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UN Weapons Inspectors Set to Begin Work in Iraq - 2002-11-25

United Nations weapons inspectors are on their way to Iraq to resume their hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

The arrival of the inspectors again focuses international attention on Iraq. Baghdad is making use of that attention by repeating its charge that Washington is using the inspections as a pretext to justify an attack.

The ruling Baath party newspaper A-Thawra took up the theme in its Monday edition. It calls on U.N. Security Council members to carry out their mission in an honest, neutral and objective way. It says "the twisted resolution" of the Security Council should not be used to harm Iraq's "national security and dignity."

It went on to say the inspectors will soon uncover what it termed "the false U.S. and British allegations." A-Thawra also calls on the United Nations to live up to its obligations and lift the embargo it put on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990.

Earlier, the Baghdad government released a letter from Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. It said Washington plans to exploit the Security Council resolution, which requires Iraq to disclose details of its weapons programs by December 8.

The resolution warns of "serious consequences" if Baghdad fails to comply.

Iraq has long maintained it does not have any banned chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

The 18-member U.N. team begins its inspections on Wednesday.