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Panel on weapons of mass destruction established

Annan hails establishment of panel on weapons of mass destruction

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the establishment of a new Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission headed by former UN expert Hans Blix.

"The Commission faces a task of the utmost importance - providing proposals on how to make progress in non-proliferation and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, and on how to minimize the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists," Mr. Annan said in a message to the Stockholm-based panel.

He pledged the full support of the world body for the panel's work, and anticipated "fruitful cooperation between the Commission and the United Nations."

The Secretary-General also recalled that the Commission was initiated by the late Foreign Minister of Sweden, Anna Lindh.

Mr. Blix served with the UN in a number of capacities, including as Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which was responsible for probing into Iraq's suspected programme of developing chemical, biological and other prohibited weapons.

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