Iraq visit shows weapon sites 'destroyed'
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A former United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said on Friday he has seen no evidence that weapons of mass destruction are currently being produced in Iraq.
Hans Von Sponeck, who quit his post in early 2000 to protest against U.N. sanctions against Iraq, told CNN he had visited two sites which, according to Western intelligence sources, had resumed the production of material for weapons of mass destruction.
Von Sponeck said he first went to the Al-Dora plant on the outskirts of Baghdad, which used to produce vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease but was destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors.
"There is nothing," he said. "It is in the same destroyed status. It is a totally locked up institution where there is not one sign of a resumed activity."
The other site was Al-Fallouja, a town 30 minutes west of Baghdad. Von Sponeck said he saw plants there producing pesticides, insecticides and material for hygienic purpose in households, on very minor scale.
"Most of the buildings are destroyed," he said. "No sign of anything but the manufacture of legitimate items, but it is argued that it is another site for the resumption of production of weapons of mass destruction."
Von Sponeck said he was concerned about the "power of disinformation becoming stronger and stronger."
Iraq, he suggested, must open up more and be more flexible "to show ... that Iraq is not what the United States and Britain allege it to be."
He also called on the United States and Britain not to go ahead with anything based on assumptions and conjecture and to "choose the U.N. Secretary-General and Security Council to discuss the issues, but not the battlefield."
The visit comes as Iraqi military exiles are meeting in London to look at ways ov overthrowing President Saddam Hussein. (Full story)
The main purpose of his current visit, he said, was to "get an update of the situation in Iraq" so he can relay it abroad.
Commenting on his controversial resignation from the United Nations, he said he had no regrets and that it was the only thing he could have done at the time.
"When you discover you are associated with a policy that makes life worse for people in the long run, you can't be associated to that," Von Sponeck said.
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