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U.N. Arms Inspectors May Finish Iraq Work This Week

U.N. arms experts have inspected six of Saddam Hussein’s eight presidential compounds and should finish their work by the end of the week, a U.N. official said Monday.

U.N. officials and diplomats accompanying the inspectors say Iraq has cooperated with the inspections, which come under an accord reached Feb. 23 with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“We are making progress,” said Janet Sullivan, a U.N. spokeswoman in Baghdad.

Iraq, which long had kept the palaces off-limits to the inspectors on grounds of national sovereignty, promised to open them to inspection if the U.N. teams were accompanied by diplomats.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has been present during the inspections, a sign of the seriousness the Iraqi side has shown in cooperating, Dhanapala said.

He added that the palaces inspected so far are “essentially guest houses, presumably for foreign dignitaries.”

The U.N. Special Commission, which oversees the inspections, is seeking information about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles.