Air raid sirens sounded over the Iraqi capital Baghdad today as international arms monitors began their first inspections under a strict new UN resolution.
A thin, white line of smoke could be seen in the sky, but its source was unclear. The sirens usually mean an allied air strike somewhere in the vicinity, but there was no immediate word of a strike from Iraqi, US or British officials.
The international inspectors who went to work in Baghdad this morning are trying to assess whether the Iraqi government is still committed to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
The US, steadily reinforcing its military might in the region, has warned it will disarm Iraq by force if the inspections fail, with or without international help.
The monitors are back after a four-year break under a mandate from the UN Security Council to test the Baghdad government’s contention that it has no arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, or programmes to build them.