Tags: U.N. | Experts | Complete | Inspecting | Site

U.N. Experts Complete Inspecting 1 Site

Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission completed the search of Al Tahadi site in the area of Al Rashad, 10 miles east of Baghdad, around noon local time.

It was not immediately known if the inspection of another site, Al Amriyeh, 25 miles west of Baghdad, was also completed.

Reporters and cameramen were refused permission to enter, and the experts refused to comment on the outcome of their inspection.

At 8:30 a.m., two teams of inspectors -- one from the IAEA and the other from UNMOVIC -- moved in a convoy of 10 four-wheel drive vehicles from the U.N. headquarters in Al Qanat hotel, in Baghdad's western suburbs. A 10-car convoy belonging to the Iraqi national monitoring department was waiting nearby to accompany them.

The Iraqis, as well as journalists waiting nearby, were unaware of inspectors' destination.

Adding to the drama, an air raid siren echoed across the city, spreading panic among the population, soon after the inspections began. This was later followed by an all-clear siren. It was unclear what caused the siren to go off.

The Iraqi Information Ministry divided journalists into two groups -- one to report on the activities of the IAEA and another to monitor the activities of UNMOVIC inspectors.

The inspectors waved and smiled to hundreds of reporters and cameramen who watched them embark on their new mission. The experts, who wore blue helmets, carried with them sophisticated equipment, which will be used to inspect sites suspected of hiding non-conventional weapons.

The launch of the inspections also marked the start of the countdown for Iraq to declare its suspected weapons of mass destruction to the U.N. Security Council by Dec. 8, in line with Res. 1441. Under the resolution, international inspectors will have to submit a detailed report within 2 months to the Security Council on the outcome of their mission.

An estimated 17 international inspectors arrived in Baghdad Monday carrying 20 tons of equipment, including computers and detectors.

More UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors are expected to head to Iraq soon and their number will reach 300 people from 45 nations, including seven Arab experts from Egypt and Morocco, by the end of the year.

IAEA chief Ahmed ElBaradei reiterated threats of a war against Iraq if Baghdad failed to cooperate fully with the international inspectors.

"If Iraq wants to avoid the wrath of war, it has to cooperate 100 percent with the international inspection teams," he said. "That is the only way to avoid a definite military strike."

His comments were printed Wednesday by the Saudi Al Madina daily.

ElBaradei urged Iraq to take this opportunity, "because it will be the last."

Inspections were suspended in 1998 amid disputes over U.N. access to Iraqi sites and Iraqi complaints of U.S. espionage through the operation.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission completed the search of Al Tahadi site in the area of Al Rashad, 10 miles east of Baghdad, around noon local time. It was not immediately known if the...
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2002-00-27
Wednesday, 27 November 2002 12:00 AM
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