Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has reiterated that his teams in Iraq have uncovered weapons-related smuggling but it was unclear if the goods were linked to weapons of mass destruction.
Blix was echoing comments he made at the United Nations last week. "We have found several cases where it is clear that Iraq has imported weapons-related material in violation of the prohibitions of the Security Council," he told the BBC in an interview broadcast late Monday.
"Whether these discoveries or items are related to weapons of mass destruction is a matter which we still need to determine.
"There has been a considerable amount of import in the weapons sector which clearly is smuggling, and in violation, and they are in fact large quantities," Blix said.
Blix says Iraq must provide new evidence about weapons programs -- or face the possibility of war.
He says Baghdad must provide documents, allow inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists in private, and show physical evidence of what facilities and weapons have been destroyed.
Speaking to AP Blix added Iraqis "need only look around their borders" to realize how serious the situation has become. Blix conveyed the inspectors need months to finish searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, but they may not get the time if the Security Council decides to stop inspections or the United States takes military action.
On the ground, U.N. arms inspectors checked out another six sites in Iraq, saying they were now getting welcome U.S. and British intelligence to widen their search.
Blix said inspectors would now use helpful Western intelligence he complained last month had not been forthcoming. "It is coming and we are going to act on it...I felt in the past that sometimes they were a bit like librarians who had books that they didn't want to lend to the customer -- but I think that is changing," he said.
For its part, Iraq reiterated its stance that Saddam Hussein would not agree to be exiled in order to avert the U.S.-led war. "Saddam Hussein is a courageous leader and will stay in Iraq for a very long time and fight until the last Iraqi bullet," Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told the BBC Arabic Service. (Albawaba.com)
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