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UN begins supervising destruction of Iraqi missiles

UN begins supervising destruction of Iraqi missiles

The destruction of Iraq's proscribed Al Samoud 2 missiles, along with related components and systems, began today at Al Taji, according to a United Nations spokesman in Baghdad.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) supervised the process, Hiro Ueki told reporters. "During the technical talks between UNMOVIC and Iraq this morning, the method of destruction, a timetable and other work plans were agreed on," he said. Subsequently, four Al Samoud 2 missiles were destroyed.

Also today, UN experts went to several sites suspected of involvement in Iraq's clandestine weapons programme, including Al Muthanna, where Mr. Ueki said "all 155 millimetre artillery shells, which contained mustard, were prepared for final destruction."

In another development, UNMOVIC and Iraqi officials are slated to meet tomorrow to discuss Baghdad's proposals for the quantitative verification of the chemical agent VX as well as the anthrax that Iraq previously declared it had unilaterally destroyed.

Meanwhile, an UNMOVIC biological team today returned to the Al Aziziyah Airfield and Firing Range and continued to observe further digging in search of R-400 aerial bombs and bomb fragments that Iraq claims were filled with biological agents. "A joint biological and chemical team will sample the content of the intact bombs tomorrow," Mr. Ueki said.

Other sites visited today included Falluja III as well as two sites in Baghdad which are related to the procurement of communications equipment and the collection and analyses of information from different sources.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted activities at the Mahmoun Plant of the Al Rashid Company, which makes materials used in missile systems, the Qa Qaa State Company, an explosives manufacturer, and the Salam Factory in northern Baghdad, which produces electronic components for communications and control systems. In addition, the IAEA conducted a car-borne radiation survey north of Baghdad.

The spokesman also reported that on Friday evening, UNMOVIC privately interviewed an Iraqi biological scientist as well as one of the country's engineers.