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UN Weapons Inspectors Continue Site Visits in Iraq

U.N. weapons inspectors conducted their 26th day of inspections in Iraq Wednesday. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein says the inspectors won't find any banned weapons.

Christmas Day was a day of work for more than 100 U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq.

One inspection team started its day in Basra, in southern Iraq. The team traveled five hours by car from Baghdad to Basra Tuesday, and inspected, among other things, a paper factory.

On Wednesday, ballistics experts visited a military complex in central Iraq, a gas laboratory and a grain storage area. A biological weapons team went to a factory in Baghdad. Other teams traveled to undisclosed locations south and west of the capital. Inspectors have also begun the process of interviewing Iraqi scientists.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, in a nationally broadcast Christmas message, said the outcome of the inspections will be "a big shock to the United States." He said the inspections would expose what he called "American lies," and said Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.

Late Tuesday, the Saudi Foreign Minister told reporters in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia will not participate in any attack on Iraq. But he indicated that the kingdom might allow use of its bases, if the Security Council authorizes military action.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has charged that Iraq may have hidden weapons of mass destruction in Syria. Mr. Sharon says the information has not been fully verified.

Syria is currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, and it voted in favor of the resolution that authorized the new inspections, and gave inspectors wide authority to carry out their duties.

Mr. Sharon also accused Iraq of exporting some of its nuclear research to Libya.

A statement from Syria's Foreign Ministry calls the allegation from Prime Minister Sharon "ridiculous." Syria says Mr. Sharon made the comment to divert attention from Israel's own alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.