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Dear list, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2002/12/04/international1548EST0705.DTL Baghdad objects to palace inspection; inspectors say treading thin line, getting results CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent Wednesday, December 4, 2002 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (12-04) 12:48 PST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq objected Wednesday to U.N. weapons inspectors' surprise intrusion into one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. The U.N. monitors countered that they're taking the right approach -- navigating between Iraqi complaints and U.S. pressure for more "severe" inspections. "We are getting results," said inspection team leader Demetrius Perricos. Among other things, he reported that on a five-hour inspection Wednesday of a desert installation, the international arms experts secured about a dozen Iraqi artillery shells -- previously known to be there -- containing a powerful chemical weapon, the liquid agent mustard. It was the first report of such armaments traced and controlled in the week-old round of new inspections. Perricos' team and another paid unannounced visits to that key site and to the nerve center of Iraq's old nuclear weapons program, places that were bombed, searched and dismantled in the 1990s. The 2002 inspectors wanted to ensure that Baghdad's plans for weapons of mass destruction have not been revived. The inspections resumed after a four-year suspension, under a new U.N. Security Council mandate requiring Iraq to surrender any remaining weapons of mass destruction and shut down any programs to make them. A critical deadline approaches this weekend for the Baghdad government. On Saturday, it is expected to submit a declaration to the United Nations on any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as on similar nuclear, chemical and biological programs it says are peaceful. No inspections are scheduled for Thursday or Friday because of the Islamic holiday of Eid el-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The Bush administration alleges Baghdad retains some chemical and biological weapons_ missed during 1990s inspections -- and has not abandoned plans for nuclear weapons. The Iraqi government maintains it no longer holds such weapons and intends to say so in the declaration. Its report may include lengthy technical detail about past weapons programs and current nonmilitary industries, possibly requiring weeks of U.N. analysis. The inspectors' new mandate toughens their powers to search anywhere, anytime in Iraq for signs of prohibited armaments. They took advantage of that authority on Tuesday to demand and receive quick entry to the opulent Al-Sajoud palace, beside the Tigris River in Baghdad, one of dozens of palaces built by Saddam during his 23-year rule. The team's 11/2-hour inspection, a brief but symbolic show of U.N. muscle, drew a rebuke from the Iraqis on Wednesday. "We consider the entry of the presidential sites as unjustified and really unnecessary," said Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, chief Iraqi liaison to the inspectors. A statement from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry asked whether this "bad behavior" by the U.N. officials resulted from pressure from the United States, Britain and Israel. Amin added, however, that Iraq would not try to block U.N. visits to other palaces. Disputes over inspections of presidential palaces contributed to tensions that developed between U.N. inspectors and the Iraqi government in the 1990s. Personal negotiations between Saddam and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan produced an agreement whereby inspectors had to supply advance notice of such inspections and accept diplomatic escorts. Perricos, meeting with reporters Wednesday, noted that the new Security Council resolution overrides such agreements. "It's a place that should not be exempted from access," he said of the palace visit. Asked about the Iraqi complaints, Perricos added that "the Iraqi side would have liked us to be very light. The U.S. side, from what I hear from you" -- referring to the news media -- "would like us to be extremely severe." "I think what we are doing is the proper way. We are still doing a good job." President Bush had said on Tuesday that "the signs are not encouraging" the Iraqis will cooperate with the disarmament effort, even though the inspectors have reported nothing but Iraqi cooperation thus far. The U.N. teams are picking up where their predecessors left off in 1998, when the monitoring regime collapsed amid disputes over access and U.S. spying from within the U.N. operation. The inspectors of the 1990s eliminated tons of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and the equipment to make them, and dismantled Iraq's program to build nuclear bombs. The desolate al-Muthanna State Establishment, among camel herds and wild dogs in the desert 40 miles northwest of Baghdad, was Iraq's most important chemical weapons research and production facility in the 1980s, and was heavily bombed in the 1991 Gulf War. Later in the 1990s, the U.N. inspectors moved into the site and destroyed huge amounts of material: 38,500 artillery shells and other chemical-filled weapons, almost 500,000 gallons of liquid material and 150 pieces of equipment used to make chemical agents, according to a recent Iraqi report. Allowed onto the 10-square-mile installation after the inspectors left, journalists saw the 1990s inspectors' handiwork, in storage sheds with huge industrial vats and crumpled empty bomb casings strewn about -- remnants of an enterprise that made some of the most feared chemical weapons, including sarin and VX nerve agent. The discarded equipment was inventoried and tagged by the old monitors, and the new team wanted to check that no machinery had been put back into service. "They found things as they were in 1998, and there's no activity now at this site," Raad Manhal, Iraqi liaison officer at the site, told reporters. Perricos later said the arms experts had located "between 10 and 20" artillery shells, loaded with the agent for mustard gas, that were recorded at the site but had not been destroyed because of the abrupt collapse of inspections in 1998. His team secured the shells in their storage place and planned to destroy them, he said. The second team went to al-Tuwaitha, long the heart of Iraqi nuclear research, where scientists and engineers in the 1980s worked on technology to produce fuel for nuclear bombs. Al-Tuwaitha, 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, also was heavily bombed and later monitored in the 1990s. Recent satellite photos show new construction at the sprawling complex, however, and the nuclear specialists wanted to check those buildings. Team leader Jacques Baute did not elaborate on what they found, but told reporters he was satisfied with Iraqi cooperation. If Iraq is eventually found to have cooperated fully with the inspectors, U.N. resolutions call for the Security Council to consider lifting economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! BB is Broadband by Yahoo! http://bb.yahoo.co.jp/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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