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UN Inspectors Continue Search for Banned Weapons in Iraq


Without stopping for a New Year's Day break, United Nations inspectors on Wednesday continued their hunt for Iraq's suspected banned weapons. For its part, Iraq has called on fellow Arab countries to follow North Korea's defiance of the United States.

U.N. inspectors visited at least three sites on Wednesday, including one that oversees development and production of weapons and ammunitions. In an effort to step up their activities, U.N. sources say the experts will soon take to the air, using helicopters to carry out inspections. On Saturday, they will set up a permanent base in the northern town of Mosul to facilitate their work in north Iraq.

Meanwhile, Baghdad has launched the new year with a call to fellow Arabs to take North Korea's lead in defying the United States.

Iraq's Babel newspaper, which is run by Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, said Arabs need to follow the example of North Korea, which last month revived its nuclear program, and mobilize in order to stop an attack on Iraq. Despite the difference in forces between Pyongyang and Washington, the paper said, North 'Korea insists on its right to possess a technology used by the United States' during World War II.

The paper accused the United States of using its own nuclear capability to bully the world.

On Tuesday, President Bush expressed the hope that the crises with Iraq and North Korea could be resolved peacefully, but he warned Baghdad would face military strikes unless it cooperates fully with U.N. inspectors.

Washington said Iraq has given the United Nations an "incomplete" declaration of its weapons programs and believes it is continuing to hide illegal weapons.

U.N. sources say inspections in Iraq have gone smoothly so far since they restarted in late November, after a four year gap. But Iraqi officials have in recent days complained about the behavior of the inspectors.

Baghdad has invited chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix to visit and review its cooperation before inspectors report to the Security Council at the end of the month.

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