In an interview on BBC television's Hardtalk,
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed
ElBaradei also said he believed Iraq had not tried to revive its
clandestine nuclear weapons program as the United States and
Blix and ElBaradei led the hunt for Iraq's
alleged weapons of mass destruction for nearly four months late
last year and early this year. The IAEA hunted for nuclear
weapons, while Blix's UNMOVIC monitoring agency looked for
chemical, biological and ballistic arms.
Asked if the administration of President Bush
had tried to intimidate him to produce reports support their
case for a war on Iraq, ElBaradei said it had not.
"I think there were probably more efforts
to intimidate Hans Blix, because there were more serious
concerns about chemical and biological (weapons)," he said.
"Hans complained a lot about the media
campaign, some of the administration's efforts to put pressure
The Bush administration sharply criticized
Blix before the war for refusing to back U.S. and British
assertions about Iraq's weapons programs in his reports to the
U.N. Security Council.
U.N. weapons inspectors never found the
massive stockpiles of banned weapons that Britain and the U.S.
claimed President Saddam Hussein possessed. Neither have the
U.S. and British forces who took over the hunt for his arsenal
after the war.
ElBaradei said a lesson should be learned
about the dangers of cutting short weapons inspections.
"If anything comes out from the war in
Iraq, it's that inspections take time and that we should not
jump to conclusions, because jumping to conclusions on such a
vital issue that determines war and peace is very reckless and
irresponsible in my opinion," he said.
ElBaradei added that he would like to see the
situation in Iraq "coming to a closure soon and put an end
to that tragic situation."
Regarding U.S. and British insistence that
Saddam had tried to revive his secret atomic weapons program,
which the IAEA says it destroyed in the 1990s, ElBaradei was
certain this allegation is unfounded.
"I would be very surprised if we were to
discover that there was a nuclear weapons program restarted in
Iraq," he said.
Blix, who headed the IAEA for 16 years until
1997, retired as the director of UNMOVIC at the end of June.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd