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News: 11 October to 18 October, 1999

News Highlights for 11 Oct to 18 Oct, 1999

*       NB: FAO's Amir Khalil says that Iraq is suffering
its worst drought of the century. Warns that another
year of drought will result in "real disaster". He
blames sanctions for the deterioration of rural

*       NB: Carol Bellamy says that Iraq's wars with its
neighbours and lack of investment in child health care
are contributing to poor conditions. 

*       US/UK planes bomb Southern and Northern Iraq in two
separate incidents. Iraqi govt. says that casualties
were inflicted. 

*       Kofi Annan recommends that Iraq be allowed to double
the amount of money it spends on parts for oil

*       Two ships with Iraqi oil products intercepted by US
Naval ships.

*       Two Stratfor reports, one on Iraq's relationship
with Syria and another on the power struggle between
Saddam's sons.

Quite a few articles in addition to those mentioned

Thanks to Colin for his assistance.


UN official says drought-hit Iraq faces disaster 
09:46 a.m. Oct 18, 1999 Eastern 
By Hassan Hafidh 

BAGHDAD, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Iraq, suffering the worst
drought this century, faces disaster next year if the
situation does not improve, a U.N. official said on

Iraqi and U.N. officials said the country was hit
harder than its neighbours by drought because the farm
sector and rural infrastructure have struggled under
U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of

``If there is another drought in Iraq next year, it is
going to be a real disaster,'' said Amir Khalil, the
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
representative in Iraq. ``Then urgent action will have
to be taken.'' 

FAO data show water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers have dropped to about 40 percent of average
winter flows. 

The drought has also led to the loss of 70 percent of
production of rain-fed areas and very low yields in
irrigated areas. Wheat production has dropped by 63
percent below normal levels while barley decreased by
37 percent, the FAO says. 

Khalil said lack of resources and equipment hampered
efforts to soften the impact of the drought. He said
funds allocated by Iraq's oil-for-food deal with the
United Nations helped ``just to stop the

The oil-for-food programme allows Iraq to sell limited
quantities of oil to buy humanitarian goods. Under the
sixth phase of the deal, which is renewed every six
months, Iraq has allocated $223 million for

Before the sanctions, Iraq allocated $500 to 600
million per year for the farm and irrigation sectors,
Khalil said. 

Iraq's Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Saleh said only
a few items procured under the oil sale scheme had
reached Iraq. He blamed the U.N. sanctions committee
for delaying contracts. 

But George Somerwill, the U.N. spokesman in Iraq, said
several items had been dispatched. ``The committee
allowed a lot of items through and passed them very
quickly such as pumps, spare parts for pumps, water
tankers and power generators in order to operate
artesian wells.'' 

Khalil said the FAO had urged the sanctions committee
to accelerate approval of contracts. 

Before the sanctions, Iraq imported 70 percent of its
food needs. Under the U.N. embargo it launched a big
drive for self- sufficiency, rehabilitating rural
infrastructure, cultivating more land, digging giant
canals and increasing farm prices. 

A rationing system under the oil deal has so far
staved off mass famine, but provides little more than
half a family's food needs. 

Khalil said the drought had also affected the
country's livestock and according to FAO estimates,
more than 1.5 million animals have died from drought
and foot and mouth disease. 

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication and redistribution of Reuters content is
expressly prohibited without the prior written consent
of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors
or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in
reliance thereon.

Monday October 18 12:42 AM ET 
Defense Secretary Cohen Begins Mideast Tour
SIGONELLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Italy (Reuters) - Defense
Secretary William Cohen began a trip to the Middle
East Monday to talk to allies about long-standing
concerns on Iraq and developments in Pakistan since
last week's military coup.

The purpose of the nine-country visit was to
``reinforce the United States' position that we are
here (the Middle East) for the long term and that we
value the security relationships we have with the
individual countries,'' Cohen told reporters
travelling with him.

Cohen was also to discuss the Middle East peace
process, proliferation of nuclear, biological and
chemical weapons, and terrorism, officials said.

Continued cooperation related to Iraq was an important
agenda item because U.S. warplanes fly from Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait and aircraft carriers in the region to
patrol the no-fly zone in southern Iraq, officials

American and British aircraft frequently bomb targets
in Iraq following incursions by Iraqi planes into the
no-fly zone or after being targeted by Iraqi
anti-aircraft artillery.

The no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq were
imposed by the West after the 1991 Gulf War to protect
opponents of President Saddam Hussein. Iraq does not
recognize the zones.

Cohen told reporters the Western bombing of Iraqi
military installations was having an impact.

``It continues to keep (Iraqi President) Saddam
Hussein contained,'' Cohen said.

Cohen said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had not expressed
any concerns to him about the Western bombing of Iraqi

``I assume everybody is frustrated with Saddam still
remaining in power,'' he said. ``But there is evidence
from time to time that there continues to be unrest in
the south (of Iraq), that he does not have the
iron-fisted a grip on things that he had before.''

Saddam vowed Sunday to keep challenging U.S. and
British aircraft flying over Iraq after another
reported raid in which Iraqi authorities said civilian
targets had been bombed.

The United States and Britain have denied repeated
Iraqi charges that their planes have targeted
civilians, saying they have fired only on military
forces threatening their enforcement of the no-fly

Cohen said there were no plans to reduce the size of
U.S. forces in the Middle East.

``We will keep the same level of forces in the region
for the indefinite future,'' he said.

On Pakistan, Cohen said he would ask all of the
countries he visited during his trip ``what their
perception is and what steps they might be able to
take as well to help stabilize the situation between
Pakistan and India.''

Cohen planned to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Abdullah, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Israel's
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Jordan's King Abdullah and
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

He was also to meet with officials in Bahrain, Qatar,
the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. 

Saturday October 16 7:34 PM ET 
Iraq Children's Plight Worsens
By LEON BARKHO Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.N. trade sanctions are not the
only reason for the increase in malnourishment among
Iraqi children, the chief of the U.N. Children's Fund
said Saturday. 
Iraq's wars with its neighbors and against its
opponents, as well as a lack of investment in
children's health care, also have helped worsen
conditions for children living in the state-controlled
regions of central and southern Iraq, Carol Bellamy
said at a news conference in Baghdad. 
``It is very important not to just say that everything
rests on sanctions,'' Bellamy said, referring to the
U.N. embargo imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded
Iraq has demanded the sanctions be lifted, saying a
U.N. humanitarian program, effectively an exemption
from the sanctions, had failed to improve conditions
for the country's impoverished millions. 
The program allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion in oil
every six months, and to use the income to buy food,
medicine and other humanitarian goods. 
Bellamy's weeklong fact-finding mission follows an
August report by UNICEF, which said that, in
state-controlled areas, the mortality rate among
children under 5 had more than doubled in 10 years. 
The report sparked a U.N. debate, with some officials
accusing Iraq of taking advantage of the children's
plight to demand that sanctions be lifted. 
Bellamy said she had seen ``a real sign of movement''
by Iraq in meeting children's' nutrition needs. 
But she said she failed to persuade officials to stop
including infant formula in the rations given to
Iraqis each month under the U.N. aid program. 
A dramatic increase in bottle-feeding has contributed
to the increase in malnutrition and child mortality,
UNICEF said. 
``We believe that the formula in food baskets send the
wrong signal,'' Bellamy said. UNICEF has urged women
to breast feed instead. 
In the autonomous northern region, where private
charities are free to work, conditions for children
have improved, UNICEF said. 
Saturday October 16 7:20 PM ET  Iraq Says One Killed
in Bombing BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi civilian was
killed and two others were injured Saturday when U.S.
and British warplanes patrolling a no-fly zone bombed
southern Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency
reported.  The U.S. Central Command said six U.S. Air
Force F-16 Falcons and two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets
enforcing the southern no-fly zone used
precision-guided weapons to strike a surface-to-air
missile battery near Kut.  It said the ``strikes came
in response to the recent Iraqi movement of the SAM
battery into a position threatening coalition
aircraft,'' and added that the planes have sought to
avoid injuring civilians.  The Iraqi New Agency said
Iraqi anti-air defenses fired at the planes and forced
them to flee to bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  It
also said allied planes also flew over northern Iraq,
but it did not report any bombing there.  U.S. and
British planes have been patrolling no-fly zones over
northern and southern Iraq since the end of the 1991
Persian Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect
Kurdish and Shiite Muslim minorities from the forces
of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraq calls the
zones a violation of international law and has
frequently challenged the allied planes since
December.  Following Iraqi allegations that the
bombings were killing civilians, U.S. jets have been
dropping bombs filled with concrete instead of
explosives to minimize casualties in raids on Iraqi
Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 13:20 GMT
14:20 UK 
World: Middle East
'Increase in Iraqi oil smuggling' 
The US Navy monitors shipping movements in the Gulf 
By Gulf correspondent Frank Gardner in Dubai 
US naval forces in the Gulf say they are intercepting
an increasing number of ships trying to smuggle goods
out of Iraq in contravention of UN sanctions. 
A spokesman for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters
in Bahrain has attributed the increase in sanctions
busting to the recent recovery in the oil price. 
The maritime smuggling business is booming in the
Gulf, making millions of dollars by illegally
exporting Iraqi fuel oil and other goods southwards
down the Gulf. 
Under the UN's oil-for-food programme, begun in 1996,
Iraq is allowed to export limited amounts of its oil
under international monitoring. 
But the recent recovery in the oil price from historic
lows has tempted some Gulf shippers to resume
smuggling cargoes of Iraqi's fuel oil which are not
covered by the oil-for-food deal. 
US, British and other warships regularly patrol the
Gulf in an attempt to enforce UN sanctions. The US
Navy's defence attache in Abu Dhabi, Commander Hasset,
told the BBC that US warships have recently been
intercepting an increasing number of illegal cargoes. 
He said two ships were impounded last week and were
handed over to the United Arab Emirates coastguard. 
Rising oil prices have boosted illegal exports
Their cargoes are due to be sold with the proceeds
going to the UN while the ships will be auctioned off.

But despite US Navy commanders' optimism about their
operations in the Gulf, there remains one loophole for
smugglers which is apparently hard to close. 
Western naval officers maintain that Iran is allowing
smugglers to use its coastline to evade UN patrols. 
They say that the business is so lucrative that
smugglers can afford to pay off local coastguards in
return for sheltering inside Iranian territorial
waters beyond the reach of western navies. 
Agricultural contracts 
Meanwhile Iraq has accused the United States and the
UK of delaying contracts signed under the oil-for-food
programme to buy agricultural equipment. 
Iraqi Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Hameed Mahmoud
Saleh said the agriculture sector, hit by the worst
drought this century, was suffering from lack of
revenues, machinery, pesticides and veterinary
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's
representative in Iraq, Amir Khalil, said purchases
made under the oil-for-food programme had helped to
improve the nutrition situation, but he also mentioned
"difficulties in approving some of the agriculture
items" bought by Baghdad under the deal. 
Mr Khalil said delays in approving some equipment
related to concerns that they could be used for other
purposes, such as producing weapons. 
Friday October 15 8:33 PM ET 
Iraq Said To Have Torture Center
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A six-story underground detention
and torture center has been built on the outskirts of
the Iraqi capital, a human rights group affiliated
with an Iraqi opposition party said Friday. 
The Center for Human Rights said the underground
complex is run by military intelligence and was built
under the supervision of Qusai, President Saddam
Hussein's son. 
In a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo,
the group said the complex was built under the general
military hospital building close to the al-Rashid
military camp on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. 
``The complex ... includes torture and execution
chambers reserved for officers and other military
personnel,'' the Center for Human Rights said in a
statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. 
Other floors reportedly contain wards reserved for
detainees who are being held for interrogation before
being moved to the dungeons. One floor houses
detainees who are described as being in a frozen
state, where no one is allowed to mention their names
or ask about their fate, the statement said. 
The largest part of the complex, the Justice Detention
Center, is on the sixth floor underground and has
dungeons on both sides and execution chambers equipped
with 52 gallows, according to the statement. 
``The dictatorial regime has transformed Iraq into a
big prison, spreading its detention centers and
instruments of repression throughout the country,''
said the Center for Human Rights, based in Shaqlawa in
northern Iraq. 
Iraqi prisons, including the notorious Abu Ghraib, are
overcrowded with detainees and prisoners. The former
minister of labor and social affairs, Abdel-Aziz
Mohammed Saleh al-Sayegh, was fired last June for
saying that prison conditions were appalling and the
number of prisoners was five times capacity. 
The Center for Human Rights is affiliated with the
Iraqi Communist Party. 
Thursday October 14 9:59 AM ET  U.S. Planes Bomb Iraq
Installations ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. jets
patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq bombed
installations Thursday after being targeted by Iraqi
missiles, the U.S. military said.  The planes bombed a
number of Iraqi targets near the city of Mosul, the
Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a
statement, without specifying what kind of
installations had been targeted. Mosul is 250 miles
north of Baghdad.  The attack came after the Iraqi
forces fired surface-to-air missiles on the jets from
launchers east of Mosul, the statement said.  All of
the planes, based in Incirlik air base in southern
Turkey, left the no-fly zone safely.  U.S. and British
planes have been patrolling no-fly zones over northern
and southern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Persian
Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect Kurdish and
Shiite minorities from the forces of Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein.  Iraq calls the zones a violation of
international law and has frequently challenged the
allied planes there since December.  Recently, U.S.
jets have been dropping bombs filled with concrete
instead of explosives in raids on Iraqi installations
to minimize casualties, following Iraqi allegations
that bombings were killing civilians.           

>From Stratfor
2241 GMT, 991013  Iraq Senses Regional Opening 
Iraq is offering itself as a regional partner to
Syria, attempting to fit into what appears to be an
opening between Syria and Iran. On Oct. 11, Iraqi
Assistant Foreign Minister Nabil Najm met with Syrian
officials to discuss developing ties between the two
countries, which have not had diplomatic relations
since 1982. Although re-establishing the Iraqi
diplomatic mission in Damascus was not discussed, Najm
did inspect the site of the former mission and hinted
at improved relations.
Iraq and Syria are increasingly finding that their
strategic interests coincide. Syria, an ally of Iran
since the early 1980s, has become concerned about how
its relationship with Iran is affecting its
negotiations with Israel. ’Iraqs rumored warming
toward the Arab-Israeli peace process coincides with
Syria’s strategic goals. Additionally, ’Iraq and Syria
are wary of Turkeys intentions
in the region regarding water rights and the Kurdish
problem. Both see the need for a strategic realignment
to oppose increasing ties between Turkey and Iran. 
On the economic front, Syria agreed in Feb. 1999, to
reopen the Kirkuk-Barias pipeline, closed since 1982.
With no signs that the Iraq-Saudi Arabia IPSA pipeline
will open any time soon – for both political and
economic reasons – the Syrian pipeline would be key to
any Iraqi efforts to significantly increase oil
exports. It also represents a potential moneymaker for
the Syrians.
The visit by Najm signals that political moves may be
next on the Iraqi-Syrian agenda. While a great deal of
suspicion still remains between the two, strategic
imperatives may force them to reassess their
long-standing animosities.
With Iran potentially making an end-run around Syria
with Hezbollah, both Iraq – a traditional enemy of
Iran – and Syria are beginning to see more
similarities than differences in their foreign
policies. Iraq definitely sees a win-win situation in
improving relations with Syria. Depending on the
outcome of the power struggle to succeed Hafez Assad,
Syria may eventually come to the same conclusion.


Wednesday October 13 8:19 PM ET  U.N.:Iraq May Spend
Double on Parts By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press
Writer  UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Kofi
Annan recommended Wednesday that Iraq be allowed to
double the amount it can spend on oil industry spare
parts and equipment from money earned through oil
exports.  Endorsing Iraq's own request, Annan urged
the Security Council to allow spending of the extra
$300 million on equipment to help improve what he
called the ``lamentable state'' of Baghdad's oil
industry.  U.S. and British officials, however, have
already said they favor spending any surplus proceeds
from U.N.-supervised oil sales on food and medicine
for Iraqis, indicating council approval may not be
forthcoming.  Britain and the United States were
studying the recommendation, officials said.  Iraq has
been barred from selling oil on the open market since
U.N. sanctions were imposed after its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait. The U.N. oil-for-food program, however, lets
Iraq sell up to $5.26 billion in oil every six months
to buy food and medicine for Iraqis.  The Security
Council also has allowed Iraq to spend $300 million
from those proceeds to buy parts and machinery to
repair its oil infrastructure, still damaged from the
Gulf War and dilapidated from years of neglect from
sanctions.  Because of high oil prices, Iraq will have
surpassed the United Nations' limit on oil sales
before the end of the current six-month phase, Nov.
20. Earlier this month, the Security Council
authorized Baghdad to keep exporting oil beyond that
target, to make up for shortfalls from previous
phases.  In a letter to the Security Council, Annan
said $300 million of the extra money should go to buy
more spare parts during the current six-month phase -
a doubling of what has currently been authorized by
the council.  The head of the U.N. humanitarian
program, Benon Sevan, noted in a letter to Iraqi
Ambassador Saeed Hasan that Annan also has recommended
that excess money be used to improve nutrition, water
and sanitation for the country's people. 
Wednesday October 13 10:06 AM ET  U.S. Navy: Two Ships
With Iraqi Oil Products Diverted DUBAI (Reuters) -
Multinational forces have diverted two ships,
allegedly carrying petroleum products illegally out of
Iraq, to the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. navy
official said Wednesday.  U.S. Coast Guard Commander
Don Bunn told Reuters Navy Seals boarded the vessels
Jinan and Milad 1 in the Gulf Tuesday and diverted
them to the Abu Dhabi emirate in the UAE.  He said the
ships had refused to follow directions issued to
facilitate inspections ensuring compliance with U.N.
sanctions.  ``Petroleum products were on both of them,
illegally taken out of Iraq,'' Bunn said.  Tuesday,
Iraq accused United States forces of piracy and said
U.S. marines dropped onto the ships by helicopter and
attacked the crew.  U.S. and allied forces, which
launched the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, patrol the
Gulf to ensure U.N. trade sanctions imposed on Baghdad
for the invasion of Kuwait are implemented.  The
stringent sanctions ban Iraq from exporting its oil
and other commodities and prevent imports of
non-humanitarian goods. Since 1996 the United Nations
has allowed Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to
buy food and medicine for its population.  Bunn said
there had been a recent increase in violations of
trade sanctions by vessels, mostly carrying oil. 
``Economics would certainly be one consideration,''
Bunn said. ``If you look at (the rise in) oil
prices...there is an incentive to sell oil, cover
expenses and still make a profit.''  He said that, so
far this year, multinational forces had queried 2,022
ships, boarded 590 and diverted seven including the
Jinan and Milad 1. 
>From Stratfor:
  2310 GMT, 991011 – Iraqi Succession Conflict: A
Situation Report  An internal power struggle seems to
be underway between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s
two sons – Odai and the younger Qusai. Recent Iraqi
opposition reports indicate that Odai may not be
willing to sit back and watch his younger brother take
power. Despite the threat of sibling rivalry over
it appears that Qusai retains the upper hand.  Iraq’s
main Shiite opposition group, the Supreme Assembly of
the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), said in an
Oct. 11 statement, "Saddam has unleashed a conflict at
the heart of the family. Eldest son Odai and his
mother, Saddam’s first wife Sajida, are demanding a
fairer division of power." SAIRI has historically been
a highly reliable source. The report corresponds with
past indications that Saddam is grooming Qusai for
and this is causing tension between the brothers. 
Odai, 35, has played a very public role in Iraq’s
sporting scene and is editor and publisher of the
Iraqi daily Babel, which ran reports of his outrage at
his younger brother’s new-found position of power.
Odai also heads Iraq’s Olympic committee and runs
numerous media outlets. He was widely regarded as the
country’s heir apparent until a December 1996
assassination attempt left him partially paralyzed. He
still has a highly visible role but holds little
effective power. In July 1999, Odai made comments
suggesting that he was ready to return to the state’s
security and political apparatus. Qusai opposed this
effort, launching a campaign to significantly reduce
Odai’s influence by removing many officers, whose
relatives worked with Odai, from sensitive
institutions.  Qusai, 33, has worked covertly for
years gaining loyalty and power in Iraq’s security
services. His appointment to deputy commander of the
army and commander of the northern military region
gave him considerable power. In addition, he heads the
elite Republican Guards and the special security
agency charged with protecting the president, as well
as being powerful in the Iraqi intelligence service,
Mukhabarat. Holding such key security and military
positions, Qusai stands a much better chance of taking
over – and of remaining in office – than does Odai.
Saddam relies on highly efficient security agencies,
commanded by Qusai, to keep him in power. Saddam’s
regime is a Sunni minority clan-like clique. The
Shiite majority reluctantly accept Sunni rule, since
any opposition is brutally crushed through these
agencies. Odai may be older and more widely known than
Qusai, but his health and marginal power put him at a
significant disadvantage. Odai may have a more
prominent public role, but Qusai is the real heir
apparent. Odai’s public outrage may be more indicative
of his weakness than his ability to threaten. 

Monday October 11 8:50 PM ET 
U.N. Experts Note Absence From Iraq
By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Nearly a year after their last
inspections in Iraq, U.N. weapons experts reported
Monday that they spent much of the past six months
preparing to return to Baghdad on short notice - and
waiting for the Security Council to adopt a new policy
to get them there. 
The International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N.
Special Commission both said they had been unable to
adequately do their jobs since they withdrew from Iraq
ahead of December's U.S. and British airstrikes. 
But both organizations said they had used the time to
either maintain or develop new plans for a weapons
monitoring system to be put in place as soon as the
council gives them the green light to go ahead. 
The 15-member Security Council has been deadlocked on
charting a new policy for Iraq ever since inspections
ground to a halt with the airstrikes. The United
States and Britain say they were punishing Iraq for
failing to cooperate with inspectors, who must verify
Iraq has been disarmed before sanctions can be lifted.

Iraq, which claims to be completely disarmed, has said
inspectors from the commission may not return. It has
demanded that sanctions imposed after its 1990
invasion of Kuwait be lifted immediately. 
Iraq's closest allies on the council - Russia, China
and France - have proposed a resolution that would
suspend all sanctions if Iraq cooperates with a new
commission to monitor its banned weapons programs. 
A rival resolution by Britain and the Netherlands,
which the United States and the other eight council
members support, would suspend only the oil embargo
against Iraq if Baghdad answers key questions about
its weapons programs. 
While council members tried to narrow their
differences, the Special Commission, known as UNSCOM,
said in its two-page report that it spent the past few
months analyzing data, planning for a ``renewed and
strengthened'' monitoring system and collecting
information about imports of items that could be used
to make weapons of mass destruction. 
The atomic agency, meanwhile, reported that it has
maintained its plan for resuming monitoring of Iraq's
weapons programs ``and would be able to respond, on
short notice, to a request from the Security Council
to resume those activities in Iraq.'' 
As a result of their absence from Iraq, inspectors are
``unable to provide any measure of assurance of Iraq's
compliance with its obligations,'' to rid itself of
its nuclear weapons, the atomic agency said in its
one-page document. 

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