U.S. Says Baghdad Is Hiding Anthrax; Blix Hasn't Told Security Council.(PAGE ONE)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

U.S. Says Baghdad Is Hiding Anthrax; Blix Hasn't Told Security Council.(PAGE ONE)


Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. intelligence agencies have told U.N. weapons inspectors that Iraq has hidden 7,000 liters of anthrax, but chief inspector Hans Blix never reported the information to the U.N. Security Council, The Washington Times has learned.

The failure to inform the council has raised questions about whether Mr. Blix will report accurately on anticipated Iraqi obstruction of weapons inspections, which could begin again later this month, said administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The recent intelligence assessment of the anthrax - about 1,800 gallons - is based on sensitive information, including data provided by Iraqi defectors and other U.S. intelligence-gathering means, the officials said.

U.S. intelligence officials said the anthrax stockpile is believed to be part of the 8,500 liters of anthrax that Iraq's government, after initial denials, admitted in 1995 to producing but told U.N. inspectors that it destroyed.

The intelligence was reported to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as Unmovic, within the past several months. However, Mr. Blix, the executive chairman of Unmovic, has not reported the information to the members of the Security Council, the officials said.

Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for Mr. Blix, would not address the issue of reporting the intelligence directly.

"Anthrax production in Iraq is clearly an open question," Mr. Buchanan said. "We don't know how much they've produced and whether they've destroyed all that they claimed."

Mr. Buchanan said previous assessments by the U.N. Special Commission said the Iraqis could have produced three times the 8,500 liters they admitted to having made.

"This is just the sort of question we would pursue," Mr. Buchanan said of the Iraqi anthrax cache.

Mr. Blix could not be reached for comment, but he said in a recent television interview that although he respects U.S. and British intelligence agency reports on Iraq's weapons, Unmovic cannot report the intelligence to the Security Council because spy agencies will not disclose their sources.

Mr. Blix said in an interview with talk-show host Charlie Rose that "the problem is that they will not give you evidence."

"They will say, 'We are convinced for various reasons that they have one thing or another,' but they will not say where it is," he said on the Oct. 31 broadcast.

"They will say that, 'Well, we have to protect our sources, so we will not give you evidence,'" he said. "And if some people ask me am I sure that they have weapons of mass destruction, I say, 'If I had that, I would take it to the Security Council straight away.'"

U.S. intelligence agencies also reported unusual activity at a suspected biological-weapons facility in Iraq, the officials said.

A CIA report made public last month stated that "Iraq admitted producing thousands of liters of the [biological-warfare] agents anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin" and had prepared missile warheads and bombs to deliver the weapons.

"Baghdad did not provide persuasive evidence to support its claims that it unilaterally destroyed its [biological-warfare] agents and munitions," the report said. …

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