UN inspectors delayed at center (CHICAGO TRIBUNE) By E.A. Torriero BAGHDAD, IRAQ 12/14/02)
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BAGHDAD -- United Nations weapons inspectors carrying out searches on
a Muslim holy day found some doors locked inside a health center
Friday and for the first time used a hot line to Iraqi officials to
resolve the delay.
"There is no problem," Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, head of the
National Monitoring Directorate, told reporters after arriving about
two hours after the inspectors.
The Bush administration is closely monitoring the conduct of the
Iraqis, who in nearly three weeks of inspections have been reported
by the UN as being cooperative.
Friday´s glitch was the longest delay in dozens of searches. The
United Nations confirmed Iraqi reports that the problem arose because
officials were not at work at the Communicable Disease Control Center
Watchman Samir Hatam said he couldn´t help the inspectors get into
"I don´t have the keys," he said. "It´s Friday."
The Muslim Sabbath is marked on Fridays.
Instead of attempting to break into the rooms, UN inspectors wanted
to put a seal on the doors so they wouldn´t be opened until they
returned during working hours. A question arose over how to seal the
doors. So the UN team used the hot line, UN officials said.
Top Iraqi officials answered the telephone promptly and arrived at
the scene in less than an hour.
"There was a need for tagging of some of its equipment," Amin said.
In the presence of Amin, the inspectors placed seals on the doors
that would ensure no entry or exit could be made undetected. The UN
does not consider the matter a breech, a UN spokesman said.
While trying to catch Iraqis by surprise, the inspectors also are
attempting to be sensitive to religious customs.
(Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune 12/14/02)
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