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UN Inspectors to Brief Blair on Iraq - 2003-02-06


The top UN weapons inspectors are to brief British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London today (Thursday) on the search for banned weapons in Iraq.

Reports say the briefing by chief inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei may provide an indication of how they regard evidence presented Wednesday at the United Nations by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr. Powell offered the UN Security Council what he called "irrefutable and undeniable" proof Iraq is continuing to build and hide weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Powell used satellite images, intercepted conversations and other previously classified information to make his case.

He said Iraq has a "policy of evasion and deception set at the highest levels." He also accused Baghdad of providing a safe haven to operatives of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Iraq's UN ambassador (Mohammed Aldouri) dismissed the Powell report as containing incorrect allegations and unnamed sources. He says Iraq is free of banned weapons.

Meanwhile, Chief UN weapons inspector Blix says he and Mr. ElBaradei are preparing to Baghdad Saturday with three demands. Mr. Blix told the Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat that Iraq must pass a law forbidding any citizen to work with weapons of mass destruction.

He said U2 spy planes must be allowed to fly over suspected weapons sites. And, he said Baghdad must allow Iraqi scientists to be interviewed by weapons inspectors in private.

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