Menu

ARCHIVE

Inspectors Visit Four Sites in Iraq

U.N. experts on Friday inspected a pharmaceutical plant and made a return visit to a missile fuel factory, one day after U.N. officials told the Security Council that Baghdad must do more to prove that it is free of weapons of mass destruction.

Bad weather prevented inspectors from visiting other undisclosed sites outside the capital for a second straight day.

U.N. inspectors returned for a third visit this month to the Al-Mamoun missile propellant factory 40 miles south of Baghdad, the Information Ministry said in a statement.

Other teams, some wearing white protective suits and carrying masks, also inspected a state pharmaceutical company in Baghdad and two state-run stores in the capital, the ministry said. The stores, Al-Dabash and Al-Adil, sell foodstuffs, electrical appliances and construction materials.

Neither the Iraqi government nor the inspectors made any comment about what the inspectors saw there.

U.N. resolutions prohibit Iraq from maintaining missiles with a range over 90 miles, and the visit to the propellant factory may have been aimed at determining whether Iraq was violating that restriction.

Inspectors also planned to travel by helicopter to undisclosed sites outside the capital but bad weather scrubbed the mission. Dense fog prevented the inspectors from using their helicopters Thursday.

The teams are attempting to determine whether Iraq still holds weapons of mass destruction in violation of U.N. resolutions approved following Baghdad's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. The United States and Britain insist Iraq still holds such weapons, despite Iraqi denials.

President Bush has threatened to disarm Iraq by force if necessary, and thousands of U.S. and British troops are streaming into the Gulf to back up that threat.

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in Washington on Thursday.

Iraq maintains that the United States has fabricated allegations against President Saddam Hussein's government to justify a new war to seize control of its extensive oil resources. Iraq remains defiant in the face of a possible war.

"May God kill the Americans, rock the earth beneath them and sow divisions among them," said Abdel-Ghafour al-Qaisi, preach at Baghdad's Mother of all Battles mosque in a sermon Friday which was broadcast live on state television. "God will never allow that infidel tyranny (the United States) from controlling this pious nation. Victory will be on Iraq's side."

Meanwhile, the Turkish minister in charge of foreign trade, Kursad Tuzmen, arrived in Baghdad on Friday at the head of a 350-member business delegation. He told reporters he was carrying a message from Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul to Saddam.

Tuzmen said Turkey was trying to restore its trade with Iraq to its pre-Gulf War levels -- about $3 billion -- from its current volume of about $2 billion.

The visit coincides with Turkey's decision to allow the U.S. military to inspect Turkish ports and air bases in preparation for a possible war against Iraq. The survey, which could start as early as Monday, is a key first step toward a possible U.S. military presence in Turkey, which served as a staging area for attacks against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War.