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Weapons Inspectors Return to Iraq - 2002-11-20


United Nations weapons inspectors are back in Iraq preparing to begin their search for alleged weapons of mass destruction. This as the Bush administration continues with preparations both diplomatically and militarily for a possible war against Iraq if President Saddam Hussein fails to comply with the UN Security Council demanding Iraq disarm. Our Chris Simkins with more on restarting inspections in Iraq.

U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Iraq this week after nearly four years. UN chief inspector Hans Blix along with an advance team arrived in Baghdad Monday. They’re getting ready to begin searching again for banned biological, chemical or possible nuclear weapons.

“We have come here for one single reason and that is because the world wants to have assurances that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

The Inspectors wasted little time in getting down to business by cleaning out their old headquarters and setting up equipment.

On November 27th the first actual weapons inspections are due to begin. By December 8th Iraq must provide an accurate, full and complete declaration of its weapons of mass destruction. A deadline the government says it will meet. And by January 27th inspectors are to report their findings to the U-N Security Council.

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz says Iraq will comply with the new Security Council resolution that gives inspectors unfettered access to suspected sites, including Saddam Hussein’s massive presidential palaces.

“We have given sanctions to all responsible people in many government areas to respond immediately to any request to enter their site and inspect it.”

Iraq maintains it has nothing to hide and says it hasn’t developed or rebuilt any weapons of mass destruction in the last four years.

If no banned weapons are found in Iraq, economic sanctions that have been in place for the last 12 years could be lifted.

That’s what some on the streets of Baghdad are hoping will happen.

“We welcome the inspection teams and we hope these inspection teams are not like the previous ones. We want the inspectors to carry out their job because we want the sanctions to be lifted and live normal lives.”

Meanwhile, in Kuwait, U.S. soldiers continue to carry out training exercises in preparation for a possible attack on Iraq. This as news reports say U-S officials are working to formalize the role allies might play in the event of a conflict.

President Bush has repeatedly insisted that Saddam Hussein must disarm or the United States will lead a coalition of force to disarm him.