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Blix: War With Iraq Not Inevitable - 2003-01-19


Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix says war against Iraq is not inevitable but Baghdad must cooperate more fully on disclosing its weapons programs.

Mr. Blix, speaking in Baghdad Sunday, said the process of inspecting for banned weapons is the peaceful alternative, but requires what he called "very active Iraqi cooperation."

Mr. Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei are in Baghdad for disarmament talks with Iraqi officials. Later, Mr. ElBaradei said talks with Iraq were making what he termed -- "some progress' -- but he did not elaborate.

Before leaving the Mediterranean island, both men said Iraqi authorities need to help themselves by providing assurances to the international community that they no longer have weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. ElBaradei and Mr. Blix are to report their findings after two months of inspections to the U-N Security Council on January 27th.

U-S National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the January 27th report would mark what she called -- "the start of a last phase" -- for Iraq. (Speaking on N-B-C's Meet The Press), Ms. Rice said the 27th is not a deadline but is important because -- as she put it -- "time is running out."

U-N inspection teams visited at least five sites Sunday in their ongoing search for evidence of banned weapons.

At the same time, U-S and British aircraft patrolling the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq struck eight unmanned communications stations in what U-S military officials said was a -- "response to Iraqi hostile acts".

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