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UN Inspectors Visit 11 Iraqi Weapons Sites - 2002-12-14

United Nations weapons inspectors have slowly built up their presence in Iraq. Saturday, they dramatically increased their visits to facilities that may house or produce weapons of mass destruction.

The inspectors investigated a record 11 facilities, Saturday. Each site was checked for chemical, biological, nuclear and missile weaponry. No incidents were reported at any of the sites visited.

Reuters news agency reported one of the disarmament teams went to an unmarked compound outside the capital, Baghdad, that housed the Al-Fateh Company, a missile research project. A representative of the company acknowledged that the plant develops missiles but only those within the U.N. sanctioned range of 150 kilometers. Inspectors reviewed many documents from the company and made copies of some computer files.

Other inspectors revisited the al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility about 20 kilometers from Baghdad. The site has stored what one western news agency called low grade and depleted uranium, considered not strong enough to produce weapons. The site has been rebuilt twice, first after it was destroyed by Israeli planes in 1981 and then after it was hit by advancing coalition forces during the Gulf War.

A team also returned Saturday to the Communicable Disease Center initially visited the previous day. Inspectors were unable to complete their first mission because the facility was closed Friday, the Muslim day of rest.

U.N. weapons inspectors have been slowly building up their presence in Iraq since inspections resumed one month ago. New members arrived last week, increasing the disarmament team number to 98.