U.N. Inspectors Examine Water Plant in Iraq

Dec. 30, 2002

U.N. inspectors searching for banned weapons hidden in Iraq visited three new sites today – the Central Health Laboratory, the General Commission of Plants Protection, and the Al Mahmoudiya water purification station on the Euphrates River.

The inspectors spent an hour at the water plant, where they examined yellow cylinders filled with chlorine and white bags containing another agent for water purification. The materials have both civilian and military uses.

One team also re-examined the al-Samood factory, about 25 miles west of Baghdad. The factory, part of the Al Karama State Company, manufactures components for al-Samood missiles, which have a range of more than 30 miles.

Under U.N. resolutions adopted after the Gulf War, Iraq cannot possess missiles with a range greater than 90 miles. U.S. and British intelligence reports contend Iraq is extending the al-Samood's range beyond permitted limits.

Other teams revisited Al Nidaa factory south of Baghdad, which manufactures mechanical parts and equipment for different types of missiles, and the Thaat Al Sawari plant, a fiberglass production plant in the al-Taji area, 18 miles north of Baghdad.

Also today, 13 U.S. religious leaders and experts on a humanitarian mission to Iraq were scheduled to visit a hospital, mosque and church in Baghdad. The delegation, which arrived Sunday, is headed by Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

Speaking to another visiting delegation, of 140 peace activists from Spain, President Saddam Hussein's chief science adviser Amir al-Saadi repeated Iraq's assertion that it has no nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or the missiles to deliver them.

He also accused the United States of playing politics and ignoring Iraqi efforts to cooperate with the weapons inspectors who arrived in November under U.N. Security Council resolution 1441.

Iraq has maintained it is following to the letter the latest U.N. resolution, but leaders of the new inspection program have said Iraq's required declaration on its past weapons programs issued Dec. 7 is incomplete. The United States was severely critical of the declaration and has repeatedly threatened to attack Iraq.

Al-Saadi said Iraq did not fear war as long as the United States abides by the Security Council resolution.

"If America chose a different path, that is its business, but the whole world will see this action," he said.

Source: The Associated Press