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Iraq news

*       Iraq says three civilians wounded in air strike (Agence
*       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
*       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

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

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

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.

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,

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
*       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

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.

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. 


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