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S P E C I A L: The Standoff with Iraq

New Iraqi proposal: 'visits' to presidential sites

One of the presidential sites   
February 4, 1998
Web posted at: 6:18 a.m. EST (1118 GMT)

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- In the ongoing dispute between Iraq and the United Nations over arms inspections, CNN has learned of a new proposal from the Iraqi leadership. Iraq is now prepared to allow international inspectors comprehensive access to eight disputed presidential sites.

The Iraqi proposal calls for each of the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council to appoint five inspectors. Two more would be appointed by each of the 21 members of UNSCOM, the United Nations Special Commission, 117 in all.

The teams would have unfettered access, CNN has been told, and would be allowed to bring with them infrared, X-ray or other analytical equipment into the palaces. For reasons of sovereignty and dignity, Iraq says it would prefer the term "visits" not inspections.

Security Council
U.N. Security Council   

Iraq says the inspectors must report their findings to the Security Council but not to UNSCOM. Yet UNSCOM members working in Iraq are not prohibited from working on the new teams.

The ultimate arbiter of the findings must be the Security Council not UNSCOM which, in Iraq's view, cannot be trusted.

The inspections would prove that Iraq has nothing to hide Iraq says, but visits would not be open-ended. Once a presidential site has been fully inspected it will be off limits in the future.

Sources tell CNN Iraq made a similar proposal to the Security Council in November but that the Iraqi initiative is now being proposed to diplomatic envoys in Baghdad.

Iraq doesn't know whether this will be acceptable to the United States or United Nations. What is important, the source tells CNN, is to find a formula for an impartial assessment of the palace inspection issue.


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