Iraq destroys six banned missiles

By GHASSAN AL-KADI   |   March 2, 2003 at 11:23 AM
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BAGHDAD, March 2 (UPI) -- U.N. inspectors said that Iraq on Sunday destroyed six al-Samoud 2 missiles, which inspectors said have a greater range than allowed by U.N. mandates.

Iraq has destroyed 10 al-Samoud 2 missiles, which the United Nations said can travel 93 miles and have the capability to carry a range of warheads.

Information Ministry spokesman Uday al-Taei said that experts from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, Inspection Commission and Iraq supervised the destruction operation that will continue until all of the al-Samoud 2s are demolished. Iraq is thought to have about 100 of the missiles.

He said the two sides agreed to finalize the operations "within a timetable reached between Iraq and UNMOVIC in two days of technical talks."

Iraq on Saturday destroyed four al-Samoud 2 missiles after UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix had set a deadline of last Saturday to begin destroying them on the grounds they exceeded the range outlined in U.N. resolutions.

Iraq, with UNMOVIC supervision, dismantled the first batch of missiles in an unpopulated area of al-Taji, about 15 miles north of Baghdad. Journalists were not permitted to photograph the operation, which took place within the grounds of an Iraqi military camp under very tight security.

Meanwhile, Iraqi monitoring officials and U.N. inspectors met Sunday to discuss Baghdad's suspected biological and chemical weapons, especially VX gas and anthrax.

International arms inspections representing UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency continued unannounced visits to Iraqi sites suspected of involvement in developing weapons of mass destruction.

Two ballistics teams searched a technical unit in al-Taji and al-Mutassem Plant affiliated with Iraq's military industry.

A team of chemical experts also headed toward Dhira Dijla north of Baghdad, as well as an air defense site in al-Adl, a suburb of the capital.

A group of nuclear experts from the IAEA searched al-Ashaer Company and surveyed several other sites that were not revealed.

The UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors are in Iraq under the aegis of Security Council Resolution 1441, which calls for Iraq to completely disarm and weapons of mass destruction or face "serious consequences." The United States, taking the "serious consequences" phrasing to mean military action, has been massing thousands of troops near Iraq.

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