How will inspections change now that Iraq has released its weapons declaration?
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Rehearsals are over. Let the show begin.
After almost two weeks of initial UN weapons inspections, which one Western diplomat referred to as a "warm-up exercise," the release of Iraq's 11,807-page declaration marks the beginning of the real task.
Rather than using intelligence primarily from previous inspections, the inspectors will now use the detailed account, which Iraq says is "currently accurate, full, and complete." Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, stressed the importance of Iraq's dossier, which will be compared to inspections of the 1990s. "What happened toward the end of UNSCOM's (UN Special Commission) time was not so much declaration and verification, but more of a case of cat and mouse," he said
Now practice is over, and the UN is aiming to ensure inspectors can play the game properly. They more than doubled the 17-member inspection team Sunday as 25 new observers arrived. Four are specialists from the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and 21 are nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Also, the first of eight helicopters to be used for the inspections was being assembled Sunday at the Baghdad airport.
UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said 20 to 30 more experts would arrive on Tuesday. By month's end, 80 to 100 UN experts will be making daily inspections in Iraq, UN officials say. The helicopters and new inspectors will allow inspectors' to search much more quickly and to hit multiple locations simultaneously. This will be key to keeping the element of surprise viewed as being so crucial to the success of the inspections.