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New Weapons Inspection Teams Due to Arrive in Iraq

November 26, 1998| From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — The United Nations will bring new inspection teams to Iraq within days to carry out searches, a U.N. spokeswoman said Wednesday, in what will probably pose a major test to Iraq's promise to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.

U.N. teams have carried out more than a week of visits since Iraq relented Nov. 14 and allowed them to resume their work after a two-week hiatus. So far, Iraq has cooperated with the searches.

However, most of those visits were to sites that inspectors had already checked and usually involved maintenance work on long-term monitoring equipment. The real test will likely come during searches of new sites by the visiting teams of weapons experts.

Caroline Cross, a U.N. spokeswoman for the weapons inspectors in Baghdad, said the teams should arrive this week.

Over the past week, a new dispute seemed to be emerging over the demand by Richard Butler, the chief weapons inspector, for documents on Iraq's weapons program.

Iraq refused the request, saying many papers were already destroyed. Other documents, like personal diaries, were either irrelevant or had already been viewed by inspectors, it said.

Although the United States and Britain have said their forces in the Persian Gulf could still attack Iraq over the dispute, they seem willing to wait to see how much help Iraq provides in the coming weeks.

The inspectors must certify that Iraq has destroyed its long-range missiles, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and its programs to build them before the Security Council will lift crippling sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Inspectors blame Iraq's lack of cooperation for the long tenure of their work. Iraq believes that the inspections are used as an excuse to prolong the sanctions, which have impoverished the country.

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