Ireland, along with the other nine rotating members of the UN Security council, went along with the decision to allow the permanent five members of the council, including the U.S. and Britain, to first see the documents.
And what Irish eyes will get to inspect this week will be an edited version.
Material in the document that outlines ways of constructing weapons of mass destruction, possibly including atomic bombs, has been edited from its pages.
“We can understand why such material can’t be made public,” Ambassador Gerry Corr, who has frequently represented Ireland at Security Council deliberations over the last couple of years, said.
At the same time, Irish diplomats should get a good idea of what the sensitive material is when, along with other rotating Security Council members, the Irish delegation is briefed later in the week by the man heading the UN arms inspections in Iraq, Hans Blix.
Ireland takes the view that the Iraqi document alone can’t be used to evaluate Iraq’s compliances with the UN’s demands.
And neither can the excised material be used separately as a basis for a policy decision by the Security Council.
Ireland voted for passage of the Security Council’s Resolution 1441, which mandated both the written explanation and the arms inspections.
But while continued membership of the Security Council will mean a chance to inspect most of the written submission, it would now seem unlikely that Ireland will have to vote on the council in the matter of war or peace in Iraq.
The two-year Irish term ends Dec. 31 and military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime, if any, will almost certainly follow that date.
Ireland had served three terms on the Security Council, the first being in 1962 and the second 20 years ago. The first term was dominated by the Cuban missile Crisis, the second by the Falklands War.
On this basis, an Irish return to the council will not take place for another 20 years or so.
But a return of sorts to the UN’s primary decision-making body could come sooner as efforts are afoot to create a permanent seat on the council representing the European Union, of which Ireland is a member.