Baghdad responds to inspections with facts

27 November 2002

The Iraqi government has pledged to abide by the UN-imposed deadline of 8 December to provide a complete declaration of its weapons of mass destruction programme. However, the sheer volume of the documents to be presented may mean that the UN inspectors will have difficulty completing their mission in the allotted time. UN Security Council resolution 1441 states that the inspectors are to submit their first report not later than 60 days after the start of actual inspections. Chief inspector Hans Blix, who made a preparatory visit to Baghdad on 18-19 November, has said that the inspections are scheduled to start on 27 November.

'We had good discussions with representatives of the Iraqi government and [they] assured us they will fully implement the resolution and co-operate with us,' Blix said. 'They made it clear they will do everything possible to co-operate,' said International Atomic Energy Agency

director Mohamed el-Baradei, who accompanied Blix.

Most of the documents to be presented by Iraq are expected to relate to the production of items that could be used for either civilian or military purposes. Iraq has maintained that it has not resumed the weapons of mass destruction programme since the departure of UN inspectors in 1998.

General Emir el-Saadi, a senior adviser to President Saddam Hussein, said on 19 November that the government would present a full report to the UN on all the issues relating to chemical, biological and nuclear programmes, as well as missiles.

The US on 18 November sought to depict as a breach of resolution 1441 Iraqi shooting at US and UK aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq. However, this interpretation was rejected by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and had not been endorsed by any other

member of the Security Council.

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