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At The White House: February 23

The president did not adopt the agreement, instead he said the U.S. is willing to test it. The deal allows full access to all sites. But there are also concessions to Saddam, and Mr. Clinton warned "big ifs remain."

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"All Americans should have a positive reaction to the fact that we finally have a commitment to open all these sites and to let the inspectors finish their jobs," the president said. "We need clarity, we need verification and I intend to keep our forces at high levels of preparation in the near term to see what happens in terms of honoring these obligations."

Iraq is obligated to full, immediate access. But there is fine print. For example, for the first time, inspectors would be escorted by international diplomats. The U.S. will insist the inspectors, not the diplomats, call the shots. Mr. Clinton will withhold approval until all details are ironed out

"After two crises in the last four months," the president remarked, "Iraq's failure to allow UNSCOM to do its job would be a serious, serious matter. If Iraq fails to comply this time to provide immediate, unrestricted, unconditional access to the weapons inspectors, there will be serious consequences.

To make good on that warning, the beefed up U.S. forces in the region will remain in place at least 60 to 90 days. Here at the White House there remains a deep sense of skepticism. If Saddam lives up to this weapons agreement, it'll be the first time.

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