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Analysis / Deadline beater (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el 12/08/02) Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=238666&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Saddam Hussein has a method: So far he´s been one day early for every deadline. That´s what he did when asked to respond to Security Council resolution 1441 and that´s what he did ahead of the deadline for Iraq to submit a report detailing its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam has gone out of his way to prove that at least as far as procedure goes, he is worthy of the title "Guardian of the United Nations."

Yesterday, Iraq handed over to the UN a 12,000-page account of the suspect materials in its possession. What do these documents contain? As Saddam has stated on every possible occasion that Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction, he can only prove this by listing dual-usage materials such as fertilizers that can be used in both civil and military industries.

It is doubtful that anything new will be found in the mass of details that the UN experts will have to labor over, in English and Arabic. The relevant information to be found in them, if at all, is the names of the countries and companies that supplied Iraq with the products listed in the report. In any event, this a task that will take weeks if not months; at this stage, the UN experts will be asked to compare Saddam´s report with reports provided by other countries and with findings provided by previous delegations of weapons inspectors.

The interesting part will be to see whether the report will list the thousands of tons of materials for the manufacture of poisonous chemicals that previous tours by weapons inspectors failed to locate despite finding documentation.

The lists provided by Saddam are at best a symbolic act: Had anyone believed their authenticity in the first place, there would have been no need to send the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. As the expected American and British response to the report is that the delaration is no more than a bluff coming on top of eight previous false reports submitted by Saddam to the international community since 1990, one can assume that the whole purpose of requiring Saddam to submit the report is to put him in his place, or rather to humiliate him and perhaps provide the U.S with justification, or a further pretext to launch a war.

Theoretically, even if the listings in the report are true and contain new information, the U.S. administration will not be able to use them as a casus belli, because if Saddam is relaying accurate information and they do contain evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, then he will only be complying with the Security Council resolution.

If it transpires that Saddam has been lying, based on findings on the ground, then even a lie isn´t a casus belli; rather, the weapons and materials of mass destruction will be destroyed. That, after all, is the mission of the inspectors.

The more important report is to be submitted on January 28 by the weapons inspectors, who will file an initial report on their findings. For the last 12 days, the weapons inspectors have been operating in Iraq. Washington has called the inspections so far slow and inconclusive, while Iraq has described them as a spying mission on behalf of the United States and Israel.

In the meantime, the weapons inspectors are, in the words of one American diplomat, "a human shield for Saddam under the auspices of the UN", because as long as their mission continues, the U.S. will find it difficult to launch a war. (© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/08/02)

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