The UN Security Council has renewed its oil-for-food programme in Iraq for just nine days to allow time to resolve differences over prohibited items. The US wants to add to the list of goods proscribed on the grounds of possible military use, among them the drug atropine, which can be used to combat the effects of nerve gas. Once the differences are resolved it is expected the programme will be extended for a further six months.
Briefing the Security Council on his visit to Baghdad last week, head of the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq Hans Blix sought to reassure members on the effectiveness of the inspection process. He said that by the end of the year there would be at least 100 inspectors at work, and that he has already informed Iraqi officials of his intention to search Saddam Hussein's presidential compounds, expand the team's Baghdad headquarters and demand the names of officials associated with past and present weapons programmes.
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