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Iraq's much-anticipated declaration of its weapons programs will take several weeks to analyze
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, 12/6/2002 02:04
UNITED NATIONS (AP) Iraq's declaration listing any nuclear, chemical, biological or missile programs will take several weeks to analyze because experts must check it against information in a million-page database, U.N. officials said.
And the analysis can't begin until the document is translated which could take days or weeks, depending on how long it is.
Iraq has said it will hand over the declaration to U.N. officials in Baghdad on Saturday. Copies will then be flown to Vienna, where the nuclear inspection agency is headquartered, and to New York where chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix and his chemical, biological and missile experts are based, on Sunday.
At U.N. headquarters, the Security Council was expected to discuss the logistics of receiving the declaration and distributing it to the 15 council members during a closed-door meeting with Blix on Friday.
The declaration's size, format, and content remains a mystery, though the Iraqi government has repeatedly stated that it does not possess weapons of mass destruction as the United States and Britain claim.
Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for Blix, said a lot will depend on the length of the declaration and what percentage is in Arabic. Previous Iraqi declarations were in English, accompanied by Arabic documents. But there's no certainty that will be the case this time.
Reports from Baghdad said the document would be 13,000 pages, which could require a massive translation operation. But there was speculation elsewhere it would be shorter.
''The length of time it will take us to analyze the declaration will depend on how long it is and how much information is new,'' Buchanan said. ''Clearly we will analyze it against our existing knowledge. We have a database over one million pages comprising Iraq's earlier declarations, inspection reports, information from supplier governments, and intelligence information.''
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency has its own database and will do a separate analysis of Iraq's nuclear program.
Security Council members said they don't expect to have any immediate reaction.
''We will see what inspectors report to us when they receive the Iraqi declaration,'' said Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov. ''They're professionals. They were hired to do this. So we will expect them to work for their money. It's up to them to decide how much time they need when they see the declaration.''
Syria's deputy U.N. ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said when council members receive the declaration, they will send it to their respective capitals to be studied.
U.N. experts will also study it ''and then concrete discussion may start at the council analyzing the information,'' he said.
''Then we give the inspectors time to investigate the correctness or incorrectness of the information,'' Mekdad said.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said he expects the professional analysis to take ''some weeks.''
''This is all going to take longer than you think,'' Greenstock said.
-- Anonymous, December 06, 2002