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Weapons Inspections Continue in Iraq - 2002-12-11

In Iraq, a newly expanded team of United Nations weapons inspectors is expanding its schedule of surprise inspections. VOA-TV’s Deborah Block has our report.

The United Nations arms experts drove from their headquarters to the outskirts of Baghdad to several locations, including al-Karamah complex in Taji, ten kilometers north of the capital.

The inspectors parked one of their vehicles across the main gate to block access to the complex while they were inside. In the past, Taji housed several complexes suspected of involvement in Iraqi biological weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Kamil Saeed, Director General of one of the plants in al-Karamah complex, said the U.N. monitors who inspected his site had found nothing.

Twenty-eight additional inspectors have arrived in Iraq, raising the number to 70. Besides al-Karamah they checked out several other locations, including a biological site southwest of Baghdad and a phosphate plant far north of the city.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned against prejudging Iraq’s massive arms declaration. He spoke to reporters while en route to the Horn of Africa and Qatar to visit U.S. troops and facilities.

“It is the subject of intense scrutiny at the present time on the part of a multi-departmental interagency team. I think the thing to do is not to prejudge it, be patient, and expect that it will take days and weeks probably to go over it and come to some judgements about it.”

Meanwhile, opponents of a possible war with Iraq continue making their voices heard. In Washington, protestors gathered outside a military recruitment office chanting anti-war slogans. Many, like this young man, say the military targets low-income people for recruitment.

U.S. President George Bush is continuing to threaten to lead a military attack to disarm Iraq, despite Iraqi claims that it does not have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.