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Weapons Inspectors Search Bagdad University

Weapons Inspectors Search Bagdad University



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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U.N. inspectors fanned out on the Baghdad University campus Tuesday, a day after their biological experts acting on a tip from Iraq's voluminous weapons declaration searched a genetics institute on the campus.

Most classes on the campus in southern Baghdad continued as normal as at least eight inspectors entered several labs in the medical and biotechnology departments. As usual, reporters were not allowed to follow inspectors into the areas searched. University officials kept reporters out afterward as well -- at other sites, Iraqi officials have escorted reporters inside after inspections.

The inspectors spent about three hours at the university, one of several sites visited Tuesday.

University security confiscated the videotapes of three TV news cameramen who had arrived on campus earlier for another event and were able to photograph the inspectors inside the university. The guards claimed that the inspectors complained. The inspectors have said in the past that they need privacy during their searches.

Later, Lamees Gregor, dean of the department of biotechnology, said some classes were interrupted so professors could speak with the inspectors or open labs for them.

"They inquired about some scientists, researchers and professors in the department and took their names, specialties and (information about) the research they are doing," she said.

"It was a normal visit, there were no provocations. They asked questions and we answered them," she said.

On Monday, Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, Iraq's top liaison with the inspectors, said on Lebanese television that Baghdad would comply with a U.N. demand for a list of scientists and workers associated with Iraq's chemical, biological and ballistic missile programs. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix asked for the list on Friday.

The inspectors are working under a U.N. resolution they stipulates they can conduct interviews with scientists inside or outside Iraq, with or without the presence of Iraqi observers.

Also Monday, U.N. experts inspected the entire building housing the university's Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, according to a U.N. statement.

The inspectors described the institute as a biotechnology and genetic engineering research and training center and a "new site included in the recent Iraqi declarations." The statement did not elaborate.

Iraq has said the declaration it sent to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month included sites linked to banned nuclear,chemical and biological weapons and missile programs it says it has shut down and "new facilities for biological activities unrelated to any proscribed activities."

U.S. officials have dismissed repeated statements from Iraq that it no longer has banned weapons and said the Iraqi declaration is full of holes.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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