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Iraqi weapons declaration, due this weekend

Iraqi weapons declaration, due this weekend, to be transmitted to Security Council

6 December – The Iraqi declaration on its weapons programme, due on 8 December, will be transmitted as soon as possible to the United Nations Security Council, according to a UN spokesman.

Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC), told UN Radio on Thursday that the Baghdad authorities have announced that the Declaration would be submitted on Saturday. “Clearly our job is to make sure that it is promptly transmitted to the Security Council here in New York, but that’s not likely to happen before Sunday evening at the earliest,” he added, anticipating that the document could run in the thousands of pages.

Asked what Iraq would likely say given the country’s denials that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Buchanan said perhaps the Declaration would provide “some sort of narrative as to what happened to the weapons programme which they did acknowledge having had in the past.” He stressed that the Security Council had mandated the Declaration “and it is for Iraq to determine what they put in that Declaration.”

This constitutes “an opportunity for Iraq to try and come clean on some of the question marks of the past,” he said.

Looking back over one week of inspections, Mr. Buchanan noted that the process was “off to a good start on the ground.” Although the Council had given the inspectors 45 days to resume their work, operations had commenced within 19 days – less than half the allotted time. UNMOVIC was working to bring in new inspectors as fast as possible with the aim of having 100 in place by Christmas time. “It is our intention to be able to field multiple teams simultaneously to inspections throughout Iraq,” he said, noting that more inspectors would be going in this weekend.

To a question on charges by Baghdad that there may be spies among the team, Mr. Buchanan stressed that UNMOVIC staff serve only the UN. “We’re not doing the work for any individual Member States,” he stressed. “Dr. Blix has been very clear that if he were to find anyone acting inappropriately or working for governments he would dismiss that person immediately.”

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