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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Iraqis Exported U.N.-Monitored Items Under U.S.

September 08, 2004|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Less than three months after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein, American-appointed Iraqi authorities began shipping thousands of tons of scrap metal out of the country, including at least 42 engines from banned missiles, according to a new report by U.N. weapons inspectors circulated Tuesday.

The scrap exports also included equipment that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, said the report, which was to be presented to the U.N. Security Council today.

The report says export of the materials was handled by the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, which was under the direct supervision of U.S. occupation authorities until June 28, when the Americans handed power to Iraq's interim government.

The report criticized "the systematic removal" of items subject to U.N. monitoring from a number of sites.

The United Nations inspectors, who are barred from Iraq, said commercial satellite photos showed that several important sites once used to manufacture missiles and precursors for chemical weapons had been destroyed or cleaned out.

The report also said it was impossible to know what had happened to United Nations-monitored equipment with the potential for making banned weapons.

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