UN asks Baghdad to provide list of scientists involved in weapons programme

UN asks Baghdad to provide list of scientists involved in weapons programme

Exercising power granted by the Security Council resolution which paved the way for resumed weapons inspections in Iraq, the United Nations has asked Baghdad for a list of scientists involved in the country's arms programme.

"The resolution does give us the authority to ask the Iraqis to provide a list of personnel who had been associated with their weapons programmes either now or in the past," Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC), said today in an interview with UN Radio.

UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix "put the Iraqis on notice that he would indeed wish to exercise this authority given to us by the Council," the spokesman reported. "Dr. Blix wrote to the Iraqi side on Thursday last week to ask for this list, and we've asked that they provide it to us by the end of the month."

The compilation, Mr. Buchanan said, "might be quite useful for us to cross reference with information we have, and it may form the basis of inspection work or possible interviews in the future."

Asked whether these interviews would be conducted outside of the country, Mr. Buchanan said the option is being studied. "We do have some concerns about the modalities for such activities but we're still looking at it," he said.