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Iraq: UN Official Says Inspectors Will Need More Time

Paris, 13 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The director of the UN nuclear agency says UN inspectors searching in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction will need more time to complete their mission. Muhammad el-Baradei said today in Paris that the timing of completing the mission depends on "the cooperation of Iraq." He said the world community is growing "impatient" with Iraq's passive attitude.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he will wait for UN inspectors to do their work, but that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will have either to disarm peacefully or will be forced to do so.

"We must uphold the authority of the United Nations. We must show rogue states and terrorist organizations that when we say we intend to deal with the issue of weapons of mass destruction, we mean it. The UN has given Saddam a chance for this to be done peacefully, so even now Saddam should take the peaceful route and disarm. If he does not, however, he will be disarmed by force."

At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II said a possible war in Iraq would be a defeat for humanity. The pope said such a war would only harm ordinary Iraqis.

In Iraq, UN inspectors continued their search for Iraq's arms, with teams of nuclear and chemical experts today visiting Baghdad's technological university and two science colleges.

El-Baradei and UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix are to report on 27 January to the UN Security Council on the progress of the search.