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UN inspectors delayed at center (CHICAGO TRIBUNE) By E.A. Torriero BAGHDAD, IRAQ 12/14/02)Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0212140111dec14,1,1722199.story?coll=chi%2Dnewsnationworld%2Dhed CHICAGO TRIBUNE CHICAGO TRIBUNE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 in Baghdad.

Watchman Samir Hatam said he couldn´t help the inspectors get into several rooms.

"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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