Blix Interested In War's Weapons

The Early Show, Hans Blix talks to Harry Smith CBS/The Early Show

There is nothing that has happened so far in this war against Iraq that has surprised Hans Blix, the man who led the team of United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq.

In an interview Saturday on The Early Show, Blix said inspectors had found no evidence that the Iraqis were harboring weapons of mass destruction.

"At the same time," he told co-anchor Harry Smith, " we were never able to say, 'We guarantee that you will have full results in another three months.' And that's why I did not ask for three months, but I would have welcomed it, yes."

Now, he says, it is up to the U.S. and Britain to find out the truth.

"We did not find the weapons of mass destruction," he said. "Now is that because they were not there, as the Iraqis said? Or because they had hid them so well that we wouldn't find them?" The latter was the argument made in appeals to the U.N. by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

He says he and his team are interested in the weapons the Iraqis are using in the war.

If any of the missiles launched so far by Iraq prove to be Scuds, said Blix, "Well, then they are liars. If they were to use chemical weapons, well, then they are also liars and I think the view of the war would change very much."

CBS analyst Stephen Black, a former weapons inspector, later told Smith that Blix's use of the word "liar" shows the tension in the international community.

"In that culture, when we would catch somebody in a lie, you never say to them across the table, 'You're lying.' It's a hot-button word in that culture. You say, 'That's inaccurate,' or misleading, or incomplete, but you never call somebody a liar. And for Hans Blix to say that, maybe, shows a little bit of his tension over what might come out of this war."

Blix also said that is one reason why he does not believe that Saddam Hussein will use chemical or biological weapons in this war, even if he has them.

"He sees himself as an emperor of Mesopotamia, if you like, and indeed a great Arab, and he would not like to go down in history as a liar the United States said he was," Blix concluded.

Blix said he was pleased he was able to "set up an inspection organization that was independent of all member states that reported directly to the Security Council," and emphasized that the role of the inspectors was simply to find evidence.

"I don't think I should have gut feelings about this," Blix said. "I simply think for inspectors, trust is not in the job description. We look for evidence." Black said Blix was "exactly on target" in describing the inspectors' roles.

Blix rejected any suggestion that the U.N. had failed in this matter. "The question is when you come up to sensitive things, like peace and war, like security, there are some [national] interests that take over, and that's what has happened in this case," he said.
  • Mary-Jayne McKay

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