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Diplomat: 'No change' in Iraqi attitude

U.S.: Iraq's declaration is 'far, far, far short'

From John King
CNN


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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iraq's weapons declaration does not signal "any real change in attitude" toward U.N. weapons inspectors and still leaves a lot of things unaccounted for, a Western diplomat familiar with the declaration told CNN Friday.

"(Resolution) 1441 gave a chance for the Iraqis to show a different attitude for inspections ... to either give up concealment, or some aspects of concealment. From the look we've had so far ... this doesn't signal any change in the Iraqi attitude," the diplomat said.

"The declaration allowed Iraq to set the standards against which they'd be judged by the inspectors," the diplomat added.

The problem, the diplomat said, was that the declaration contained "a lot of recycled material" from past Iraqi weapons disclosures -- and specific questions remained about weapons materials that Baghdad has never accounted for.

Security Council diplomats from the permanent five nations -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China -- have all received unedited copies of the declaration.

Those nations are in the process of submitting recommendations to chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix on which elements should be excised from the declaration.

Diplomats and Blix have said that any information that might facilitate weapons proliferation will be withheld, possibly with the names of companies that may have sold weapons-related products to Iraq.

So far, the United States and Russia have submitted their editing recommendations to Blix. But diplomats said the permanent five continue to consult with Blix on the redactions -- and London is revising its initial recommendations after getting feedback from Blix.

France and China have not yet submitted their assessments to Blix, a U.N. official said.

"What the [permanent] five is doing is going through the declaration and saying -- take out paragraph six of page 32, for example," the official said.

The official said Blix still hopes to come up with a sanitized version of the declaration to pass out to the other 10 Security Council members by the end of the day Monday.

Diplomats said that distribution was more likely to take place on Tuesday, which would still leave time for all council members to send the document back to their capitals for an assessment before Blix and IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei brief the council next Thursday.

Blix has said he would give the council his initial views on the document during the December 19 briefing.

Norway and Syria, who are rotating members of the council, have criticized the council president's decision to allow the permanent five nations -- but not other council members -- access to the full report.

'Far, far, far short'

U.S. officials believe the declaration omits many details and is "far, far, far short" from being a complete report, according to one senior U.S. official.

Although a detailed analysis of the declaration will take place later this month, the White House's initial judgment is that the report contains "unanswered questions about things we know they have done in the nuclear arena," the official said.

"We don't think from what we have seen so far that it meets the test," another official said.

The declaration does not offer any details about the required destruction of weapons which had been acknowledged under previous inspections, according to the senior official.

When weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, those acknowledged weapons had not been documented as destroyed, the official said.

Though Iraq said the declaration proves the nation has no prohibited weapons, Defense Department officials have repeated claims that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein does have them and has hidden the evidence.

The United States will use its preliminary assessment to urge a "skeptical public reaction" by key U.N. members and other allies, as well as "more assertive, multidimensional actions" by the inspectors, according to the senior U.S. official.

The officials say Washington is deliberately taking a slow approach toward Iraq in order to gauge the political temperature, both internationally and domestically, as well as get a better sense of the ongoing weapons inspections and the mood in Iraq.



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