CNN BREAKING NEWS
Hans Blix: Iraq Violated U.N. Bans
Aired January 16, 2003 - 07:05 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin right now with some major news on Iraq. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says that illegally- imported arms have been found inside Iraq. He's not saying they are related to weapons of mass destruction just yet, but something that requires further technical evaluation.
Let's catch up with Richard Roth, who is traveling with Mr. Blix. He joins us now on the phone from Brussels.
Richard -- good morning.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula.
Hans Blix is in Brussels, the first stop on what you might say is a Blix blitz through Europe en route to Baghdad later this week.
Now, you mentioned his comments on illegally-imported items. He has been saying that to the Security Council, and now telling the Europeans. Blix has reported that in his view and the inspectors' findings, Baghdad has illegally imported and violated sanctions by bringing in missile parts and missile engines for fuel for various things that are banned under U.N. resolutions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: We have found things that have been illegally imported, even in 2001 and 2002. The question of whether they are related to weapons of mass destruction is something that requires further technical evaluation. But we certainly have seen import of conventional things that are related to the conventional field, and my thought is it will be fitted (ph) into the weapons of mass destruction.
So, it's clear that they have violated the bans of the United Nations in terms of import.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: Blix said that his message to Baghdad is that the situation is very tense and very dangerous. You do not hear him use that language often, Paula, but he again called on Baghdad to show some credibility and to be more proactive and to reveal any information regarding any program of weapons of mass destruction -- Paula.
ZAHN: Did he confirm for you any more information about some of the searches that took place of Iraqi scientists' homes today?
ROTH: No, he did not mention that. He only was asked about interviews of scientists, and he said he still plans to do them. He has been saying that for several days, but no timetable was given. Blix flew overnight, as we did, and landed here. It's unclear how familiar he is with what exactly is happening on the ground right now in Baghdad.
ZAHN: Richard, if you can clarify something for us this morning, this breaking news that we're reporting right now that's just been confirmed by Hans Blix, it was certainly hinted at last week, was it not, when on Friday he talked about some arms-related material of the imported kind in Iraq?
ROTH: Yes, he hasn't exactly said, as he stated there, what its link is. Perhaps he's trying to build a case, but he's going to need more than that to form perhaps a material breach. He has said there is no smoking gun, but he's not satisfied with the answers that Iraq has given in their 12,000-page declaration.
But once again, he said if the U.S. moves in, and he meant militarily, -- quote -- "That's the end of inspections."
He thinks he deserves more time to continue his work. The big battle in the Security Council will be the United States saying the January 27 briefing should be it, and that then the onus is really on Baghdad and time is just -- it's a matter of time before there might be an invasion. Blix says under older Security Council resolutions, he can do more work for months.
ZAHN: Richard Roth reporting from Brussels, Belgium this morning. Thank you for the live update.
Now let's some White -- White House reaction, that is, from John King, who is following the story from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the president will speak a little bit later on today.
John, I know this news is just breaking. Has anybody at the White House yet reacted to it?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No official reaction just yet, Paula. The president will be here in Scranton in a few hours. His topic here: medical malpractice.
Obviously, the administration will welcome these remarks from Hans Blix, because officials say it is much more in line with the either/or posture from the White House: Either Iraq must confess and put out all of the evidence immediately, or Iraq must face the prospect of military action. Hans Blix saying that in striking terms today in language not all that dissimilar from that used by President Bush from time to time.
The White House has been frustrated of late with Dr. Blix because of, as Richard Roth just noted, his plans to go on into March or beyond before he presented any conclusive findings to the United States (sic). The White House is very likely to take what Hans Blix said today and say, there you have it from the chief weapons inspector, that Iraq was breaking United Nations resolutions as recently as the year 2002, importing weapons systems or components for weapons systems in violation of the United Nations resolution.
The president himself, remember, has said he would have zero tolerance to any violations, and the president says it is not up to the inspectors or the United States to prove these things are being used for weapons of mass destruction. They are illegal, Saddam Hussein is not supposed to have them. The Bush administration position is: Confess what you do have, lay out all of the evidence, prove you will disarm, or face military action.
Hans Blix's rhetoric today much more in line with the administration than Dr. Blix has been in recent days and weeks -- Paula.
ZAHN: John King, thanks so much -- good to see you this morning.
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