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A rather odd article on UNSCOM's lack of success - I can't vouch for its validity. But it includes some quotable quotes at the end on sanctions by Martin Indyk, acknowledging their harmful effects but again linking them to the ousting of the current government. For those of you who don't know, Indyk is probably the most influential official within the US administration on Middle East policy. 18 November 1998 They seek them here, they seek them there... By George S. Hishmeh A STARTLING little bit of information here amidst the high drama surrounding the near terror promised Iraq this past weekend by the United States and Britain is that UNSCOM, the controversial U.N. agency in charge of scrapping Iraqıs weapons of mass destruction, has not been able to find on its own any additional weapons since the 1991 Gulf War. The Republican vice presidential nominee, Jack Kemp, said in a public statement last Friday that he and his staff ³can find no evidence of UNSCOM documentation² of further weapons finds. Robert D. Novak, the prominent conservative American commentator, reported that he had asked the State Department spokesman earlier this month ³whether it was accurate that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since just after the Gulf War ended and that those discovered at that time were disclosed by Iraqi officials.² James P. Rubin asserted then that the weapons inspectors ³have found more weapons of mass destruction in the seven years since the Gulf war than were destroyed during the Gulf war.² But writing in his column on Monday in the Washington Post, Novak insisted ³that is almost untrue² and added that when he again asked Rubin about Kempıs statement of last Friday Rubin ³cited specifically only the weapons pointed out by the Iraqis in 1991, though he added that he had been assured there have been other discoveries.² Martin Indyk, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, also maintained at a briefing for the foreign press here on Monday that UNSCOMıs unpublicised failure was ³not true,² and assured the writer, ³and to give you the most recent example, the discovery of VX (nerve gas) on warhead fragments is an example of the kind of work that UNSCOM is able to do in terms of tracking down what Iraq has done with its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programmes.² Naturally Indyk skipped over the doubt cast by tests in France and Switzerland which could not substantiate the questionable findings by American lab of traces of VX gas on some destroyed Iraqi warheads. The role of UNSCOM has also become controversial after the resignation of chief inspector Scott Ritter, a former American Marine, who admitted that he had contacts with Israeli and American intelligence during his work in Baghdad for the international organisation. President Clinton and the State Department quickly came to the defence of UNSCOM on Monday, but they did not actually assert that it was the U.N. inspectors who had found these alleged stocks of biological and chemical weapons-making materials. Rather, Clinton reported that ³since the system was created and the inspections began, Iraq has been forced to declare and destroy, among other things, nearly 40,000 chemical weapons, nearly 700 tonnes of chemical weapons agents, 48 operational missiles and 30 warheads especially fitted for chemical and biological weapons, and a massive biological weapons plant equipped to produce anthrax and other deadly agents.² Foreign diplomats privately ridicule UNSCOMıs inability to find any weapons in the past seven years and some have wondered aloud whether it may take the U.N. commission another 50 years to complete its job. A week ago as a matter of fact, the New York Times quoted senior American officials as saying that the Clinton administration ³is preparing to abandon the United Nations inspections regime as an effective instrument for restraining² Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Even in a recent testimony before Congress Defence Secretary William Cohen underlined the difficulties facing the U.N. mission, pointing out that a few inspectors could not possibly find concealed weapons in a country the size of several American states in the north-east. The near consensus here before the American and British military build-up was on traditional containment through sanctions. Again when the futility of sanctions was pointed out to Indyk at the press briefing by this writer as is the case with Cuba which has faced nearly 40 years of U.S. sanctions without any discernible change in the Communist regime a few miles from the Florida Keys, Indyk admitted that ³loosening Saddamıs grip on power is a daunting challenge² blaming it on ³his ruthlessness, and because his regime is so repressive.² Indyk went on, ³and thatıs why weıre realistic about this, and believe it will take some time.² He also conceded that ³the sanctions have had the effect of hurting the Iraqi people² but with the oil-for-food programme, which is expected to be renewed shortly, he argued that ³sanctions could be maintained until there was full compliance.² If so, it should not come as a surprise to the Clinton administration if it finds that it will have to go it alone on the issue of sanctions, which actually have been eroding for some time. Take the case of the new ferry service between Dubai and Iraq, the growing trade with India, Turkey, Iran and Syria. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html