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Iraq accuses U.S. of 'blackmail'

White House dismisses criticism for obtaining copy of report

A weapons inspector arrives at the United Nations with two suitcases bearing Iraq's declaration.
A weapons inspector arrives at the United Nations with two suitcases bearing Iraq's declaration.

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CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports on the task for International Atomic Energy Agency experts as they review Iraq's declaration. (December 9)
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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

Documentation includes:

11,808 pages of information

2,381 on nuclear programs

1,260 on biological weaponry

1,880 on chemical weaponry

6,287 on missiles

Plus 12 CD-ROMs containing 529 megabytes of information

Source: Iraqi government
On or before January 27, inspectors must report back to the Security Council.

If the United Nations finds the declaration to be incomplete or untrue, it could find Iraq in "material breach" of Resolution 1441, which calls for Iraq to fully disclose its weapons of mass destruction programs and to disarm.

The U.S. government has said if Iraq does not comply and fully disarm, it will lead a coalition to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein through military force.

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iraqi officials Tuesday accused the United States of "unprecedented blackmail" for obtaining an unedited copy of Iraq's dossier on its weapons of mass destruction.

White House officials called the statement "ludicrous."

An Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement said that the United States received a copy before any other U.N. Security Council member and that "America aims to manipulate the U.N. documents to find a cover for aggression against Iraq."

The statement also said the U.S. move was "in violation of the agreement reached by the council."

"We have not blackmailed anybody," said James Cunningham, U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix met with the Security Council Tuesday and said his team hoped to finish analyzing the "main part" of the 11,000 page document by Friday.

After behind-the-scenes discussions, the current Security Council president, Colombian U.N. Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, announced Sunday that all five permanent members of the council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- would receive unedited copies.

The United States was the first to receive it, and White House officials said Tuesday the four other permanent members have received copies of the declaration.

The Security Council initially agreed that the declaration would go only to weapons inspectors, who would analyze it and remove parts that might relate to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction before passing it along to member nations.

Move upsets some nations

The decision to give the United States an unedited copy early upset several nonpermanent members of the 15-member Security Council, including Syria, because it overrode what the body decided Friday. (Full story)

"The report should be distributed for all the members of the council ... because all the countries voted on the resolution," Syrian U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe said, referring to U.N. Security Council resolution 1441, adopted unanimously November 8, that demanded the declaration.

Calling the decision unprecedented and unwise, he said, "Usually such decisions should be taken by consensus. Even if there is one state against this decision, they should not take the decision."

But one nation with a copy of Iraq's declaration said the Security Council will consider only the weapons inspectors' analysis of the documents -- not a U.S. assessment.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that the council "will take into account the assessments of only these experts," the Russian Interfax news agency reported.

It was not clear when the 10 nonpermanent council members would see abridged portions of the report.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Tuesday the Bush administration was not prepared to offer any early assessment of the declaration.

"It is still in very preliminary stages," Fleischer said, adding that President Bush would receive briefings as the assessment progressed.

Dossier could ID suppliers

The declaration could identify countries or firms that supplied Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, according to a table of contents that CNN obtained Monday. (Portions of report)

In a letter that accompanies the nearly 12,000-page document, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said the dossier's publication "entails risk" of releasing information that violates nonproliferation standards.

Sabri called the report "currently accurate, full and complete" but told the Security Council it contains information that could aid countries seeking to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The contents pages also include references to procurement of petrochemicals for Iraq's nuclear weapons program and to "foreign technical assistance" and "relations with companies, representatives and individuals" under its chemical weapons declaration.

Analysis to take time

U.N. officials said it could take days to analyze the declaration because of its complexity and length and the need to translate parts of it from Arabic.

Blix said about 500 pages still need to be translated from Arabic.

After a meeting with the council Blix said, "I told the council that we hope we will have been through the main part of the document -- which is about 3,000 pages -- by Friday."

The entire text includes nearly 12,000 pages, but Iraqi officials and inspectors have indicated that portions contain information given to the United Nations before.

Blix said inspectors were working to remove portions of the document "that could be risky from the point of view of proliferation."

He said the inspectors would "coordinate and consult" with the five permanent council members, all nuclear powers with expertise on nonproliferation matters, before their meeting with the entire council.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday it expected to be able to provide a preliminary analysis of the nuclear part of the document to the council within 10 days, with a fuller assessment to be provided when it reports to the council at the end of January.

"We're not in the position at all to make any kinds of judgment on this document -- truth or no truth. We're in a good position to be able to assess the document in due time against vast amounts of information we have and against what our inspectors can go out and look for on the ground," said IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.(Latest inspections)

U.S. disputes Iraqi claims

Though Iraq said the declaration proves the nation has no prohibited weapons, U.S. Defense Department officials repeated assertions Monday that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein does have them and has hidden the evidence.

Defense Department officials said U.S. intelligence shows that in recent weeks the Iraqis engaged in "wide dispersal" of their suspected weapons stocks and documentation.

When asked why the United States had not shared intelligence with U.N. weapons inspectors, Fleischer said the president would not release information "that will compromise sources or methods or abilities to win a war."

The Bush administration has threatened to use force to disarm Iraq if it does not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.

If Baghdad's declaration is found to include false information or omit pertinent information, it could constitute a "material breach" of the U.N. resolution sending inspectors back to Iraq.

In Qatar, the United States is engaged in computer simulated war games to test military command-and-control communications from the Al Sayliyah army base. The base in the Persian Gulf country could play a key role in a possible war with Iraq. (Full story)

CNN's Nic Robertson, Rym Brahimi, Rebecca MacKinnon and Maria Arbelaez contributed to this report.

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