News


DATE=3/26/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-228758
TITLE=IRAQ/U-N (L)
BYLINE=DOUGLAS ROBERTS
DATELINE=CAIRO
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  U-N ARMS INSPECTORS THURSDAY GAINED ACCESS TO ONE OF 
IRAQ'S PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUNDS FOR THE FIRST TIME.  MIDDLE EAST 
CORRESPONDENT DOUGLAS ROBERTS REPORTS THE INSPECTORS -- AND AN 
ACCOMPANYING TEAM OF DIPLOMATS -- ARE EXPECTED TO VISIT OTHER 
PRESIDENTIAL SITES OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

TEXT:   U-N OFFICIALS GAVE IRAQI AUTHORITIES ADVANCE NOTICE ABOUT
THE TIMING OF THURSDAY'S INSPECTION, BUT  NOT  THE PRECISE 
LOCATION.

THE IRAQIS WERE TOLD ONE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACES WOULD BE 
INSPECTED, BUT  NOT  WHICH ONE.

IN THE EVENT, A TEAM OF ABOUT 60 U-N ARMS EXPERTS ENTERED THE 
RADWANIYA PRESIDENTIAL COMPLEX ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF BAGHDAD AT 
MID-MORNING.

THEY WERE TO CARRY OUT A DETAILED SEARCH OF THE BUILDINGS AND 
GROUNDS,  WHILE A U-N HELICOPTER HOVERED OVERHEAD CONDUCTING AN 
AERIAL SURVEY OF THE COMPOUND.

ACCOMPANYING THE INSPECTORS WAS A TEAM OF 20 FOREIGN DIPLOMATS --
AMONG THEM ENVOYS FROM ALL FIVE OF THE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE 
U-N SECURITY COUNCIL.

THE U-N AGREED TO THE INCLUSION OF THE DIPLOMATS AS A GESTURE TO 
IRAQI SENSITIVITIES.

THE ACCORD, CONCLUDED BY SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN LAST MONTH,
EASED THE LONG-RUNNING CRISIS OVER ACCESS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL 
SITES AND AVERTED A MAJOR MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST IRAQ BY A U-S 
LED COALITION OF FORCES ASSEMBLED IN THE PERSIAN GULF.

//OPT// OVER THE NEXT 10 DAYS, THE INSPECTORS AND DIPLOMATS ARE 
EXPECTED TO VISIT SEVEN OTHER PRESIDENTIAL SITES, IN THE BAGHDAD 
AREA AND IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN IRAQ.  THE U-N SAYS RETURN 
VISITS TO ALL OF THE COMPOUNDS ARE LIKELY.

U-N OFFICIALS SAY THEY DO NOT EXPECT TO FIND MATERIALS OR 
DOCUMENTS RELATED TO IRAQ'S WEAPONS PROGRAMS AT THE PRESIDENTIAL 
SITES.

THEY POINT OUT THAT BAGHDAD HAS HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO REMOVE ANY 
POTENTIALLY DAMAGING EVIDENCE.  IRAQI OFFICIALS SAY NOTHING 
RELATED TO THE WEAPONS PROGRAMS WAS EVER CONCEALED AT THE 
PALACES. //END OPT//

AS THURSDAY'S INSPECTION BEGAN, THE CHIEF OF THE U-N WEAPONS 
COMMISSION,  RICHARD BUTLER, LEFT BAGHDAD TO REPORT TO THE 
SECRETARY GENERAL AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON HIS LATEST ROUND OF
TALKS WITH IRAQI OFFICIALS.

//OPT// MR. BUTLER TOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE HE WAS FULLY SATISFIED 
WITH WHAT HE TERMED A NEW SPIRIT OF COOPERATION FROM IRAQI 
AUTHORITIES.  AND HE SAID HE GOT ON WELL WITH DEPUTY PRIME 
MINISTER TARIQ AZIZ, WHO HAD BEEN SHARPLY CRITICAL OF MR. BUTLER 
DURING THE CRISIS, ACCUSING HIM OF BEING AN AGENT FOR THE UNITED 
STATES AND BRITAIN. //END OPT//

IRAQI OFFICIALS ARE NO LONGER ATTACKING MR. BUTLER IN THEIR 
PUBLIC  STATEMENTS, ALTHOUGH THE U-N OFFICIAL STILL COMES UNDER 
FIRE IN THE IRAQI PRESS, WITH ONE STATE-OWNED NEWSPAPER REFERRING
TO HIM AS "MAD DOG BUTLER".

THE AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT SAYS HE IS NOW OPTIMISTIC THAT 
SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS CAN BE MADE BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR IN 
ACCOUNTING FOR IRAQ'S MISSILE WARHEADS AND ITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS. 
BUT MR. BUTLER SAYS THE U-N IS STILL A LONG WAY FROM BEING ABLE 
TO CONFIRM THE DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ'S BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS.

//REST OPT// THE U-N COMMISSION MUST VERIFY THE ELIMINATION OF 
ALL OF IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION BEFORE THE SECURITY 
COUNCIL CAN ACT TO LIFT THE CRIPPLING ECONOMIC EMBARGO IN EFFECT 
SINCE THE 1990 IRAQI INVASION OF KUWAIT. (SIGNED) 

NEB/DBR/PCF

26-Mar-98 9:30 AM EST (1430 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.