Located 90 miles north of Baghdad and covering 4.0 square kilometers, this is the largest and most elaborate of the presidential sites. In addition to palaces and VIP residences, the site also includes farms and rural retreats for VIPs located farther to the west. Construction at the Tikrit Residential site has been ongoing since 1991.
The old palace of Baiji is also located in Tikrit.
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.
The Special Group proceeded by road in a journey of over three hours to the Tikrit Presidential Site on 28 March 1998 and completed its visit on the same day. Necessary adjustments with regard to the survey of the boundaries were raised and clarified at an early stage of its visit, illustrating that the experience of the previous visits had proved beneficial. Consequently much time was saved. No difficulties were encountered with regard to aerial photography or the use of GPS instruments. Taking of photographs on site where a soil sample has been taken was objected to at first, but after discussion acceptable arrangements were made.