U.N. official: Digs fail to verify Iraq scrapped all warheads

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Despite extensive excavation, U.N. arms experts have not yet accounted for all the warheads filled with biological agents that Iraq says it destroyed and buried in 1991, the director of the U.N. office in Baghdad said Sunday.
Nils Carlstrom, a Swedish major general who heads the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center, said the U.N. inspectors would return soon with safety gear to resume the search for the warheads.
Carlstrom refused to say how many warheads have not been accounted for at the site outside Baghdad.
He said verifying the Iraqi claim that all were destroyed will take a “much longer time than previously thought.”
Iraqi officials have said that 77 warheads were filled with biological agents and that the United Nations has accounted for 70 of them.
U.N. inspections were launched in 1991 to oversee the destruction of Iraq’s biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles.
The U.N. Security Council has said it will not lift punishing trade sanctions, imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, until U.N. inspectors verify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.
A month’s work by U.N. inspectors in search of the warheads ended March 12. Some of the searches involved sophisticated metal detectors, Carlstrom said.