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March 04, 2003

Iraq is rushing to come clean

US says its too little, too late

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq crushed missiles, sliced casting chambers, unearthed bombs and sent scientists to talk with U.N. weapons inspectors Monday, all in a desperate effort to prove it is disarming before a crucial U.N. report at the end of the week.

France, Russia and China urged Iraq to meet every U.N. demand in hopes of staving off war, but the United States -- which might wage war even without U.N. authorization -- said the actions were too little, too late

Workers have unearthed buried bombs they say are loaded with anthrax, aflatoxin and botulin toxin, and inspectors are analyzing the contents. Iraq is readying a letter to the United Nations that proposes verifying it has gotten rid of anthrax and deadly VX nerve agent.

Even Iraqi scientists who helped make missiles and chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction have begun to give private interviews to inspectors, something all but three had refused to do since December. Another scientist was interviewed on Monday, the fourth in as many days. The United Nations has asked to speak to more than 30 scientists since December.

After months of stressing disarmament, President Bush now speaks more frequently of "regime change," saying that for Iraq to avoid war, Saddam Hussein will have to go -- something few Iraqis can even imagine.

In a sense, the war has already begun. U.S. warplanes enforcing no fly zones in northern and southern Iraq have become much more aggressive in recent days, and have begun to go beyond their traditional targets of anti-aircraft weapons.