U.N. inspectors visit Iraqi facilities without protective clothing

Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow Abbas Khalaf has made an ironic remark that international inspectors visit Iraqi facilities where components of chemical weapons may be kept without protective clothing and other means of protecting themselves.

During a visit to one of the presidential palaces where mass destruction weapons were allegedly either kept or produced, the international inspectors looked like "plain tourists," he told a Friday news conference in Moscow. "If they knew there could be weapons there, why didn't they wear protective overalls?" he wondered. In his opinion, this attitude proved that the US administration was "using the inspections as a pretext for a planned aggression against Iraq." The activities, however, continue "in a good atmosphere," with the Iraqi side allowing the inspectors to visit any facilities they like on the country's territory, he said.

The ambassador thanked the inspectors for respecting the religious traditions of Islam and putting the inspection on hold for three days while the Arab world celebrated Ramadan.

He also assured the assembly that Iraq would go on "helping inspectors to carry out their task."

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