Published December 06, 2002
UNITED NATIONS – U.N. weapons inspectors will keep secret all sensitive material on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons contained in a massive declaration that Iraq will turn over this weekend, Chief Inspector Hans Blix said on Friday.
The United States and other Security Council members will not be allowed to view the entire declaration, Blix said.
Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said his government will hand over the declaration to inspectors in Baghdad at 8 p.m. local time on Saturday. He reiterated Iraq's claim that the country is now free of weapons of mass destruction, but said the declaration would contain "new elements."
The U.N. Security Council empowered the two main U.N. inspection bodies to take charge of the Iraqi declaration and eliminate sensitive weapons-related material before it is made public.
Blix told a news conference that he understood the Iraqi report would be in Arabic and English and contain more than 10,000 pages, which would require translation before an initial assessment could be made on which material is sensitive.
He said he would brief the Security Council early next week on the contents of the report. The sheer length of the report would mean that it will take time to release the details.
"All the governments are aware that they should not have access to anything that everyone else does not have access to," Blix said after discussing the handling of the declaration with the 15 council members at a closed-door meeting.
Council diplomats said Russia and other council members were concerned that the declaration might contain "recipes" for chemical and biological weapons, and other information that could lead to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Al-Douri said the declaration contains "a huge amount of information," some of which would not be made public.
Both the Iraqi envoy and the chief inspector addressed charges by the United States that Saddam Hussein's government is hiding weapons of mass destruction.
"We said again and again that we have no more destruction weapons at all, everything has been destroyed and we have no intention to do that again," the Iraqi envoy said. "If the Americans have this evidence, they have to tell the inspectors in Iraq to go find this evidence."
Blix denied that he was under any pressure from the United States, but stressed that Resolution 1441 adopted Nov. 8 to toughen U.N. inspections asks all 191 U.N. member states to provide information to help inspectors search for banned weapons.
"We want to have recommendations from member governments what we should do," Blix said.
The chief inspector was asked about reports that the United States was pressing for the inspectors to question Iraqi scientists outside the country.
"We are not going to abduct anybody, and we're not serving as a defection agency," Blix said.
Under Resolution 1441, Iraq has until Sunday to submit a full and complete disclosure of its chemical, biological and nuclear programs.
Blix updated the council Friday on the work of his inspection teams so far in Iraq. Inspectors returned to Iraq last month after nearly four years. "They have done a good professional job," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.