U.N. Inspections Should Resume in Iraq, U.S. Says: Report: Secret Work on Weapons Needs to Be Monitored

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Iraq's secret work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proves that weapons inspections must resume, a State Department spokesman said yesterday.

"In the absence of U.N. inspectors on the ground carrying out the existing Security Council mandate, our uncertainties about the meaning of these activities will persist," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said.

"And as time passes, of course, our concerns increase."

The Washington Times reported yesterday that Iraq is continuing work on weapons of mass destruction and missiles banned by U.N. sanctions. The story cited a six-page report the White House recently sent to Congress.

The report, based on intelligence information, was required under a fiscal 1999 appropriations act.

Chief State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said in July that there is no evidence Iraq has made "significant efforts" to reconstitute its work on weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Reeker denied yesterday that the White House report conflicts with Mr. Rubin's remarks.

The White House report "is consistent with all previous [government] assessments and accurately reflects our policy on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"We are concerned by activity at Iraqi sites known to be capable of producing weapons of mass destruction as well as long-range ballistic missiles, as well as procurement activity," he said.

The White House report shows why the U.N. Security Council should embrace a resolution proposed by Britain and the Netherlands that would set up a new weapons-inspection system in Iraq, Mr. Reeker said.

According to the report, U. …