Iraq delivers weapons declaration

09 December 2002

At 8pm on 7 December Iraq finally delivered the much-anticipated declaration of its weapons technologies to the UN (MEED 6:12:02). Head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, General Hassam Mohamed Amin, delivered the 12,000-page document to the UN compound in Baghdad, while continuing to deny possession of any banned weapons. 'I reiterate here Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction,' he said. 'I think if the United States has the minimum level of fairness and braveness, it should accept the report and say this is the truth.' Copies will now be sent to UN Monitoring Verification & Inspection Commission (Unmovic), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the UN Security Council. The length and complexity of the dossier mean that it will be sometime before analysis is complete.

Arguing over the significance of the declaration's contents has already begun. One point of dispute is Iraq's obligation to prove that it has destroyed chemical and biological weapons material produced during the 1980s and 1990s. Iraqi officials say that they have no new information in this area, while both the US and UN insist that if the weapons were destroyed as Baghdad claims, documents must exist that support this assertion. 'The production of mustard gas is not like marmalade,' said head of the weapons inspections team Hans Blix on a visit to Baghdad in November. 'You have to keep some records.' Another contentious point is whether or not a false or incomplete declaration is sufficient to constitute a 'material breach' of UN Resolution 1441 and to trigger military action. Some in the Bush administration have espoused this position, but other Security Council members disagree, saying that the 'serious consequences' threatened by the resolution demand both a false declaration and non-compliance with inspectors on the ground.

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