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Iraq submits documents

BAGHDAD DEC. 7. The Iraqi Government, denying it had weapons of mass destruction, delivered to the United Nations on Saturday its long-awaited declaration detailing its nuclear, chemical and biological programmes.

Iraqi Government vehicles bearing half-a-dozen boxes and bags holding the arms documents entered the U.N. compound on Baghdad's outskirts about 8 p.m. local time, and officials unloaded the material to hand over at a private meeting with U.N. officials inside.

The filing of the more than 12,000 pages of technical detail, required by this weekend under a U.N. resolution, now shifts the Iraq crisis into a new stage, as Washington and Baghdad move step by step toward a crossroads between war and peace.

The declaration "will answer all the questions which have been addressed during the last months and years", Hossam Mohammed Amin, the official who oversaw the declaration's preparation, said earlier in the day. He also said it would name companies and countries that helped Iraq develop weapons of mass destruction in the past, information that could help in prosecutions under other nations' export-control laws.

"I reiterate here Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction," Lt. Gen. Amin told presspersons. "I think if the United States has the minimum level of fairness and braveness, it should accept the report and say this is the truth."

The huge declaration was to be flown out on Sunday on a U.N. plane, to reach the U.N. headquarters in New York and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Iraqi officials displayed the documents on Saturday to the international media, including bound copies of volumes devoted separately to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile activities, titled `Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Declarations'. The mass of paper, in red and blue covers, was accompanied by computer disks, presumably with added information.

The thick reports on past weapons programs and industrial activity will take U.N. experts weeks to analyse and U.N. inspectors months to verify inside Iraq. And U.N. officials said weeding out data that might help others produce chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would delay handover of material to the Security Council's 15 member nations.

For all the expectation surrounding it, the document was an anti-climax, since it was known that Baghdad would declare it had no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. — AP

AFP reports from Washington:

In a radio address before Iraq delivered the list to the U.N., the U.S. President, George Bush, warned that the declaration must hold up to U.S. scrutiny if Baghdad was to avoid a military attack.

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