WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) — Hans Blix was scheduled to deliver his latest report on Iraq’s level of cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors to the Security Council and an anxious world Friday, although Blix was not expected to declare firmly that Baghdad was or was not fully cooperating.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Blix would tell the Security Council starting at 10 a.m. EST that he was “not impressed” with Iraq’s cooperation, but would most likely stop short of accusing Baghdad of being completely non-cooperative.
The nature of the Swedish diplomat’s report indicated it was unlikely to change the opinions of the United States and Britain, which want Iraq to be declared in violation of U.N. sanctions, and Security Council members such as France, Germany, Russia and China that want the inspections to continue.
“We expect a mixed report,” a senior U.S. official told CNN. “He is trying to satisfy 15 bosses and he also knows that his words could have consequences.”
Citing U.N. sources, the Post said that Blix would report that Iraq was making some progress in terms of providing access to its scientists for interviews by the inspection teams; however only three of several requested meetings were conducted outside the presence of the ubiquitous hovering Iraqi officials.
In addition, Saddam Hussein’s government has balked at allowing U-2 surveillance flights over the country.
Inspectors have also discovered missiles with ranges beyond what is allowed by U.N. rules as well as rocket engines that are prohibited. The Post said Blix was deciding Thursday evening whether he would order Iraq to destroy their missiles or if he would merely report his findings to the Security Council.
Iraqi officials said Thursday the missiles in question did not have the range they were believed to have, and also did not have guidance systems that would make them a viable threat to nations in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, President Bush repeated Thursday that the Security Council must act forcefully with Baghdad in order avoid becoming “an ineffective, irrelevant, debating society.” He has continued to warn the world that the United States is determined to see Saddam’s government stripped of its deadliest weapons.
“This country will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our nation, to our people and to our friends and allies,” Bush declared during a speech at a Florida naval base Thursday.