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Iraq: U.N. Inspectors Head To Weapons Sites

Baghdad, 25 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- U.N. weapons experts say they inspected industrial, oil and agricultural sites in Iraq today with the full cooperation of Iraqi authorities. But the inspectors have not yet attempted to examine areas that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has declared off limits.

Washington and Baghdad continue to argue over whether the UN monitors should be allowed to look for weapons depots within Saddam's vast presidential estates.

Iraq today repeated its accusation that the United States is provoking a new crisis by insisting on unrestricted access to the presidential estates. Washington insists that UN resolutions call for unhindered access to all potential weapons sites. Britain and France have backed Washington's position, and London has warned that it is ready to use military force if diplomatic efforts fail.

Meanwhile, Iraq is calling for speedy implementation of an accord with Russia under which Baghdad last week lifted its ban on US arms inspectors on the UN teams. Russia had pledged to work for an end to international economic sanctions on Baghdad. Washington says it will block any attempt at lifting the UN sanctions until Iraq eliminates all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.