UN inspectors continue efforts to interview Iraqi scientists

UN inspectors continue efforts to interview Iraqi scientists

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United Nations weapons monitors in Iraq today continued their efforts to hold private interviews with the country's scientists and biological experts.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was successful in conducting an interview in private with an Iraqi scientist connected to Iraq's former centrifuge programme, a UN spokesman in Baghdad said.

But, according to spokesman Hiro Ueki, a private interview with an Iraqi senior biological scientist sought by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) did not proceed. "The scientist kept the appointment, but declined to be interviewed under the UNMOVIC format," Mr. Ueki said

Meanwhile, an UNMOVIC chemical team began the process of destroying 10 155mm artillery shells and four plastic containers filled with mustard gas at Al Mutanna, approximately 140 km northwest of Baghdad. The destruction process is expected to take four to five days to complete, according to Mr. Ueki.

Another UNMOVIC chemical team visited the water treatment plants at the Al Qadissya and the Al Mahmoudiyah to conduct baseline inspections.

Mr. Ueki said that an UNMOVIC missile team inspected the Jaber Bin Hyan State Company that produces seals and gaskets of the Al Samoud missile. The team continued to verify Iraq's declarations and establish a comprehensive monitoring mechanism.

As for the IAEA, one team conducted a car-borne radiation survey and deployed an air sampler at a facility about 30 kilometres north of Baghdad. A second IAEA team meanwhile, deployed another air sampler and performed an inspection at a facility about 60 kilometres west of Baghdad.

A third IAEA team held a meeting with a senior Iraqi diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) offices in Baghdad, Mr. Ueki said.