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Iraq inspectors visit four sites

Inspectors wearing chemical suits prepare to start work in Baghdad

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Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix is "not satisfied" with Iraq's lack of details. CNN's Richard Roth reports (January 9)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspectors visited at least four sites in Iraq Friday, Iraq's Ministry of Information said, despite it being a Muslim day of prayer.

A chemical weapons team made a repeat visit to the Al Mamoun plant in Al Rasheed, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Baghdad, tagging solid fuel rockets.

Al Mamoun belongs to the Al Rasheed state company, part of Iraq's Military Industrialization Commission.

The site was used in the production of solid fuel rockets and had been dismantled by UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) -- weapons inspectors who operated in Iraq after the end of the Gulf War until 1998.

Biological weapons inspectors were deployed to a pair of warehouses owned by the Ministries of Health and Trade -- Al Dabbash and Al Adil.

A joint inspection team went to the State Company for the Trade of Medicines and Medical Appliances in Baghdad.

Bad weather kept one inspection team from utilizing helicopters to get to a site for the second day in a row.

Inspectors have yet to find any "smoking gun" demonstrating that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction prohibited by U.N. resolutions ending the 1991 Persian Gulf war, said Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. Monitoring, Inspections and Verification Commission.

But that "is no guarantee that prohibited stocks or activities could not exist at other sites," Blix told Security Council members Thursday, according to notes released after the briefing. (Full Transcript)

Blix called Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs, delivered in December, "rich in volume but poor in new information about weapons issues and practically devoid of new evidence on such issues." (Blix talking points)

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte called the shortcomings of Iraq's declaration "a further material breach" of Iraq's obligation to disarm under U.N. mandates.

"The declaration states that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction or programs to develop them, but it fails to answer numerous, outstanding questions about its weapons of mass destruction," Negroponte said.

Blix said the declaration lists the import of missile engines and raw material for the production of solid rocket fuel, done "in violation of the relevant resolutions regulating import and export to Iraq," he told the council. It also does not adequately account for stockpiles of the chemical agent VX, he said.

On Iraq's nuclear program, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the council that questions remain about Iraq's possession of a high explosive that could be used in nuclear weapons, and that "no new information of significance" has emerged about Iraq's efforts to obtain an atomic bomb. (ElBaradei talking points)

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