U.N. inspectors entered a former chemical weapons factory in the desert Wednesday while a second team of monitors inspected an Iraqi nuclear complex.
A team of inspectors who work for the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, went to the al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex, about 25 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. Israeli warplanes bombed al-Tuwaitha in 1981, destroying the nuclear reactor known as Tamouz.
According to AP, the site was heavily attacked in 1991, but recent satellite photos have spotted new construction. Wednesday's inspection was presumably designed to determine the purpose of the new structures.
The inspectors who drove to the desert chemical weapons factory were making a return visit to check that Iraq had not resumed production at the site.
The desert center operated under the name of Iraqi State Establishment for Pesticide Production, but the Iraqis finally admitted to the U.N. monitors that al-Muthanna produced 4,000 tons of chemical warfare agent per year.
The site was bombed by U.S. planes in the 1991 Gulf War and then had its equipment and material destroyed under the supervision of U.N. inspectors in the late 1990s.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Wednesday criticized the inspectors for their visit to the presidential palace, Al-Sajoud, the previous day. A statement by a ministry spokesman questioned the validity of the visit.
"What did they search for in Al-Sajoud Palace?" the statement asked. "Was this visit really to search for banned weapons or for other aims?" (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )