U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan says he sees no reason for military action against Iraq at this time.
Mr. Annan told Israeli radio today (Tuesday) he is satisfied with the work conditions U-N arms inspectors have encountered in Iraq. He said Iraq is cooperating and inspectors have been able to do their work in an unimpeded manner.
The Secretary General said the inspectors should be allowed to finish their job before any further action is taken.
The United States accuses Iraq of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and says it will use force if necessary to disarm Iraq.
President Bush, speaking to reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas Tuesday, said he has not decided whether to wage war against Iraq. But he said military action may be necessary, even at a great economic cost.
Meanwhile, U-N weapons inspectors visited eight new sites on Tuesday in central Iraq searching for banned weapons.
The sites visited include an engineering company owned by the state Military Industry Corporation, a military chemical unit west of the capital, Baghdad, and an oil research center. Inspectors also visited an electronics factory and a medical research center.
The French News Agency (AFP) reported Tuesday Iraq has invited Chief U-N weapons inspector Hans Blix to hold talks in Baghdad next month. Mr. Blix is due to present a report on the inspections process to the United Nations January 27th.
U-S and British warplanes attacked Iraqi air defenses Tuesday, after an Iraqi fighter jet penetrated the southern "no-fly" zone. The U-S military said coalition forces struck communications facilities, and -- later -- mobile radar.
Iraq says the U-S and British patrols violate its sovereignty.