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UN to release list of remaining tasks for complete Iraqi disarmament

UN to release list of remaining tasks for complete Iraqi disarmament

Hans Blix with UNCA president Tony Jenkins
Top United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix said today that he expects to release by the end of the week a list of 29 "clusters" of issues that Iraq needs to resolve in order to be in compliance with UN demands that it rid itself of banned weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking after Iraq destroyed nine more banned Al Samoud 2 missiles today, its highest daily number yet, Mr. Blix, Executive Chairman the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), told a news conference in New York that the working paper "contains 29 clusters of issues and each cluster ends with a number of questions as to what Iraq could do in order to solve the issue."

The release of the paper would come almost three weeks before a Security Council deadline for UNMOVIC to provide a work programme containing what it considers the key remaining disarmament tasks and indicating what it plans to do in these tasks and what it would demand that the Iraqis do. Mr. Blix declined to identify the key issues.

Mr. Blix reiterated, however, that Iraq's destruction of the Al Samoud was real disarmament. "There is a great deal more of cooperation now and the threat (of serious consequences) certainly has brought it there - I hope it is not too late," he told the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA). "Certainly the chopping up of the missiles is the most spectacular, the most important and tangible."

He also mentioned Baghdad's provision of documents that had not been found before, greater cooperation in interviewing Iraqi scientists and the digging up of R-400 biological bombs on which Iraq took the initiative.

Meanwhile in Iraq, UNMOVIC supervised the destruction of the nine missiles, which the UN says can exceed the 150-kilometre-range limit mandated by Council resolutions, bringing the total to 28 since the 1 March deadline set for starting the process. The concrete casing of the two already destroyed casting chambers was also destroyed.

UNMOVIC conducted another private interview with an Iraqi scientist while chemical and biological teams supervised the final disposal of neutralized mustard gas at Al Muthanna and further excavation at Al Aziziyah of R-400 bombs, which Iraq says had been filled with biological agents and were destroyed in 1991.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams inspected a State-owned trading company and the computer centre of a State bank and performed a car-borne radiation survey in an area southeast of Baghdad.



of Blix's press conference