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Archive for Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Iraqi declaration appears recycled

December 10, 2002

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— Iraq's mammoth arms declaration covers its nuclear program up until the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a terminated project to produce a radiation bomb and details of Baghdad's efforts to build biological weapons, according to the report's table of contents, made public Monday.

A former weapons inspector, who reviewed the list, said it seemed to suggest the Iraqis were resubmitting old declarations about arms programs that ended in the wake of the Gulf War more than a decade ago. Inspectors have said Iraq's previous declarations were incomplete.

The nine-page table of contents was distributed by a U.S. official after Washington obtained the U.N. Security Council's copy of the complete 12,000-page declaration. The full declaration has not been released, and the United States shared it only with Russia, Britain, France and China.

In exchange for getting their own copies, the five council powers will provide weapons inspectors with experts and intelligence data that could help hasten a determination of whether Saddam Hussein is trying to rearm, diplomats told The Associated Press.

Other council members will only get an edited copy with sensitive material censored, an arrangement that has angered some members.

The table of contents is broken down into four sections: nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile programs. The table provides a glimpse of Iraq's account of its programs but it will take U.N. and American analysts some time before they can determine whether the declaration is complete.

In the declaration, Iraq asserts that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction or the means to deliver them.

According to the table of contents, some 2,100 pages are devoted to Iraq's nuclear program before 1991, and another 300 pages in Arabic detail current nuclear programs, which Baghdad says are civilian.

Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Sunday that Iraq may have been close to building an atomic bomb before 1991, but he said Baghdad no longer had such ambitions.

David Albright, an American who served on the nuclear inspections team in the 1990s, said the table of contents "seems to confirm that on the nuclear side, the declaration has been recycled. A lot of this is pre-1991."

The chemical declaration is several thousand pages and begins with a chronology of Iraq's "former chemical weapons program." Sections dealing with the chemical program include: Research and development activities, the production of chemical agents, relations with companies and a terminated radiation bomb project.

The radiation bomb project was discovered during the previous inspections regime, which ended in 1998.

The biological declaration includes information on military institutions connected with the former biological weapons program, activities at a foot-and-mouth facility and a list of supporting documents.

The ballistic missile declaration is the briefest of the four sections and totals some 1,200 pages. Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, Iraq is banned from missiles with a range greater than 94 miles.

The table of contents was submitted to the Security Council in the form of a letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

The complete report arrived Sunday at U.N. headquarters in New York. One copy is in the hands of weapons inspectors who have been combing through it for details.

The other copy was taken Monday to Washington, where U.S. officials quickly duplicated the material and delivered it to the Russian, French, British and Chinese embassies in the capital.

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