U.N. agencies downsize presence in Baghdad; Iraq submits new report on VX nerve agent
United Nations agencies Friday intensified their departure from Baghdad in expectation of war, reducing their foreign staff from 1,000 to about 50, diplomats said in Baghdad.
Unmovic, the UN weapons inspectors' agency, also began to relocate staff and put plans to open an operational base in Basra on hold.
"Some staff are taking their holiday, some are in Cyprus on an official break as entitled," said Yasuhiro Ueki, spokesman for UN inspectors in Baghdad. He added 12 new inspectors had arrived in Iraq on Thursday, and that the UN had 80 inspectors "on mission between Cyprus and Iraq". He declined to say how many were left in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Iraq has delivered U.N. weapons inspectors a report on VX nerve agent, the United Nations confirmed Friday evening.
The 20-page technical letter, written in Arabic, describes a scientific process by which inspectors could prove that Iraq disposed of its stockpile of the toxic chemical agent.
It is the second time Iraq has offered the United Nations suggestions for a technique to prove that chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed.
Last month, Iraq offered technical and analytical advice for how inspectors might use DNA testing of soil samples to measure the amount of VX that Iraq says it poured into the ground 12 years ago.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix's office confirmed that the report had been received and described the document as a "whole heap of Arabic and English."
Mohammed Aldouri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, delivered the documents to Blix's office but said he could not provide details about their contents. Aldouri added the documents were part of an effort by Iraq to demonstrate "that Iraq is really clean of any mass destruction weapons."
Aldouri said a copy of the letter was also turned over to U.N. inspectors in Baghdad. (Albawaba.com)
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