Weapons Inspectors Uncovered



The United Nations weapons inspectors talk exclusively about their time in Iraq, when their every move was being watched by the Iraqis and the rest of the world.

This is the story of the weapons inspectors that was not covered by the world's press.

Members of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission talk openly about the four months they spent in Iraq.

Their reception by the Iraqis this time around was markedly different - instead of an hour long harangue by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, they got down to business straight away and there were even flowers on the table.

Secrecy was a top priority: briefings were held in a secure room at their headquarters so the Iraqis couldn't eavesdrop with listening devices.

But the problems came when the team went out on their inspections: top weapons inspector Dmitri Perricos says his greatest fear was getting lost on the way to the sites and waking up the next day as a laughing stock in the world's media.

French missile expert Corinne Heraud, known to the Iraqis as Miss Destruction, admits to feeling sorry for the Iraqi scientists who were being forced to dismantle their stockpile of banned missiles.

Others talk about the reluctance of Iraqi scientists to be interviewed, and about their relationship with the minders who would accompany them on every visit.

The inspectors describe the long hours they were forced to work and the pressure they were under as the prospect of war increased.

One of their number was killed in a car crash in the final days, adding to their sense of gloom as British and American troops massed on the border.