First team of U.N. inspectors arrives in Baghdad as Blair warns Saddam
The first team of U.N. inspectors arrived in Baghdad at around 1355 GMT Monday. The chartered cargo plane landed at Saddam International Airport carrying a group of 18 international arms monitors and their cargo of high-tech sensors, computers and other gear. They had assembled earlier at a U.N. rear base on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
According to AP, the team comprised six nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and 12 inspectors from the New York-based U.N. commission charged with searching for other weapons of mass destruction.
After a four-year suspension, their new round of inspections will start Wednesday morning, when they will likely revisit an unidentified Iraqi site previously inspected in the 1990s. Among other things, they may check on cameras and other monitoring equipment left behind by earlier inspectors.
Later, the inspectors will branch out to new or rebuilt sites. "We have the right to inspect any sites at any time," said Hiro Ueki, Baghdad spokesman for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).
The U.N. inspectors include some 300 chemists, biologists, missile and ordnance experts and other specialists of UNMOVIC, and a few dozen engineers and physicists of the U.N. nuclear agency. Between 80 and 100 will be working in Iraq at any one time.
Shortly before the inspectors' plane arrived in Baghdad, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein not to play a game of "hide and seek".
"We have no doubt that he does have weapons of mass destruction," Blair told a news conference in London. "So let's wait and see what he actually says. But I've made it clear throughout, this has got to be a situation in which there is an honest declaration by Saddam."
In Cairo Monday, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters: "If we can give a positive report, the inspections will be an alternative to war, not a precursor." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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