- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

A furious argument has broken out within the U.N. Security Council over a ruling by Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, that denies the United States and Britain full access to Iraq's 11,807-page weapons declaration.
White House officials complained that they had been "blindsided" by Mr. Blix's decision, which he revealed behind closed doors late Friday, to provide only what one U.N. official called a "sanitized version" of the declaration to the 15 members of the Security Council.
American officials were furious, having been led to believe Thursday that they would receive the declaration at around 10 p.m. Saturday. They had expected their larger translation team to finish its job more quickly than the United Nations. A White House official privately accused Mr. Blix of throwing a last-minute "curveball."
The Bush administration said it would wait until Mr. Blix makes an expected report to the United States and other Security Council members early this week before making its feelings known.
Mr. Blix, the head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission said his team would edit the declaration before it is passed on because of the risk that details of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs could be used as a "cookbook" by other states or terrorists trying to build their own weapons.
He proposed that the most sensitive information should be purged from the text by inspectors to ensure that it was not leaked. To do otherwise would breach international treaties on weapons proliferation, he said.
A U.N. inspector brought a copy of the part of the report dealing with Iraq's nuclear program to Vienna yesterday and handed it over to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. group overseeing nuclear inspections in Iraq. Experts from the agency were to begin examining the documents last night, a spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
Two more copies of the report which in its complete form totals more than 12,000 pages arrived in New York last night, one for the Security Council and the other for the U.N. inspection commission.
Although Britain and the United States supported the plan to hold back sensitive information from the version of the report distributed to the 10 rotating members of the Security Council notably Syria, which Washington has accused of supporting terrorism they are determined that they, France, Russia and China, as the five permanent members, should see the whole text. Their assessment of the Iraqi declaration will be crucial to the fate of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"There was no agreement about who should see what," said a Western U.N. diplomat. "The Americans simply expect to get the whole report. Other countries are determined to see anything that America sees. They'll be arguing about it well into next week. It wasn't just Syria; Mexico and several other countries were adamant as well."
U.N. officials said that in the interests of "equity" all 15 Security Council members should receive the same information. Mr. Blix said: "All the governments are aware that they should not have access to anything that everyone else does not have access to."
Another U.N. official said: "It would be quite wrong for some members to get a sanitized version but not others. That is not what was agreed on Friday."
Officials said privately that Mr. Blix could not be allowed to have sole control of the Iraqi document. The U.N. resolution states that Iraq must provide its weapons declaration to the U.N. weapons inspectors "and the Security Council."
Britain, like the United States, wants to see the document in its entirety and "went along with the agreement" in the belief that it would eventually see the full text, officials close to the Security Council said. The British Foreign Ministry refused to comment.
The long-awaited Iraqi declaration comprises at least a dozen bound volumes accompanied by computer disks, covering such subjects as the 1990s U.N. weapons inspection regime in Iraq, when many arms and much production equipment were destroyed, and "dual-use" industries that can alternate between civilian and military production.
The arms declaration will draw weeks of scrutiny from nuclear engineers, chemists, microbiologists, missile technicians and other specialists as the United Nations searches for clues to hidden arms programs or remaining caches of weapons of mass destruction.
A U.N. plane arrived in Baghdad yesterday carrying 25 new U.N. weapons inspectors who will double the staff and allow a quick expansion of the inspection schedule.

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