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Inspectors revisit Baghdad site

U.N. arms experts on the roof of their headquarters in the al-Canal hotel in Baghdad on Friday
U.N. arms experts on the roof of their headquarters in the al-Canal hotel in Baghdad on Friday

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspectors returned Friday to Iraq's massive al QaQaa complex, a site they've visited every day for the past week and a dozen times since restarting weapons inspections last year.

And with the United States firmly engaged in shoring up support for a possible military action against Iraq, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's son Uday warned that the Sept. 11 terror attacks "will look like a joke" if Iraq is attacked.

Just three days before a report of the inspectors' findings is due at the U.N. Security Council, a team left its hotel for al QaQaa, a site south of Baghdad in Yousefiya that had been used by Iraq's nuclear program for the production of high explosive lenses, detonators and propellants for nuclear weapons.

The site belongs to the Iraqi Military Industrialization Commission and was listed on a dossier of weapons of mass destruction facilities released by the British government last year.

The British dossier, released in September, alleged that parts of a phosgene production plant at al QaQaa had been rebuilt after being dismantled under U.N. supervision in the 1990s. Phosgene, the dossier said, has industrial uses, but "can also be used by itself as a chemical agent or as a precursor for nerve agent."

With several of its allies -- notably Germany and France -- backing away from a military confrontation, the United States insisted it had solid evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, President Bush's top arms control diplomat, said Friday in Japan that such evidence would be revealed "at an appropriate time."

"We have very convincing evidence that Iraq maintains an extensive program for the production and weaponization of weapons of mass destruction and long range ballistic missiles," Bolton said in Japan during the third and last stop of a tour of Asia.

Bolton stopped short of saying the evidence makes irrelevant the inspectors' report expected at the United Nations Monday

"The issue before the Security Council and international community now is not what the inspectors have found, or not found," he said. "The issue is whether Iraq is in compliance with the long string of Security Council resolutions requiring that its weapons of mass destruction be eliminated."

Meanwhile, Saddam's son Uday, speaking on a television station he owns, issued an ominous warning to the United States.

"If they use air strikes against us, then what happened on Sept. 11, it will look like a joke," he said. "They will know the real price they are going to pay."

"We will be victorious and victory will be on our side."

But Uday Hussein also said he believes that ultimately the United States and Iraq will take seats at the negotiating table because the United States respects strength and Iraq is the most stable regime in the region.

And with the clock ticking on weapons inspections and the Bush administration's patience, Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council -- the country's highest lawmaking body -- issued new laws calling for the death penalty for anyone convicted of armed robbery during wartime and 10 to 15 years in prison for falsifying military papers.

-- CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson and Producer Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.


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