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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 11:19 GMT
UN row erupts over Iraq dossier
The suitcases containing the Iraqi declaration
The US and UK are sceptical about the bulky declaration
The United States has handed copies of Iraq's weapons dossier to the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, sparking complaints from some of the 10 Council members who have been excluded.

Syria - which is not a permanent Council member - has protested against the decision to limit early access to the declaration to China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

Sites Unmovic inspectors are visiting on Tuesday
In Iraq itself, UN weapons inspectors searched at least two new sites near Baghdad on Tuesday as new inspectors continued arriving in the country.

Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested in a newspaper interview that he did not believe any further UN resolutions were necessary to authorise military action against Baghdad.

Washington steps in

Despite an initial agreement that Iraq's 12,000-page weapons dossier would remain in possession of the UN, the US on Sunday reached an agreement with the head of the Security Council to copy and distribute the document itself.

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:

  • Reports say several other members of the Council are upset at the extent to which the US took charge of handing out copies to the permanent members and editing the versions to be given to the rotating members, who are not nuclear powers.

    The US justified its action on security grounds.

    The BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington that the move amounts to a mini-coup by the US following the document's arrival in New York on Sunday night.

    He says American diplomats pressed Colombia, which holds the Security Council's rotating presidency for December, to allow the US to take charge of the copying process.

    The first duplicate of the document was brought to Washington, while the UN weapons inspectorate Unmovic retained the original.


    Unmovic inspectors headed for at least two sites near Baghdad on Tuesday:

    • a laboratory associated with Iraq's discontinued germ warfare programme in Abu Ghurayb near Baghdad and
    • Al-Furat Chemical Industries General Company, which has ties with the Ministry of Industry and Minerals, south of the capital

    The BBC's Ben Brown in Baghdad says 25 to 30 new inspectors are arriving on Tuesday as the Unmovic team builds up to its planned full strength of about 100.

    He added that a helicopter was also due to arrive on Tuesday. The inspectors have been travelling by road so far.


    The Security Council's latest resolution on Iraqi disarmament had explicitly stated that the dossier should be handed to the Security Council as a whole, not just to a select few members.

    But Colombia's UN ambassador, Alfonso Valdivieso, said the decision on early access to the report was taken only after extensive consultations with all the other Council members.

    It was based, he said, on the premise that the five big nuclear powers were the only nations qualified to assess potential risks and that the report might contain information which could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weaponry.

    US troops on exercises in Kuwait
    America is still preparing for war with Iraq
    Syria has led the way in protesting against the decision to allow the US and the other four permanent Security Council members exclusive access to the declaration.

    "It's in contradiction to... every kind of logic in the Security Council," said Syria's ambassador to the UN, Mikhail Wehbe.

    In a BBC interview, Mr Wehbe expressed fears that the five big powers might claim Iraq was in material breach of UN Resolution 1441 - triggering "serious consequences" - before non-permanent members of the Security Council had even seen the dossier.

    'Embarrassing reading'

    Another diplomat quoted by the Reuters news agency said he believed the Iraqi declaration listed foreign suppliers which had dealt with Iraq.

    The disclosure of their names could prove embarrassing for members of the the UN Security Council and other nations, he said.

    The CIA is examining the document, and there is no word on how long it will be before America issues a considered verdict.

    Correspondents say it is likely to take days, or possibly weeks.

    The BBC's Ian Pannell
    "Expect much noise from the White House in the weeks to come"
    Colombian Ambassador to the UN, Alfonso Valdivieso
    "It is not a political deal"
    Iraq: Is war inevitable?



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    10 Dec 02 | Middle East
    10 Dec 02 | Middle East
    10 Dec 02 | Entertainment
    09 Dec 02 | Americas
    08 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
    08 Dec 02 | Middle East
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