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New team, technology head to Iraq

hanna
A device such as a hand-held germ analyzer called "The Hanna" could be used by inspectors.

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Iraq's 'cheat and retreat' policy and a need for clean facilities are obstacles facing U.N. weapons inspectors. CNN's David Ensor reports (November 13)
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CNN's Rusty Dornin examines new sensor technology that could help U.N. inspectors detect weapons material in Iraq (November 13)
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KEY DATES
November 18: Weapons inspectors arrive in Iraq to set up logistics, communications.
December 8: By this date, Iraq must provide a "currently accurate, full, and complete declaration" of any weapons of mass destruction program.
December 23: Weapons inspections must resume.
February 21: Inspectors must report back to the Security Council.
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The new U.N. weapons inspectors will pick up where their predecessors left off in 1998. But there will be some big differences both in personnel and technology.

An advance logistical team is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad Monday.

While the previous group known as UNSCOM was made up of experts mostly from the United States, Canada, European nations, Australia and New Zealand, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the new team known as UNMOVIC will have representatives from 40 nations.

A former weapons inspector predicted it would take weeks for the new team -- 220 inspectors, with 50 more in training -- to get up to speed.

"Most of the inspectors, even though they have technical skills, are not experienced in conducting inspections, and they'll be on a very steep learning curve," said Jonathan Tucker.

He said the new team has been undergoing a five-week training program to learn about Iraq, how the previous team operated and what they are likely to find when they arrive in Baghdad.

Experts have said finding evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will be like searching for a needle in a haystack in an area about the size of California or France.

Adding to the difficulty are the increased number of presidential palaces Iraq has built in the four years since U.N. inspections were halted.

Under the new U.N. resolution that Iraq agreed to Wednesday, the new inspectors will have access to presidential palaces and surrounding sites which were off limits to previous inspectors.

Richard Butler, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, said his team had information that Iraq had hidden illegal weapons material under those buildings.

"In those presidential sites, we determined there were 1,100 buildings, some of them as large as Giants or Yankee stadium, really big warehouses," said Butler. "We also knew that under some of the palaces as such, not just sites, there were subterranean caverns, there were storage areas below the ground. The total area of the sites were some 50 square kilometers." (Palace locations)

"The inspectors will need to be able to go below the ground," said Butler. "At the end of my time, we were starting to use ground-penetrating radar. They're going to need that, they're going to need to be able to literally look underground."

Veteran inspectors said the new inspection team will go armed with the new U.N. resolution that they said will force Iraq to give up its old policy of "cheat and retreat."

"They'd cheat with a lie about what they held and they would retreat when they were confronted with the evidence and would come up with a new lie," said former U.N. weapons inspector Tim Trevan.

U.S. intelligence officials said they will be providing UNMOVIC with substantial information to help them look for weapons of mass destruction -- sites they should check, individuals they should interview and much more.

Experienced inspectors agree.

"They will have more sophisticated satellite surveillance, including commercial satellite systems that are less sensitive. They will, perhaps, have airborne aerial surveillance, such as helicopters or even the Predator-type unmanned aerial vehicles," Tucker told CNN.

"Those systems can hover for many hours, up to 24 hours over a location and, for example, if there is an inspection under way at a site, they could monitor what is going on," he said.

The White House has already released some satellite photographs which U.S. officials said show construction has resumed on a building originally meant to house a centrifuge enrichment facility -- part of the process of building a nuclear bomb.

Then there are dual-use facilities -- like a heavy industry complex north of Baghdad, recently shown to reporters. The Iraqis deny charges that some of the machines may have been used to produce equipment for a nuclear weapon.

Before inspectors arrive at such complexes like that one, they will be able to examine a pile of CD-ROMs the Iraqis recently turned over containing their version of what has gone on at potential dual-use facilities in the last few years.

Improved biological and chemical weapon detection technology will also aid inspectors.

"They will have sophisticated detection devices -- for example, for biological weapons that can take samples and analyze them rapidly to determine their identity, whether Iraq, for example is producing anthrax at a vaccine plant," said Tucker.

A device such as a hand-held germ analyzer called "The Hanna," developed by the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California, could be used by inspectors. It can analyze an air sample or a swab and determine in a matter of minutes whether anthrax, plague or some innocuous substance is present in an area.

"It's the difference between doing an analysis in an hour or even a day, compared to sending samples back to the United States or somewhere else where it might take a day or two or three or a week to return the samples," said Page Stoutland, the deputy director of counter-terrorism at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

The U.N. resolution states Iraq will face "serious consequences" if it does not comply with inspections. But it is unclear what will trigger those consequences.

The new chief U.N. weapons inspector is the firm, but soft-spoken former Swedish foreign minister, Hans Blix.

"What works best as a matter of psychology -- shouting or soft speaking with some leverage? Well I don't know -- my habit is not to shout," said Blix.

-- CNN Correspondents David Ensor, Richard Roth and Rusty Dornin contributed to this report.



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