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Iraq Turns Back U.N. Inspectors

December 9, 1998

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A U.N. weapons inspection team turned back today after it was refused admission to an office of the ruling Baath Party in Baghdad, state-run Iraqi radio said.

A U.N. weapons team tried this morning to get into a headquarters of the party of President Saddam Hussein ``in a provocative manner ... without previous announcement,″ the radio said.

The broadcast, which quoted the official Iraqi News Agency, said the Baath Party official in charge of the headquarters demanded that the chief inspector give him a written declaration ``on the banned items″ his team was seeking.

``The team rejected this and withdrew,″ the agency said.

It was the first time a U.N. team was not able to conduct an inspection since the chief of inspectors, Richard Butler, announced earlier this week that surprise checks would resume on Tuesday.

Last month, a team was not allowed into a base run by Iranian exiles, the Mujahedeen Khalq.

The exact location of the Baath Party office involved in today’s incident was not clear.

There was no immediate comment from U.N. arms officials in Baghdad.

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