Iraqi Arms Report Released, U.S. Receives Only Full CopyBy Mohamad Bazzi
NEWSDAY -- UNITED NATIONS
The United States received a complete copy Monday of Iraq’s massive declaration on its weapons programs, in a reversal of an earlier Security Council decision to keep the dossier secret until United Nations experts could comb through it.
Under a deal quietly worked out over the weekend, the United States received the sole copy of the 12,000-page declaration and supporting material that was intended for the 15-member Security Council. Washington will make duplicates for the other four permanent council members -- Britain, France, Russia and China. Diplomats say this was done because Washington had the best photocopying capabilities.
The decision to give the dossier to Washington overrode what the council had decided on Friday, when members agreed to leave the report with U.N. inspectors until it was screened for material that might aid other countries in producing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Several of the 10 rotating council members, especially Syria, protested Monday that they would receive partial copies of the declaration while the permanent members would obtain the full document. All permanent members possess nuclear weapons, while most of the rotating members do not.
The issue could sow dissension in the Security Council, potentially making it hard to maintain the consensus so far achieved by the United States.
The declaration, which was delivered on Saturday night to the U.N. weapons inspection team in Baghdad, was mandated under a tough new Security Council resolution that requires Iraq to disclose and destroy all its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Iraqi leaders insist they no longer have any such weapons, but the United States and Britain accuse Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of continuing with a secret program to develop banned weapons -- and have threatened to go to war.
At a closed council meeting Monday, several rotating members said they might one day have to make decisions on whether Iraq has violated the resolution without their having seen the full declaration.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan SM ’72 called on Washington and others to be patient with the arms experts. “The inspectors will have to review them, analyze them and report to the council,” he said, “and I think that’s going to take a while.”
Iraqi officials provided three sets of the dossier: One for the U.N. nuclear agency in Vienna, Austria, another for the U.N. chemical and biological weapons agency in New York, and a third for the Security Council. U.N. experts began poring over the dossier Sunday night, searching for gaps and comparing it with intelligence reports from other countries.
The declaration offers no new evidence to support Iraq’s contention that it destroyed all its biological and chemical weapons in the 1990s, a senior Iraqi official told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, a top adviser to Saddam who was previously in charge of Iraqi weapons production, said Iraq was unable to find any documents about the destruction of banned weapons beyond those it already had turned over to the United Nations. “Those documents have not been increased, not by a single document,” he said. “We have done all the researching we could and we could not find any more.”