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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 18:02 GMT
Iraq dossier meets mixed response
US military exercise in Kuwait
The US is preparing for war with Iraq
The massive dossier on Iraq's weapons programmes presented to the United Nations has drawn mixed reactions from permanent members of the Security Council.

The intention to comply [...] displayed by Baghdad creates good grounds for resolving the Iraqi problem

Yuri Fedotov
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Russia and China welcomed Baghdad's 12,000-page document - which was handed over on Sunday - while Britain and the United States are remaining cautious.

The Security Council has given access to the full dossier to its five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

United Nations weapons experts are now ploughing through the report - although officials say much of it has yet to be translated from Arabic, and the contents must be checked by inspectors on the ground.

Open in new window : Military build up
Map showing key US regional bases

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that at first glance, the dossier appears to repeat President Saddam Hussein's contention that his country has no nuclear programme.

Positive noises

In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov called on the United States to allow UN inspectors to test the Iraqi declaration.

The IAEA receives the Iraqi declaration
The dossier was delivered in a thick suitcase

"The intention to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 [on Iraqi disarmament] displayed by Baghdad creates good grounds for resolving the Iraqi problem through political-diplomatic means," Mr Fedotov said.

This position was echoed by China, which urged UN inspectors to provide "a fair and objective judgement".

But the BBC's Barnaby Mason says characteristic divisions among the big powers over Iraq are reappearing.

The US insists it has evidence that Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction.

"There's scepticism and there's fear about Iraqi intentions and abilities," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Monday.

But, he added, the US reserves judgement about the report until it was "in a position to look at it thoroughly and completely".

Iraqi dossiers
Iraq's dossier
  • Contains 12,000 pages in Arabic and English covering Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities.
  • 2,100 page nuclear component being studied by IAEA in Vienna.
  • Declaration being examined first by five nuclear powers on Security Council.

    See also:

  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, for his part, said on Sunday that Saddam Hussein's previous disclosures had been "a pack of lies".

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged member states to give the inspectors a chance to make a proper evaluation of the document.

    "They should be given the time and the space to do it and I hope all member states will do that," he said.

    On Monday weapons inspectors resumed their searches of suspect sites in Iraq.

    One team visited al-Tuweitha Nuclear Research Centre on Monday, 20 km (12 miles) south of Baghdad, for the third time since the inspectors' return last month after a four-year absence.

    The facility was the location of the Osirak reactor - bombed in 1981 by Israel.

    Other experts again inspected a military complex near the town of Fallujah, 90 km (55 miles) northwest of Baghdad - which has been repeatedly investigated by the UN.

    Surprise move

    Correspondents say it could take more than 10 days for weapons experts to translate and analyse the Iraqi document.

    UN experts visit the al-Tuweitha facility
    Another day of inspections in Iraq

    And according to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, the inspections process could take up to a year.

    It had been thought that the Iraqi declaration would first be analysed by experts, edited to take out any potentially dangerous material like the details of Iraqi work on a nuclear bomb and only then handed over to members of the Security Council.

    However in a surprise move on Sunday, the Security Council decided to make the full version immediately available to the five permanent members, who already possess nuclear bombs.

    The reason given by the UN is that the permanent members have the technical expertise to assess the risks involved in releasing the contents to other countries.

    The BBC's Nick Bryant
    "This is one of the most eagerly awaited declarations of modern times"
    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
    "War is not inevitable and it is up to Saddam Hussein to cooperate fully with inspectors"
    Iraq: Is war inevitable?



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    See also:

    09 Dec 02 | Americas
    09 Dec 02 | Middle East
    08 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
    07 Dec 02 | Middle East
    08 Dec 02 | Middle East
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