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Disinformation in today's Times

The following brief article appears in today's (3rd September) Times.
Letters should be addressed to

Below The Times piece I've reproduced the article "Is Iraq building weapons
again ?" from the Christian Science Monitor which contains more information
about the "White House study" - and actually contradicts the Times piece.

Thus the Times piece says that the "according to" the study "Iraq is still
working on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and on missiles".
However the CSM - who were actually able to get hold of a copy of the
report - note that "The report stops short of concluding that Iraq has
resumed its arms programs, saying "there are limits to what insights can be
gained" without on-site monitors". Indeed, a close reading of the CSM piece
seems to indicate that the strongest thing the Study's authors say is that
they are "concerned by activity at Iraqi sites known to capable of producing
WMD and long-range ballistic missiles, as well as by Iraq's long-established
practice of covert procurement activity that could include dual-use items
with WMB applications".


The Times
September 3rd 1999


Washington : Iraq is still working on nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons and on missiles, according to a White House study.

Iraq expelled UN weapons inspectors last December in response to British and
American air raids. Allied raids continue in what the Pentagon calls a
"low-level war". The White House findings have appeared as the UN Security
Council prepares to debate a resolution proposed by Britain and The
Netherlands to set up a new weapons inspection system.


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Is Iraq building weapons again?

White House report expresses concern that Saddam is resuming arms programs.

Jonathan S. Landay (
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


The Clinton administration is expressing fresh worries that Iraq - after a
year without United Nations weapons inspections - may have resumed its
illicit arms-development programs.

A new White House report to Congress says American intelligence is
monitoring with concern activities at Iraqi facilities "capable of producing
WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and long-range ballistic missiles."

It is also watching possible Iraqi efforts to secretly buy "dual use"
materials - substances and technologies that have both civilian and weapons

The report stops short of concluding that Iraq has resumed its arms
programs, saying "there are limits to what insights can be gained" without
on-site monitors. Yet it contrasts sharply with recent assertions by US
officials that they have "no evidence" Iraq is resuming WMD development.

The report could bolster the administration's case at the United Nations for
reinstituting aggressive weapons inspections in Iraq. At the same time,
however, it may bring new pressure from Capitol Hill to step up efforts to
topple the Iraqi leader.

"Saddam Hussein has shown no hesitation in developing WMD in the past, and
it is prudent to assume that he is still intent on such development," says
the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Monitor. The report was sent
to Congress Aug. 25 as required by a 1999 spending bill.

Any attempt by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to "reconstitute" prohibited
weapons programs would cross one of several "red lines" for US military
action set by President Clinton following Anglo-American airstrikes on Iraq
last December.

Operation Desert Fox followed a four-month Iraqi blockade of inspections by
the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), which pulled out of Baghdad Dec. 16, the
day the airstrikes began. Washington says the airstrikes "degraded" Iraq's
ability to restart its WMD program, but acknowledges that they were likely
not destroyed.

Since then, almost unnoticed, a low-level air war has raged, with US and
British aircraft hitting Iraqi air defenses that almost daily challenge
their enforcement of no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

But the Clinton administration has refrained from large-scale military
action. Such a move would ignite an international outcry. It would
jeopardize already difficult US diplomatic efforts to win UN Security
Council approval of a new inspection operation and maintenance of economic
sanctions on Baghdad.

Iraq agreed to abandon its illicit arms programs under the settlement of the
1991 Gulf War, but UNSCOM says Iraq continues to hide components and
documents. US military strikes would also further strain US forces stretched
by overseas deployments.

And they would seriously damage already difficult relations with China,
Russia, the European allies, and the Arab world as Washington seeks their
cooperation on other key issues.

Yet the report may bring new criticism from lawmakers in Congress. Critics
could use it to bolster charges that administration isn't doing enough to
check Saddam's military ambitions.

"Since the beginning of this year, we have noted signs of a reduced priority
in US policy toward Iraq," wrote three key Republicans, including Senate
majority leader Trent Lott, and three Democrats in an Aug. 11 letter to Mr.

Among the six were Sens. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama, and Robert Kerrey
(D) of Nebraska, chairman and lead Democrat on the Senate Intelligence
Committee. "The last six months have been notable for what has not happened
rather than for what has been achieved."

Without elaborating, the six asserted "there is considerable evidence that
Iraq continues to seek and develop weapons of mass destruction."

Responds an administration official: "The situation is viewed seriously, and
it has definitely not fallen off anyone's radar scope."

In its report, the White House recounts a range of measures the US is
pursuing to protect against Iraq's resumption of WMD programs. These include
working with UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency to improve
controls over Baghdad's access to dual-use materials. It also cites efforts
to provide information and expertise to UNSCOM, which remains in operation
even though it is no longer in Iraq.

"We are concerned by activity at Iraqi sites known to be capable of
producing WMD and long-range ballistic missiles, as well as by Iraq's
long-established practice of covert procurement activity that could include
dual-use items with WMD applications," the report says.

The report did not elaborate on the activity detected by spy satellites and
other covert surveillance systems. "In the absence of UN inspectors on the
ground, our concerns about the potential meaning of these activities will
persist," continues the report.

But it warns that keeping tabs on Iraq is not easy without inspections. And
even with them, it would still be "difficult to detect" nuclear-weapons

The report comes amid an impasse in the UN Security Council over resuming
inspections. Iraq insists that it has terminated its WMD programs, and its
demand for an end to economic sanctions has found sympathy with China,
Russia, and France.

They favor a gradual lifting of the measures and replacing UNSCOM with an
"active monitoring" system that would ensure no future WMD development by

The US supports a British-Dutch proposal to resume an aggressive inspection
regime and require that Iraq disclose data and components of previous WMD
programs. The proposal holds out the prospect of an end to sanctions once
Iraq complies.

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