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Arms inspectors to give Iraqis a failing grade

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The chief U.N. arms inspector for Iraq plans to go to the Security Council on Wednesday with an unusually detailed technological accounting of what information Baghdad has failed to provide on biological, chemical and missile programs.

The briefing by Richard Butler, executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, is intended to counter Iraq's assertions that it has met all disarmament demands.The briefing carries risks for Iraq, which wants 8-year-old sanctions lifted immediately, and for the United States and Britain, which want tight controls to remain in place until Iraq has answered all outstanding questions and provided all missing documents on its weapons programs.

Washington also demands that Iraq meet other requirements like accounting for more than 600 Kuwaitis missing since Iraq seized Kuwait in 1990.

If Butler provides enough evidence of Iraqi noncompliance, that could arrest growing sentiment in the council that the tight restrictions on Iraq have lasted long enough.

The briefing was proposed by several council members and has been described as a "road map" for Iraq to follow to secure the lifting of at least the oil-sales embargo and the shifting of arms inspections from a search-and-destroy phase to long-term surveillance.

The Security Council is to hold its next major review of sanctions on Iraq in October, when it is expected to move toward declaring Baghdad under long-term surveillance on nuclear arms, following the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency. But the recent nuclear tests by Pakistan, an Islamic country, and India, a longtime friend of Iraq, may give some members new qualms.