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Iraq to Hand Over Detailed List of Weapons Systems


U.N. weapons inspectors have investigated a former chemical weapons factory and an Iraqi nuclear facility, as Iraq prepares to hand over a detailed list of its weapons systems. While the inspectors are reporting good cooperation, the Iraqi foreign ministry is questioning the motive of the inspectors.

One U.N. inspection team drove two hours into the desert northwest of Baghdad to make sure work had not resumed at a demolished chemical weapons plant.

The plant was destroyed by previous inspectors in the 1990s, after Iraq admitted it was used to produce four tons a year of deadly chemical weapons, as well as biological agents, including anthrax.

The factory had operated under the name Iraqi State Establishment for Pesticide Production.

A second inspection team traveled south of Baghdad to a nuclear facility where, in the 1980s, Iraq attempted to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb. Israeli warplanes attacked the complex in 1981, destroying its nuclear reactor. Satellite photographs have reportedly spotted new construction at the facility.

The weapons inspectors say they have received good cooperation from Iraq during their hunt for weapons of mass destruction. But the Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement questioning the purpose of Tuesday's visit by inspectors to one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.

The statement noted that the inspectors entered the palace without protective clothing or masks to protect them against biological, chemical or nuclear agents. The statement charged that it raises the question of whether the inspectors were looking for weapons or were pursuing other objectives.

The statement said the coming days will determine if the inspectors are acting impartially or will be used, as the statement said, to spy on targets that are not mentioned in the U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Iraq has announced it will turn over a detailed declaration of its weapons systems Saturday, one day before the U.N.-mandated deadline.

The Arab League issued a statement praising Iraqi cooperation with the inspectors, but also warned Iraq that its cooperation must continue throughout the entire inspection process.

Since beginning inspections November 27, the weapons inspectors have been visiting an average of two sites per day. Inspection officials have said they may want to visit as many as 700 sites.

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