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Iraq: Baghdad Says UN Inspectors Are Spies

Baghdad, 5 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq has accused United Nations weapons inspectors of being spies for the United States and Israel. The charge was made by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Ramadan offered no evidence to support the allegation. He accused the UN inspectors of coming to Iraq not to check for weapons programs, but to obtain more precise information in preparation for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the UN inspectors, rejected the Iraqi charge, saying the arms experts are independent and work for the UN Security Council.

General Hussam Muhammad Amin, Iraq's top liaison with the UN arms experts, said Iraq will on 7 December give the United Nations a "detailed portfolio" on the country's biological, chemical, missile, and nuclear activities. Amin said the declaration will repeat that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. President George W. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said the White House believes Iraq continues to have weapons of mass destruction -- biological and chemical. Fleischer said the United States wants UN arms experts to ramp up the Iraqi inspection process with multiple, simultaneous visits to suspected weapons sites.