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U.N. Inspectors Blocked, Threatened In Iraq

Iraqi guards blocked U.N. inspectors from one arms site and threatened them with weapons at another despite a new agreement allowing unrestricted access to facilities suspected of harboring banned weapons.

The Security Council demanded that the Iraqis live up to the agreement, signed June 22 in Baghdad, to allow inspectors immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to all suspected sites.

After briefing the Security Council on Wednesday, chief weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus told reporters that the incidents began Tuesday morning when Iraqi guards stopped the team at a checkpoint en route to one site.

Diplomats quoted Ekeus as telling the council that a guard threatened team leader Nikita Smidovich with a weapon, but eventually allowed inspectors to pass and conduct their inspection.

In the afternoon, the team was refused access to another site near Baghdad airport after Iraqi guards said the road passed through a “presidential area,” Ekeus said.

The team tried alternate routes but could find none leading to the site, he said. Ekeus said Iraq’s actions reinforced suspicions that Baghdad has still not complied with U.N. orders to destroy its long-range missiles and banned weapons.

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