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UN Weapons Inspectors Pleased With First Day of Probe


U.N. weapons inspectors say they are pleased with the cooperation they received from Iraqi officials during their first full day of inspections in Iraq. The inspectors, who are back in Iraq after an absence of four years, say they accomplished all they had planned to do Wednesday.

One of the inspectors described the first day as "a good start." The inspectors said they were given immediate access to the sites they wanted to investigate and were able to carry out their activities without obstruction.

Jacques Baute, who heads the inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the inspectors were welcomed in a polite and professional manner.

Even so, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iraqi cooperation must be sustained in order to avoid military conflict.

The inspection teams split in two, with one going to a missile facility near Baghdad and the other a small industrial complex northeast of the capital.

The inspectors spent several hours checking out the missile facility. The Iraqi official in charge of the facility told reporters the U.N. team examined files and photographed documents. They did not find anything illegal, he said, because the facility has nothing illegal.

The second group of inspectors spent about three hours at the other site, the industrial complex. The Iraqis say it produces motors for cement factories, refineries and water pumping stations.

The inspectors are in Iraq under a U.N. Security Council resolution requiring the country to disarm. They are searching for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Iraq insists it has no such weapons.

The inspectors say there are as many as 700 potential weapons sites they want to look at.

Their mandate from the Security Council gives them the authority to conduct inspections anywhere at any time in Iraq and the authority to question Iraqi scientists about the country's arms program.

If Baghdad fails to fully cooperate, it could face U.S. led military strikes.