Iraq agrees to destroy missiles as Blix says Baghdad should increase cooperation
Iraq told the United Nations on Thursday it agreed "in principle" to destroy dozens of its missiles as demanded by chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix, who voiced dismay in a crucial report that Baghdad had not made greater efforts to cooperate with inspectors.
At the same time, a U.N. Security Council meeting erupted into chaos with smaller nations, such as Chile and Mexico, demanding the major powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- reach a common position.
"Nobody makes a step toward bridging the gap. We are all coming up with innovative ways to defend our own positions. There is no atmosphere of 'Where do we go from here?"' Chilean envoy Christian Maquierira said, according to Reuters.
On the missiles controversy, Gen. Amir Al-Saadi, an adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, sent a letter to Blix saying that it accepted his order "in principle" to destroy Al-Samoud 2 rockets, the United Nations announced.
The letter said Blix's decision was not justified.
President Bush said he was closely watching to see whether Saddam complies by Saturday. "The discussion about these rockets is part of his campaign of deception," Bush said. "See, he'll say, 'I'm not going to destroy the rockets,' and then he'll have a change of mind this weekend and destroy the rockets and say, 'I've disarmed.'"
Meanwhile, Blix, in a leaked draft of a report expected to reach council members over the weekend or Monday, said that results of three months of inspections have been problematic.
"Iraq could have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items," Blix wrote. "The results in terms of disarmament have been very limited so far."
He said his teams have not been able to conduct interviews with Iraqi scientists and others "without a tape recorder running or an Iraqi witness present."
"It is hard to understand why a number of the measures which are now being taken could not have been initiated earlier," he said in his report. "If they had been taken earlier, they might have born fruit by now." (Albawaba.com)
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