As Iraq and the United Nations position themselves for a critical test of the agreement that averted an American military attack in February, the head of the commission disarming Iraq says that he plans rapid-fire inspections of previously off-limits presidential properties to determine what buildings will get spot inspections later - with much less notice.
"If any conception is held that this will be one-off, that is not correct," the commission head, Richard Butler, said in an interview. The inspections are expected to begin by the end of this month.Butler, who is to arrive in Baghdad, Iraq, today, was referring to speculation among diplomats that once U.N. inspectors have visited the eight presidential sites, accompanied at Iraq's insistence by diplomatic observers, Iraq will argue that this phase of the arms investigation is over and that the country can move closer to a lifting of sanctions.
Butler said he intended to put one of his highest-ranking inspectors in charge of the initial visits to the eight presidential sites that are scattered across Iraq.
The inspections will take place against a background of Iraqi confidence that a new system outlined in the agreement with Annan will be the key to a quick ending of the sanctions.