Blix Says Iraq Signals New Cooperation (2)

Wednesday, 26 February 2003 04:09 by: Anonymous
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2003; 10:52 AM

Iraq has shown new signs of substantive cooperation in recent days, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Tuesday.

Iraq has sent U.N. inspectors half a dozen letters in the past few days and "there are some elements which are positive which need to be explored further," Blix told reporters before meeting his advisory College of Commissioners to discuss his upcoming report to the Security Council due by Saturday.

Blix has complained that Iraq was not providing substantive information about its weapons program. The issue is at the heart of the U.S. case that Saddam Hussein has failed to fully cooperate with inspectors and therefore the Security Council should authorize military action against Iraq.

Asked if there was any indication by the Iraqis of substantive cooperation, Blix replied "yes."

Blix said one letter from Iraq informed inspectors that "they have found an R-400 bomb containing liquid in a site which is known to us at which they did dispose of biological weapons before."

He gave no details, but R-400 aerial bombs can be filled with biological agents. Among the outstanding issues which Iraq has not answered is providing documentation about the filling of R-400 bombs with aflotoxin.

"There is another letter that tells us they have found some handwritten documents concerning the act of disposal of prohibited items in 1991," Blix said. "Now all these have to be followed up, but these are new elements."

Blix said he has received no reply from the Iraqi government to his order to start destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles, their engines and components by Saturday for exceeding the 93-mile limit in U.N. resolutions.

Iraq says the missiles don't exceed the limit and has asked for technical talks.

But when Blix was asked whether the issue was open for debate, he said, "not between us and Iraq."

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