U.S. demands access to Saddam Hussein's palaces
American officials say standoff not over
November 23, 1997
Web posted at: 10:37 p.m. EST (0337 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States is demanding that Iraq
allow United Nations weapons inspectors into any site they
deem suspect, including President Saddam Hussein's palaces.
U.S. officials also made it clear Sunday that they don't
consider the recent standoff with Iraq to be resolved,
despite Iraq's recent decision to allow weapons inspectors to
"It's not over until I say," said U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright on ABC's "This Week." She added that
Hussein's recent actions have "re-energized" the alliance of
countries that have been working to contain Iraq since the
Persian Gulf War.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the United States
won't consider the standoff resolved as long as Iraq
continues to block access to 63 sites -- which include
Hussein's palaces -- to conceal possible caches of outlawed
biological and chemical weapons.
"We'll know (it's over) when Saddam Hussein agrees to allow
the inspectors unfettered freedom to look at whatever sites
they believe are suspect, where he might be carrying out
illegal activities," Cohen said on CNN's "Late Edition with
But Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf rejected
Cohen's call for unrestricted access.
"(Inspectors) should avoid coming near sites which are part
of Iraq's sovereignty and national security," he told a news
conference in Baghdad.
Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations,
argued that Iraq should be allowed to restrict access to
sites "directly related to the president."
"They have to respect the national security, sovereignty and
dignity of Iraq," he told CNN.
U.S.: Iraq shouldn't expect easing of sanctions
U.S. officials also stressed that Iraq should not expect to
see any easing of economic sanctions imposed after the war as
long as it refuses to give inspectors free rein.
Albright also said that, as a result of the recent standoff,
Iraq should probably expect sanctions to last longer than
they would have otherwise.
"As it turns out, (Hussein) probably will get additional
time," she said, because inspectors had to leave for nearly
21 days, making it harder to collect the data necessary to
give Iraq a "clean bill of health."
However, Hamdoon said Iraq did not hide or produce chemical
or biological weapons during the days when inspectors were
not in the country. He said the recent standoff may have
helped Iraq's position.
"I think we have gotten a better audience worldwide, and
people now understand our decision," he said.
Weapons inspectors complete second day of work
On Sunday, U.N. weapons monitors were back on the job for a
second day of inspections.
Nils Carlstrom, the Swede who heads the U.N. monitoring
center in the Iraqi capital, said all inspection teams,
including a number of U.S. experts, had gone to potential
"We expect everything will be smooth with no problems," said
the leader of a team focusing on Iraq's nuclear program.
"Yesterday (Saturday) there were no difficulties of any
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on Sunday that
reports from Iraq showed that "Hussein is still producing
enough anthrax to fill two missiles every week."
However, the Iraqi news agency INA reported that disputed
dual-use equipment -- which can be used for both civilian and
military purposes -- had been returned to its previous
positions, as U.N. weapons inspectors visited the sites
Richard Butler, the U.N. chief arms inspector, had warned
Iraq against removing the equipment during the standoff with
the United Nations, saying the technology might be used to
produce weapons prohibited under the terms of the Gulf War
Butler said that inspection teams would now concentrate on
Iraq's suspected stockpiles of VX nerve gas and mustard gas.
Clinton sends Yeltsin information
White House officials say U.S. President Bill Clinton sent
Russian President Boris Yeltsin a packet of information said
to detail Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions governing
The information was sent as part of the U.S. effort to
maintain sanctions on Iraq. Russia has been pushing to ease
sanctions and accelerate the process of certifying Iraq to be
in compliance with U.N. resolutions mandating that it
dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.
Two U.S. officials told CNN a packet had been forwarded to
Russian officials. They declined to discuss its specific
contents but said it included surveillance photographs and
other intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs.
Correspondents Brent Sadler and John King, Reporter Kathleen
Koch and Reuters contributed to this report.