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UN Weapons Inspectors Complete 3rd Day of Searches in Iraq - 2002-11-30

U.N. weapons inspectors completed their third day of hunting for banned weapons in Iraq. The inspectors visited three sites Saturday, and beginning Sunday, will be able to extend their range of unannounced inspections throughout Iraq.

The inspectors visited two military industrial complexes near Baghdad and a missile site, after resuming their search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, following a day off on Friday.

One of the sites was a plant Iraqi officials said was used to make light machinery and spare parts for vehicles.

A second inspection team visited a suspected anti-aircraft missile and ammunition site.

The third location was at a facility controlled by Iraq's Military Industrialization Commission, which is in charge of weapon development.

As has been the case throughout the inspection process that began Wednesday, journalists have not been allowed to enter the sites where the inspectors are working, and none of the inspectors has disclosed what, if anything, they have found.

The inspectors are hunting for weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical. Iraqi officials insist they have no such weapons.

Since resuming the inspection process after a four-year absence, the U.N. team has visited sites in and around Baghdad. But beginning Sunday, they will be able to extend their range of unannounced inspections, when the first of several helicopters arrives in Baghdad.

The purpose of the helicopters will be two-fold. They will fly the inspectors to suspected weapons sites, and provide surveillance of the sites, while they are being inspected, to make sure there is no movement in or out.

In 1998, when weapons inspectors were last allowed in Iraq, inspectors complained that, sometimes, weapons or documents were being hauled out of the back door, while they were entering the front door of the inspection site.

Saturday's weapons inspections resumed with two key deadlines approaching.

Under the U.N. Security Council approved resolution, Iraq has until December 8 to provide a complete declaration of all aspects of programs to develop weapons of mass destruction or their components.

In late January, the inspectors must submit their first official report on their findings to the Security Council.