- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 21 (UPI) — Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told Iraq late Friday its Al-Samoud 2 missile exceeded the Security Council-imposed range of 93 miles, or 150 kms, "and therefore it must now be destroyed."

Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification Inspection Commission, whose executive chairman is Blix, said the U.N.'s top inspector handed a delegation from the Iraqi mission to the United Nations a letter with the finding.

"We would have to oversee the destruction of these missiles," Buchanan said. A second missile, the Al-Fatah, was also called into question but clarifications on data were being sought.

A U.S. official told United Press International Monday evening the joint British-U.S. draft resolution on Iraq expected to be unofficially presented Security Council members "most likely Monday, but it could slip until Tuesday," would be "short and simple."

A presentation by British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock to the 10 elected members of the panel of 15 apparently did not go off so well.

Members of the E-10, as they are referred to in U.N. corridors, as opposed to the P5, or Permanent five veto-wielding members of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, were not happy emerging from the late afternoon meeting.

Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, who said he was asked to speak on behalf of the group to reporters, said only. "The nature of this meeting was strictly private and we touched upon several issues related to our work and work of the Security Council and this is the only information I can share with you. We held a dialogue on a strictly private basis."

As Mexican ambassador he said he had "no comment," but added, "We will see the content of the resolution and then react to it."

However, another attendee, who did not want to be identified said while they were not told what was in the draft they were told it would be short and there would be no room for negotiation.

"What's the point in asking to see us? The envoy asked.

Stopped on his way from the meeting with Blix, Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said he only discussed with Blix the next scheduled report on Iraq to the council, due March 1, coincidentally the date Blix wants the missile destruction to begin.

Asked by UPI if he was given a letter, Aldouri, who by this time was on his own, said, "No, if there is any letter — all communications have to be sent to Baghdad directly because we have trouble here with the communications."

Asked if he discussed the Al-Samoud 2 missile with Blix, Aldouri replied, "I never discussed with him that question."

Buchanan suggested an aide may have accepted the three- page letter and a four-page attachment containing the conclusions of a panel of missile experts Blix convened about two weeks ago to consider data on the Al-Samoud 2. Blix reported the unanimous conclusion the missile exceeded its range limit to the council just one week to the day.

"The government of Iraqi should present to UNMOVIC for verifiable destruction all Al-Samoud 2 missiles and associated items," the Blix letter said, pointing out that included not only the missiles but "warheads, whether deployed, assembled or partly assembled (and) fuel and oxidizer, where deployed with Al-Samoud 2 missiles."

Chambers used for casting rocket engines "that had been deemed proscribed and were destroyed under (the previous U.N. inspection regime's) supervision, the panel confirmed that the reconstituted casting chambers could still be used to produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kms," the letter said. "These chambers remain proscribed and are to be destroyed."

Blix said in his letter, addressed to Amir Al-Saadi, the scientific adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, "the Al-Rafah static test stand under construction would be capable of testing missile engines with thrusts greater than that of the SA-2 engine. The test stand will be monitored."

However, Blix said the panel of experts, "found that clarification of Al-Fatah missile data supplied by Iraq was required before the capability of the missile system could be assessed. UNMOVIC will request such clarification."

The letter ended with Blix saying, "The necessary destruction is to carried out by Iraq under UNMOVIC guidance and supervision. UNMOVIC will select from a variety of methods of destruction, depending on the items to be destroyed, such as explosive demotion, crushing, melting and other physicals and chemical methods.

"The appropriate arrangements should be made so that the destruction process can commence by March 1," the letter said.

Iraq had argued the Al-Samoud 2 was tested without warheads or guidance systems so they exceeded the limit.

Buchanan said Blix also planned to deliver a list of 30 unresolved disarmament issues to the next scheduled meeting of UNMOVIC's' College of Commissioners Monday, including the question of how much banned anthrax and VX nerve gas Iraq made and what happened to it.

In Iraq, U.N. inspectors continued their search for evidence of banned weapons of mass destruction.

An U.N. spokesman in Baghdad said a missile team visited the Musaayib Power Station to check for possible storage of missile-related items, and a biological team carried out an aerial inspection of two sites to the west and northwest of Baghdad.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency interviewed two members of Iraq's former gas centrifuge program, said the joint UNMOVIC-IAEA spokesman, Hiro Ueki. One was an engineer, the other a magnet specialist.

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