U.N. monitors intensify inspections as Rumsfeld arrives in Qatar
A newly reinforced corps of U.N. weapons monitors sent teams out across the Iraqi countryside again Wednesday and made return visits to a large complex where Iraq once worked on a nuclear bomb.
Near the Syrian border, another U.N. team was in the second day of its inspection of a remote uranium mining site.
Other nuclear inspectors Wednesday again visited al-Tuwaitha, Iraq's major nuclear research center, 23 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. In the 1980s, Iraqi scientists and engineers at al-Tuwaitha worked on developing technology for enriching uranium to levels usable in bombs.
The complex contains more than 100 buildings, many of which were demolished in U.S. bombing during the 1991 Gulf War. U.N. officials said the new round of inspections there would last at least through Thursday, as IAEA specialists checked for any signs of revived Iraqi interest in nuclear weaponry, AP reported.
Another team Wednesday drove to an industrial zone north of Baghdad to inspect a factory belonging to al-Karama, a company long involved in missile production.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was due in Qatar to attend a major command exercise. Some 1,000 US and British staff went into a third day of war games at a desert base, running a high-tech mobile command headquarters through various computer-generated crises involving Iraq and other hotspots.
"The exercises are continuing and are going well," said Major Bill Harrison, a spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM).
Rumsfeld, on a four-nation swing, was scheduled to fly in from Djibouti, where the United States has beefed up a task force on the Horn of Africa to combat terrorism.
The White House stepped up the pressure on Saddam Hussein by releasing Tuesday a policy blueprint that threatened him with "overwhelming force," possibly nuclear arms, if he used any nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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