Today's Paper

Regime change was priority: Blix

MADRID April 9. The invasion of Iraq was planned well in advance, and the United States and Britain were not primarily concerned with finding any banned weapons of mass destruction, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said in an interview today.

``There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about their attitude to the (weapons) inspections,'' Mr. Blix told the Spanish daily El Pais.

``I now believe that finding weapons of mass destruction has been relegated, I would say, to the fourth place, which is why the United States and Britain are now waging war on Iraq. Today the main aim is to change the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein,'' he said, according to the Spanish text of the interview.

Mr. Blix said the U.S. President, George W. Bush, had told him in October 2002 that he backed the U.N.'s work to verify U.S. and British claims that Baghdad was developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.