blix's report clear!

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    He has not complied with the Resolution

    Verdict: Report is ammunition for war
    From correspondents at the United Nations
    March 08, 2003

    IRAQ has failed its last chance to receive a full, clean report card from UN weapons inspectors.

    Chief inspector Hans Blix gave the Security Council early today an upbeat assessment of recent Iraqi compliance but also tabled a damning written report disputing Iraq's claims it had destroyed all its biological weapons, including anthrax.

    Dr Blix said with proactive Iraqi cooperation under sustained strong international pressure, these issues could be resolved peacefully "in months".

    But hours before the pivotal address, President George W Bush prepared the nation for war, saying diplomacy had failed and Dr Blix only needed answer a single question.

    "Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed, as required by Resolution 1441?" he said.

    Dr Blix did not answer a simple yes.

    With war now inevitable, the only remaining question is whether it will be fought with or without UN approval, a decision to be made next week by a sharply-divided Security Council.

    "My job is to protect America and that is exactly what I'm going to do. If we need to act, we will act and we really don't need UN approval to do so," President Bush warned.

    "When it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission."

    At 2.30am AEDT, Dr Blix told the Security Council weapons inspectors faced "relatively few difficulties" which "may well be due to strong outside pressure".

    He said no proscribed biological activity "has so far been found" and there was no evidence yet of underground chemical facilities.

    The destruction by Iraq so far of 34 al Samoud missiles "constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament, the first since the middle of the 1990s".

    "We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed," he said.

    But the written report summarising 29 outstanding issues and what Iraq should do to resolve then will be enough for the Americans and British to go to war.

    It disputes Iraq's claims it destroyed in 1991 the 21,000 litres of biological agent, including 10,000 litres of anthrax, it was known to have stored at a plant at al Hakam.

    "There is credible information available to [inspectors] that indicates that the bulk agent, including anthrax, was in fact deployed during the 1991 Gulf war," the report says.

    "The question then arises as to what happened to it after the war."

    "It therefore seems highly probable that the destruction of the bulk agent, including Anthrax, stated by Iraq to be at al Hakam in July August 1991, did not occur."

    He also does not discount Iraq has developed, constructed or acquired mobile biological weapons laboratories, another long-time claim by the US.

    And it concurs with secret intelligence released on Wednesday by Secretary of State Colin Powell that Iraq was secretly building new missiles at the same time it was scrapping its banned al Samoud II rockets.

    Dr Blix said this report could be superseded in light of recent developments but would require immediate Iraqi cooperation.

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, one of the 12 foreign ministers present at this morning's gathering, said the report about unaccounted for biological weapons was enough evidence for him.

    "It is a shocking indictment of the record of Saddam Hussein's deception and deceit and, above all, of the danger which he poses to the region and the world," he said.

    Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said abandoning the inspection process made little sense given Iraq was now starting to cooperate.

    "In my area, inspection is working, we are making progress," he said.

    Bush, still preferring UN approval, upped the ante with the divided body by vowing not withdraw the US and British-backed second resolution authorising war if he knew it would not pass the Security Council.

    "Yes, we'll call for a vote. You bet, it's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam." he said.

    "As far as ultimatums and all the speculation about what may or may not happen after next week, we'll just wait and see," he said when asked if he meant war.

    He said diplomacy was in it's final stages and "for those who urge more diplomacy, I would simply say that diplomacy hasn't worked".

    The nations opposed to war will seize on the positive aspects outlined by Drs Blix and El Baradei, including a suggested program by Dr Blix for the Iraqis to follow and destroy these weapons.

    France, Russia, China, Germany and Syria are pushing for a peaceful solution through continued disarmament.

    The Daily Telegraph

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