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[casi] Hans Blix: Iraq Destroyed WMD 10 Years Ago

Hans Blix: Iraq Destroyed WMD 10 Years Ago
Tue September 16, 2003 10:22 PM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Former U.N. chief weapons inspector
Hans Blix now believes Iraq destroyed its weapons of
mass destruction 10 years ago and that intelligence
agencies were wrong in their weapons assessment that
led to war.

In an interview with Australian radio from Sweden,
Blix said the search for evidence of biological,
chemical or nuclear weapons would probably only
uncover documents at best.

"The more time that has passed, the more I think it's
unlikely that anything will be found," Blix said in
the interview, which was broadcast on Wednesday.

"I'm certainly more and more to the conclusion that
Iraq has, as they maintained, destroyed almost all of
what they had in the summer of 1991," Blix said.

In 1991, the United Nations' International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) found what it called a secret
nuclear weapons program in Iraq. It spent the next
seven years dismantling Baghdad's nuclear capability,
until its inspectors were thrown out of Iraq.

Before ordering the invasion that toppled President
Saddam Hussein, President Bush referred to an imminent
threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a
prime justification for war.

"In the beginning they talked about weapons
concretely, and later on they talked about weapons
programs...maybe they'll find some documents of
interest," Blix said.

Blix spent three years searching for Iraqi chemical,
biological and ballistic missiles as head of the U.N.
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

U.N. inspectors left Iraq in March this year as
American and British forces prepared to invade. Calls
for their reinstatement have been denied, with the
U.S. occupation authorities preferring instead to set
up their own body, the Iraq Survey Group.

After more than five months of searching, no weapons
of mass destruction have been found by the Iraq Survey
Group, which consists of about 1,500 experts.

U.S. officials said in July that the search had
uncovered documents pointing to a program to develop
such weapons.

But the U.S. media network ABC News reported on Monday
that a draft report by the Iraq Survey Group provides
no solid evidence that Iraq had such arms when the
United States invaded.

The U.S. government has consistently said the search
for weapons of mass destruction will take time and
that it is confident evidence will eventually be

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