UN monitors press forward with inspections in Iraq

UN monitors press forward with inspections in Iraq

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On the eve of a Security Council meeting to hear a briefing by the United States on its evidence of Iraq’s suspected arms programme, United Nations monitors on the ground pressed forward with their inspections today.

According to a UN spokesman in Baghdad, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) sought another private interview with an Iraqi individual, who made the appointment with two witnesses but declined to be interviewed without their presence. "The interview did not proceed," said Hiro Ueki.

Meanwhile, an UNMOVIC biological team inspected the State Establishment for Heavy Engineering Enterprises plant in Daura, about 15 kilometres south of Baghdad. The facility designs and manufactures a range of equipment, including large storage and mixing tanks used by the food processing, chemicals and petroleum industries.

Also in the Daura residential area of Baghdad, a chemical team visited a water purification facility while another inspected the ASCO commercial centre in Baghdad, a company that deals with agro-chemicals and is one of the main distributors for pesticides in Iraq.

Three missile teams inspected three separate sites: the Al Rafah test stand that is involved in the static testing of missile engines; Al Harith that is involved in the maintenance of missiles; and Al Mamoun, which manufactures composite solid propellant. "These inspections were conducted to verify Iraq's declarations and to establish a comprehensive monitoring mechanism," Mr. Ueki noted.

North of Baghdad, a multidisciplinary team inspected three sites: a farm, a helicopter support facility, and the Al Taji Ammunition Depot, where an empty Sakr-18 chemical warhead was found, tagged and secured. "This is the same type of chemical warhead as was found at the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area on 16 January," Mr. Ueki said.

In Mosul, a multidisciplinary team inspected the Mosul Sugar and Yeast Factories, ascertaining the present status of the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted inspections at the Al Mamoun plant of the Al Qa Qaa Establishment and, with support from UNMOVIC, at the former site of the Al Salam Company, which had been associated with biological weapons development, in the Salman Pak area south of Baghdad.