Iraq: UN inspectors continue seeking evidence of most destructive weapons

Iraq: UN inspectors continue seeking evidence of most destructive weapons

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United Nations weapons experts today continued inspecting sites across Iraq in search of evidence of a clandestine programme to produce prohibited arms.

Missile teams from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) probed Al Nida, which manufactures solid propellant mixers; Nissan Factory 17, which is involved in the production of Al Samoud missile parts; and the Salah Al Din State Company, which manufactures fuses and printed circuit boards of missiles. “The teams continued to verify Iraq's declaration and establish a comprehensive monitoring mechanism,” said UN spokesman Hiro Ueki.

An UNMOVIC biological team visited the Saddam Center for Biotechnology Research in Baghdad to “follow up the movement of items notified by the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate,” Mr. Ueki added. The same team later inspected the Chemistry Department of Saddam University College of Science, while a biological team visited An Bar College of Agriculture, located approximately 150 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Seeking evidence of chemical arms production, UNMOVIC experts flew by helicopter to Basra, where they inspected the Southern Refinery Company.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) dispatched four teams today. Two inspected facilities within the Tuwaitha site just south of Baghdad in a bid to further refine the Agency's knowledge of nuclear wastes in Iraq.

“The first team included nuclear experts experienced in rock climbing and inspected previously inaccessible underground chambers within the old Tamuz 1 reactor complex that had been destroyed by bombing in 1981,” Mr. Ueki said. “The second team inspected and made preparations for the removal of a small amount of natural uranium slurry, previously marked for removal in 1998, from a pit located within the facility.”

A third IAEA team conducted a car-borne radiation survey at the Radwan and Yarmouk facilities 50 kilometres west of Baghdad, while a fourth inspected the Taji Engineering facility, which is involved in aircraft motor refurbishing.