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Online NewsHour Special Report: Intervention in Iraq?
Background Report: Middle East
on Iraqi Weapons
Iraq Files Weapons Report Iraq files report with the U.N. 12.10.02
Report on Iraq Posted:1.29.03
Weapons inspectors report to the United Nations that they need more time. Meanwhile, President Bush says that time is "running out" for Iraq to disarm.
It has been more than 60 days since United Nations weapons inspectors resumed the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As required by U.N. resolution 1441, passed in November, the lead inspectors delivered a report to the U.N. Security Council on Monday assessing the inspections' progress.
Are there weapons of mass destruction?
Hans Blix heads UNMOVIC, the U.N. team searching for Iraq's biological, chemical and missile programs.
So far, Blix said that Iraq "appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it."
Blix also said that the 12,000-page Iraqi weapons declaration submitted last month seems to be a reprint of old Iraqi reports and does not answer questions about what kinds of weapons of mass destruction the government of Saddam Hussein may have.
Blix did not specifically ask for more time to inspect Iraq but made it clear that his team has only just begun its work.
Is there a nuclear weapons program?
The man in charge of the organization that monitors nuclear programs for the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Security Council he has not seen evidence that Iraq is building nuclear bombs.
"We have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s," ElBaradei said. Unlike Blix, he did ask for more time to allow inspectors to complete their weapons search.
After the report, China, Russia and France -- Security Council members with the same veto power as the United States -- agreed that more time for inspections is needed.
The State of the Union
In his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Bush did not commit to war with Iraq, but he did present a list of Saddam's alleged efforts to hinder the ongoing inspections. The president also said that he would be willing to part ways, if necessary, with allies opposed to war with Iraq should the U.S. decide to launch military strikes.
"The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others," the president said. "Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people."
However, the president added that he would ask the Security Council to call a special meeting next Wednesday to allow Secretary of State Colin Powell to present U.S. intelligence information on the state of Iraq's weapons program.
Under Resolution 1441, Iraq is required to declare all of its weapons programs. Any false statements or omissions in Iraq's weapons declaration, together with a failure to comply with and cooperate fully with the resolution, could place Iraq in "material breach" of its obligations - a finding that could open the door for war.
The 15-member Security Council reconvened Wednesday in a closed-door session to discuss the reports and begin debate on Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei will update the council again on Feb. 14.
U.S. military buildup
Meanwhile, the U.S. has prepared for a possible military conflict in the region. On Wednesday the U.S. military said it activated almost 16,000 reservists (part-time soldiers), increasing the total number of active reserve troops to close to 95,000, the largest number since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
They join full-time U.S. troops in the Gulf area, including more than 15,000 Marines and 100,000 Army soldiers along with heavy bombers, fighter jets and ground attack warplanes.
-- By Annie Schleicher, NewsHour Extra
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