U.N. weapons inspectors outline agreements with Iraq

Thursday, October 10, 2002

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Wednesday he still hopes to send an advance team to Iraq by the end of October to prepare for a resumption of inspections.

The Security Council is discussing a possible new mandate for inspectors and Blix said it was reasonable to wait "at least for some little time" for the 15 council members to make a decision before sending the advance team.

In an interview on the PBS' "News Hour with Jim Lehrer," Blix said a timeline originally called for inspectors to be in Iraq by the middle of October.

Because of the possible change by the Security Council, "we think that it will be reasonable to wait for that mandate, at least for some little time, so still hopefully before the end of October," Blix said.

Seeking to ensure Iraq's cooperation, U.N. weapons inspectors have sent the Iraqi government a letter outlining agreements reached earlier this month in Vienna on the resumption of inspections.

The letter, circulated to Security Council members on Wednesday, asks Iraq to confirm its acceptance of agreements on a host of issues including that it "clarified" during the Vienna talks that inspectors "will be granted immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites, including what was termed 'sensitive sites' in the past."

Those sites include the Ministry of Defense and facilities of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards, which were previously off-limits to surprise inspections.

Advance notice

The letter noted that a 1998 agreement between Iraq and the United Nations requires advance notice to inspect eight presidential sites, but raised the possibility that this might change.

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