Defiant Iraq held 44 unyielding United Nations weapons inspectors in a Baghdad parking lot for a third day yesterday, and the leader of the UN team said that the standoff showed no signs of easing..Baghdad confined the team Tuesday to prevent it from leaving the country with the documents it has gathered on Iraq's nuclear program. Team leader David Kay, speaking by telephone from Baghdad, told the Sky satellite television station that up to 80 Iraqi armed troops had taken position around the parking lot yesterday morning - down from 150 troops during the night. On whether the Iraqis were ready to relax conditions on taking the documents away, Mr. Kay said: "No, they have said nothing to us about the conditions here." Kay said the inspectors tried to work on the documents Wednesday but were forcibly stopped by Iraqi security men. He told Sky that the team has sealed the documents in a car. Kay earlier described the papers as "very valuable." He told Britain's Channel Four television news in a telephone interview that his team had collected vital data on countries and companies helping Iraq to develop nuclear weapons. Iraq told the UN Security Council Wednesday night the inspectors would be free to take the documents away if they signed for them. Kay said his team was safe and that UN colleagues in Iraq were keeping them supplied with food and water. In Washington the White House demanded the release of the inspectors and said the United States was keeping open all options, including the use of military force. Thousands of Iraqis staged a protest around the parking lot - the biggest anti-US protest since the Gulf war.

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