Who will review Iraq's weapons declaration?
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Update: The Security Council agreed late Sunday to give the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China) access to the original, unedited version of Iraq's weapons declaration.
The thriller that US spy agencies want to read won't be available until the UN censors it first.
UN officials secured copies of Iraq's long-awaited weapons declaration in suitcases bound with rope and sealed with red wax. The massive report, comprised of nearly 12,000 pages, now heads to the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in New York and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. Experts at those two agencies will pore over the documents in the coming days. A UN spokesman said Sunday that chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is expected to make some kind of presentation to the Security Council Tuesday.
The dossier will not immediately head to the US government, and the US may never see the entire report. Instead, members of the UN Security Council, including the US, will likely receive an abridged version of the report that omits information that could reveal the processes for making nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
The decision to have UN scientists remove the information was made Friday by Mr. Blix at the request of the Security Council. The Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty all forbid dissemination of sensitive information about weapons of mass destruction. The five permanent members of the Security Council are all known to possess nuclear weapons. However, the 10 rotating seats on the Council are currently held by nations without such known capabilities. One seat is currently held by Syria, a nation on the US State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Once the US receives a copy of the report, intelligence agencies will presumably look to poke holes in the declaration using as yet unspecified US intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. However, President Bush hinted in his weekly radio address Sunday that this could be a lengthy process, saying, "We will judge the declaration's honesty and completeness only after we have thoroughly examined it, and that will take some time."
In other words, it will take some time for the US war plot to thicken.