U.N. weapons chief says Iraqi inspections can end by October

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — U.N. arms experts could complete their inspections in Iraq by October if Baghdad discloses all information about its illegal weapons programs, the chief U.N. inspector said Tuesday.
The U.N. Security Council meets in October to review sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Persian Gulf War. If the council is convinced Iraq has eliminated its banned weapons, the sanctions can be lifted.
“Everyone thinks the time for this is now,” chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler said Tuesday. He was speaking to the Foreign Correspondents Association in Sydney before departing for New York to present his plan to the U.N. Security Council on June 3.
Full disclosure by Iraq is considered unlikely.
In a change of tactics, Butler and the U.N. Special Commission intend to tell the Security Council and Iraq all they know about Baghdad’s secret weapons programs so it can specify what Baghdad must do to end the inspections.
The inspections brought Iraq and Western nations to the brink of war three months ago. Conflict was averted when Baghdad agreed Feb. 23 to open certain sensitive sites to inspectors.
The U.N. Special Commission has accounted for 817 of the 819 Scud missiles Iraq was believed to have, and has about 40 chemical warheads for missiles under analysis in a laboratory in Maryland, Butler said.
Iraq still needs to account for some fuel designed for Scud missiles, he said.
The United Nations also believes Iraq has more than the four tons of VX nerve gas agent that it has admitted to.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, and Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi are also due in New York to argue that Baghdad has complied with U.N. orders to scrap the banned weapons. Iraq claims U.N. estimates of what it held before the Gulf War are inflated.