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$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ A much shorter version of the following story appeared in today's Independent: 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 Thursday. 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 States. 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 Arabia 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 Network. 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 profit. 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 completed. 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 term. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 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 intervention. 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 uprisings. 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 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html