- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 (UPI) — On the same day the last U.N weapons monitors were withdrawn from Iraq, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said that three and a half months was too soon for the inspections to end.

Blix told reporters Tuesday that he never said Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction, only a lot of unaccounted for material. He added that he did not think Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously on Nov. 8, 2002, foresaw such a short inspection time.

"I don't think it is reasonable to close the door to inspections after three and a half months," said Blix, executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

However, he told reporters at the U.N. Correspondents Association it would have been interesting to see what would be found once people go in and can go anywhere and examine the sort of intelligence the inspectors never had access to.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered the withdrawal from Iraq of all U.N. personnel on Monday after Washington advised him of imminent military action against Baghdad.

Asked about the turn of events, Blix said: "I think it's a rather sad moment. My sadness is somewhat tempered by the fact all the inspectors, whether from the UNMOVIC or the International Atomic Energy Agency, have come safely back to Larnaca, (Cyprus)."

Chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the last plane evacuating the more than 300 international staff in Iraq left from Baghdad for Larnaca. The plane arrived late Tuesday in Cyrus. Blix said there were 134 from UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

Asked if he thought Iraq would use chemical or biological weapons in a war with the U.S-led coalition, Blix said he didn't think so, although he believes Baghdad has the know-how to produce and deliver chemical weapons.

"I think it is unlikely they will do that because I think world public opinion, which they study quite a lot, is in large measure feeling that going to war is too early," he said. "So there is a fair amount of skepticism about armed action. That skepticism would turn immediately around if they used chemical weapons or biological weapons. My guess is they would not."

Blix is scheduled to meet with the Security Council Wednesday to discuss a work plan of remaining disarmament. He submitted the plan on Monday just hours before U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and sons to go into exile or face war.

The foreign ministers of France Germany, Guinea, Russia and Syria were expected to attend the open council session where Blix was to deliver his report. Unable to attend, IAEA Executive Director Mohammed ElBaradei was sending a representative.

The session will be held just before expiration of the 48-hour ultimatum Bush issued Monday night.

Late Wednesday, an angry Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri of Iraq told reporters at the United Nations, "This is the first time in the history a president of a state ordered another president of another state to leave his own country."

Aldouri described the possibility of a U.S.-led invasion as "a mess" and "madness."

"It is unacceptable by any logic, unless we have to accept the law of the jungle: might is right, which violates all principles enshrined in the charter of the United Nations. We reject totally this madness, the aggression and the outlaw policy," he said.

"This war will be a crime against humanity," he said. "It is illegal, immoral and unjustifiable. It will cause huge casualties, great destruction and endless suffering. This war, in short, is tantamount to genocide.

"The president of the United States is deceiving his people in justifying the war against Iraq, because Iraq has fulfilled its obligations as requested by Resolution 1441 and cooperated fully with the inspectors and has, in fact, disarmed," said Aldouri.

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