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Annan: Iraq appears to be cooperating

U.N. chief says he sees no need for military action now

U.N. inspectors talk with Iraqi officials Tuesday at the oil research and development center east of Baghdad.
U.N. inspectors talk with Iraqi officials Tuesday at the oil research and development center east of Baghdad.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he saw no immediate need for military action against Iraq, at least until weapons inspectors report to the U.N. Security Council in late January.

"Until the inspectors report, I think we pretty much can't make any judgment," Annan said in an interview Tuesday morning with Israel's Army Radio. (Full story)

In Baghdad, U.N. inspectors spent the final day of the year searching for signs of an illicit weapons program in Iraq. They are scheduled to report their findings to the Security Council on January 27 after 60 days of inspections.

So far, the monitors have not revealed any evidence that Iraq is developing a clandestine nuclear or biological weapons program.

Annan said Iraqi officials appear to be cooperating. "We will soon figure out what is happening in Iraq," he said.

"[The inspectors] are able to do their work in an unimpeded manner. And therefore, I don't see an argument for military action now."

The United Nations has until January 9 to assess fully the weapons declaration that Iraq submitted December 7. But chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has said Iraq had failed to provide evidence in its declaration to prove that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. and British officials said it falls short of the complete accounting the Security Council has demanded.

At least six inspection teams spent Tuesday searching a variety of sites, including a mineral water plant and several other locations that U.N. monitors have visited previously.

In Baghdad, a team of missile experts headed to a bottled water plant in Al-Tajiyyat region, while another missile team revisited the Mamoun factory.

Television cameramen record the activity of UNMOVIC inspectors at the oil research development center.
Television cameramen record the activity of UNMOVIC inspectors at the oil research development center.

The factory makes propellant for solid-fuel missiles and was associated with the previous Iraqi nuclear program.

A group of biological experts checked out Iraq's drug research monitoring center in Baghdad's Al-Andalus square. Another team revisited the Ibn Sina research center in the Iraqi capital, previously associated with biowarfare research.

Chemical weapons experts headed to Saad General Co. for a third visit.

Saad, an engineering design and construction firm, is involved in various projects for chemical and petrochemical production facilities, according to the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC.

In a previous visit, inspectors examined archives and current projects and looked into the company's management and personnel.

Another chemical weapons team searched Baghdad's oil research and development center, while nuclear weapons experts focused on the Ibn Younis research center near the Iraqi capital.

An UNMOVIC team headed west of Baghdad to Habaniya, where an air base is located, although the exact inspection site was not clear.



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