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Iraq destroys six more banned missiles

Iraq destroys six more banned missiles, to give UN VX and anthrax details

Iraq destroyed six more banned Al Samoud 2 missiles today, bringing the total to 16 since the 1 March deadline set by United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix for starting the destruction.

Iraq has also indicated it will soon provide the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) with its proposed approach for the quantitative verification of VX nerve gas and anthrax that it says it has already destroyed, Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the inspectors said in Baghdad. Mr. Blix has listed the question of how much banned VX and anthrax Iraq made and what happened to it among 30 still unresolved issues. Iraqi officials held a technical meeting with UNMOVIC over the issue yesterday evening.

UNMOVIC also conducted a private interview with an Iraqi scientist today. In his latest report delivered to the UN Security Council on Friday, Mr. Blix said UNMOVIC had so far been unable to interview satisfactorily those believed to have knowledge about the disarmament because nobody not nominated by the Iraq side was willing to be interviewed without a tape recorder running or an Iraqi witness present.

For the third day running, an UNMOVIC team supervised the destruction of the Al Samoud missiles, which the UN says can exceed the 150-kilometre-range limit mandated by Security Council resolutions. Two warheads were also destroyed. Another team supervised the start of the destruction of a second casting chamber as well as the remaining work on the first casting chamber. The first chamber is now considered completely destroyed. The second is to be completely destroyed by tomorrow.

Chemical and biological teams supervised the destruction of 14 empty 155-millimetre artillery shells, 10 of which had contained mustard, at Al Muthanna. The teams inspected a plant at the National Chemical Plastic Industries in Baghdad, and took more samples at Al Aziziyah from previously recovered R-400 bombs, which Iraq said had been filled with biological agents.

Other sites inspected included the headquarters of the Mesopotamia State Company for Seeds in Baghdad, the Department of Biology of the College of Science at Mosul University, the Al Furat State Company chemical factory, a storage facility for anti-aircraft missile parts in the Baghdad region and a construction area in the Mosul region related to spray irrigation systems.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) teams inspected a State-owned trading company in the Sadoon district of Baghdad and a private trading company in the Mansoor district, and performed a car-borne radiation survey north of Baghdad, near the town of Tarmya.

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