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Blix, UN monitoring board meet to discuss upcoming report on Iraq inspections

Blix, UN monitoring board meet to discuss upcoming report on Iraq inspections

The United Nations board that provides guidance to UN disarmament official Hans Blix is meeting today with him to review his upcoming quarterly report to the Security Council on the work of the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq.

The talks on the 1 March report between Mr. Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and the College of Commissioners are scheduled to last through tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York.

Meanwhile in Turkey, reporters asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan about last Friday's letter from Mr. Blix to Iraq ordering the destruction of its Al-Samoud 2 missiles by 1 March. "The letter is very clear, they have to destroy these weapons," the Secretary-General said yesterday upon his arrival in Ankara. He added that he was confident Iraq would do so, otherwise, "if they refuse to destroy it, the Council will have to take a decision on that."

The Secretary-General also stressed that the Iraqi authorities should realize the urgency and the seriousness of the situation and noted that the inspectors are in constant touch with them. "I think it is obvious that it is urgent and they must do it," he said. "And I hope they are not misreading the demonstrations and the mood around the world. Everyone, including those who are marching in these demonstrations, wants Iraq to decide and they want Iraq to comply with UN resolutions. So they should not misread the public."

As for the inspections, four UNMOVIC missile teams performed five inspections. One team routinely placed tags onto SA-2 missiles that had finished maintenance at the Al Harith Company. A second team inspected the Al Rasheed Company, which is involved in the design and production of solid propellant missiles, and also inspected the Al Qaid Factory, which is involved in warhead filling.

A third team inspected the Al Eyz State Company, which refurbishes electronic equipment, while the fourth team inspected the Al Mutasim Factory, which is involved in final assembling testing and qualification of solid propellant missiles.

Approximately 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad, an UNMOVIC biological team visited an airfield and munitions testing range site, and inspected munitions fragments at an old destruction site.

An UNMOVIC chemical team conducted a rebaselining inspection of the Baghdad Institute of Technology.

In Mosul, a joint UNMOVIC biological and multidisciplinary team inspected the Environmental Engineering Laboratory, which is part of the Department of Civil Engineering at Mosul University. "This laboratory performs chemical and microbiological analysis on environmental water samples," UNMOVIC spokesman Hiro Ueki said in Baghdad. A second multidisciplinary team, meanwhile, inspected two sites related to the Mosul Oilfield, including shelters and bunkers.

Activities carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) included a car-borne radiation survey in an area approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Baghdad. Two other IAEA teams inspected the following four sites associated with missiles and small arms to investigate their use of high-strength magnets: the Al-Midlad State Company, the Al-Karama and the Al-Razzi State Company, and Al-Yarmook.