End sought to Iraq weapons checks

Draft resolution seeks closure to off-site weapons inspection works in Iraq.

    UN inspectors in Iraq found weapons-grade material but no weapons of mass destruction [EPA]

    The US has also been asking since 2005 for the closure of all inspection work in Iraq involving the monitoring and dismantling of weapons and related programmes.
    Final closure

    "We also have a number of weapons and components, including an Iraqi Scud missile engine, which we use as a training tool"

    Ewen Buchanan, Unmovic

    The two agencies are the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency's Iraq Nuclear Verification Office.
    The Security Council will meet the commission on Tuesday to discuss the draft resolution.
    Although UN inspectors supervised the destruction of weapons-grade material they did not locate any weapons of mass destruction before the US-led war in 2003.
    Since their withdrawal, the commission used satellite imagery to monitor equipment with civilian and military use, and trained inspectors and experts for special assignments.
    The draft resolution also requires "all necessary measures" to be taken to secure massive amounts of sensitive archived material on proliferation, missile blueprints, suppliers list and inspection equipment worth several million dollars.
    Continued monitoring
    Ewen Buchanan, a Unmovic spokesman, said a 1,200-page account of Iraq's weapons programmes and the lessons learned in the verification process will be published soon.
    "We also have a number of weapons and components, including an Iraqi Scud missile engine, which we use as a training tool," he said.
    The draft resolution, however, is silent about keeping the expertise of the inspectors for future UN verification missions.
    It also does not mention cancelling a Security Council resolution prescribing various limitations, restrictions, and prohibitions against Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war.
    While these restrictions remain on the books, the body charged with verifying Iraq's compliance would be disbanded.
    Course of war
    Meanwhile, US legislators on Thursday moved to revive the Iraq Study Group comprising prominent US officials who want George Bush, the president, to change the course of the war.
    The move, reiterating Republican calls to withdraw troops, will provide an alternative assessment to the Bush administration's progress report on Iraq due in September.
    The group had said US troops should play only a supporting role to Iraqi forces, and urged for lesser political, military or economic involvement if the government in Baghdad failed to show substantial progress.
    The group said in December that if specific steps were taken, US soldiers could be out of Iraq by March 2008.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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