Monday, January 20, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 20 (UPI) — Iraq and U.N. officials reached agreement Monday on Iraq helping international inspectors searching suspected sites for the production of weapons of mass destruction.

The agreement was reached at the end of two days of negotiations between Iraqi Brig. Amir al-Saadi and the heads of the U.N. inspections groups — Hans Blix of Sweden and the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed ElBaradei of Egypt.

“We have agreed on a 10-point joint statement covering all issues, including the right of international arms inspectors to enter all suspected sites, and Iraq’s readiness to provide all logistic help they need,” al-Saadi said.

He said the parties also agreed to set up a joint technical team to investigate the empty nuclear warheads discovered last week in the area of al-Akhaidir in southern Iraq, stressing the need for a complete investigation in such cases.

The agreement stipulated Iraq’s full cooperation in terms of providing clarifications and answers to all queries made by UNMOVIC and IAEA about the account of weapons of mass destruction it submitted to the U.N. Security Council last month as part of U.N. Resolution 1441, which called for the inspection process to resume in Iraq.

Al-Saadi indicated that Iraq has answered many queries and is preparing responses to other questions.

He said that at U.N.’s request, Iraq agreed to expand the list of names of scientists working on the country’s various chemical, missile, biological and nuclear programs.

Baghdad originally submitted to the U.N. inspection teams a list of 500 scientists who worked on its programs of banned non-conventional weapons.

Al-Saadi said the authorities will encourage scientists to have private interviews with international arms inspectors if requested. The interviews were previously conducted in the presence of a representative from Iraq’s National Monitoring Department, the body in charge of coordination and liaison with the inspectors.

He said the two parties also agreed to include Iraqi representatives in inspection missions in which U.N. helicopters are used.

Al-Saadi pointed out that Iraq promised to alert UNMOVIC and the IAEA about any future plans to develop arms. The two parties agreed to continue negotiations over three sensitive issues, namely depleted uranium, aluminum pipes and the use of powerful explosives.

Blix and ElBaradei are to make a report on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council next Monday.

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