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Iraq Has Shown Reporters Declaration

Aired December 7, 2002 - 06:59   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Iraqis have apparently shown reporters in Iraq the weapons declaration which has been the focus of a tremendous amount of tension. We're told it could be as long as 13,000 pages. We're just getting our first look at it right now.
And CNN's Rym Brahimi is in Baghdad to tell us a little bit more about the details of all this -- Rym.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed. Well, you know, half an hour ago, journalists were taken from the Iraqi ministry of information, where they'd been asked to gather for a couple of hours. They were taking in a huge convoy. There's more than 100 journalists in town, you realize that.

And they were taken to the National Monitoring Directorate. Now, that's the office that's actually the interlocutor of the U.N. weapons inspectors. They were taken there, and they're now being shown those documents in groups of six.

Now, after that, after being shown those documents -- and they're just being shown them, they're not actually being allowed to read them, as far as we know -- after that, they're actually going to have a press conference with Iraqi officials to maybe find out more.

What we know so far about that declaration is that it is indeed something like 13,000 to 14,000 pages. That includes about 4,000 pages of declarations proper, and then about 7,000 or 8,000 pages of support documents to maybe bring evidence or support what's being said in the declaration.

Iraqi officials making this a big media event, very keen to get the point across that they're making all efforts to put that declaration out on time and actually ahead of time. They've told us that armies of scientists, hundreds of scientists, have been working day and night to get it done.

Back to you.

O'BRIEN: Rym, do you know if reporters will get a chance to examine the documents beyond just seeing them and taking pictures?

BRAHIMI: Well, that's tricky. As you know, Hans Blix, the head of the UNMOVIC U.N. inspections team, has said that he wasn't even keen for members of the -- ambassadors representing members of the U.N. Security Council to actually read the document until it had been analyzed by experts to make sure that no information could fall into the wrong hands. In other words, that there wouldn't actually be any information in there that could maybe show someone how to make weapons of mass destruction. So if that's the case, I doubt very much that any of our reporters will be able to read the document itself.

However, it is something that they're being shown (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and they'll be able to tell us more, and probably they'll give us a little more detail about the contents, Miles. What we know so far is that it is going to include a lot of the past programs that Iraq used to have, a lot of the history of that, what's been destroyed, and a lot of the dual-use items, items that -- activities, rather, in Iraq that are currently used for civilian purposes but that could potentially be used for military purposes, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Yes, Rym, as this document comes out, just give us a sense, are the Iraqis giving it out in a spirit of being forthcoming, or is there a sense of grudgingness to all of this, put it that way?

BRAHIMI: Well, that's well put. It's probably a bit of both, Miles. A lot of it, they really have been pushing the fact that the international media is even here, and they're being taken to see it, I think they're trying to really say, Well, we're cooperating, and we're making a huge effort not only to put it out on time but to put it out a day before the December 8 deadline.

Now, what they're also doing is, they're saying, they're protesting the fact, the mere fact that inspectors have been in at all, and that they had to comply with that resolution. So they're doing it, obviously, not very happily, but they are very, very keen to say, Look, we're cooperating. You asked us to do this, and we're doing what we've been asked to do, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Rym, you know, when they say that, though, and when you see -- hear about a 13,000-page -- we'll call it a document, but that -- it's really just a document dump, is what that appears to be, I mean, for all we know, in there is the Baghdad phone book.

It seems to me that this at least has the appearance of playing for time, of stalling. What are the thoughts there?

BRAHIMI: Well, what Iraqi officials are saying is, Well, you've asked us to come up with this, and we're coming up with it. The previous declarations that they made -- you know, the first declaration they ever made back in the early 1990s was really very, very thin compared to this. But over the years, it's just gotten bigger and bigger.

They're asked on a regular basis, Miles, to produce a list of their dual-use activities, and those documents that they produce twice a year and they give to the inspection teams in Vienna and in New York, they're already thousands of pages long.

Now, what they're saying is they'll -- that they -- they were very keen, from what I understand and from what we were told by the chief U.N. weapons inspectors and sources around them, when they visited Baghdad at the beginning of the inspections, certainly Iraqi officials were really keen to understand what the item in the resolution referring to the declaration meant. Did it mean that they had to include every single slipper factory that produces plastic slippers? Because they use chemicals in that, for instance, and that could be considered dual-use.

And they were told, Well, that's simple, you have to say, you have to talk about everything.

So I think they're trying to maybe make a point that they're coming clean. Of course, stressing all the while that they have no weapons of mass destruction, and that no matter what new elements they have in this declaration, well, it's not going to include anything about producing weapons of mass destruction because they say they haven't done any of that in the past four years since the previous inspection teams left, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, all that remains to be seen. Rym Brahimi in Baghdad for us, thanks. Keep us posted as the information kind of dribs and drabs out of Baghdad this morning.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Iraqis have apparently shown reporters in Iraq the weapons declaration which has been the focus of a tremendous amount of tension.>

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