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IN THE NEWS - December 14, 2002: Iraqi Weapons Declaration - 2002-12-13

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

Last Saturday, the government of Iraq gave a declaration of its weapons programs to the United Nations. A U-N Security Council resolution ordered Iraq to report on its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs by December eighth. The time limit was widely considered Iraq’s final chance to prevent a military attack.

The Security Council also required Iraq to agree to U-N weapons inspections. The first U-N inspectors arrived in late November. U-N weapons inspections were started after Iraq’s defeat in the nineteen-ninety-one Gulf War. Four years ago, inspectors left the country because they were not permitted to visit all the areas they wanted to examine.

The U-N resolution required Iraq to surrender any weapons of mass destruction. It called for serious measures if Iraq failed to do so. Iraq could be found in violation of the resolution if its weapons declaration is believed to include false information or not complete.

Iraq says the declaration proves it does not have weapons of mass destruction. It says the documents contain current, full and correct information. Iraqi Lieutenant General Hussam Mohammed Amin supervised preparation of the report. He said it would satisfy and answer all the questions that have been asked in recent years.

The Iraqi official said the declaration explains the history of Iraq’s weapons programs. He said it describes civilian activities involving equipment and technology that could have military uses. He also said it identifies the companies and countries that sold Iraq technology and equipment to develop weapons of mass destruction in the past. Iraqi officials did not say if the declaration provides new evidence to support Iraq’s claim that it has destroyed all its old biological and chemical weapons.

The United States claims there is evidence that Iraq still has some banned weapons programs. The United States has threatened to use military force if Iraq fails to honor U-N demands to disarm. Iraq has accused the United States of seeking to use the declaration to find a reason for aggression against Iraq.

In the nineteen-nineties, Iraq admitted making three kinds of biological weapons, including one that spreads the deadly anthrax bacteria. But U-N inspectors were never able to confirm Iraq’s claims that it destroyed hundreds of missiles containing anthrax.

Similar questions surround Iraq’s supply of the deadly V-X nerve agent. In the past, Iraq admitted making almost four tons of V-X. Iraq later said it had destroyed all the V-X. However, U-N inspectors said it never provided evidence to support the claim.

Iraq says the new declaration shows it wants to cooperate to prevent war. It said the United States should accept the report as truthful.

The United States has not yet presented proof that Iraq still has banned weapons. However, Bush administration officials said strong evidence would be given soon to U-N inspectors.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.