- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD Iraqi newspapers issued stinging criticism of President Bush yesterday, when U.N. weapons inspectors made their fourth known visit to a large plant where Iraqi scientists once worked on a nuclear bomb.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, met top advisers, according to the official news agency INA, which said they had discussed regional and international developments.
The daily Al-Iraq said "the forces of evil and aggression, led by the great Satan the United States and its arrogant idiot President Bush" were doomed in what the newspaper said were plans to attack Baghdad under "false pretexts."
Babil, the newspaper owned by Saddam's oldest son, Uday, also was printed yesterday for the first time since it was banned for a month without explanation. It accused the Bush administration of "bloodthirstiness" and beating the "drums of war."
The huge al-Qa'qaa complex was visited by inspectors for three consecutive days beginning a week ago and had been under U.N. scrutiny in the 1990s. It was involved in the final design of a nuclear bomb before U.N. teams destroyed Iraq's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf war.
The site, about 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, contains a sulfuric acid plant, an explosives-production facility and storage areas. Inspectors resumed work in Iraq last month after a four-year absence.
The U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission under chief inspector Hans Blix is searching for evidence of chemical or biological weapons and the means to deliver them. Mohamed ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency teams are searching for banned nuclear weapons.
Also yesterday, the U.N. teams visited the Samara pharmaceutical factory, 80 miles north of Baghdad, for the first time since returning to the country. They also visited the Al Samood missile factory, about 25 miles west of Baghdad; the Al Furat State Chemical Industry Co. in Baghdad; and four other sites.
Iraq submitted a 12,000-page dossier on December 7 under a tough new resolution aimed at disarming Baghdad of any weapons of mass destruction, but Mr. Blix said there was little new in it.
U.S. officials offered more data to U.N. inspectors after Mr. Blix had urged Washington and London to share intelligence. Officials said the information would involve fewer than six sites where U.S. intelligence believed Iraq has "suspicious chemical weapons or elements of production."
The U.N. Security Council asked the arms inspectors on Friday to provide a detailed assessment of Iraq's arms declaration on Jan. 9, in another effort to evaluate Baghdad's claim it no longer has weapons of mass destruction, diplomats said.
After the decision by the United States to declare Iraq in "material breach," a phrase Washington could use to justify war against Iraq, there had been speculation that a Security Council appearance by Mr. Blix on Jan. 27 could be a critical date for Mr. Bush to make a decision about carrying out a military attack.
Meanwhile, across the Middle East and the Gulf region, expectations of war grew. Sirens rang out for the first time in a decade in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom tested its emergency warning system, and in Qatar, delegates from Gulf Cooperation Council states met to set aside regional differences as fears of war increased.
Several hundred people demonstrated outside the Qatari Embassy in Egypt's capital protesting against the West's buildup to war and the U.S. military presence in Arab states.
Baghdad, which has been trying to improve ties with its Gulf war foe Kuwait, promised yesterday to return another batch of Kuwaiti property.
A Foreign Ministry statement said Iraq would hand back the property today at the headquarters of the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission in Um Qasr.

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