Iraqi weapons list to be kept secret: Hans Blix

Washington Dec. 7. The United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has said that all sensitive material on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons given to the world body by Iraq would be kept secret, even from the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council.

"All the Governments are aware that they should not have access to anything that everyone else does not have access to'', Mr. Blix told the media after a closed door session with the Security Council in New York on Friday.

The United Nations is getting ready for the Iraqi handover of its weapons and programmes "list'' which, according to the top envoy of Baghdad to the world body, is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday in New York.

Indications are that the "list'' will be in Arabic and English and could run up to 10,000 pages.

Mr. Blix has argued that some of the material that the Iraqis turn over will require translation before an initial assessment is made on the sensitivity of the documents; and that the Security Council would be briefed "early next week'' on the details of the report.

According to Colombia's Ambassador to the U.N., who is currently the President of the Security Council, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, will be reviewing the documents turned over to the United Nations by Iraq.

If the opinion of Mr. Blix and others is that some of the portions of the Iraqi declaration should be kept secret, it is out of a conviction that the "list'' may contain "recipes'' for weapons of mass destruction and other information.

The Iraqi envoy to the U.N., Mohammad al-Douri, has said that the declaration will contain a "huge amount of information'' and some of this will not be made public.

Part of the interest in New York and Washington is how serious the regime of Saddam Hussein is going to be in meeting its deadline of December 8.

More than the time factor, it has to do with the seriousness of the "list'', for the Bush administration has made it plain that it really has no patience this time around.

The U.N. Resolution 1441 has demanded that Baghdad come out with a "full and complete'' disclosure of its various arsenals.

Mr. Blix also took the opportunity on Friday to call on nations to share intelligence on Iraq's programmes.

The United States, for instance, has long argued that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

"If the Americans have this evidence, they have to tell the inspectors in Iraq to go find this evidence'', Mr. Blix said.

The senior U.N. official brushed aside pressure from the Bush administration for the weapons inspectors to be more "muscular'' in going about the process.

In particular, Washington is convinced that one of the ways to come to grips with the problem in Iraq is to have defections of Iraqi scientists; and one way this could be achieved is by the inspection team insisting on "interviews'' outside of Iraq.

At that point, the United States would be able to persuade defections by the scientists under the witness protection programme.

"We are not going to abduct anybody; and we're not serving as a defection agency'' was the response of Mr. Blix.

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