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UN Inspectors Focus on Iraqi Missile Facilities - 2003-02-17

Following last week's disclosure that an Iraqi missile system was capable of exceeding U.N. restrictions, weapons inspectors zeroed in on several missile facilities in Iraq Monday.

The weapons inspectors visited three facilities associated with missile production. One of the plants carries out tests on the al-Fatah missile.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said last week more information was needed to determine if that missile system is capable of exceeding a U.N. mandated limit of 150 kilometers. It was revealed last week that another of Iraq's missiles, the al-Samoud, tested beyond the 150 kilometer limit.

Iraq declared both missile systems in its December 7 weapons declaration to the U.N. Security Council.

Weapons inspectors visited at least two other production facilities involved with missile parts as well as two metal-related factories.

Weapons inspectors are now carrying out their work with a promise from Iraq to fully encourage Iraqi scientists to agree to be interviewed in private and an Iraqi concession allowing the over flights of suspected weapons sites by U-2 spy planes.

On March 1 the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to receive another briefing on Iraqi compliance.