A convoy of UN vehicles carrying arms inspectors arrive at the Al Khalis factory, northeast of Baghdad. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

2002 - United Nations weapons inspectors landed in Iraq to begin a crucial mission which could tip the balance between peace and war in the Middle East. A group of 17 inspectors, the first to go to Iraq since inspections ceased in 1998, arrived in Baghdad aboard a chartered cargo plane. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and French President Jacques Chirac said that full Iraqi compliance with UN weapons inspections was the only way to avoid war in the Middle East. UN experts vowed to operate “like detectives” in inspecting suspected Iraqi arms sites. “We operate like detectives and when we have clues, we have to be flexible and change our plans,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said.

Other important events

1783 - British evacuate New York, their last military position in the United States, during the Revolutionary War.

1867 - Dyanamite is patented in the US by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel.

1897 - Spain grants Puerto Rico autonomy.

1917 - Russia holds its last free election for more than half a century.

1952 - The world’s longest-running play, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, opens in London.

1973 - Greece’s President George Papadopoulos is ousted in a bloodless military coup.

1979 - Saudi Arabia retakes the Grand Mosque in Makkah from extremists.

1986 - The Iran-Contra rebel affair comes to light, that profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been diverted to the Nicaraguan rebels.

1995 - Poland’s President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski resigns from the former Communist party in a bid to be seen as a leader above politics.

1998 - President Jiang Zemin arrives in Tokyo for the first visit to Japan by a Chinese head of state since the Second World War.

2000 - Baku earthquake, in Azerbaijan, kills 26 people.

2002 - Attackers dynamite Colombia’s largest oil pipeline, near the town of Aguazul, causing a spill.

2006 - UAE opens its first credit bureau.

2007 - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan after seven years in exile in Saudi Arabia.

2009 - Heavy rain and floods kill at least 13 people in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

2010 - Shaikh Zayed Bridge is inaugurated in Abu Dhabi.

2011 - Moroccans vote in the first legislative election since the king introduced constitutional reforms.

2012 - German Sebastian Vettel becomes the youngest triple champion in Formula One history after he finished sixth in Brazilian Grand Prix.

2014 - More than 45 people are killed in twin bomb blasts at a packed market in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri.

2015 - UAE signs an agreement to set up the GCC police force, which will be headquartered in Abu Dhabi.