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Top UN arms experts set to brief Security Council on Iraq inspections

Top UN arms experts set to brief Security Council on Iraq inspections

Just a little more than one month after Iraq handed over a 12,000-page dossier on its weapons programme, the top United Nations arms inspectors are preparing to give the Security Council a preliminary assessment of their investigations on the ground.

The Council is scheduled to hear a briefing on Thursday from Executive Chairman Hans Blix of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the on-going inspections process in Iraq since they resumed late last year.

A fuller briefing of the Council has been scheduled for 27 January in accordance with resolution 1441, which paved the way for the return of inspectors last November after a nearly four-year hiatus.

Meanwhile in Iraq, an UNMOVIC team of missile inspectors returned to the Al Mamoun Plant of the Al Rasheed State Company for the third day in a row, according to a UN spokesman in Baghdad. Some members of the team tagged solid propellant motors of the Al Fatah rockets, while others went to the propellant production area to witness the casting of solid propellant into an Al Fatah motor case.

"This was the second time in two weeks that the missile team witnessed propellant production activities at the site," said Hiro Ueki. "A number of technical questions regarding Iraq's missile production capabilities were [also] addressed during discussions with the site's experts."

In other inspection activities, an UNMOVIC chemical team returned to the Falluja II chemical plant to inspect storage buildings and to seek clarifications on several issues. The facility was last inspected by the team on 17 December.

An UNMOVIC biological team inspected the Saddam College of Medicine at Saddam University in northwest Baghdad, which educates students to become medical doctors and carries out research.

UN multidisciplinary teams inspected the Mechanical Workshop of the Al Nasr State Company for the Maintenance of Irrigation Projects, and the Nineveh Drug Industry in the Mosul area. That team then continued on to a daughter company, the Nineveh Factory for Intravenous Drugs Production, where it conducted a follow-up inspection.

The IAEA, meanwhile, inspected the Kufa, Samawa and Karbala cement plants, all located outside Baghdad.