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Iraq Not Likely to Allow Thorough Inspections, says Rumsfeld

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Iraq is unlikely to allow thorough inspections of its weapons development programs even though it may make promises in a bid to avert a potential war.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States would like Iraq to allow United Nations inspectors to return unconditionally to probe Baghdad's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

But Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon that Iraq is unlikely to agree, despite statements by some of its top officials. He said Iraqi leaders are masters at public relations who hint at important concessions only to later back away from them.

"I haven't seen any indication on their part to agree to anything," said Mr. Rumsfeld, "except as a ploy from time to time to muse over the possibility we might do this or might do that and kind of play the international community and the U.N. process like a guitar, plucking the right string and the right process at the right moment to delay something."

Mr. Rumsfeld said the Bush administration could soon make public further evidence of the military threat posed by Iraq.

But he declined to provide any details and made clear once again that President Bush has made no decisions on taking possible preemptive military action against Baghdad.

"What the president wants to do, and will do, in his own time, is to provide information that he feels is important with respect to any judgment he decides to make," said the defense secretary.

In the meantime, Mr. Rumsfeld has again denied published reports suggesting there are differences within the administration over a possible strike against Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld said some news media are merely trying to stir controversy to raise their own revenues. He said the reports of disagreements over Iraq are nonsense or, "baloney."