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Iraq Agrees to Allow UN Inspectors Back

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2002 – Iraq has agreed to allow U.N. inspectors back into the country, U.N. officials said Oct. 1 in Vienna.

Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, said Iraq had agreed to allow inspectors in under the rules in existence in 1998, when the inspectors were ordered out.

U.S. officials are taking a wait-and-see attitude on the situation. A State Department spokesman said U.S. officials must "read the fine print" on the agreement before commenting. Early reports indicate that the inspectors would not be allowed into presidential palaces the United States suspects of being repositories or laboratories for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons.

Defense Department officials also said it was too early to comment.

It is unclear if this agreement will allow for unannounced inspections "anytime, anyplace," which the Bush administration has demanded, State Department officials said.

U.N. officials said the first group of inspectors could be in Baghdad in two weeks.

But the rules may change for the inspectors. The U.N. Security Council is debating a U.S.-sponsored resolution demanding that Iraq live by the agreements it has signed since the end of the Persian Gulf War. Among these are eliminating weapons of mass destruction, stopping threats to its neighbors and stopping persecuting its people.

The United States wants any new Security Council resolution to have more teeth and a listing of consequences if Iraq doesn't comply.

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