- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

NEW YORK The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations rebuked its secretary-general, Kofi Annan, yesterday in a spat over who would get to photocopy the Iraqi weapons declaration that arrived in New York on Sunday.
The Americans did the work no small job for a declaration that came as a pile of paper about 4 feet thick. But Iraq immediately accused the United States of using the opportunity to distort the report, and Mr. Annan joined in criticizing the handling of the document.
"Well, somebody had to make copies," said Ambassador John D. Negroponte in an interview recorded yesterday for the British Broadcasting Corp. "It was 12,000 pages long. It was a very large mechanical task.
"It would be a pity if this small tempest in a teapot, if you will, were to obscure the broader point, which is we all have a great interest in the implementation of Resolution 1441," he said. The resolution calls for Iraq to disarm.
The tempest began to brew Tuesday night when Mr. Annan spoke up at an anniversary dinner in New York for the BBC.
Suggesting that the document should have been copied by a party that was less deeply involved in the Security Council's dispute with Iraq, he said some council members didn't like the way the United States had behaved.
"It was unfortunate, and I hope it is not going to be repeated," Mr. Annan said in response to a question from the audience.
The 15-nation council decided Friday that none of its members would see the report until U.N. experts removed any content that could help in the production of proscribed weapons.
The United States persuaded the council on Sunday to give unedited copies to its five permanent members. They are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
The other 10 members, elected for two-year terms, agreed, despite objections from Norway and Syria, who have since complained about being part of a council "B team."
"The consensus of the [Security Council] was that in substance, perhaps the decision [to give the full report only to the five permanent council members] was fine, but the approach, and the style and the form was wrong," Mr. Annan said at the dinner.
The United States provided its photocopiers, Mr. Negroponte said yesterday, as a courtesy to the other council members.
"Let me stress that the whole purpose of this exercise is to be helpful to the Unmovic, to the IAEA, and to the other members of the council in making as expeditious as possible an analysis of the Iraqi declaration," he said.
He was referring to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency the two organizations with teams of inspectors hunting for weapons in Iraq.
Norway and Syria have been the most vocal critics in the council, but envoys from several other nations have said privately that they are surprised at Washington's "nerve" and "arrogance."
Former President Jimmy Carter, in Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize this week, yesterday joined his hosts in arguing that all 15 council members should receive the unedited report even if that means giving countries such as Syria a virtual recipe for making weapons of mass destruction.
"My general inclination is, 'Why not let the entire membership of the Security Council see the report?' That would be my personal preference," Mr. Carter said.
Asked specifically whether nations such as Syria should see the full report, Mr. Carter said, "Yes, of course. Syria is a member of the Security Council."
The decision to let the five permanent members see the entire document was justified on the grounds that all are nuclear powers and have the expertise to evaluate the declaration.
A U.S. official said yesterday that it was Washington's understanding that the five would get involved in the editing, as well.
Norway, which presides over the council's administration of U.N. sanctions against Iraq, seemed especially upset that it would get to see only an edited version.
"We cannot accept that only some members of the Security Council have the possibility of looking into these reports," Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik told reporters in Oslo yesterday.
"We request to see the report which is now delivered to the United Nations in line with the permanent members," he said.
France and Britain accepted their copies from the United States on Monday night in Washington, while Russia and China took their copies in New York the following morning.
All copies presumably are at the respective capitals now, and analysis is under way.
Hans Blix, executive chairman of Unmovic, said Tuesday that he expects to hand an edited working document to the council by Monday and to complete a preliminary analysis by Dec. 19.

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