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News items

*       France working against "useless and cruel" sanctions (Agence
*       New US/UK attack, civilian killed (Associated Press): "Iraqi
planes and anti-aircraft missile batteries didn't target the Western
jets, but U.S. and British pilots fired on the air defense systems to
remove a potential danger" [!!!]
*       Renewal of nuclear weapons witch-hunt (Associated Press) [on the
question of "non-enriched uranium" retained by Iraq - does 630,000 lbs
of depleted uranium count? - HG]

France blasts sanctions on Iraq as "useless and cruel" 
15:22 GMT, 10 February 1999

PARIS, Feb 10 (AFP) -French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine denounced UN
sanctions on Iraq as "useless and cruel" Wednesday as he renewed calls
for a new international approach to neutralizing Baghdad's weapons
program. In an address to the National Assembly, Vedrine said France had
made "strong" and "coherent" proposals to the UN Security Council to
ease tensions with Iraq.

These proposals "would allow us to truly move forward by lifting the
embargo, which has shown itself to be useless and cruel, while
simultaneously imposing controls over any potential weapons programs and
the revenues" from the renewed oil exports, Vedrine said. The French
foreign minister added that it was up to the UN Security Council to
decide whether to change the sanctions regime against Iraq. "France is
working towards that end," he said.

US, Brit Jets Fire on Iraqi Sites 
Wednesday, February 10, 1999; 3:51 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. and British warplanes struck several Iraqi air
defense sites Wednesday after three waves of Iraqi fighters violated the
southern ``no-fly'' zone in the first clash in a week, U.S. military
officials said. Iraqi planes and anti-aircraft missile batteries didn't
target the Western jets, but U.S. and British pilots fired on the air
defense systems to remove a potential danger, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ernest
Duplessis, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Florida. ``Any time
we have a violation of the no-fly zone, that is a threat," Duplessis

Coalition aircraft included more than half a dozen U.S. Air Force F-15E
fighters and A-10 jets with enough firepower to take out tanks as well
as several British GR-1 Tornado fighter-bombers. All returned safely to
base after separate attacks over the course of about eight hours, the
Pentagon said. The official Iraqi News Agency reported the strikes
killed a civilian and injured others. U.S. officials said a damage
assessment had not been completed. 

The Western warplanes used precision-guided missiles and 500 and 1,000
pound bombs -- although U.S. officials didn't say how many - to hit
surface-to-air missile batteries, radar sites and a communications
tower, U.S. defense officials said. The incidents occurred near Talil,
about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, and near An Najaf, about 100 miles
south of Baghdad. The Western aircraft first struck between 2:30 a.m.
and 4:30 a.m. EST and in a second wave at about 11 a.m. EST, U.S.
officials said. In the three separate violations, pairs of Russian-made
MiG-23 or MiG-25 jets entered about 60 miles into the no-fly zone, but
turned tail when confronted, the Pentagon said. 

Western planes have hit about 40 air defense sites in response to more
than 80 violations of the flight-denial zones, set up after the 1991
Gulf War to protect Iraqi minority groups and rebels. Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein began challenging the no-fly zones after U.S. and British
air strikes against his weapons facilities and command and control
centers in mid-December.

UN Panel Calls for Iraq Inspections 
By Edith M. Lederer,  Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, February 10,
1999; 12:39 p.m. EST

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Calling for unannounced inspections to detect any
signs of a renewed Iraqi nuclear program, the International Atomic
Energy Agency says it assumes Baghdad retains the capability to produce
atomic weapons. In a report to a panel being created by the U.N.
Security Council to assess Iraq's disarmament, the IAEA said nuclear
inspectors have found no indication Iraq has retained prohibited nuclear
material or equipment to make weapons. But the report obtained today
stressed that this ``is not the same as a statement of their

In drafting a long-term nuclear monitoring program, the IAEA said it is
prudent to assume ``that Iraq has retained documents of its clandestine
nuclear program, specimens of important components and possibly amounts
of non-enriched uranium.'' ``It is similarly assumed that Iraq retains
the capability to exploit, for nuclear weapons purposes, any relevant
materials or technology to which it may gain access in the future,'' the
IAEA said. The report submitted to the [UN Security] council Monday by
the IAEA's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, said ``it is essential
that the IAEA return to Iraq as soon as possible.'' 

It is impossible to say whether Iraq remains in compliance with U.N.
resolutions calling for the elimination of its nuclear program because
inspectors have not been there for nearly two months, the report said.
As a first step toward a new Iraq policy, the Security Council agreed
Jan.  30 to establish three panels to assess Iraq's relations with the
United Nations. The disarmament panel is to make recommendations by
April 15 on re-establishing an effective disarmament program in Iraq.
The IAEA report called for continued comprehensive and intrusive
monitoring in the future, including unfettered access to any site and
unannounced inspections, in order to provide ``a significant probability
of detecting prohibited equipment, materials or activities.''


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