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U.N. Inspectors Pay Surprise Visit to Presidential Palace - 2002-12-04


In Baghdad, United Nations weapons inspectors Tuesday made an unannounced visit to one of Saddam Hussein’s sprawling presidential palaces, but apparently found nothing.

The one-and-a-half hour inspection of the Al-Sojoud palace was the first time U.N. personnel had entered a presidential site since resuming inspections last week.

During similar inspections years ago, Iraqi officials had refused access to inspectors looking for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Yashuhiro Ueki, spokesman for the U.N.'s monitoring, verification and inspection commissions, told reporters there were no incidents.

YASHUHIRO UEKI
“This was the first inspection of a presidential site, since the return of inspectors to Iraq, and was carried out pursuant to Security Council resolution 1441. The inspection team was able to enter the site within a few minutes. The site was frozen during the inspection in order to avoid any exit. Access to the entire site was provided without difficulty and the proper inspection activities were completed.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Phil Reeker said that it was still too early to tell if Iraq will comply with U.N. demands to disarm.

PHILIP REEKER
Iraq Presidential Compound Inspection

In Baghdad, United Nations weapons inspectors Tuesday made an unannounced visit to one of Saddam Hussein’s sprawling presidential palaces, but apparently found nothing.

The one-and-a-half hour inspection of the Al-Sojoud palace was the first time U.N. personnel had entered a presidential site since resuming inspections last week.

During similar inspections years ago, Iraqi officials had refused access to inspectors looking for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Yashuhiro Ueki, spokesman for the U.N.'s monitoring, verification and inspection commissions, told reporters there were no incidents.

YASHUHIRO UEKI
“This was the first inspection of a presidential site, since the return of inspectors to Iraq, and was carried out pursuant to Security Council resolution 1441. The inspection team was able to enter the site within a few minutes. The site was frozen during the inspection in order to avoid any exit. Access to the entire site was provided without difficulty and the proper inspection activities were completed.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Phil Reeker said that it was still too early to tell if Iraq will comply with U.N. demands to disarm.

PHILIP REEKER
“The burden is on them to do this and Resolution 1441 requires active and full cooperation. This means every single day demonstrating active cooperation by Iraq, signaling a strategic shift. And we think the secretary general himself said this morning this is only a beginning. So, we will keep watching that very closely the declaration that Iraq is required to provide a declaration that we believe must be credible and complete.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz met with Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul to discuss the situation in Iraq.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ
“We discussed a wide range of subjects. Very importantly, we talked about Iraq and our focus with Iraq is to bring about a peaceful resolution of the problem posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. And that requires persuading Saddam Hussein that there has to be a fundamental change.”

This weekend, Iraq is scheduled to provide a statement to the U.N. detailing the status of its weapons programs. The document could go a long ways towards determining if the Iraq crisis will be resolved peacefully, or by another war.

“The burden is on them to do this and Resolution 1441 requires active and full cooperation. This means every single day demonstrating active cooperation by Iraq, signaling a strategic shift. And we think the secretary general himself said this morning this is only a beginning. So, we will keep watching that very closely the declaration that Iraq is required to provide a declaration that we believe must be credible and complete.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz met with Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul to discuss the situation in Iraq.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ
“We discussed a wide range of subjects. Very importantly, we talked about Iraq and our focus with Iraq is to bring about a peaceful resolution of the problem posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. And that requires persuading Saddam Hussein that there has to be a fundamental change.”

This weekend, Iraq is scheduled to provide a statement to the U.N. detailing the status of its weapons programs. The document could go a long ways towards determining if the Iraq crisis will be resolved peacefully, or by another war.

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