Analysis / Deadline beater (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Zvi Bar´el 12/08/02)
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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
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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