Inspectors Search Six Iraqi Sites, Rumsfeld Signs Qatar Deal
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a deal with the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar to upgrade military bases in preparation for possible military action in the region.
A team from the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited a factory in a Baghdad suburb identified by previous U.N. inspectors as housing modified Scud missiles, as well as a chemical plant and a missile test pad, among other sites.
The factory was destroyed in a 1993 U.S. cruise missile attack and bombed by U.S. forces again in 1998. The Al-Nidaa Public Company now uses the site to make metal moulds, not weapons, according to its director, Khalil al-Nuaimi.
“Our specialty is not making rockets. Other companies used to make these rockets,” al-Nuaimi told reporters after an IAEA team inspected the factory. Iraq’s Military Industrialization Commission runs the facility.
IAEA inspectors also confirmed that a site north of Baghdad where Iraq once reportedly worked to make atomic bombs showed no new signs of weapons construction. Inspectors paid two visits to the Ibn Sina Company and concluded that “no nuclear activities remain or have been initiated,” according to a U.N. statement.
The inspections continue as U.N. officials, along with the U.S. and the four other permanent Security Council members, pore over a 12,000 page dossier Baghdad submitted last Saturday in accordance with a Security Council resolution ordering Iraq to admit to all weapons production in the country or face serious consequences.
Meanwhile, Secretary Rumsfeld, currently in the Gulf to observe military war games, said in an interview that Iraq should “disclose what it has” in terms of weapons and cooperate with U.N. authorities to disarm itself.
“The issue is not whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction, the issue is whether or not the Iraqi government has made a decision that the game is up and it will comply with the United Nations resolutions,” Rumsfeld told CNN.
While in the Gulf, the defense secretary signed a pact with Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim al Thani Wednesday to improve military facilities there, but denied that the move was connected to the situation in Iraq, according to Reuters.
According to the Department of Defense, the agreement will improve readiness capabilities and permit a variety of upgrades to facilities in the tiny Gulf nation.
Speaking to U.S. troops in Qatar, Rumsfeld also said that oil was not the driving factor in the Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East.
“It’s a misunderstanding to think that the United States’ interest in this part of the globe begins and ends with oil. It isn’t true,” Rumsfeld said.
“When the dust settles, whoever owns oil is going to want to sell it,” Rumsfeld added.