Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

U.N. Inspectors Return to Nuclear Complex Again

Iraqi newspapers issued stinging criticism of President Bush on Saturday, when U.N. weapons inspectors made their fourth known visit to a large plant where Iraqi scientists once worked on a nuclear bomb.

The daily Al-Iraq said "the forces of evil and aggression, led by the great Satan -- the United States -- and its arrogant idiot President Bush" were doomed to fail in what the newspaper said were plans to attack Baghdad under "false pretexts."

Also Saturday, Babil, the newspaper owned by Saddam's eldest son Odai, was printed for the first time since it was banned for a month without explanation. It accused the Bush administration of "bloodthirstiness" and beating the "drums of war."

The huge al-Qa'qaa complex was visited by inspectors for three consecutive days beginning a week ago and had been under U.N. scrutiny in the 1990s. It was involved in the final design of a nuclear bomb before U.N. teams destroyed Iraq's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.

The site, about 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, contains a sulfuric acid plant, an explosives production facility and storage areas. Inspectors resumed work in Iraq last month after a four-year absence.

The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission under chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix is searching for evidence of chemical or biological weapons and the means to deliver them. Mohamed ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency teams area searching for banned nuclear weapons.

Also Saturday, the U.N. teams visited the Samara Pharmaceutical Factory, 80 miles north of Baghdad for the first time since returning to the country; the Al Samood missile factory, about 25 miles west of Baghdad; the Al Furat State Chemical Industry Company in Baghdad; and four other sites.

Driven by pressure from Washington, the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution on Iraq's disarmament last month. That declaration returned the inspectors for the first time since they left ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes in 1998.

The inspections are being conducted in conjunction with economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering the Persian Gulf War. The Iraqis have said they hope arms inspections could be finished and sanctions lifted within eight months. Under U.N. resolutions, the sanctions will only be removed after inspectors attest Iraq is in compliance.

Bush already has declared Iraq in "material breach" of the resolution but has decided to hold off any military response for at least a month as the Americans seek to build U.N. support for attacking Saddam. Both Blix and ElBaradei have indicated the voluminous Iraqi weapons declaration, required by the latest U.N. resolution, does not fully outline the country's weapons programs.