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SEEK AND DESTROY; Hunt is on to find Saddam's bombs as UN inspectors arrive in Baghdad.

Byline: IAN SMITH

THE hunt for Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons was under way last night after United Nations inspectors arrived in Iraq.

Hans Blix landed in Baghdad with a 25-strong team to begin the job of disarming Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraqi leader has three weeks to hand over a complete list of his weapons - or face military action.

It is the first time UN inspectors have set foot in Iraq since Saddam kicked them out in 1998.

During the last inspection, Saddam constantly lied and obstructed the inspectors from doing their job.

In Baghdad yesterday, Blix said co-operation from the dictator was "in the interest of Iraq and the interest of the world".

He added: "We are here to do a job and we will do it professionally and, I hope, competently.

"The question of war and peace remains first of all in the hands of Iraq, the Security Council and the members of the Security Council."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw warned Saddam again that he was now on his last chance to co-operate with the inspectors or face attack.

He said: "Our message to Saddam Hussein is, `This is your final opportunity to comply with international law and the rule of the UN Security Council'."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to the Iraqi leader to meet his international obligations.

He said: "I urge President Saddam Hussein to comply fully with the Council's demands for the sake of his people, regional security and world order."

In Iraq, the Al-Thawra news-paper, a mouthpiece of the leader, dismissed previous UN inspections as "an American organisation to spy on Iraq".

Another leading Iraqi news-paper, Babil, which is owned by Saddam's son Odai, said the inspectors would "prove to the Americans that our country is free of weapons of mass destruction.

"Those unjust Americans, as well as others, should leave the Security Council alone and end the unjust siege imposed on us."

The UN inspectors are better equipped to seek out weapons of mass destruction than they were four years ago.

This time, they are armed with a new generation of high-tech gadgets.

They have state-of-the-art portable tools, which will give on-the-spot data, including hand-held sensors capable of sniffing out a single spore of anthrax, a whiff of sarin gas or a radiation leak.

The team will also be equipped with sophisticated radar devices, which were in their infancy four years ago.

Detectors developed in American military labs mean tests which would have taken days or weeks to complete in 1998 can now produce almost instant results.

Devices capable of detecting electrical equipment up to 100 feet below ground or seeking out other evidence of underground bunkers will also be used.

One of the key tools will be a portable sensor called the Hanaa - a hi- tech "sniffer" developed at the University of California.

It can identify a microbe by its DNA in 15 minutes and will allow inspectors to use air and cotton- swab samples to detect anthrax or deadly diseases such as plague.

Other devices can detect molecular traces of chemical agents such as sarin nerve gas, which the US military fears Iraq may use to fend off an invasion.

To search out potential nuclear weapons sites, inspectors will be carrying portable radiation detectors, which were developed at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories.

The Ranger, a hand-held black and silver device, has sensors that can pick out radioactive isotopes used in bomb-building.

The Alex - short for Alloy Expert - machine can sense titanium and other refined metals used to make nuclear weapons.

The UN inspectors are likely to use airborne surveillance as the best US satellites capture images of details smaller that 10cms.

Cameras on aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles can record finer details, even enabling analysts to recognise faces.

Other tools inspectors will use include radar-imaging satellites which circle earth, taking pictures over small areas to capture details as small as 30cm.

They can can identify vehicles, buildings and land features.

Photo satellites take digital photographs. They work best in daylight but can also spot vehicles, campfires or people at night, using infrared imaging.

Another gadget is a remote- controlled, propeller-driven, spy plane which flies at low altitude to provide video, infrared and radar images.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Nov 19, 2002
Words:709
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