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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Iraq inspections


Blixed at the U.N.

We share the frustration of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who watched Friday, as nation after nation in the United Nations Security Council equated nothing with something.

The failure U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix to find Iraq's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons does not mean those weapons do not exist. It certainly does not mean that Saddam Hussein won't use them if the rest of the world gives him a chance. Yet only Spain and Britain spoke up for the United States in the 15-member council.

Blix, asked for more time for the inspections, citing "improved" cooperation by the Iraqi's, although they consistently prevent weapons' scientists from talking privately to inspectors and they have failed to account for the thousands of liters of anthrax, ricin and other deadly toxins that previous inspections determined they had manufactured.

The Security Council remained unmoved even when Blix noted that Iraq has developed a new missile system with a range exceeding the limits permitted under previous U.N. resolutions. Will such missiles have to be able to reach France or Germany before these council members take the threat seriously?

Blix went so far as to dispute some of the testimony Powell offered to the council last week. Speaking of a satellite photo Powell had displayed that showed a munitions depot, Blix said reported movements at the site could have been "routine activity," rather than an attempt to hide banned weapons from the inspectors. Blix missed the point that hiding things from the inspectors is part of the Iraqi "routine."

After the meeting, Powell told reporters that the United States has additional evidence to support its claims. If so, the United States should waste no more time laying that evidence before the world.

Saddam should take small comfort in the Security Council's unwillingness to stand behind its own resolutions. The United States and Britain have expressed willingness to force him to disarm, even if the U.N. hesitates. It is the fear of that, not the empty efforts of Blix, which offer the best chance of disarming Iraq.



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