- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammad ElBaradei Sunday arrived in the Iraqi capital for talks on arms inspections in the country.

The two officials arrived at noon local time for a two-day visit in response to an invitation of the Iraqi government.

The visit has been described as of top importance, particularly regarding the next report the international inspectors will submit to the U.N Security Council on Jan. 27 on their findings about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The U.N. and IAEA inspectors resumed their search for banned weapons in Iraq in late November after a four-year absence. Since their return to Baghdad, the inspectors have searched about 400 sites across the country.

Blix, appearing Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," spoke of the discovery of empty chemical warheads in Iraq.

"When we find chemical ammunitions for chemical weapons, we must ask ourselves, is this just one find, or are there lots of them all over the country hidden in various places? We find documents that are secret in a private house of a scientist, we must ask, are they anywhere else? At the time when they are saying that they have no more documents."

U.N. inspectors found 12 empty warheads last Thursday that were not declared by Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei are due to present a status report on the inspections to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27.

"If we were to find a big supply of biological weapons, that would be a smoking gun, although it doesn't look like one," Blix told CNN. "If we were to find chemical weapons, that would also be a smoking gun. If we find missiles that can run 200 kilometers, well, that would also be a smoking gun. If you only find documents that indicate something, well, that's not so smoking. Although a drawing of a nuclear weapon, I think, was once characterized as a smoking gun."

Blix and ElBaradei were expected to hold lengthy discussions with Iraqi officials on Iraq's 12,000-page report regarding its mass destruction weapons programs, submitted to the Security Council last month.

"If someone refuses to come to us, we'll take note of it," Blix said. "And if it is a pattern, well, then we will tell the Security Council about that."

Iraqi officials said they are ready to answer any questions Blix and Baradei have in order to fill any missing gaps in the information already provided.

Baghdad is also expected to raise questions about the inspectors' questioning of Iraqi scientists, which Iraq criticized as "intelligence gathering."

The latest criticism came from Iraqi nuclear scientist Faleh Hassan Hamza who said the inspectors raided his home in Baghdad Friday, confiscating documents the inspectors said dealt with Iraq's nuclear program.

Hamza Saturday insisted in a news conference that the documents were either personal or declared in the report his government submitted to the Security Council.

He offered to answer any questions the international inspectors had on the report or the documents they seized.





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