UN to press Iraq over nuclear inspections

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The Independent Online
Baghdad (AP) - The United Nations plans to send more weapons inspectors to Baghdad and conduct aerial surveys of two sites where it suspects Saddam Hussein's government designed nuclear missiles, UN officials said. The decision to challenge President Saddam's ban on flights over Baghdad will test Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council terms for ending the Gulf war. If Iraq refuses to comply, it could lead to Bill Clinton's first showdown with President Saddam.

Tim Trevan, a spokesman for the UN Special Commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's main weapons systems, said inspection teams had not flown over the capital so far out of respect for Iraqi sensitivities. But 'we have the right to fly over Baghdad', he said. 'We will exercise that right when we have operational need to do so.'

UN inspectors have given the Iraqis notice they want to fly over two relatively small sites in Baghdad believed to contain equipment to design prototypes of nuclear ballistic missiles, Mr Trevan said. The sites were not included in Baghdad's disclosure of facilities involved in nuclear research, he said. The inspectors discovered the sites on their own, and have checked them on visits by car.