Mosul Presidential Site
"Palace of Swords"
The Mosul VIP residence site, also referred to as the Mosul Presidential Site or Palace, was built over 2.2 square kilometers and completed in 1994. It contained Saddam Hussein's northern-most presidential site and included several palaces and VIP residences, 3 lakes, and man-made waterfalls.
The special group of UN Special Commission for Iraq (UNSOM) weapons inspectors, diplomats, and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed its initial inspections of Iraqi presidential sites on 2 April 1998. It took 8 days to complete the so-called baseline inspections. Access to these sites, which Iraq had declared off limits to the United Nations, was granted only after Secretary General Kofi Annan signed an agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his visit to Baghdad, allowing UN weapons experts, accompanied by a special group of "diplomatic observers," to inspect the compounds. Unfettered access to these and other sites was one of the conditions that had to be met to complete the weapons inspections and ultimately lift UN sanctions.
All 8 "presidential sites" visited appeared to be well defined by high walls or fences. They all had a rather similar landscape pattern: main guesthouses, with an integrated system of ancillary buildings and villas for accompanying dignitaries. Often an artificial lake with small artificial decorative islands located in a way to give access to the lake from each guesthouse. The mission was not intended to be a search for prohibited material and none was found. In fact, there was very little equipment, documentation, or other material in the sites at all. It was clearly apparent that all sites had undergone extensive evacuation. In all the sites outside of Baghdad, for example, there were no documents and no computers. The buildings were largely empty. A key accomplishment of the mission was to plot more precisely the boundaries of the presidential sites.
After staying the night of 28 March 1998 in a hotel in Mosul, the Special Group visited the Mosul Presidential Site on 29 March 1998. This visit was conducted in rainy weather, which hampered the arrangements. The weather conditions resulted in poor aerial imagery and the Iraqi authorities agreed to a subsequent flight of an UNSCOM helicopter over the site on 3 April 1998, with a senior diplomat on board. A request by UNSCOM to meet the site manager could not be met on the day in question. A subsequent visit on 31 March 1998 was arranged so that competent officials were able to discuss the layout of the site with UNSCOM experts. No other significant problems were encountered during the visit.
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