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Iraq WMD questions remain: U.N.

From CNN UN Producer Liz Neisloss

UNMOVIC head Hans Blix will address the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
UNMOVIC head Hans Blix will address the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspectors found no evidence of any programs for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during their most recent period of inspections before the war, the body's weapons inspections agency has said.

But the inspectors also made "little progress" in clearing up remaining questions concerning possible WMD programs, according to the latest report from UNMOVIC.

According to the report, released Monday, "The long list of proscribed items unaccounted for and as such resulting in unresolved disarmament issues was neither shortened by the inspections, nor by Iraqi declarations and documentation."

The report also suggests that Iraq may have failed to declare what the United States says are mobile biological weapons labs.

As reported last week by CNN, the report says Iraq handed over photos and videos of mobile facilities but none match the types of mobile labs the United States asserts were intended for production of biological weapons.

According to the report, "None of the vehicles in these pictures look like the trucks recently described and depicted by the relevant units of the coalition."

Several investigations were interrupted by the withdrawal of inspectors March 18, including the issue of Iraq's program of remotely piloted vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Inspectors were trying to determine whether any of the vehicles were intended to disseminate chemical or biological weapons or had a longer-than-permitted range.

According to the report, Iraq sent "extensive" information on the UAV program "as late as March 19."

The report also says UNMOVIC -- the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee -- is ready to resume inspections should the U.N. Security Council decide.

The report makes a pitch for putting the experience of weapons inspectors to use.

"It would be inadvisable to undertake any drastic overall reduction in the present cadre of staff that is fully acquainted with the database and vast archives of UNSCOM and UNMOVIC and has broad knowledge of programs, sites and relevant persons in Iraq and about the logistics of inspection operations," the report says.

UNSCOM was the U.N. agency that handled inspections prior to 1998.

The United States has shown no interest in seeing the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. The latest U.N. resolution on Iraq maintains a budget for the U.N. inspection agency but says the issue of any return will be revisited at a future date.

Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, is scheduled to leave his post at the end of June. He will brief the U.N. Security Council on his latest report on Thursday.


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