Advertisement

Iraq, U.N. agree on inspection for weaponry documents

By
J.T. NGUYEN

United Press International

Iraq agreed Sunday to allow a revised team of U.N. inspectors to enter the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad to look for documents related to weapons of mass destruction, amid threats of renewed military action by the West if Iraq did not comply with U.N. cease-fire resolutions.

Advertisement

A U.N. official said the threat of force by the West had helped to achieve the breakthrough.

Concluding three days of intense bargaining at U.N. headquarters in New York, Swedish nuclear expert Rolf Ekeus and Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Abdul Amir al-Anbari announced a new team of U.N. weapons inspectors would be allowed to search facilities that the United Nations has suspected of housing important weaponry records, possibly of nuclear weapons programs.

'Yes, we are satisfied that the crisis, if you call it a crisis, is over,' said Al-Anbari. 'The framework we agreed on is to the satisfaction of both sides.'

Ekeus, the chief of U.N. inspection teams, confirmed the agreement and said he had accepted a 'very strong' invitation by Iraqi officials to visit Baghdad Tuesday.

He said the new team will include nationals from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Russia, the countries that Iraq said did not take part in the gulf war under U.S. command in 1991.

Advertisement

The U.N. Security Council has mandated Ekeus' Special Commission to destroy Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and nuclear-grade weapons and missiles as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf war on April 1991.

Iraq's acceptance of the inspections would defuse considerable tensions built up since U.N. inspectors were barred access to the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad on July 5.

Asked whether threats of renewed military action by the United States, France and Britain were a factor for the compromise, Ekeus said the threats were an 'element of reality' in the discussions.

'I am afraid to say that it has helped my mission,' he said.

President Bush, speaking at the White House after his return from his weekend retreat at Camp David, Md., said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had backed down under pressure.

'This standoff now has been resolved by his caving in, by his backing down ...,' Bush said. 'But there are many other inspections to come.'

'The real test of his behavior willbe in future U.N. inspections,' Bush added. 'Behavior along the lines we've just witnessed will not be tolerated.'

Bush also said Iraq's 'belated anouncement ... does not alter the fact that for some three weeks, Saddam Hussein flagrantly violated' a U.N. Security Council resolution and did not 'change the fact that Iraq deliberately and callously harassed and abused the U.N. inspectors seeking to carry out their mandate.'

Advertisement

'Saddam Hussein has caved in, and while Saddam has bent to the will of the U.N., the question remains whether after this delay a truly effective inspection of the Ministry (of Agriculture) is possible,' Bush said.

Ekeus, the head of the U.N. inspection team, said that with the delay, Iraqi officials 'gained time to empty the building.'

Speaking shortly before he left New York to fly to Iraq, Ekeus told the Cable News Network he was concerned that documents might have been taken from the site and that inspectors would 'make a damage assessment.'

Earlier, Ekeus said the formula he worked out with Al-Anbari would allow six U.N. inspectors inside the Ministry of Agriculture while three others -- two Americans and one Russian -- will remain outside to examine the confiscated documents. The whole team will be headed by Achim Birmann, a German.

Ekeus said he will visit the Iraqi minister at his office, which was a point of contention because the Iraqis said such a visit by the inspectors would violate its sovereignty.

But Ekeus, assessing the work of his Special Commission in some 40 inspections during the past 12 months, said most of Saddam's weapons as well as research programs had already been destroyed by the United Nations.

Advertisement

He said Iraq would have to make a 'major effort' to rebuild its military arsenals and rejected Saddam's reported contention Sunday that the 'mother of all battles is not over.'

That phrase was Saddam's name for the Persian Gulf War, when a U.S.- led coalition of 32 nations attacked Iraq in early 1991 after Baghdad's Aug. 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

For the first time, Ekeus said the coalition's intensive bombing of Iraqi military targets in January and February 1991 failed completely to destroy any of Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles and mobile launchers.

'None of them was destroyed,' he said. 'A large amount of chemical weapons was not destroyed through bombing, none of the research centers and nuclear areas were destroyed.'

He said arms control should be done through work like that of U.N. inspectors and not by carpet-bombing used during the Gulf War. Ekeus said the inspectors had scored a 'great success' by identifying weapons sites and destroying them,cutting Iraqi army equipment to pieces.

'There's no possibility (for Iraq to recover militarily) without a major new effort to reconstruct its missile program,' he said.

In agreeing to include new countries to the team of inspectors, Ekeus said the immediate problem had been resolved. He said he had revised the composition of the inspection team in light of 'certain sensibilities,' without compromising the quality of the team.

Advertisement

Ekeus also acknowledged some of the documents being sought might have been destroyed, but said he expected many had not and added, 'We hope they will cooperate with us and give us the essential material.'

Iraqi ambassador An-Anbari said, 'We are happy with the composition of the team. He said team members would be mostly Europeans who did not participate in the 1991 war against Iraq, but that a couple of current U.N. weapons inspectors may accompany the new team.

Both An-Anbari and Ekeus said they finalized the agreement Sunday to the 'mutual satisfaction' of the parties.

'They will be given access to the ministry under certain framework,' Al-Anbari said referring to the compromise.

The new team will arrive in Baghdad Tuesday to begin the work of unearthing Iraq's records related to its extensive nuclear weapons programs, which the Security Council has ordered seized.

Al-Anbari told reporters after conveying the message to Ekeus shortly after mid-day Sunday that the modalities he and Ekeus worked out will permit the United Nations to resume the work of disarming the country without infringing on Iraq's sovereignty.

Al-Anbari rejected as 'sheer speculation without any foundation' that Iraqis have removed documents from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Advertisement

Ekeus warned Saturday that time was running out because the Iraqis have been removing documents and materials related to their vast program of nuclear weapons out of the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad.

Saturday, Ekeus said he and Al-Anbari exhausted all the issues related to U.N. inspections of the arms sites, but failed to resolve the crisis. Ekeus gave Al-Anbari until Sunday morning to bring back a 'final answer' to his demands, saying if the nation failed to respond positively, 'it will be the end of the road.'

While Ekeus and Al-Anbari met in New York, President Bush met with his top military and diplomatic advisers for two hours Saturday at his Camp David retreat.

Among the options on the table were the use of air power and sea power, massing in the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

Administration officials told United Press International that, depending on Iraq's reply on Sunday, 'the most likely route was for an ultimatum to be delivered to Iraq for complete capitulation.'

The officials had predicted that unless Baghdad acceded to the U.N. resolutions, the United States could move by the middle of the week or by next weekend.

Advertisement

x x x both sides.'

The Iraqi ambassador said the new inspection team would include nationals from Germany, Switzerland and Russia.

'We are happy with the composition of the team,' he said, pointing out team members would be mostly Europeans who did not participate in the 1991 war against Iraq. He said a couple of current U.N. weapons inspectors may accompany the new team.

An-Anbari said he spoke with Swedish nuclear expert Rolf Ekeus, the chief of U.N. inspectors, and finalized an agreement to the 'mutual satisfaction' of the parties. He said Iraq would allow inspection of the Agriculture Ministry -- where U.N. officials believe pertinent weaponry documents are located.

'They will be given access to the ministry under certain framework,' the ambassador said.

The new team will arrive in Baghdad next week, probably Tuesday, to begin the work of unearthing Iraq's records related to its extensive nuclear weapons programs, which the Security Council has ordered seized.

'The crisis is over,' Al-Anbari told reporters after conveying the message to Ekeus shortly after mid-day Sunday.

He said the modalities he and Ekeus worked out will permit the United Nations to resume the work of disarming the country without infringing on Iraq'ssovereignty.NEWLN: more

Advertisement

x x x Iraq's sovereignty.

Before the ambassador's remarks, the Cable News Network cited the Iraqi News agency as quoting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein saying the 'mother of all battles' was not over.

That phrase was Saddam's name for the Persian Gulf War, when U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq in early 1991 after Baghdad's Aug. 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The United States, France and Britain have been considering fresh military action to compel Saddam's government to abide by U.N. cease- fire resolutions. These countries have accused Saddam of a 'broad pattern of defiance' of the resolutions.

White House spokeswoman Laura Mellilo, asked about Anbari's statement that the crisis was over, said: 'We're still reviewing the situation. No immediate response.'

Before the Iraqi ambassador made his announcement, U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft called the controversy over the inspections at the Ministry of Agriculture just the 'tip of the iceberg.'

He said Iraq was staging a 'frontal assault' to U.N. peacekeeping methods and that 'something has to be done about that as well.' Scowcroft said even if Iraq allowed inspections of the Ministry of Agriculture, that 'certainly doesn't end the problem.'

Iraq's acceptance of the inspections would defuse considerable tensions built up since U.N. inspectors were barred access to the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad.

Advertisement

Al-Anbari rejected as 'sheer speculation without any foundation' that Iraqis have removed documents from the ministry.

Saturday, Ekeus said he and Al-Anbari exhausted all the issues related to U.N. inspections of the arms sites, but failed to resolve the crisis. Ekeus gave Al-Anbari until Sunday morning to bring back a 'final answer' to his demands, saying if the nation failed to respond positively, 'it will be the end of the road.'

The Security Council has mandated Ekeus' Special Commission to destroy Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and nuclear-grade weapons and missiles as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf war on April 1991, after a 32-nation coalition force under U.S. command drove invading Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

Ekeus warned Saturday that time was running out because the Iraqis have been removing documents and materials related to their vast program of nuclear weapons out of the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad. U.N. inspectors had tried unsuccessfully to enter the ministry to seize the documents.

While Ekeus and Al-Anbari met in New York, President Bush met with his top military and diplomatic advisers for two hours Saturday at his Camp David retreat.

A White House statement said, 'Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a broad pattern of defiance and non-compliance with U.N. requirements.'

Advertisement

The White House made no comment of the outcome of U.N. talks late Saturday.

Among the options on the table were the use of air power and sea power, massing in the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, to compel Saddam Hussein to adhere to the resolutions adopted following the uneasy truce ending the Gulf War.

Administration officials told United Press International that, depending on Iraq's reply on Sunday, 'the most likely route was for an ultimatum to be delivered to Iraq for complete capitulation.'

The officials had predicted that unless Baghdad acceded to the U.N. resolutions, the United States could move by the middle of the week or by next weekend.

Latest Headlines