MOSCOW Ñ United Nations weapons inspectors are preparing to leave
Iraq over the next 48 hours.
UN sources said inspectors from UN Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission as well as the International
Atomic Energy Agency have been ordered to be on alert to leave Iraq
imminently. The sources said all of the inspectors could leave Iraq by
UN weapons inspections chief Hans Blix has not confirmed that his
inspectors plan to leave Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Blix said inspections continue to take place
despite the threat of a U.S.-led war against the regime of Iraqi President
But UN sources told the Moscow-based Novosti news agency that a special
UN aircraft would arrive from Larnaca, Cyprus on Wednesday to fly the
estimated 200 inspectors out of Baghdad. The agency said this would, in
effect, end UN weapons inspections in Iraq.
On Monday, IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei said the United
States has urged the UN to withdraw its inspectors from Iraq. El Baradei
said he relayed the message to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and the issue
will be discussed later in the day.
About 800 UN ceasefire monitors have ended patrols of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti
border amid the expectation of an imminent war. The U.S. Army has cut into
the border fence to prepare for a ground invasion by troops, tanks and
The U.S. embassy urged all American citizens to leave Kuwait
immediately. The British embassy also asked its nationals to leave the