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Radwaniyah Presidential Site
33??'N 44??'E

The special group of UN Special Commission for Iraq (UNSOM) weapons inspectors, diplomats and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed its initial inspections of Iraqi presidential sites on 02 April 1998. It took eight days to complete the so-called baseline inspections of the presidential sites. Access to these sites, which Iraq had declared off limits to the United Nations, was granted only after Secretary General Kofi Annan signed an agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his visit to Baghdad last month which allows UN weapons experts, accompanied by a special group of "diplomatic observers," to inspect the compounds. Unfettered access to these and other sites is one of the conditions that must be met to complete the weapons inspections and ultimately lift UN sanctions.

All eight "presidential sites" visited appeared to be well defined by high walls or fences. They all had a rather similar landscape pattern: main guesthouses, with an integrated system of ancillary buildings and villas for accompanying dignitaries. Often an artificial lake with small artificial decorative islands located in a way to give access to the lake from each guesthouse. The mission was not intended to be a search for prohibited material and none was found. In fact, there was very little equipment, documentation or other material in the sites at all. It was clearly apparent that all sites had undergone extensive evacuation. In all the sites outside of Baghdad, for example, there were no documents and no computers. The buildings were largely empty. A key accomplishment of the mission was to plot more precisely the boundaries of the presidential sites.

Radwaniyah serves as Hussein's main residence. The 9.3-square-mile compound in Baghdad is known as Al-Qaddissiya after a 7th-century battle in what is now Iraq.

The south and south-east sectors of this site were visited by the Special Group on 26 March. This was followed by a visit to the north sector on 27 March. During the course of the visits the Iraqi authorities were observed by the senior diplomats to raise national security concerns in respect of (a) general aerial photography from the helicopter that was used as distinct from photography of specific situations; and (b) the use of global positioning system (GPS) instrumentation. Following negotiations conducted on site, the rights of UNSCOM to general aerial photography embodied in relevant Security Council resolutions (e.g. resolution 707 (1991)) were emphasized by the Head of the Team of Experts and the Iraqi authorities finally agreed, on an ad hoc basis, that this could take place for a reasonable amount of time. With regard to the use of GPS instrumentation, a compromise agreement was reached, again on an ad hoc basis, in deference to Iraqi concerns and in a spirit of cooperation. This would apply to initial visits to presidential sites and would not be regarded as a precedent for future visits since UNSCOM asserts its rights to use GPS instrumentation as standard equipment. National security concerns were also raised in respect of drawings and sketches of buildings, which UNSCOM required as part of its "baseline survey". This matter was also resolved satisfactorily.

Soil sampling and the use of other equipment was conducted by the experts without difficulty. The helicopter was able to complete obtaining all the imagery it required. With regard to the baseline survey conducted by the experts, discrepancies were found between the survey conducted earlier and the ground realities and after some discussion these were resolved satisfactorily. The helicopter used by UNSCOM was able to land within the Radwaniyah Presidential Site so that the senior diplomat in the helicopter, Ambassador Antonio Monteiro of Portugal, could have consultations with the Head of the Special Group, who was also provided with the opportunity to observe the site from the air.

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