The new U.N. commissioner for inspecting Iraq's eight presidential compounds will go to Baghdad on Monday to begin setting up arrangements for the new mode of surveillance.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Friday new procedures for inspecting these sites would be ready by Monday and Jayantha Dhanapala, the Sri Lankan U.N. undersecretary-general for disarmament, would go to Iraq "to prepare the ground for the activities" of this "special group."But diplomats said inspections of presidential compounds are not expected to begin next week.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a Feb. 23 accord with Iraq that averted a U.S.-military strike for the time being, agreed to set up the "special group" that would be led by a new commissioner.
It would include diplomats accompanying inspectors and be led by Dhanapala, who, however, is not expected to be in Baghdad for most of the inspections. He then reports to Richard Butler, the chairman of the U.N. Special Commission in charge of ridding Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
Annan over the past week has attempted to quell fears that Butler's role is being diminished and has said he would maintain operational control over the inspections.
The new procedures will effectively exclude U.S. and British diplomats from escorting arms inspectors as the envoys will be drawn from Baghdad-based envoys, U.N. sources familiar with the report have said.
Neither the United States nor Britain is among the 40 countries with diplomatic missions in Iraq. Importing envoys into the Iraqi capital would exclude the element of surprise.
The diplomats are supposed to make sure U.N. inspectors respect Iraq's "dignity and sovereignty" during searches.
Iraq has been consulted on the procedures and asked for four changes, one of which was accepted, the sources said.
Annan originally proposed that Butler inform Iraq of the date of inspections but now Dhanapala, on advice from Butler, will do that.