|New Iraqi Disarmament Letters Have Some Positive Elements Says Bli|
New Iraqi Disarmament Letters Have Some Positive Elements Says Blix
New York -- (UNNC) February 25, 2003 -- United Nations disarmament official Hans Blix said today he has received new letters from Iraq containing some "positive elements" for his search for evidence of banned weapons of mass destruction, but cautioned that the correspondence needs to be explored further.
Answering reporters' questions as he went into a second day of discussions with his top advisers, Mr. Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said Iraq told him it had found a bomb containing liquid at a biological weapons disposal site.
"There are some elements which are positive and which need to be explored further," Mr. Blix said. "There is one letter in which they tell us 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."
Mr. Blix is meeting with the UNMOVIC College of Commissioners to discuss his upcoming quarterly report on Iraqi disarmament, which he is set to hand in to the Security Council on 1 March. The oral presentation to the Council will take place early next week, although no date has yet been formally set.
Mr. Blix is also discussing with the Commissioners, whose task it is to give him guidance, a list of 30 specific unresolved disarmament issues.
Asked if there have been any discussions with Baghdad on his demand that it start destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles because they could exceed the 150 kilometre-range limit mandated by Security Council resolutions, Mr. Blix said, "Not between us and Iraq."
In Baghdad, UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said UNMOVIC had received several Iraqi letters on the unilateral destruction of empty warheads, excavations of a dumpsite for destroyed aerial bombs filled with biological agents, and an additional explanation on a biological agent. A biological team visited a dumpsite in the Al Aziziya Range, about 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad, where Iraq says it unilaterally destroyed aerial bombs filled with biological agents in the summer of 1991. The team also inspected munitions fragments and observed excavation of the pit.
Other UNMOVIC teams fanned out to inspect factories involved in solid propellant missiles, electronic equipment for the army, Al Samoud missile assembly, chemical storage, egg production and other food plants, and an underground refinery. Teams from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted a car-borne radiation survey at Nida and inspected the Al Tahdi electronics research and electrical repair factory.
- UN News Centre