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Security Council decides to release Iraqi arms declaration to some members

Security Council decides to release Iraqi arms declaration to some members

With Iraq’s 12,000-page declaration on its arms programme having arrived at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Security Council Presidency has decided to release the document to those members with the expertise to assess the risks of proliferation and other sensitive information in a bid to jumpstart the review of the text.

In a press statement released late Sunday night, the Council Presidency – currently held by Colombia – said the review will be conducted in close coordination and consultation with the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and will assist them “in producing a working version of the declaration as soon as possible.”

Responding this morning to questions about the Council’s decision, the Secretary-General told reporters as he entered the UN complex that he had “no problem” with it. “I think the Council is the master of its own deliberations,” he said. “If the Council decided to do that, it is their right and I will not quibble with that.”

The Secretary-General also counselled patience with the process, saying the UN weapons inspectors should be allowed time to go through the text before any comments are made about it. “The documents have just arrived, and as you all know, the inspectors will have to review them, analyze them, and report to the Council,” Mr. Annan said, noting that the process “is going to take a while.”

The Iraqi declaration, which had been handed over to the UN on Saturday evening in Baghdad, arrived on Sunday in New York at 8:40 p.m., a spokesman for the world body reported. “Both experts from UNMOVIC and IAEA have started going through the material,” Fred Eckhard told the press.

Interviewed by UN Radio, UNMOVIC spokesman Ewen Buchanan said the initial examination would focus on assessing how to handle the 12,000-page document, including “what is the amount of [text in] Arabic, what is the amount of electronic material, paper material, and how long we reckon it will take us to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the inspection teams, said in Baghdad that an UNMOVIC team returned to the Falluja II site of the Al-Tariq Company, which includes a factory area. “Two separate chemical plants are in the factory area and their major activity is the production of phenol and chlorine,” he said, noting that the chlorine plant is currently inoperative.

“The site contains a number of tagged dual-use items of equipment, which were all accounted for,” the spokesman noted. “The objectives of the visit were successfully achieved.”

The IAEA inspected Tuwaitha, where five teams used “a wide range of inspection techniques, ranging from visual inspections to sampling for detection of any potential radiological activity using Gamma surveys, water sampling and swipe sampling techniques” and “started to take a physical inventory of nuclear materials” from the site, Mr. Ueki said.

At Ash Shakyli, “all buildings were inspected and sampled for the detection of radiological materials,” he added, while the IAEA team at Al Qa Qaa began “inventorying known explosive materials from the past nuclear programme” that had previously been under the Agency’s control.