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U.N. inspectors visit nuclear, chemical sites

U.N. inspectors look over the Fallujah chemical complex.
U.N. inspectors look over the Fallujah chemical complex.

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CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the inspection of a chemical complex (December 9)
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CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports on the task for International Atomic Energy Agency experts as they review Iraq's declaration (December 9)
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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

Documentation includes:

11,807 pages of information

1,334 on biological weaponry

1,823 on chemical weaponry

6,887 on missiles

Plus 12 CD-ROMs containing 529 megabytes of information

On or before January 27, inspectors must report back to the Security Council.

If the United Nations finds the declaration to be incomplete or untrue, it could find Iraq in "material breach" of resolution 1441, which calls for Iraq to fully disclose its weapons of mass destruction programs and to disarm.

The U.S. government has said if Iraq does not comply and fully disarm, it will lead a coalition to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein through military force.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspectors paid a third visit to Iraq's main nuclear research center Monday and spent more than three hours at an Iraqi military chemical plant.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency went to the al-Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, about 10 miles southwest of Baghdad, where several tons of uranium have been under seal since inspections ended in 1998.

Iraqi scientists at the site worked in the 1980s to produce fissionable material for nuclear bombs. The Osirak reactor at the site was bombed by Israel in 1981.

Last month, Iraq admitted it had tried but failed several times to obtain aluminum tubing, which depending on the thickness and diameter could have been used as centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. Iraq said the tubes were intended for Iraq's conventional rocket program.

Meanwhile, inspectors from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission made a second trip to the Fallujah military chemical complex, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

During the 10th day of inspections, managers at the chemical site said they were questioned by U.N. inspectors for 3.5 hours.

Chlorine engineer Thaer Hazem said inspectors asked the same questions they asked in previous inspections in the 1990s -- "How much you produce, where you send your production."

The Fallujah facility was bombed in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in the U.S.-British bombing campaign in December 1998. It has been under U.N. monitoring since the early 1990s, and Iraq says the facility now produces detergent and water purifiers.

The IAEA is responsible for monitoring Iraq's nuclear program; UNMOVIC covers Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States is offering its help "in every way we can," but he would not answer when specifically asked whether U.S. officials are sharing intelligence with weapons inspectors.

"I'm not going to get into specifics, but we are assisting the inspectors," he said.

Another 25 to 30 UNMOVIC inspectors were expected to land Tuesday in Baghdad, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said. UNMOVIC currently has 15 inspectors in Iraq and the IAEA has 27, he said.

Hazem said plant managers were happy to talk privately to inspectors, but they were unwilling to leave the country for questioning, as allowed under the U.N. resolution on the resumption of inspections.

"If they want to speak with us, they can speak with us here," he said. "We are Iraqi, and we don't leave Iraq."

Meanwhile, at a conference in Tokyo, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei urged the international community to be patient with the inspections process and while the 12,000 page Iraqi arms declaration was analyzed.

"We are very conscious of the impatience of the international community," ElBaradei said. "But at the same time we are also aware that we need to do a professional and thorough job before we come to a conclusion." (Full story)

CNN correspondents Rebecca MacKinnon and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

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