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Inspectors Reject Iraq Spy Charge

The International Atomic Energy Agency has denied charges by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that its inspectors are spying in Iraq. The agency says its inspectors are working within United Nations Security Council rules.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, categorically denies charges by Saddam Hussein that its inspectors are engaged in "intelligence work." The Iraqi president has accused the inspectors of going beyond the mandate established by the U.N. Security Council.

The IAEA denied the accusations. "We would say we have been carrying out our mandate in a professional, systematic, and polite manner," said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming. "We are working in accordance to our mandate under the resolution and we are not going beyond that in any way. Any accusation that we are an intelligence body that is implying that we are reporting or collecting information for national governments is flatly wrong. We have a mandate under the Security Council and we are not in the employ of one government."

Ms. Fleming added that the inspectors have not been searching people, but rather focusing on facilities and looking at documents.

The inspectors have also been interviewing Iraqi scientists, as authorized by the Security Council.

U.S. officials recently called for the inspectors to be more aggressive in their search for banned weapons in Iraq.