- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The United States said yesterday that it expects to release its judgment on Iraq's declaration of its weapons programs by week's end, adding that Baghdad will not get another chance to correct omissions or inaccuracies in the 12,000-page document.
The Bush administration also said there are "problems" with the dossier and that Washington is already sharing them with the U.N. inspection team and Security Council partners.
"I think it was abundantly plain from the will of the United Nations this was Iraq's last chance to inform the world in an accurate, complete and full way what weapons of mass destruction they possessed," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.
In a brief and cautious comment, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the skepticism with which the Bush administration approached Baghdad's files "is well-founded."
"There are problems with the declaration," he told reporters at the State Department. "We are sharing the problems we see with [the U.N. inspectors], and we are in discussions with the other permanent members of the Security Council."
Although Mr. Powell did not specify the problems, U.S. and British officials have said the files, which the U.N. team and the five permanent council members have been assessing for a week, have major omissions.
"We will withhold making a final judgment or final statement until we have completed our analysis," Mr. Powell said, "and then statements will be forthcoming, I expect, toward the end of the week after [chief U.N. inspector Hans] Blix makes his presentation to the Security Council on Thursday."
Resolution 1441, adopted by the 15-member council in a unanimous vote last month, warns of "serious consequences" if Iraq does not cooperate with the inspectors and account for all its weapons capabilities.
The Bush administration maintains that omissions in the declaration would amount to a "material breach" of the resolutions but has stopped short of saying an omission alone would justify military action.
The U.N. document also demands that Baghdad ensure access to scientists and others who have been involved in any nuclear, biological or chemical activities so they can be freely questioned by the inspectors.
"Resolution 1441 provides for those who need to be interviewed to be made available, and if Iraq does not comply with that requirement of the resolution, I'm sure the international community will take note and decide what action is appropriate," Mr. Powell said.
Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that of the 2,400 pages of the declaration covering nuclear weapons, only 300 pages were new but that "there is additional information we are going through."
On Dec. 5, two days before Iraq made its formal declaration, The Washington Times quoted a U.S. official familiar with the internal debate in the Bush administration as saying that the United States had decided it would find Iraq in "material breach."
Yesterday, Japan pledged to help the United States if military action in Iraq becomes inevitable, identifying "support for refugees" and "for the neighboring countries around Iraq" as possible areas of assistance.
"Of course a peaceful resolution is most desirable, but if further action by the international community would become necessary in accordance with the Security Council resolution, then our two countries will engage an even closer coordination," said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi.
Mrs. Kawaguchi, who spoke to reporters after she and Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba met with Mr. Powell and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, said a special envoy of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently visited some of Iraq's neighbors.
Mr. Wolfowitz praised Tokyo's contribution to the U.S.-led anti-terrorist campaign and Afghanistan's reconstruction after the demise of the Taliban. Japan has provided more than 60 million gallons of fuel and pledged $500 million in aid for reconstructing the south-central Asian country.
Japan does not have a military, and its Self-Defense Forces cannot be deployed abroad, but the country's parliament, the Diet, approved Japan's participation with noncombat logistical support in Afghanistan.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.


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