UN inspectors withdrew from Iraq in March, shortly before the American-led invasion of the country.

After the war, the US deployed its own experts and refused to allow the inspectors to return. 

At a closed council meeting on a recent quarterly report from the UN inspection commission, about a dozen countries said the expertise of the unit was being wasted after dealing with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction since 1991, participants reported. 

But no conclusion was reached and the council did not deal with a future mandate for the UN Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC. 

American officials said the US did not want to take up the issue until its own searches, led by David Kaye, a former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector, had been completed, probably in June. 

Al-Samoud missiles

German diplomats asked US and British officials what had happened to al-Samoud 2 missiles UNMOVIC did not have enough time to destroy before the war as well as hundreds of engines for SA2 surface-to-air missiles.

UNMOVIC declared al-Samoud 2 illegal earlier this year, because it had a range beyond the 150-kilometre limit allowed under UN resolutions. But not all al-Samouds were destroyed before the UN inspectors left Iraq. 

In response, US representative Josiah Rosenblatt said the Kaye report had sensitive operational details, but that the United States was willing to share classified information "at an appropriate time."

And British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry asked the inspectors why they could not draw more precise conclusions. 

Unanswered questions

The UNMOVIC report said there was circumstantial evidence that Iraq was working on a two-stage rocket that would have had an illegal range, but that closer investigation was needed.

Demetris Perricos, the current head of UNMOVIC, said he doubted that Saddam Hussein had large stocks of weapons of mass destruction.

But his report also pointed to unanswered questions in accounting for materials like anthrax, which Iraq said it had destroyed without giving proof. 

But Perricos in the report said pointedly that most of Kaye's findings reported in the media "relate to complex subjects familiar to UNMOVIC, through declarations and semi-annual reports provided by Iraq".