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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Investigators Suspect Iraq Concealing Missiles

WASHINGTON -- A United Nations commission suspects that Iraq has hidden between six and 16 ballistic missiles capable of being fired at Israel, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia with warheads containing lethal nerve agents or germ weapons, UN and U.S. officials have said.

UN investigators believe the medium-range missiles probably are being stored on Iraqi trucks and shuttled between military installations under the command of a government organization determined to keep them out of sight, according to Swedish Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, who chairs the UN Special Commission on Iraq.

Ekeus said the UN commission's new concern about these missiles helps explain its recent confrontations with the Iraqi government, including five attempts last week by Iraqi authorities to deny UN investigators' access to government buildings suspected of harboring evidence related to the missiles.

Ekeus told the Senate subcommittee on permanent investigations Wednesday that "we have a problem'' because Iraq insists it has no such missiles and seems determined to prevent their destruction despite its pledge to comply with a 1991 Security Council resolution prohibiting any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Ekeus noted that Iraq has so far given up an estimated $75 billion in oil revenues because of economic sanctions that, by general agreement, are to be lifted only when Iraq fully accounts for all the missiles and other weapons it is suspected of developing or acquiring.

?Jordan said Thursday it had granted asylum to a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army who has defected to the opposition seeking to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to Reuters.

Information Minister Marwan Muasher said Staff-Lieutenant General Nazar Khazraji had asked to live in Amman: "He asked to come here and his request was accepted."