U.N. inspectors searched one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces Tuesday and demanded and received quick entry. Meanwhile, a key Iraqi official said that Baghdad will reaffirm this week its position that it no longer has banned weapons.
The U.N. weapons monitors arrived Tuesday morning in Al-Sajoud palace. "The Iraqi side was cooperative," Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, the chief Iraqi liaison officer, told journalists afterward. "The inspectors were happy." The U.N. team left the west Baghdad grounds after 1 1/2 hours.
The arrival of the inspectors' half-dozen U.N. vehicles at Al-Sajoud sent gate guards scrambling and security men radioing for instructions or to alert comrades, AP reported.
Within a couple of minutes, Saddam's presidential secretary, Abed Hamoud, arrived and entered the palace grounds. Once the inspectors left, reporters were allowed inside the palace's entry hall.
In Vienna on Tuesday, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the body would start later this month the painstaking process of analyzing the air, water and soil samples gathered by its inspectors in Iraq.
The agency, which is overseeing the search for Iraqi nuclear weapons, would be able to present results only by Jan. 27 at the earliest, said spokesman Mark Gwozdecky.
Iraq will hand over a written declaration of its weapons arsenal to the United Nations a day ahead of the December 8 deadline
The declaration would be given to the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the IAEA in Baghdad to pass on to their headquarters, Amin said.
"According to the resolution 1441 we are going to deliver this declaration in the proper time, on the seventh of this month, and the people here of the UNMOVIC and IAEA will take this declaration to New York and Vienna," conveyed Amin.
Amin added that the declaration "will include new elements, but those new elements don't mean that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. "Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction." (Albawaba.com)
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