Iraq Claims US Used 'Blackmail' to Get ...

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Posted by Tony from ( on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 at 11:48PM :

Published on Wednesday, December 11, 2002 by the lndependent/UK
Iraq Claims US Used 'Blackmail' to Get Uncut Dossier Shows Lust for War
by Andrew Buncombe and David Usborne

Iraq accused America yesterday of "unprecedented blackmail" after Washington forced the United Nations weapons inspectors to hand over an unedited copy of the 12,000-page arms dossier provided by Baghdad. At the same time, UN sources said the report appeared to contain little new information.

In a statement, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said America's actions were proof of the Bush administration's wish to launch a military strike. "This American behavior aims at manipulating United Nations documents to find covers for aggression against Iraq," it said.

The comments came after Washington put intense pressure on the UN to grant it an uncut copy of the Iraqi report, which it passed to the CIA and other intelligence experts. It also provided copies of the report to the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council. The 10 non-permanent members will receive an edited copy.

White House officials admitted yesterday that they had been aggressive in their lobbying of the UN to ensure they received a copy of the report, rather than having to wait until the weapons inspectors had completed their examination.

The Colombian ambassador, Alfonso Valdivieso, the Security Council president for December, said he made the decision after coming under pressure from Washington.

The decision also upset several of the non-permanent members of the 15-member council, in particular Syria, the only Arab member. Diplomats said the dossier appeared to contain the names of foreign arms suppliers, something that could prove embarrassing for the countries involved if any transactions had taken place under the sanctions regime imposed in 1990.

But sources close to Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, said that a first glance at the Iraqi declaration suggested much of its contents amounted to a recycling of information provided by Baghdad to the UN in the 1990s.

Analysts at UN headquarters in New York, who are only now beginning to work on pages, said they could not yet dismiss the possibility that there was new intelligence. They will focus very quickly, for example, on a section that promises to describe the country's chemical industry over a period to 2002.

Mr Blix said he had expected much of the report would go over old ground. "One could not put out a 12,000-page report in 30 days without something old in it," he said.

He is scheduled to present preliminary conclusions of his analysis to the Security Council on 19 December, with Mohamed al-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency is studying sections related to nuclear weapons. Mr Baradei said his experts expected to have analyzed the main part of the document, or 3,000 pages, by Friday.

Mr Blix has agreed to take advice from the "permanent five" on which sections of the declaration should be excised for non-proliferation reasons before it is distributed to the non-permanent members. That process could take a week or more. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, said American experts would take weeks to draw conclusions from the dossier.

2002 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


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