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More Iraq-related News Stories.

A much shorter version of the following story appeared in today's

September 18, 1998

              New Tests Dispute U.S. Finding of Iraq
               Nerve Gas

              By BARBARA CROSSETTE
UNITED NATIONS -- Swiss and French tests for a poison gas on Iraqi missile
warheads appear to have reached results contrary to those from American
tests that showed the presence of VX, a deadly nerve agent,diplomats said

If the preliminary findings are confirmed, perhaps as early as next week,
Iraq is expected to argue that the American tests were rigged to obtain
damaging evidence. In June, American experts at a military testing center
in Aberdeen, Md., said they had found traces of the banned poison gas. 

Iraqi officials have already told U.N. weapons inspectors that if there
was VX on the missile fragments tested in the United States, the Iraqis did
 not put it there. Iraq has admitted to loading Sarin nerve gas on
weapons, but not VX. 

The tests in Switzerland and France were done after the Aberdeen reports
were made public and Iraq demanded further analysis outside the United

At the United Nations Special Commission, which has been overseeing the
 disarmament of Iraq, a spokesman has been saying all week that there
would be no comment on the new results until a final report was submitted
to the inspectors. 

"When we get the results in final, formal form, we will be able to discuss
them," the spokesman, Ewan Buchanan, said Thursday. 

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat said Thursday that the results
were already in the possession of the Iraqis. 

The contradictions between the two sets of tests may raise a number of
other questions. The Iraqi warheads under study were discovered early this
year at a weapons-destruction site north of Baghdad. Commission officials
haggled with the Iraqis for weeks before being allowed to send some metal
chunks dug up at the site to the United States for testing. 

Other warhead fragments were stored in Iraq by the inspectors, and there
is a question whether Iraqis might have had access to them before
commission officials returned to collect samples for the second round of
tests in Europe. 

By then the Iraqis knew that the Americans had said they had found VX. The
second round of tests were done from swabs taken from the stored
fragments. The fragments themselves were not moved from Iraq. 

Whether or not Iraq had armed weapons with an extremely dangerous nerve gas
 is one of the problems central to discussions about Iraq's compliance
with United Nations demands that it turn over not only material but also
documentation on its arms programs so that all prohibited weapons can be
 accounted for. 

Iraq must also answer numerous questions about its biological weapons
program, which it denied having until 1995. 

All biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as well as certain
prohibited missile systems -- and the means to produce them --
 must be destroyed before sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990
can be lifted. 


[It has long been clear that the British Government has several economic
incentives for perpetuating the embargo indefinitely. Earlier this year 
the FT noted that Iraqi oil coming back on to the market 
would exacerbate what they referred to as the Saudi "cash-crisis". Why
should this matter to the British Government ? Read on for just one
of the reasons ...]  
Guardian, 18th September 1998.

BAe loses on oil payments 
Drop in price of crude reduces value of planes-for-barrels defence
contract with Saudi

By Terry Macalister

Falling oil prices have seriously dented cash reserves at the United
Kingdom's biggest
manufacturing exporter, British Aerospace. Its Al-Yamaha defence contract
with Saudi Arabia is
paid for in barrels of crude. 

Depending on fluctuation, the decline in the price of oil means BAe could
be receiving 3 million a
day less than it was a year ago. Its shares fell by 36p to 326p as
investors took fright.

In a swift attempt to halt the erosion of confidence, chief executive John
Weston promised the
cash outflow would be temporary. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia had not
defaulted on any
instalments so far, adding: "There is absolutely nothing to worry about."

Net cash fell in the six months from 761 million to 513 million, despite
an 851 million boost
from selling stakes in the communications companies Orange and Orion

Much of the downturn stemmed from the falling value of the 600,000 barrels
of oil per day handed
over by Saudi Arabia in return for Tornado and Hawk aircraft, under the
terms of the Al-Yamaha
deal which is worth an estimated 2 billion a year.

The issue of oil payments was the only cloud over BAe yesterday - it
unveiled a 24 per cent leap
in first-half profits on the back of a record order-book of 23.8 billion.

The interim dividend was raised 20 per cent to 2.35p after the company's
pre-tax profits before
exceptional items rose to 344 million, well above City expectations.

BAe said future trading conditions looked good with major opportunities in
its core areas of
commercial aircraft, defence systems and support services.

The company was bullish about the jointly owned Airbus Industrie,
rejecting suggestions that the
major contract for new equipment from British Airways was not won at a

Mr Weston admitted 15 aircraft had been cancelled because of the Asian
crisis, but pointed out
that this was in the context of 230 Airbuses being delivered this year.

He said some Airbus partners had been talking to US aircraft manufacturers
about their possible
involvement in the consortium.

Mr Weston said the future of both aerospace and defence lay in further
European and then global
co-operation but that the speed of overall defence consolidation would
depend on the US
Defense Department opening its doors to foreign participation.

The defence side takes an important step forward today when a production
contract for the first
batch of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft is signed. Mr Weston said this would
be worth more than
1 billion.

BAe said a review was still being prepared on the future of its Royal
Ordnance business. No
closures, like the one mooted at Bishopston, near Glasgow, would take
place until the review was

The company is also looking at bringing in foreign partners. The future of
the troubled
ammunitions side of the business would depend partly on whether the
Ministry of Defence
remained committed to maintaining a UK capability.

BAe said it was still looking at disposing of its Arlington Securities
business but admitted the
current state of the stock market made a flotation unlikely in the short


             Kurdish Rivals Cement U.S.-Brokered Pact

                        By Barton Gellman
                        Washington Post Staff Writer
                        Friday, September 18, 1998; Page A26 

The leaders of two feuding Kurdish factions reached an American-brokered
accord yesterday to share power in northern Iraq, where U.S. military
aircraft have tried to protect them from the Baghdad government since a
failed uprising after the Persian Gulf War.

Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, whose bitter rivalry has broken out
repeatedly in heavy fighting, shook hands Wednesday for the first time
since 1994 and agreed yesterday on arrangements to share power and
economic resources. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who presided
over the initialing of the joint statement, described it as a "new and
hopeful chapter."

Albright also cited threats to "the Iraqi people, including those in the
north," among the circumstances that could lead to U.S. military

With the encouragement of the Bush administration in 1991, Iraq's northern
Kurds and southern Shiites, both aggrieved minorities in the Sunni
majority state, erupted in armed rebellion after Iraqi forces were
expelled from Kuwait. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein crushed the

The United States responded in the north with air patrols -- still ongoing
-- and other restrictions that essentially banned Iraqi troops from the
Kurdish zones. The result was a quasi-sovereign entity of two million
Kurds, effectively out of Baghdad's reach.

But in the shifting alliances long endemic in Kurdish politics, Barzani
struck a deal with Saddam Hussein in August 1996, invading his rival
Talabani's stronghold of Irbil with support from Iraqi forces. The result
was the collapse of a CIA operation to undermine the Baghdad government
and an important setback to U.S. policy in Iraq.

In an effort to end the military rivalry, Albright authorized a senior
diplomat, C. David Welch, to travel into northern Iraq to negotiate a
deal. The two leaders came to Washington this week to cement the agreement
and sign it.

A senior State Department official said last night that the Kurdish
leaders will not work directly to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but that
peace between them is essential to reach that objective.

"The encirclement of Iraq has a number of aspects," the official said.
"One of them is that there's a significant chunk of Iraq not
controlled by Saddam. . . . As long as that area is out of his control,
that's good. That diminishes him." 

             Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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