Arms report 'possible by new year'

Decommissioning pictures would be held until March

More details have emerged on British-Irish proposals to deal with the demand for visible decommissioning.

Talks sources suggest that by the end of December, General de Chastelain could report that all IRA weapons have been put beyond use.

Photographic proof of arms being put beyond use would be held by the head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning until March.

There would then be a new power-sharing Executive.

Insiders have told the BBC that the proposals from the two governments are very clear: if a deal is done, then, by the end of this year General de Chastelain would report that all IRA weapons have been put beyond use.

This would open the door to a shadow Assembly at the start of January.


Northern Ireland conflict
Two churchmen - agreed by the DUP and republicans - would witness the acts of decommissioning.

Sources say that under the governments' proposals, photographs would be taken, but would not be published immediately.

General de Chastelain would hold the pictures until March: the latest target date for devolution to be restored.

This is when the DUP and Sinn Fein would enter a new power-sharing Executive.

It is not yet known how much of these will be agreed to by the parties, although the DUP is saying no deal will be made without photographs.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan added that "nothing was coming from republicans at this time to suggest that the IRA has agreed to this proposal".

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