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US Rejects Iraqi Offer to Inspect Weapons Sites - 2002-10-10

The Bush administration has rejected an Iraqi offer to allow U.S. inspectors to visit two sites that Washington says could be use to produce weapons of mass destruction. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded to the Iraqi offer by saying the question of inspectors is not up to Iraq, it is up to the United Nations. The latest Iraqi offer was made by a senior official in Baghdad.

Abdel Tawa Mulla Howeish, an Iraqi deputy prime minister, on Thursday invited U.S. officials to inspect the two sites: An-Nasr and Al-Furat "immediately."

Mr. Howeish, who also serves as the minister of military industries, said the visit will show the United States that Iraq is not producing weapons of mass destruction at the sites. President Bush showed a satellite picture of one of the sites during a speech this week, and warned that force will be used, if necessary, to disarm Iraq.

Both places were also named in a dossier on Iraq's arsenal compiled by Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr. Howeish says that An-Nasr and Al-Furat are used to produce metal and other structures needed for industrial and real estate construction.