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Iraq Denies Barring Arms Monitors

December 5, 1998

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq on Saturday denied that it barred weapons experts in October from entering a suspected weapons site inside an area controlled by exiled Iranian opposition activists.

They wanted to enter a site ``belonging to one of the foreign parties residing in Iraq″ over which Iraq has no control, the official Iraqi News Agency said, quoting Hussam Mohammed Ameen, the head of an Iraqi office that deals with the U.N. inspectors.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council dated Dec. 3, deputy chief inspector Charles Duelfer said a U.N. team could not obtain access to a site because it was under the control of an exiled Iranian opposition group.

Ameen said Iraq cannot get officially involved when the United Nations Special Commission, which is responsible for disarming Iraq, wants to inspect a site occupied by foreigners.

He said the rules of disarmament in Iraq require that the head of the inspection team and the foreign official in charge of the area work out an arrangement between themselves for entering the site.

Ameen said Iraq did not interfere when U.N. inspectors negotiated with the exiled Iranians on Oct. 25 to enter the site. After almost three hours of discussions, the head of the inspection team decided not to go in and withdrew his members.

The exiles, members of the Mujahideen Khalq, which opposes the Islamic government in Iran, operates about a dozen military camps in Iraq.

Ameen said the same U.N. team had carried out surprise visits to 15 weapons sites including government buildings on the same day.

UNSCOM is responsible for destroying Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Until the mission is complete, the U.N. Security Council will not lift the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

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