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Thursday, April 9, 1998 Published at 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK


World: Middle East

Iraq still holding back on weapons

An Iraqi soldier guards a United Nations compound in Baghdad, where weapons inspectors have a base.

A United Nations report has accused Iraq of continuing to hold back information about its germ warfare programme.

The accusation is contained in a report of a meeting between Iraqi government officials and UN and independent experts in Vienna in March.

The report said the latest Iraqi disclosures concerning its biological weapons capability are not complete or adequate.

According to the weapons experts, Iraq has not revealed details about the amount of raw materials imported to make germ weapons nor the extent of the expertise it acquired in their manufacture.

They also say Baghdad has not revealed what they describe as the philosophy behind its biological weapons programme - how it fits in with Iraq's broader defence policy.

As for Baghdad's claim to have destroyed all biological weapons and the capacity to make them, the report says Iraq has provided no evidence to prove its case.

The BBC United Nations correspondent says the Vienna meeting was originally proposed by Iraq in the hope that outside experts would disagree with UN findings - and the negative report represents something of a setback for Baghdad.

The report also says the possibility that Iraq may still possess what it calls a dormant germ warfare programme remains unresolved because of a lack of information.



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