News


DATE=3/24/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-228639
TITLE=IRAQ/U-N (L ONLY) (CQ)
BYLINE=DOUGLAS ROBERTS
DATELINE=BEIRUT
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE HEAD OF THE U-N ARMS COMMISSION IN IRAQ, RICHARD 
BUTLER, HELD MORE TALKS WITH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TARIQ AZIZ IN 
BAGHDAD TUESDAY, AS U-N OFFICIALS PREPARE FOR THEIR FIRST-EVER 
INSPECTIONS OF EIGHT PRESIDENTIAL SITES.  MIDDLE EAST 
CORRESPONDENT DOUGLAS ROBERTS IN BEIRUT HAS BEEN MONITORING 
DEVELOPMENTS.

TEXT:   THERE HAS BEEN  NO  SUBSTANTIVE COMMENT ON THE TWO DAYS 
OF TALKS IN THE IRAQI CAPITAL.  BUT MR. BUTLER SAYS THE 
DISCUSSIONS HAVE GONE WELL.  AND AT ALMOST EVERY OPPORTUNITY, THE
U-N ENVOY HAS HAILED WHAT HE TERMS A NEW SPIRIT OF COOPERATION 
FROM IRAQI AUTHORITIES.

THAT IS IN SHARP CONTRAST TO THE ATMOSPHERE JUST ONE MONTH AGO, 
WHEN BAGHDAD'S DEFIANT REFUSAL TO ALLOW THE INSPECTORS INTO 
PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUNDS ALMOST PROVOKED A MASSIVE WESTERN MILITARY
STRIKE AGAINST IRAQ.

MR. BUTLER WAS VILIFIED BY IRAQI OFFICIALS THROUGHOUT THE CRISIS.
//OPT// THEY CALLED HIM UNTRUSTWORTHY, AND DESCRIBED HIM AS AN 
AGENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN. //END OPT//

BUT ALTHOUGH HE IS STILL THE SUBJECT OF SOME CRITICISM IN 
BAGHDAD'S STATE-CONTROLLED NEWSPAPERS, COMMENTS FROM IRAQI 

OFFICIALS ABOUT THE U-N ENVOY NOW ARE MUCH MORE RESTRAINED.

MR. BUTLER HAS SAID THE INSPECTORS WILL PROBABLY MAKE THEIR FIRST
VISITS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL SITES BEFORE THE END OF THIS MONTH.  
THEY WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY A TEAM OF DIPLOMATS, WHO ARRIVED IN 
BAGHDAD TUESDAY, UNDER THE TERMS OF THE 11TH-HOUR AGREEMENT 
BETWEEN THE U-N AND IRAQ THAT AVERTED MILITARY ACTION.

PRIVATELY, U-N OFFICIALS SAY THEY HAVE LITTLE EXPECTATION OF 
FINDING ANYTHING RELATED TO IRAQ'S WEAPONS PROGRAMS WHEN THEY ARE
FINALLY ALLOWED INTO THE PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUNDS.  BUT THEY SAY 
THE INITIAL INSPECTIONS WILL ALLOW THEM TO SET REFERENCE POINTS 
FOR FUTURE VISITS.

MR. BUTLER SAYS THAT WITH CONTINUED IRAQI COOPERATION, THE U-N 
COULD COMPLETE ITS TASK OF VERIFYING THE ELIMINATION OF BAGHDAD'S
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION WITHIN A YEAR.  THAT WOULD CLEAR THE 
WAY FOR THE SECURITY COUNCIL TO LIFT THE CRIPPLING ECONOMIC 
SANCTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN IN EFFECT SINCE THE IRAQI INVASION OF 
KUWAIT MORE THAN SEVEN-AND-A-HALF YEARS AGO.

WITH U-N OFFICIALS INCREASINGLY CONFIDENT OF THEIR INFORMATION 
ABOUT IRAQ'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND ITS LONG-RANGE MISSILES, AND 
WITH SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS REPORTED IN THE AREA OF CHEMICAL 
WEAPONS, THE CHIEF CONCERN NOW IS BAGHDAD'S BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS 
PROGRAM.

THE TASK FOR THE U-N INSPECTORS IS COMPLICATED BY THE FACT THAT 
MANY OF THE COMPONENTS OF BIOLOGICAL ARMS ARE SO-CALLED 
"DUAL-USE" ITEMS, MATERIALS THAT CAN BE USED FOR MEDICAL VACCINES
AS WELL AS FOR DEADLY BANNED WEAPONS. (SIGNED) 

NEB/DBR/PCF

24-Mar-98 11:42 AM EST (1642 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.