Author:Lancaster, Pat
Position:United States-Iraqi relations

The United States now has the almost 12,000 page long Iraqi declaration on weapons of mass destruction and dual use equipment. Washington made clear from the outset that it would view the contents of the report with enormous scepticism although officials were careful not to criticise the document unseen. Now the gloves are off. Senior officials from both US parties have condemned the report as a catalogue of lies. At a press conference in Baghdad, General Amir Al Saadi, scientific adviser to the Iraqi president and the most senior official charged with negotiating over inspections, had expressed the hope the documentation would satisfy the US, "because it is currently accurate, comprehensive and truthful," he affirmed. General Al Saadi admitted Iraq had come "close" to achieving nuclear capacity but, he insisted, the programme had long since been abandoned and there had been no production of either chemical or biological weapons in Iraq since the Gulf War.

George W. Bush gave the impression of a man prepared to be patient. "We will judge the declaration's honesty and completeness only after we have thoroughly examined it, and that will take some time" the President said. Few believe it will make any difference. President Bush is out to get Saddam Hussein, using whatever means it takes. There isn't a serious talking shop anywhere in the world that believes differently.

The US insists it is up to Iraq to prove it has disarmed and analysts of the Iraqi dossier will have two key tasks. Firstly, to discover what happened to Iraqi weapons that could not be found during previous inspections. Secondly, to investigate what has been going on in the country since the inspectors left in 1998.

Inspections before 1998 failed to account for vast amounts of chemical and biological warfare agents Iraq once possessed. These include nerve agents, anthrax spores and over 30,000 special munitions for delivering chemical and biological agents. Iraq has continually insisted all were destroyed. But the inspectors found no evidence of their destruction or, their survival.

Both Britain and...

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