the Saddam Hussein government barred U.N. inspectors from Iraq. This also was the period the White House believes the Iraqi regime reactivated most of its prohibited weapons programs.
Mr. Duelfer left the U.N. panel in March 2000 when the Security Council dissolved UNSCOM and replaced it with a new inspection organization, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission led by Hans Blix.
Until last summer, Mr. Duelfer had been a research fellow at a Washington think tank.
Former inspectors from the United Nations said the U.S. military's efforts to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have gotten off to a slow start, increasing the chances that some could be spirited out of the country and sold to terrorist groups.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers and other experts are working to locate stockpiles of weapons such as VX and sarin nerve agents and mustard gas that American officials believe are stashed somewhere in Iraq.
Before the war President Bush said Iraq posed a threat because Saddam Hussein's government had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, which Mr. Bush said justified military action.
"There is pressure to find something pretty quickly, of course. I have no doubt something will be found, but it may take a little while," said Terence Taylor, a chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1993 to 1997.
Former U.N. inspector David Kay said he has talked to U.S. officials about how to organize the search, recommended that others be recruited in the effort, and volunteered to take part "under the right set of circumstances." But he said the military's effort has had a slow start and some former U.N. inspectors involved were "sitting on the sidelines."
He worried about "some Iraqi colonel who thinks he has no future in Iraq but knows if he takes a chemical or biological weapon or some of the technology to Damascus he can sell it to Hezbollah, or you name the terrorist group, for $50,000."
A former U.N. inspector in Iraq who has talked to the U.S. military said the Pentagon wants to bring in arms experts who have special knowledge of the country without formally involving the United Nations.
U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, meanwhile, has again urged U.S.-led forces in Iraq to allow the return of U.N. inspectors, but says he sees little sign of willingness to do so.
"The alliance arrived as a liberator and an occupier and that can have its disadvantages. If their experts actually find weapons of mass destruction, their veracity could be doubted," Mr. Blix said in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel.
"Therefore I am in favor of having these tasks put back under the responsibility of specialists with international legitimacy," he said.
"We have never claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, although we could not rule it out. Now we will see if London and Washington were right. I am very curious and can only wish them luck with their search," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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