Iraqi personnel decline UN request for private interviews

Iraqi personnel decline UN request for private interviews

Exercising powers granted by the Security Council, United Nations officials in Iraq tried to interview several individuals privately, but were unable to do so after they declined, a UN spokesman in Baghdad reported today.

On Friday, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) requested "further interviews with Iraqi personnel in private" but "two individuals concerned did not agree to it without the presence of a witness," said Hiro Ueki. As a result, those interviews were not held.

"UNMOVIC will continue to seek interviews in private, as allowed in Security Council resolution 1441," Mr. Ueki stressed, referring to the landmark text which paved the way for resumed inspections following a four-year suspension.

According to the spokesman, officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the UN watchdog probing Baghdad's nuclear weapons programme – flew by helicopter with representatives of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate to a facility formerly known as Al Jesira to conduct an interview in private. "The individual concerned declined the request," Mr. Ueki said, adding that the interview was then conducted in the presence of a representative of the Directorate.

Also today, two incidents took place at and around the Canal Hotel, where the UN is based. In the first, an Iraqi man holding an iron rod approached the main gate of the UN premises before being subdued and apprehended by UN security personnel, who found three knives on his body and then handed him over to the Iraqi authorities.

In the second incident, an Iraqi man stopped a convoy of inspectors as it headed onto Canal Road. "When the driver of the lead UN vehicle got out of the car to talk to the man, the man jumped into the driver's seat," Mr. Ueki said. "The man was subsequently removed from the vehicle and handed over to Iraqi authorities for questioning."

Meanwhile, inspectors continued their activities, including visits to the Al Rasheed State Company at Al Mamoun, the Sumaykah surface-to-surface missile support facility, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Education at Quadisiyah University, the Al Qa Qaa complex, the North Oil Company and the Colleges of Education and Engineering at Tikrit University.

On Friday, an UNMOVIC chemical team returned to the Al Qa Qaa complex for the seventh day to inspect the Research and Development Centre and a waste treatment facility. Afterwards, the team went to the Mamoun Factory, which belongs to the Al Rasheed Company and is located next to the Al Qa Qaa complex. “The factory produces munitions and chemical materials for munitions,” Mr. Ueki said. The team then proceeded to the Al Basil Centre – which is primarily a research centre for chemical products – in the Jadriyah complex in Baghdad to assess its current activities.