Baghdad to report on chemical weapons destruction

04 March 2003
Baghdad on 3 March pledged to submit a report to UN weapons inspectors on the fate of its stocks of anthrax and VX gas in 'about a week,' potentially slowing the US' march towards war. Inspectors say that about 2.4 tonnes of VX gas remain unaccounted for, but Iraq's chief scientific adviser, Amer al-Saadi, said on 2 March that DNA testing would be used to help verify that stockpiles of both chemicals had been destroyed. Head of the inspections team Hans Blix is scheduled to give his next progress report to the UN Security Council on 7 March, based on a draft report presented on 27 February which described Iraqi steps towards disarmament as 'very limited'. Since the criticism, Baghdad has begun destroying its Al-Samoud II missiles as demanded. Both the US and the UK have dismissed moves on co-operation as irrelevant concessions, falling far short of President Saddam Hussein's obligations under Resolution 1441.

White House sources have indicated that they aim to have the second resolution on Iraq, jointly tabled by Washington and London, adopted in the week following Blix's report. However, diplomatic officials quoted in the Washington Post said that the US would be unlikely to press for a vote on the resolution, which essentially authorises the use of force, unless it could be certain of securing the requisite nine votes in the Security Council. An intense round of diplomacy is being conducted to win round the waverers.

France, the most implacable opponent among permanent Security Council members of a swift move to war, showed some signs of softening his stance on 3 March. Addressing the Algerian Parliament, President Chirac called on the Iraqi president to enhance co-operation: 'Iraq most co-operate more actively,' he said.

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