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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/war_blaming_blix&cid=716&ncid=716 Blix to Step Down After U.S. Snub By EDITH M. LEDERER and DAFNA LINZER, Associated Press Writers UNITED NATIONS - His inspectors are becoming valuable commodities for the United States but Hans Blix isn't. The chief U.N. inspector, blamed by Washington for hurting its drive for international support in the run-up to the war, will be stepping down at the end of June. U.S. officials say his departure could make it easier for the Bush administration to include some of the world's top arms experts in their hunt for Iraqi weapons. At least three members of Blix's staff — two experts in biological weapons and one who specializes in Iraq's missile programs — have been approached by special U.S. military units who will oversee Iraq's disarmament. It's a sign of recognition that the inspectors are well-trained and their expertise is essential. But the Americans have not made any overtures to their boss. "We don't believe he was fair in his reports, not to us and not on Iraq's cooperation," said one senior U.S. official. In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Blix said he resented the administration's portrayal of his work. "At some points, I think they went too far," he said. And he is disappointed that after three years of preparation, his teams only got 3 1/2 months in Iraq. "A few more months would have been useful," he said. Blix was not Washington's pick for the job of top inspector in Iraq in 1999. But the United States went along with his recommendation as a compromise candidate whose credentials as an international lawyer and member of the international arms control community satisfied Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council. U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq for the first time in four years in late November, soon after the Security Council strengthened inspections and gave Baghdad a final opportunity to disarm peacefully or face serious consequences. Blix said he is certain President Bush "hoped that this path to disarmament would be successful" although many in his administration were skeptical of the inspections. The chief inspector's first report in early December was a tough assessment of Iraq's cooperation and a condemnation of a weapons declaration the Iraqis submitted to inspectors. The United States welcomed it. But in January, Blix reported that Iraq had decided to cooperate on the "process" of inspections, providing good access, though it still needed to provide substantive evidence about its weapons programs. By February, he reported that Iraq was trying to cooperate more on substance, but still wasn't providing much that was new. France, Russia and Germany believed that Iraq could be disarmed peacefully, and argued that these reports showed the inspections were working and should continue. Sometime in late January or early February, Blix said the U.S. government "gave up on inspections" and stepped up military preparations. US officials began to criticize inconsistencies in Blix's reports and quietly questioned his motives. "There were complaints saying in January you were very harsh, and in February you were mild. Well, I looked out the window here and one day it's raining and the next day it's sunshine. How can you describe it in the same terms?" Blix asked. "Certainly not." Blix's last major report was devastating for U.S. efforts to convince the council that Iraq was a serious threat that needed to be disarmed by force. The upbeat account not only dealt with Iraq's last-ditch efforts to cooperate with inspectors and destroy missiles they weren't supposed to be producing, but also cast serious doubt on U.S. intelligence that claimed otherwise. France, Russia and others used the findings to counter Washington's claims and block U.N. support for the war. The Americans were outraged. "We gave him 70 sites to visit and he only went to seven," said one angry U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Blix said he couldn't remember how many sites he was given, but noted that intelligence from all countries including the United States resulted in "a relatively meager" amount of new information. The chief inspector was hurt by criticism that he was in the anti-war camp. "I was in nobody's pocket," he said. "Maybe somebody wished I be in a pocket, but I was not." Blix said the United States and Britain, trying to win support for a U.N. resolution backing a war, went "too far" in trying to claim there was "evidence that we allegedly had suppressed." "I think it was unfair, and I do resent that to some extent," he said. Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister who led the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981-1997, had said he would like to retire before his 75th birthday in June. But he had also hinted he could stay, saying he wouldn't abandon his responsibilities or turn down a request by the council that now seems unlikely. "As things look now, certainly I will be very happy to go home in June," he said. Inspections were suspended last week because of the war. Annan has said he expects their mission to resume once the hostilities cease, but there is no guarantee that will happen. There is disagreement in Washington about what role, if any, inspectors should play in disarming Iraq. Members of the U.N. teams are considered the only weapons experts in the world specifically trained in disarmament, and they have intimate knowledge of Iraq. But many are skeptical of U.S. claims that Saddam has stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. U.S. disarmament specialists are in Kuwait preparing to be equipped with ground-penetrating radar, sensors and sample-taking apparatus similar to that used by U.N. inspectors. Working with several former inspectors, they will probably go to many of the same locations the inspectors visited. Intelligence experts will question Iraqis involved in weapons programs while experts comb sites and analyze samples in the field using mobile labs. Meanwhile, Blix will prepare his next report to the council, which is due June 1. His staffers are pouring over documents and analysis collected from the Iraqis since November. But he said he's looking forward to spending more time in Sweden with his wife of 41 years and doing research and writing. __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Platinum - Watch CBS' NCAA March Madness, live on your desktop! http://platinum.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk