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U.S. vows to inspect Saddam's palaces

Associated Press Published: December 19, 1997 12:00 AM

While U.S. diplomats pressed U.N. Security Council members to condemn any move by Iraq to ban inspectors from palaces and other sites where Baghdad has asserted sovereignty, White House spokesman Mike McCurry declined to say when the United States might act on its own.

"I'm not going to lay out any artificial timetable," McCurry told reporters. "It needs to be deliberately pursued by the Security Council."

He reiterated the U.S. position that any Iraqi activity on chemical, biological or other weapons of mass destruction would be a "very grave matter" and said the United States would insist that the international inspection team have access to sites that Baghdad has put off-limits.

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"The United States has insisted on that, and I think at some point that (access) will be available one way or another," he said.

At the State Department, spokesman James Foley scoffed at the Iraqis for giving journalists a tour of the "off-limits" palaces on Friday.

"What it demonstrates is that the Iraqi claims of sovereignty, protecting U.N. access to those sites, are hypocritical," he said.

Iraq "is willing to let reporters, foreign delegations to visit what they claim to be sensitive and sovereign sites" and yet refuses to let in the U.N. inspection team, or UNSCOM, Foley noted.

"That can only raise questions as to why they don't want UNSCOM to visit those sites," he said.

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