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UN inspectors resume destroying Iraqi mustard shells, visit biological arms site

UN inspectors resume destroying Iraqi mustard shells, visit biological arms site

UN inspectors in Iraq
United Nations weapons teams inspected missile, chemical, medical and nuclear-related sites across Iraq today, resuming the destruction of mustard-filled artillery shells and checking for the third day running a site where Iraq says it destroyed bombs filled with biological agents.

A UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) biological team revisited excavations in the Al Aziziyah Range, about 100 kilometres southwest of Baghdad, where Iraq says R400 aerial bombs filled with biological agents were unilaterally destroyed in 1991, spokesman Hiro Ueki said. The team, which first visited the site on 24 February, inspected excavated munitions and fragments and conducted an aerial survey.

UNMOVIC chemical teams resumed the destruction of mustard-filled artillery shells at the Al Muthana site, successfully testing new procedures for drilling the shells, and inspected sulphuric acid facilities at Al Naif and Dar Al Salam, 80 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Missile teams visited the Al Shika Company, which supplies support equipment for research and development, and the Al Amin Factory, which performs mechanical machining and hydrostatic testing of Al Fatah and Al Abour motor cases and produces the body for the Al Fatah cluster-type warhead. The inspectors tagged equipment, which had previously been destroyed by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) but subsequently repaired by Iraq.

They also tagged additional equipment that had been destroyed by UNSCOM but repaired by Iraq at the Al Basil Company, which produces oil, salt and detergents for civil industries. The equipment was related to a proscribed missile of the past and some of it is currently being used to produce parts for the Al Fatah missile.

Biological and multidisciplinary teams, meanwhile, inspected the Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Unit in Mosul and the Badush Cement Factory, which belongs to the Northern Cement State Company.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams inspected the Ibn Al Beythar Research Centre for raw materials for the medical industry in the Taji area north of Baghdad. They also conducted two private interviews with engineers associated with Iraq's former gas centrifuge enrichment programme, and performed a car-borne radiation survey in the Zafaraniya area of Baghdad, including several large industrial sites.