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Iraq: Inspectors To Report To Security Council Today

New York, 27 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations Security Council will hear today of the progress UN inspectors have made in their search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq over the past two months. Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammad el-Baradei, are set to brief the Security Council.

Blix said yesterday that Iraq has not filled in holes in its arms declaration, is blocking access to scientists, and is balking at U-2 surveillance flights.

But an IAEA spokeswoman said that el-Baradei will tell the council his teams have not proved that Iraq is trying to develop nuclear weapons, as Washington suspects.

Speaking yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said it is not necessary for UN weapons inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction in order to prove that Iraq is in material breach of its disarmament obligations. "This is not about inspectors finding smoking guns. It is about Iraq's failure to tell the inspectors where to find its weapons of mass destruction," Powell said.

Powell also said Washington is willing to work with its allies but that its patience is running out. "Multilateralism cannot become an excuse for inaction," he said.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told French television that weapons inspections should continue for several weeks or a few months.

In Brussels today, the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Spain, and Germany will meet separately to see if they can overcome differences that have prevented the Western Europeans from speaking with one voice on Iraq. France and Germany say they would support military action against Iraq only after another UN Security Council resolution. Britain, Washington's closest ally, is wary of another resolution.

European Union foreign-policy chief Javier Solana was quoted as saying the inspectors should get more time if they want it and that there should be a new UN resolution before any war on Iraq.

Government leaders in Asia are saying the United States should not act alone militarily against Iraq.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today told a gathering of political and business leaders meeting in Davos that the United States should continue to work through the United Nations to disarm Iraq. Australia, Britain, and the United States have sent troops to the Persian Gulf region in preparation for possible military action.

In Jakarta, Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz said the United States and its allies "should respect the United Nations." Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said it is "sheer arrogance" to ignore the views of the international community on Iraq.