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* Iraq says three civilians wounded in air strike (Agence France-Presse) * Independent weapons experts arrive in Iraq (Associated Press) * CIA closer to closing books on Gulf War illnesses (Associated Press) * Iraq apparently trying to make chemical and biological weapons (ABC News) * Pope to visit Iraq despite pressure from Israel and America (The Times): "In any case, the Holy Father will be following in the footsteps of Abraham, not the footsteps of Saddam Hussein." * Morocco settles Iraqi Gulf War debts (Arabic News) * Iraq aims to increase oil exports (Associated Press) ******************** Iraq says three civilians wounded in air strike Wednesday, 14-Jul-1999, 1:00PM, Copyright 1999 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet) BAGHDAD, July 14 (AFP) - Three Iraqi civilians were wounded Wednesday when US and British aircraft bombed civilian areas of northern Iraq, an Iraqi military spokesman said. They were wounded when "the enemy aircraft bombed residential areas and civilian facilities," the spokesman was quoted by the official INA news agency as saying. "Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses fired on the enemy aircraft, forcing them to flee toward their bases in Turkey," he added. Earlier, the US European Command based in Stuttgart, Germany, said US warplanes acting in "self-defense" bombed command and control sites in Iraq's northern "no-fly" zone Wednesday after coming under anti-aircraft fire during a routine patrol. The US military said in a statement that US F-15 and F-16 fighters dropped laser-guided bombs on the sites located to the west of Mosul. All planes returned safely to base after the strike between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (0700 and 0900 GMT) and the military was assessing damage to Iraqi forces, said the statement which was received here. The Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey is home to US and British planes which patrol the northern no-fly zone, imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War in order to protect the region's Kurdish population. US and British aircraft based in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia patrol a similar no-fly zone over southern Iraq that was established to protect the Shiite Moslem population there. Iraq does not recognize the zones, which are not covered by any specific UN resolution, and has regularly attacked aircraft patrolling the zones in recent months. ******************** Weapons Experts Arrive in Iraq By Waiel Faleh, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, July 14, 1999; 11:13 a.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An international team of experts reached Iraq on Wednesday on a mission to destroy chemicals and mustard gas left by U.N. weapons inspectors. The experts are expected to immediately begin assessing the chemicals in the Baghdad laboratory of the U.N. Special Commission, the office of the U.N. weapons inspectors. The commission pulled out in December just before the United States and Britain launched airstrikes against Iraq for the country's alleged failure to cooperate with the inspectors. Iraq has vowed not to let the commission back into the country. Iraq is allowing the independent experts into the country because they are not linked to the United Nations or the special commission. However, their findings will be reported to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. After destroying the substances the team will ``close the laboratory under the supervision of an expert from South Africa,'' the official Iraqi News Agency said. The team is expected to meet with the U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Prakash Shah, and diplomats at the embassies of France, China and Russia, the Iraqi agency said. Four members of the team work with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an independent group set up in 1997 to destroy deadly chemical agents throughout the world. A fifth team member is an independent biological weapons expert. Two U.N. employees were accompanying them. The team, which was briefed by the U.N. special commission before departing Bahrain for Jordan, will stay in Baghdad until Sunday. ******************** CIA Reassesses Nerve Gas Findings By David Briscoe, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, July 14, 1999; 3:36 a.m. EDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- After eight years and more than $100 million, special Pentagon and CIA offices say they have done about all they can to find a cause for the mysterious Gulf War illnesses. The CIA's special assistant on the issue told a presidential panel on Tuesday that new evidence shows the number of soldiers exposed to low levels of chemical agents in the 1991 conflict is much lower than estimates made two years ago. Both the CIA investigator, Robert D. Walpole, and another key official in the quest for a cause, Pentagon special assistant Bernard Rostker, told the Special Oversight Board on Gulf War illness they expect no new sweeping conclusions. Up to 30,000 veterans of the war have complained of mysterious maladies such as fatigue, joint pain and memory loss they claim are related to their service in the Gulf, but several Pentagon and outside investigations have failed to pinpoint a cause. ``We are pretty close to closing the books,'' said Walpole. He said he expects three final CIA reports on exposure to chemical, biological or radiological agents in the Gulf to be completed by September or October, although intelligence assessments and examination of any new information would continue. ``We've turned over all the biggest stones. Now we need help in determining when the stones get too small to turn over,'' said Rostker in an interview after Tuesday's panel hearing at which several veterans also appeared. The National Gulf War Resource Center, which has been critical of Pentagon handling of the issue, called for Rostker's resignation but a continuation of his office's investigative work. Paul Sullivan, center executive director, told the panel that many veterans believe depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions caused their illness. Rostker said there is no evidence of this and that depleted uranium shells saved lives in the Gulf by destroying Iraqi and protecting U.S. tanks. Former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., board chairman, said that even if major aspects of the investigation have concluded without finding a cause, case studies and investigation of war data bases could still be conducted, and the issue is far from closed. Rudman also proposed investigation by the National Institutes of Health to settle a the debate over the danger of depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions. The CIA in 1997 estimated that 10,000 soldiers may have been exposed to low levels of nerve agent from inadvertent destruction of rockets at a site called Khamisiya Pit. The Pentagon at that time acknowledged that up to 100,000 soldiers may have been exposed to low levels of chemical agents during the war. In all instances, officials said, levels were too low to cause health problems. ``We now estimate -- in most cases -- that less agent was released, primarily because more precise data is now available,'' said the CIA's Walpole. ``The smaller release ... would probably result in far fewer troops exposed compared to 1997 estimates,'' he said, giving no precise estimate. He said the CIA was never satisfied with its original analysis because it was made to meet a short deadline and based on limited data and worst-case scenarios. Environmental degradation of the chemicals, which were left over from the Iran-Iraq war, also could not be accurately calculated in 1997, he said. The latest CIA analysis resulted from evidence provided by the U.N. Special Commission that oversaw troop activities during the war, Walpole said. Several sites were re-evaluated, including the Khamisiya Pit. Only one-fourth of the originally estimated 500 rockets were found around the pit and explosives were placed less optimally than previously assumed, Walpole said. Investigation at three other sites also showed no evidence of contamination of Western troops, he said. ******************** Ominous Rebuilding: Iraq Apparently Again Trying to Make Chemical, Biological Weapons By Martha Raddatz, ABCNEWS.com July 12 - There is evidence Iraq is trying to repair and rebuild facilities where chemical and biological weapons production was suspected in the past. But with U.N. monitors no longer on the ground, it is impossible to tell just how many banned weapons Iraq may be trying to make. Four disarmament experts - from South Africa, China, Russia and Poland - are heading into Iraq in the next day at the United Nations's request, but they will not be allowed to conduct inspections. The chilling signs of Iraqi efforts include: * Analysts from UNSCOM, the U.N. commission that is supposed to inspect Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, are poring over data they collected in recent years and have come up with "new lines of inquiry" and other loose threads they would follow - if they could get back into Iraq, U.N. officials said. "We're beginning to see things we haven't seen before," said one official. * UNSCOM has "enormous questions" about Iraq's supplies of the deadly VX nerve gas and about ballistic missiles made in Iraq, an UNSCOM official said. * UNSCOM has evidence that Iraq experimented with and perhaps produced camel pox, an analog to smallpox, as well as hemorrhaging conjunctivitis, which causes victims to break out bleeding. * Officials are monitoring Iraqi efforts overseas to obtain dual-use technologies - which can be used to make both legal and illegal substances. * The United Nations is considering an Iraqi request to rebuild a foot and mouth vaccine production plant. Iraq has previously admitted that the plant has been used to produce botulin toxin. UNSCOM inspectors didn't find any evidence of the botulin during a recent visit to the facility, but did find spores of the deadly anthrax disease. It's Nearly War The disarmament experts will help get rid of remainders of potentially dangerous chemical weapons materials at a U.N. inspectors' facility. UNSCOM was forced to cease its operations in Iraq last December, when the United States and Britain launched a new bombing campaign against Iraq. The United States and Britain have flown hundreds of patrols over Iraq since. Bombs have been aimed at Iraqi air defense and command and control sites in response to Iraqi threats. "There was one day in May when there were 27 individual air operations and bombings, sorties carried out," said Paul Beaver, a British analyst with Jane's Defense Weekly. "That is starting to get into war proportions." The Pentagon says the low-grade war keeps Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from attacking his neighbors, but the intelligence official says the airstrikes have not eliminated Saddam's chemical and biological weapons capabilities. Saddam last week tried to turn the tables on the United Nations, accusing the world body of mounting a secret germ war against Iraq. There is no evidence of any germ war. "Our only protection against Saddam's biological weapons and chemical weapons right now is his fear that he'll be hit hard if he threatens to use them, much less uses them," says Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But if experts can't say what Saddam is doing with chemical weapons production, they can say even less about what he is thinking. ABCNEWS' Eric Wagner at the State Department and Tom Osborne at the United Nations, and Reuters and The Associated Press, contributed to this report. Signs of Opposition The United States is funneling money to opposition in Iraq groups, but success may be a long way off, if it happens at all. Some experts, however, say that demonstrations in Baghdad and Iraqi provinces are growing, and they feel the U.S. money is being put to good use. "It looks like the United States is finally helping the Iraqi opposition get its act together, and Saddam has to be worried that in fact he may be overthrown," says Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But an administration official says not to be too optimistic about Saddam's demise happening anytime soon. ******************** Pope stays defiant to visit Iraq The Times (London), July 13, 1999, Tuesday, By Richard Owen in Rome Vatican officials yesterday rebuffed behind-the-scenes pressure on the Pope by America and Israel to cancel a trip to Iraq. The visit is part of his proposed millennium tour of the Middle East. Asked if Washington had objected to the Pope's plans to visit Ur, the birthplace of Abraham in Mesopotamia, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, said there had been no official protests so far. He added: "In any case, in Iraq the Holy Father will be following in the footsteps of Abraham, not the footsteps of Saddam Hussein.I think everyone understands the Pope's intention is to make a religious trip, not a political one." The Pope, 79, has said that he has a "strong desire" to pray in the key Biblical sites. His tour would take in Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria and Greece, as well as Iraq. American officials are concerned that a meeting between the Pope and Saddam Hussein would be exploited by the Baghdad regime. ******************** Morocco endeavors to settle Iraqi debt entailed by Gulf War Arabic News, Morocco, Economics, 7/14/99 The Moroccan government endeavors to settle the debt entailed by the Gulf War and owed to 30 firms, Economy and Finance Minister Fathallah Oualalou said. The minister, who was speaking at the weekly question time at the chamber of advisors (upper house of parliament), voiced hope that all conditions will be guaranteed to settle the problem and that Moroccan-Iraqi commercial relations would resume the pre-gulf war level. The sums owed to Moroccan firms exporting products to Iraq stood at $31.8 million, including $12.3 million which are not insured or covered by the economic cooperation protocols concluded between Morocco and Iraq, Oualalou said. The general treasury paid $15.8 million, i.e. 90 percent of the sums subject to an insurance, in accordance with the law on exports insurance, he said, adding that all debts covered by the cooperation protocols were also paid. Another $7.4 million in uninsured debts were also paid, he said. ******************** Iraq Aims to Increase Oil Exports By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, July 14, 1999; 3:17 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq wants to pass Norway as the second largest exporter of crude oil in the world next year, despite worsening problems in the sector, Iraq's oil minister said Wednesday. ``We ardetermined to surprise the world despite difficulties,'' said Oil Minister Lt. Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid. With the start of the current phase of its oil-for-food deal with the United Nations, Iraq bumped Iran as the second biggest oil exporter in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Rashid said. Iraq has been producing at maximum levels to take advantage of U.N.-approved exports of $5.2 billion every six months. A U.N. report released early this month said Iraq was using techniques that will ultimately lower total yields, damage reservoirs, and even force some wells to close. A water injection program has increased output but the benefits are bound to fizzle, reducing ultimate yields, according to the report by the Dutch oil company Saybolt Netherlands BV, whose overseers monitor Iraqi exports on behalf of the United Nations. Rashid said Iraq can currently export 2.2 million barrels daily. Saudi Arabia is the world's No. 1 exporter, at 5.7 million barrels a day. Norway currently exports 2.6 billion barrels a day. At least 30 wells were opened in southern Iraq this year, and more will be on line soon. The country hopes to raise exports to about 3 million barrels a day next year, with total productivity at about 3.5 million barrels per day. Iraq's reserves of 112 billion barrels are the world's second largest after Saudi Arabia's. ******************** -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Please do not sent emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***