I could live with that! Someone else has to always clean up the mess. |
Arms team goes to Baghdad soon to shut down UN lab
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, July 7 (Reuters) - A team of disarmament experts from South Africa, Russia, China and Germany goes to Baghdad next week to shut down a controversial U.N. laboratory in the Iraqi capital, a U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday.
The scientists, accompanied by diplomats and other officials, leave for Bahrain on Thursday and then go to the Jordanian capital of Amman over the weekend for the trip to Baghdad, spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.
Samples of chemical materials in the laboratory, which Iraq says are dangerous, were left behind by the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) when it left Baghdad in mid-December and had expected to return in a matter of weeks.
But Iraq will not let UNSCOM scientists or their associates from a Swiss government laboratory, who helped set up the operation, back into the country and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office agreed to these demands.
Instead the United Nations, at the suggestion of Russia, asked the Hague-based U.N. Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to recruit the scientists.
Almeida e Silva named the chemical experts as Dirk van Niekerk of South Africa, a chemical production technologist and the team leader; Li Hua, a Chinese analytical chemist; Sergei Orlov, a Russian analytical chemist; and Wolfgang Beyer, a microbiologist at Hohenheim University in Stuttgart, Germany.
Accompanying the experts is Miroslav Miklasz, a medical doctor from Poland; Jaakko Ylitalo of Finland, the former administrator for UNSCOM in Baghdad who is now in Bahrain; and Prakash Shah, Annan's special representative in Iraq.
Once they arrive in Baghdad diplomats from Russia, France and China, all sympathetic to Iraq, are expected to join the group for the trip to laboratory.
UNSCOM, in charge of ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, has denied that the chemical and biological testing samples were dangerous but asked Annan's office in late May to make arrangements for their removal before potential power failures in the summer.
The commission has told the Security Council that the laboratory contained tiny quantities of chemical agents used to calibrate equipment, which it said ''do not represent a threat, even in case of an accident,'' as well as some 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of mustard gas recovered from Iraqi shells.
Iraq and Russia have also alleged that UNSCOM stored explosives in the country, which the commission has denied.
UNSCOM evacuated its staff on the eve of the mid-December U.S.-British air strikes and has not been allowed back into Iraq since then.
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