- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 3 (UPI) — One of Iraq’s two vice presidents has accused international arms inspectors of trying to extract intelligence information from Iraqi scientists they were supposed to interview on their role in Iraq’s non-conventional arms programs.

Taha Yassin Ramadan said in an interview broadcast on Iraqi satellite television Thursday night that the inspectors should limit their questions to arms programs and refrain from demanding how much the Iraqi scientists earned and whether it was sufficient to make a living.

“The inspectors asked many questions of that kind to our scientists which are not related to their arms inspection mission. Iraq is determined to put up with such attitudes but we wanted the world to know about this (provocative) behavior,” Ramadan said.

The Iraqi official also mentioned the upcoming visit of chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix of Sweden and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed AlBaradei of Egypt, to Baghdad during the third week of January.

He said the talks will focus on the content of Iraq’s declaration of weapons of mass destruction submitted by Baghdad to the U.N. Security Council early last month.

“We invited Blix and al-Baradei to visit Baghdad before they submit their report about Iraq’s declaration to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27. We wanted to discuss Iraq’s cooperation with the international inspectors and the outcome of the inspection missions,” Ramadan said.

The vice president also denounced what he called the lenient official Arab position regarding U.S. threats to deal a military strike against Iraq.

“Everybody was a witness to Arab calls on Iraq to cooperate positively with the international inspectors and to accept U.N. Res. 1441. But we do not hear any Arab voice asking the U.S. why it was massing troops after Iraq had agreed to receive the international inspectors and to accept the international resolution,” Ramadan said.

He urged Arab leaders to take a firmer stance denouncing U.S. military threats against Iraq.

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