The Bush administration last week asked UNMOVIC, the United Nations' weapons inspection team in Iraq, to aggressively court the defection of Iraqi scientists who have knowledge of illicit biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. Some American officials have advocated the forced removal of weapons experts for questioning, if these individuals are unwilling to leave Iraq voluntarily.

But chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is not swayed by US arguments, vowing in a press conference on Friday, "We are not going to abduct anybody and we are not serving as a defection agency." Blix noted that he welcomed recommendations from UN member governments, including the United States, but stressed his team is "in nobody's pocket. It's we who decide."

Although the US calls may sound outrageous, the UN inspectors have the authority under a recent Security Council resolution to interview people freely, inside or outside Iraq. Motivation for the US campaign stems...

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