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[casi] Iraq Accuses U.S. of Blackmailing U.N.

Iraq Accuses U.S. of Blackmailing U.N.
Tue December 10, 2002 09:20 AM ET

By Nadim Ladki

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq accused Washington on Tuesday of strong-arming the
United Nations into handing over an unedited copy of Baghdad's arms dossier,
assailing the action as part of a U.S. bid to wage war.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry blasted Washington's lobbying of U.N. Security
Council members for control over distribution of the 12,000-page dossier as "an
unprecedented blackmail operation in the history of the United Nations."

"This American behavior aims at manipulating United Nations documents to find
covers for aggression against Iraq," said a statement, as U.N. arms experts
hunting for banned weapons began their biggest search of a nearly two-week-old

While five teams of inspectors sped out of their Baghdad headquarters, chased
by a motorcade of journalists, the United Nations came under fire also for giving
Washington control over distribution of the arms dossier.

The dossier, which is supposed to give a full accounting of Iraq's past and
present weapons programs, was ordered by the Security Council as part of a tough
new resolution demanding Iraq disarm or face the possibility of war.

President Bush has vowed to lead an international coalition to disarm Iraq by
force if necessary, while Baghdad insists it has none of the nuclear, biological
or chemical weapons Washington alleges it has.


Diplomats and U.S. officials said Monday that after an intense lobbying
campaign, the United States received an early and uncut copy of the Iraqi weapons
declaration and whisked it to Washington for analysis.

The United States was then put in charge of making duplicates for its four
fellow permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France
and Russia -- on grounds that Washington had the best photocopying capabilities.

The 10 non-permanent members will see a purged version of the document once
the arms inspectors have gone through the report and removed sensitive material.

Colombian Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, the Security Council president for
December, said he made the decision after coming under pressure from the United
States. He said he called Security Council members and "we did it."

The decision upset several of the non-permanent members of the 15-member
Security Council, including the Syrians, as it overrode what the body had decided

"It's in contradiction to...every kind of logic in the Security Council,"
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe told the BBC Monday.

The Security Council had previously agreed to leave the report with U.N.
inspectors until it was screened for material that might aid others in making
weapons. All five permanent members are nuclear powers.

Diplomats said the dossier appeared to contain the names of foreign arms
suppliers -- something that could prove embarrassing for the countries involved,
including Security Council members.


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he expected U.S. experts to take weeks
to draw conclusions about the dossier which Iraq issued at the weekend in hopes of
avoiding war.

"The thing to do is to not prejudge it, be patient and expect that it will
take days and weeks probably to go over, and come to some judgments about it,"
Rumsfeld told reporters before his arrival Tuesday in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

U.S. experts are expected to search for discrepancies between Iraq's
disclosures and U.S. intelligence data.

A global Reuters survey of 18 defense experts, released on Tuesday, showed
that 10 believed war was still likely or very likely and six said chances were
50-50 that U.S. troops would go into Iraq, probably in January or February.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it would be "naive" to think
that President Saddam Hussein was likely to comply with the U.N. demands. But
official Iraq newspapers accused the United States and Britain of planning to
attack Iraq despite Baghdad's handover of a "complete and accurate" dossier.

Tuesday's inspections covered the largest number of sites inspected on the
same day. They included the Tuweitha nuclear site, 12 miles south of Baghdad. It
was their fourth inspection of the facility in one week.

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