- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The six-page statement that chief weapons inspector Hans Blix submitted yesterday provides numerous examples of Iraqi assertions that do not square with evidence found by U.N. investigators and adds the disclosure of 6,500 missing chemical bombs.
Other instances of Baghdad's noncompliance with U.N. resolutions include 380 illegally imported rocket engines for banned ballistic missiles, Iraq's continued development of deadly VX gas and its inability to show it has destroyed its anthrax arsenal.
In the statement provided to the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Blix said evidence of the 6,500 missing chemical bombs comes from a document Baghdad confiscated from the previous U.N. inspection team, which left Iraq in 1998 after Baghdad repeatedly blocked access to suspected weapons sites.
At the time, an inspector for UNSCOM, the old U.N. organization, discovered a document at Iraqi air force headquarters pertaining to chemical bombs. The paper was snatched from her hands by one of Saddam Hussein's minders.
Mr. Blix said his new team, UNMOVIC, now has the document. It shows that Iraq dropped 13,000 chemical bombs during its 1980-88 war with Iran, not the 19,500 cited by Baghdad.
"This is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs," Mr. Blix said. "The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for."
The mystery concerning chemical bombs was just one of several instances listed by Mr. Blix in which Iraqi assertions do not square with evidence collected by U.N. investigators.
In some cases, such as the chemical-bomb gap, the discrepancy is new. In other issues, such as Iraq's development of deadly VX nerve gas, the chief investigator re-emphasized evidence collected by UNSCOM. The team said in 1998 that Iraq had not accounted for 600 tons of chemicals used to make the gas.
Iraq developed pure quantities of the gas and inserted some in missile warheads.
"Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991," Mr. Blix said yesterday.
"UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problems of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared,"he said.
Mr. Blix also added new details to his discovery earlier this month of 122 mm shells configured to hold chemical weapons.
UNMOVIC found the shells, which are prohibited by U.N. cease-fire resolutions from the Gulf war, in a bunker southwest of Baghdad.
"This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions," he said.
Iraq says it overlooked the shells in declaring weapons after the Gulf war.
"This could be the case," Mr. Blix said. "They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovering of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for."
UNSCOM compiled a final report in 1998 that listed the following missing chemical shells: 500 bombs with parachutes to deliver gas or germ agents; 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas; more than 100,000 shell casings for chemical munitions, and nearly 32,000 munitions designed to carry such weapons.
Concerning germ agents, UNSCOM reported evidence that Iraq produced anthrax, botulinum, gas gangrene and aflatoxin.
Mr. Blix's report dealt with only one of those agents: anthrax.
The report said Iraq has admitted to making 8,500 liters and given "no convincing evidence for its destruction."
The cease-fire resolutions also prohibited Iraq from owning ballistic missiles, such as Scuds, with ranges of more than 95 miles.
Iraq appears to be violating this rule, Mr. Blix said, by testing two new systems, the al Samoud 2 and al Fatah, at distances beyond 95 miles.
"These missiles might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems," he said, adding that Iraq is also modernizing missile-production facilities.
It is these missiles for which Iraq illegally obtained the 380 rocket motors.
The report also said U.N. "member states," a likely reference to the United States and Britain, have provided UNMOVIC with intelligence on "the movement and concealment of missiles and chemical weapons and mobile units for biological weapons production."
Mr. Blix did not provide more details on this point.
He said Iraq repeatedly tells skeptical inspectors that all documents pertaining to the prohibited weapons were destroyed with the weapons.
But the chief inspector said Iraq "should have budgetary documents, requests for funds and reports on how [prohibited weapons] have been used."
He noted that in the home of just one weapons scientist, inspectors found 3,000 pages on the enrichment of uranium.
On nuclear arms, lead inspector Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he has not found evidence that Iraq is restarting atomic weapons research at its old facilities.
The 1998 U.N. team listed a number of missing documents and drawings related to Iraq's quest for the bomb.
The IAEA said yesterday that Iraq still has not resolved those discrepancies nor fully explained reports that it tried to acquire uranium from African countries.


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