Iraq to present weapons report as U.S. keeps up pressure
The Bush administration is insisting that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Washington has a "solid basis" for claiming Iraq has banned weapons, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday. He cited US intelligence evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein lies when he denies having prohibited missile technology and chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs.
According to AFP, Fleischer refused to elaborate on what Washington knows, but did say US officials would not make those assertions "as plainly and bluntly as they have ... if it was not the truth."
President George W. Bush himself said only it was up to Saddam whether the United States and Iraq go to war. Asked what would trigger a US attack, Bush answered: "That's a question that you should ask Saddam Hussein ... the question is whether or not he chooses to disarm. And we hope he does."
On Saturday, Iraq is expected to forward to the United Nations a report about its weapons program.
The huge document, in both English and Arabic, will be handed to the UN in Baghdad on Saturday and flown to UN headquarters in New York via the inspectors' rear base in Cyprus.
U.N. officials said that Iraq's declaration would take several weeks to analyze because experts must check it against information in a million-page database. The analysis will not start until the document is translated — which could take days or weeks, depending on how long it is.
Reports from Baghdad said the document would be 13,000 pages, which could require a massive translation operation. But there was speculation elsewhere it would be shorter. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)