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Baghdad: Inspections show Iraq is credible

U.N. chemical, biological experts busy

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U.N. inspectors walk through the Al Fatah State Company west of Baghdad on Thursday.

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CNN's Rym Brahimi reports Iraqi officials are saying their weapons declarations are credible and the U.S. is lying for political reasons (January 2)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The director of Iraq's monitoring agency has said five weeks of U.N. inspections prove that Iraq is credible in its declaration that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction.

The inspections have been "intrusive and surprising," said Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, who heads Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate, the agency that cooperates with the United Nations in assessing the country's inventory of weapons programs.

"All those activities prove that the Iraqi declarations are credible and the American allegations are baseless," Amin said Thursday. "They are lying for political reasons."

Amin said the inspectors found no prohibited activities or items in the 230 sites they have visited so far.

"We hope that this is a start point [to] think correctly and give the Iraqi people their rights to live without embargo, without sanctions," he said.

Report due January 27

The U.N. inspectors are required to report their findings to the Security Council on January 27, after 60 days of inspections.

So far, international monitors have not revealed any evidence that Iraq is developing any clandestine nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, is expected to return to Iraq later this month along with Mohammed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Blix has said he plans to "ask lots of questions" and expects answers and additional evidence.

"We wanted to speak to him with regard to implementation of the resolutions and the best way for implementing the obligations of Iraq," Amin said.

Blix has said Iraq failed to prove in its declaration it has no weapons of mass destruction. U.S. and British officials have also said they found the declaration short of a full accounting.

In comments Thursday, President Bush said it is up to the Iraqi president to disarm and avert a military confrontation with the United States.

"Saddam Hussein hopefully realizes we're serious, and hopefully he disarms peacefully," Bush said. "For 11 long years the world has dealt with him, and now he's got to understand the day of reckoning is coming. And therefore, he must disarm voluntarily. I hope he does."

Iraqi girls take part in a children's anti-war rally in Baghdad this week.
Iraqi girls take part in a children's anti-war rally in Baghdad this week.

U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission personnel paid visits Thursday to more of Iraq's chemical, missile and biological facilities.

Chemical experts inspected the Al Hadar State Company, formerly known as the Ash Sharqat uranium enrichment facility, a chemical plant that produces nitric acid and ammonium nitrate.

Biological experts inspected the technical military depot for the air force at Al Taji, part of a large military site that houses spare parts for aircraft.

Inspectors also returned to the Al Fatah State Company to hold technical talks with key personnel associated with Iraqi solid propellant missile programs, spokesman Hiro Ueki said in Baghdad.

In addition, inspectors conducted aviation-related visits at the Ibn Firnas State Company.

IAEA inspectors visited the Falluja lead recovery plant and a storage site at Khan Dari, both about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Baghdad. The plant operates gas-fired furnaces.



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