- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

BAGHDAD, Iraq Iraq will hand over to the United Nations in the next few days a list of hundreds of Iraqi scientists who have worked on nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs, a senior Iraqi general said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi army said that militias organized by the ruling Ba'ath party have been holding exercises in central Iraq aimed at countering a U.S. attack, another sign that Saddam Hussein's government may believe war is inevitable.
Under the toughened U.N. inspections that resumed Nov. 27, inspectors can speak with scientists and workers associated with Iraq's weapons and even take them abroad for interviews. U.S. officials have said they hope the privacy would prompt scientists to reveal hidden weapons programs.
Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix had requested that Baghdad provide a list of scientists by the end of December, and Iraq had already said it would comply.
"The list will be ready within two to three days and it will be sent to the U.N. Security Council at most by Sunday," Lt. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, head of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate, told a news conference in Baghdad.
While weapons inspectors have spoken to engineers and specialists at the sites they have searched, they made their first request to interview a scientist privately on Tuesday.
University of Technology professor Sabah Abdel-Nour, who had worked on a nuclear program that Iraq says is now closed, refused to see the inspectors alone and insisted on the presence of Iraqi officials, Gen. Amin said.
He said the inspectors have not asked to interview another scientist.
Gen. Amin said the U.N. inspectors have searched 188 sites since they began their mission a month ago.
They returned to the University of Technology yesterday, checking equipment at the chemistry, engineering and computer departments that had been tagged during U.N. inspections years ago.
Gen. Amin said that during their visits the inspectors found nothing to support U.S. and British claims that his country harbors weapons of mass destruction. He said the teams have collected samples of raw material, soil, water and plants.
The Bush administration has threatened to attack Iraq unless it cooperates fully with the U.N. disarmament process.
Asked whether Iraq was worried about complications arising from Iraq's recent downing of a U.S. drone spy aircraft, Gen. Amin said:
"[Americans] should be worried about future complications because maybe one of their planes, this time with a real pilot, would be shot down."
Gen. Amin called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's accusations that Iraq may be transferring chemical and biological weapons to neighboring Syria a "baseless lie."
Also yesterday, the army's Al-Qadissiya newspaper said Ba'ath party militias had practiced fighting in Babil, and rehearsed techniques of "distracting the enemy in different directions by using light and medium weapons."
The newspaper did not say when the games were held, whether they were still under way or how many troops participated. Iraq's security forces include army units as well as armed groups organized under the Ba'ath party.

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