NEW YORK: A storm is brewing at the U.N. over just how many secret deals Secretary General Kofi Annan may have made in Baghdad in order to defuse the crisis with Iraq. While Annan has insisted that he has no intention of weakening the U.N. Special Commission, the group that is tracking down Saddam Hussein's weapons, two developments this week have called UNSCOM's future effectiveness into question. First, Annan stationed a special U.N. representative in Baghdad. That will provide the Iraqis with an alternate channel of communication that may circumvent UNSCOM. Second, Annan is seriously considering a Russian proposal that a Russian be named co-deputy chairman, to serve with current deputy chairman Charles Duelfer, an American. In contrast to past Russian efforts at diluting UNSCOM's command, sources inside the U.N. say this appointment has a very good chance of being approved, and UNSCOM's staff members are concerned. Says one: "It's obvious that some people are trying to dilute the commission or get access to the information we have."