UNITED NATIONS – The United States and Russia gave chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix their suggestions on Thursday of sensitive material that should be deleted from Iraq's weapons declaration before it is given to the 10 elected Security Council members.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said he hoped to submit a report on Friday, and British diplomats said they, too, hoped to hand in suggestions by the end of the week.
All 15 Security Council members had agreed last Friday to let U.N. inspectors read the 12,000-page Iraqi declaration and eliminate material that could be used to promote the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
But the United States changed its mind and lobbied over the weekend to get the entire uncensored document in the hands of the five permanent members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- who are all nuclear powers and already have access to such information.
The Security Council president, Colombia's U.N. Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, agreed, and a U.S. official took possession of the Security Council's copy late Sunday. It was flown to Washington where copies were made for the four other permanent members.
All five permanent members were asked by Blix to make suggestions by Friday about cutting sensitive material.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Moscow had submitted proposals on material that should remain confidential to the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC, which Blix heads.
"We have given our suggestions to UNMOVIC on the sensitive material," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte.
Valdivieso said he hoped to get a censored version to the 10 non-permanent members, who are elected for two-year terms and have no veto power, on Monday or Tuesday. That version -- or at least part of it -- is expected to be made public.
Blix is expected to give a preliminary analysis of the material in the declaration to the Security Council next Thursday.
Several non-permanent members, including Syria, Mexico and Norway, were unhappy with the U.S. action.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe said Thursday he had sent "a very strong protest" to the Security Council about how the distribution was handled.
He claimed that the decision to give the five permanent members an uncensored version and the 10 non-permanent members a censored version violated Resolution 1441, which the council adopted Nov. 8 to strengthen U.N. inspections in Iraq.
It calls for a copy of the declaration to be given to the Security Council, without any mention of cuts or distinction between members, Wehbe said.
Under the terms of Resolution 1441, false statements or omissions in the declaration -- coupled with a failure to comply with inspections -- would be a "material breach" of Iraq's obligations. Such a breach could be enough for Washington to argue that military action is the only way to force Iraqi compliance.