UN interviews another key Iraqi scientist as inspections continue

UN interviews another key Iraqi scientist as inspections continue

UN inspectors in Iraq
As United Nations experts today continued their inspections throughout Iraq, they interviewed another key Iraqi scientist about the country's suspected weapons programme.

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) interviewed a metallurgist from a high-visibility state company, according to a spokesman for the Agency and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

"He provided technical details of a military programme," spokesman Hiro Ueki said in Baghdad. "This programme has attracted considerable attention as a possible prelude to a clandestine nuclear programme. The answers will be of great use in completing the IAEA assessment."

Meanwhile, an UNMOVIC biological team inspected the Modern Chemical Industries in Hay Babil, a private company that produces industrial alcohol, medicinal-grade alcohol, arak, whiskey and gin from dates.

“The company is a declared and previously monitored site, due to the presence of dual-use equipment,” Mr. Ueki said. “The site was closed for the Christmas holiday but access was granted to the offices, production areas and a laboratory the team wanted to inspect for which keys were available.”

Two UNMOVIC teams visited the Al Nasser Al Athim (Al Adheem) State Company in Baghdad, a facility for heavy engineering, according to the spokesman. "Although it was a Friday inspection, access to the facility as well as all the buildings designated for inspection was granted," he added.

As one group of UN inspectors continued their “re-baselining” of the site, a team of missile experts held discussions with site personnel, while others inspected buildings on the facility, which undertakes a wide range of metal working for both civilian and military purposes.