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Blix Report: Disarmament 'Limited So Far'

U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says Iraq failed to make a major effort to produce evidence of its weapons programs and therefore its disarmament has been "very limited so far," according to diplomats who have seen the draft of his new report to the U.N. Security Council.

Blix delivered the final version of the report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan late Wednesday. It is expected to be given to the 15 Security Council members late Friday afternoon, and is certain to be an important element in the debate over a U.S.-backed resolution that would authorize war against Iraq.

The report, read to The Associated Press by council diplomats, says Iraq could have made greater efforts "to find remaining proscribed items or credible evidence showing the absence of such items."

"The results in terms of disarmament have been very limited so far," the draft says.

Blix notes that Iraq has not yet agreed to his order to start destroying, by Saturday, Al Samoud 2 missiles which exceed the 93-mile limit set in U.N. resolutions.

He told reporters earlier this week this issue would be a key test of Iraq's cooperation.

Blix has complained in the past that Iraq was not providing substantive information about its chemical, biological and long-range missile programs. The issue is at the heart of the U.S. case that Saddam Hussein has failed to fully cooperate with inspectors.

"Iraq could have made full use of the declaration which was submitted on Dec. 7," Blix says in the draft.

The chief inspector complained that the 12,000-page declaration was long on words but short on substance, though the diplomats said the draft does say it contained new information about Iraq's missile program after U.N. inspectors left in December 1998.

In recent days, Iraq has stepped up efforts to clarify outstanding issues about its weapons programs, but Blix said Wednesday there is still no evidence that Saddam has decided to disarm.

He said letters from Iraq about two R-400 aerial bombs -- one of which may be filled with a biological agent -- and about the finding of handwritten documents on the 1991 disposal of chemical and biological weapons "are potentially interesting" and will have to be examined.

But Blix said the letters did not represent "full cooperation or a breakthrough."

In the draft report, Blix says, "It is hard to understand why a number of the measures which are now being taken could not have been initiated earlier."

"If they had been taken earlier, they might have borne fruit by now," he says.

"It is only by the middle of January and thereafter that Iraq has taken a number of steps which have the potential of resulting either in the presentation for destruction of stocks or items that are proscribed or the presentation of relevant evidence solving long-standing unresolved disarmament issues," the chief inspector says.