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UN Inspectors Begin Questioning Iraqi Scientists

United Nations weapons inspectors are beginning to interview Iraqi scientists. It marks an expansion of the inspectors' search for weapons of mass destruction.

U.N. arms inspectors toured some five sites Saturday looking for evidence that Iraq is storing or producing weapons of mass destruction. They examined facilities outside Baghdad, including an explosive factory and al- Kindi, for evidence of biological material, and the Ibn Younis engineering factory.

Some of the locations have been visited numerous times since inspections started more then a month ago.

Meanwhile the U.N. arms team questioned Iraqi scientists in their hunt for banned weapons. On Saturday, Kathim Mogbil, an Iraqi scientist from the al Rayah Company, which is involved with the country's military, rejected U.N. claims that he gave up details of Iraq's nuclear program.

A U.N. spokesman said Mr. Mogbil, in a Friday interview, provided information that could be linked to a secret nuclear program.

Mr. Mogbil says he is simply a metal specialist involved in treating pipes necessary for manufacturing launching devices for 81-millimeter short-range rockets. The United States and Britain suspect the piping could be used to help produce enriched uranium.

Mr. Mogbil initially refused to be questioned Friday at inspector's headquarters, comparing it to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where the United States is holding Muslim prisoners as part of its fight against international terrorism.

The Iraqi scientist is the second to be interviewed by the U.N. experts. He is reported to be urging his colleagues to insist on the presence of an Iraqi monitoring official in the event of an interview, to avoid misunderstanding or fabrication on the part of experts.