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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq: absent UN weapons inspectors continue analyzing biological samples

3 December United Nations weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq on the eve of the war in March have continued analyzing biological samples and evaluating Iraqi Al-Samoud 2 missiles in their search for evidence of banned weapons that Saddam Hussein may have possessed, according to their latest report released today.

The inspectors, who have not returned to Iraq in a functional capacity since the United States occupation, have not been given the results of investigations by the US-led Iraq Survey Group, other than a statement made to the public on its interim progress report. The Survey Group has not given that report itself, they add.

In its 15th quarterly report to the Security Council, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) notes that it continues to store equipment for its activities in Cyprus, as well as some in Baghdad, but that its core professional staff has been reduced to 51, a 10 per cent reduction since the last quarter.

With regard to biological samples, UNMOVIC reports that additional analysis of anthrax weapons material declared by Iraq to have been unilaterally destroyed at two locations confirms that the genotype of the strain is identical to that which Iraq declared it had selected for weaponization.

On the Al-Samoud 2 missiles, UNMOVIC says that although the design was inherently capable of exceeding the 150-kilometre-range allowed for the weapons, it found no evidence of projects to modify the configuration to achieve even greater ranges, such as development of a larger engine, use of extended fuel tanks and longer engine operation times.

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