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News for 17 January to 23 January, 2000

News for the period January 17 to January 23, 2000::
* Ekeus nominated to head UNMOVIC, but rejected by France, Russia and China
* Red Cross says Iraq's hospitals close to collapse
* Disturbing trend in reported sanctions deaths from Iraqi MOH (10/99:
9,000, 11/99: 10,000, 12/99: 14,000)
* Atomic panel checks Iraqi sites
* Von Sponeck says sanctions make Iraq a poor country
* Iraq and Jordan: Pencils and Oil
* Iraq and Kuwait: Prisoners and Partitions
* U.N. says expert review vital for Iraq oil export
* Iraq stops importing cheese, marks Gulf War
Finally, from the 'stranger-than-fiction' files :
* Bombing Iraq is the "Lord's work"???  Bush salutes US air strikes on Iraq

Sources include the BBC, AP, Reuters, AFP, New York Times and various
contributors including 'A. Briton'.  

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

<Note: The Ekeus nomination has been well-covered, so the relevant items are
deferred until the end of this report.>

Sunday, January 23 8:02 PM SGT 

Red Cross says Iraq's hospitals close to collapse
BAGHDAD, Jan 23 (AFP) - 
Iraqi hospitals are close to collapse and a rehabilitation programme is
underway to try to stave off disaster, a senior Red Cross official warned on

"The most important problem in our view in Iraq at the moment is the
increasingly precarious situation of the public infrastructure," said Beat
Schweizer, head of the International Committee of the Red Crossdelegation in

"We have noticed that particularly in the hospitals, the situation is such
that these hospitals will take only a short time and these hospitals will
not be functional anymore," he told AFP.

"Under these circumstances of course you cannot provide medical care even if
you have imported the equipment from abroad," the official said.

Iraq is allowed to import humanitarian aid, including medicines and medical
supplies, under the UN oil-for-food programme that allows Baghdad to sell
oil under UN supervision, despite sanctions in force since its 1990 invasion
of Kuwait.

In theory, the ceiling on those exports was removed under UN resolution
1284, passed in December, although Baghdad has yet to accept the new
sanctions and arms inspection regimes the measure sets up.

But "even the new resolution and the new (phase of) the oil-for-food
programme does not address this issue," of the country's crumbling
infrastructure, Schweizer said.

He added that the Red Cross had "planned over the next years, I would say,
to do the rehabilitation work of 11 hospitals," including in the southern
city of Basra, Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

But he warned that "the works we are doing will not bring back these
hospitals to their previous standards ... Our work is to make sure that they
remain functioning."

In August 1998, UNICEF published its first study on child health in Iraq
since 1991, highlighting that infant mortality rates were lower in the
Kurdish-held north of the country which remains outside Baghdad's control.

According to the figures, deaths among under-fives in the
government-controlled south and centre have doubled under the UN sanctions
from 56 per 1,000 before 1990, to 131 per 1,000 by 1999.

The health ministry on Thursday said more than 14,000 Iraqis died because of
UN sanctions in December 1999, bringing the total number of embargo deaths
to 1.26 million since 1990.

Of the 14,000 who died, nearly 6,500 were children under the age of five.
Most died as a result of chronic diarrhoea, malnutrition and respiratory
problems, the ministry said.
Some 14,000 Iraqi children died in December because of UN sanctions
Iraq, Politics, 1/21/2000

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that more than 14,000 Iraqi
children died in December, 1999 because of the siege. Thereby the number of
victims of the UN embargo increased to 1.2 million since the imposition of
UN sanctions on this country in August, 1990.

In comparison to the number of deaths in November, 1999 which reached
10,295, to number of deaths in December recorded a great increase as a
result of the continued embargo.

In a statement the Iraqi ministry added that increase in the number of
deaths was because of diseases such as diarrhea, lung diseases,
malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, high blood-pressure, heart disease and lack
of medicines.

For its part, the Iraqi weekly al-Zoura' said that more than 9,000 Iraqis
were killed or wounded in bomb explosions dropped by the allies' planes
against Iraq during the military operations in the Gulf War nine years ago.

The paper quoted Lt. Gen. Qasem Muhammad al-Shummari, the director general
of the Iraqi civil defense, as saying that these bombs claimed the lives of
2,440 civilians and wounded another 7,032 during January and February 1991.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, David
Keed, said that inspectors from the agency are preparing to leave Amman
today on an inspection mission in Iraq for one week.

Keed told the AFP that the inspectors are intending to start their work
tomorrow (Saturday) and to finish it by the end of the week if matters
proceed without problems He stressed that the inspection operation has no
connection to the strong control imposed on Iraq by the UN security council
since the Gulf War.
New statistics on Iraqi deaths as a result of the sanctions
Iraq, Politics, 12/30/99

The Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced that 1.4 million Iraqis of all
ages have died during the past nine years because of the embargo imposed on

Statistics released by the Iraqi Health Ministry on Wednesday for the period
between August of 1990 and November 1999 said that the number of deaths
among all ages was 1,250,901.

The statistics stressed that number of the deaths included 502,492 persons
whose ages do not exceed five years and another 748,409 persons whose ages
are above five years.

The Iraqi ministry added in its statistics that the mortality rate among
infants reached 108 per each 1,000 births, and mortality among women of
reproductive age has reached 296 for each 100,000 births.

The ministry indicated that the reasons for the deaths mostly result from
breathing inflammation diseases, malnutrition, diabetes, heart diseases,
high blood pressure, kidney and liver diseases and diarrhea.
Victims of the sanctions in Iraq
Iraq, Politics, 12/20/99

The Iraqi Ministry of Health on Sunday said that more than 10,000 persons,
mostly children, died in November because of the UN embargo imposed on Iraq
since 1990.

In a statement the Iraqi ministry said the deaths were because of the spread
of health problems such as diarrhea, lung problems, malnutrition, high blood
pressure, diabetes and cancer that often hit the elderly.

The number of persons who have died in Iraq since the imposition of the
embargo by the UN in 1990 increased to 1,215,787.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Minister of Health Omid Medhat Mubarak said in a statement
that the US and British representatives at the sanctions committee suspended
contracts including medicines, ambulances and other medical needs required
by the Iraqi health establishments.

In 1997, UNICEF announced that the majority of the Iraqi children who are
under five years old suffer malnutrition which, in the long run, affects
their physical and mental growth.

Previous Stories:
Baghdad announces the death of 9,000 Iraqis in October 11/16/99
January 22, 2000

Atomic Panel Checks Iraqi Sites

Filed at 4:55 p.m. EST

By The Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An International Atomic Energy Agency team began
searching Iraqi nuclear sites Saturday in the first inspection by a world
body in more than a year. 

The team arrived in Baghdad on Friday for the first visit by monitors from
the Vienna-based organization since U.N. weapons inspectors left the country
in late 1998 on the eve of U.S.-British airstrikes. 

``We will start our first round this morning,'' was all that Ahmad Abuzahra,
head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said as he and five monitors
left their hotel. 

Their job is to make sure Iraq's nuclear stocks are not used for military

Abuzahra said Friday that the inspection was not part of the supervision
regime imposed on Iraq by the United Nations after the 1991 Gulf War over
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. 

``We are here to perform routine physical inventory checking for nuclear
material,'' he said. 

The inspection, he added, was part of the monitoring program imposed on all
signatories to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Iraq signed in 1968. 

The agency visit should have taken place in late 1999, but Iraq, without
explanation, delayed issuing visas to the inspectors. IAEA spokesman David
Kyd had said the visas may have been held back because of the debate in the
U.N. Security Council about setting up a new organization to ensure that
Iraq does not have mass-destruction weapons. 

The IAEA is also responsible for stripping Iraq of its potential to acquire
or produce nuclear weapons. Until the 1998 departure of U.N. weapons
inspectors, the IAEA used to carry out stringent searches of Iraq's nuclear
sites and stockpile. 

The agency reported that Iraq no longer had the ability to produce nuclear
weapons, but said Baghdad still had to answer questions about its past
atomic program. 

In December, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that charges the
agency with the task of monitoring Iraq's nuclear facilities. 
Friday, 21 January, 2000, 12:29 GMT 
Nuclear inspectors head for Baghdad 

IAEA inspection will be first since operation Desert Fox

A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will arrive
in Baghdad on Friday to monitor the condition of Iraq's uranium deposits. 
It is the first time any inspection team has gone to Iraq since Baghdad
cancelled its co-operation with UN weapons monitors (Unscom) following US
and UK air strikes in December 1998. 

The five-man team is travelling overland to Baghdad from the Jordanian
capital, Amman, and expects to start its week-long inspection on Saturday,
IAEA spokesman David Kyd said. 

We've got to check all the uranium is there and accounted for
The Vienna-based agency has stressed that its mission has no connection with
the UN weapons inspection programme, which remains barred from Iraq. 

The team will inspect the materials left under seal in a warehouse when the
IAEA and Unscom monitors left Iraq. 

"There's about 1.8 tonnes of low-enriched uranium still left in the country
and quite a lot of natural uranium," Mr Kyd told the BBC. 

"We've got to check that it's all there and accounted for," he said. 

The debate about whether UN inspectors will return to Iraq was further
clouded when the UN Security Council failed to agree on who will head the
body replacing the now-disbanded Unscom. 

Russia, China and France effectively vetoed the appointment of Swedish
diplomat Rolf Ekeus, who was Secretary-General Kofi Annan's choice for the
job, because of his previous role with Unscom. 

Tariq Aziz called Rolf Ekeus a 'Washington pawn'
An Iraqi newspaper on Friday called Mr Ekeus' nomination a "revolting
episode" in the history of the United Nations. 

The comments come a day after Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz,
described the nomination as putting "old wine in new bottles". 

Baghdad resented the activities of the old UN commission from the time Mr
Ekeus was appointed after the 1991 Gulf War. 


UN aide says sanctions make Iraq a poor country  
BAGHDAD, Jan. 19 - Iraq, despite its huge oil wealth, has become one of the
least developed countries in the world, a senior U.N. official said on
       ''Iraq, with a $252 per person a year income, would be at the bottom
of least developed countries,'' the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq,
Hans von Sponeck, said.  
''The Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) considers a country that
has a (per capita) income less than $450 a year as a least developed
country,'' von Sponeck told a group of Spanish MPs visiting Iraq to show
their solidarity with the Iraqi people against crippling U.N. sanctions. 
       Von Sponeck is responsible for an oil-for-food programme designed by
the United Nations to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi people from the
sanctions imposed to punish Iraq for its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 
       The deal allows Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil over six
months to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi
       Von Sponeck, a German, has in the past drawn criticism from the
United States and Britain for advocating an end to the nine- year-old U.N.
       In October last year von Sponeck urged the U.N. Security Council
members to seperate relief issues for ordinary Iraqis from the more
controversial political issues of disarmament. 
       U.N. inspectors have been banned from Iraq since December 1998 when
Washington and London launched a four-day air and missile onslaught for
Baghdad's failure to cooperate with the monitors. 
       Baghdad has dismissed a new U.N. resolution which could return
weapons inspectors to the country and ease sanctions. 

Saturday, January 22 12:08 AM SGT 

Jordanians collect 2.5 million pencils for Iraqi schoolchildren
AMMAN, Jan 21 (AFP) - 
A Jordanian committee for solidarity with Iraq has collected some 2.5
million pencils for Iraqi pupils as a "show of defiance" to break UN-imposed
sanctions on that country, organisers said Friday.

"Pencils are one of the items whose entry into Iraq is prohibited under the
UN sanctions because they are claimed to have dual usage," spokeswoman Aida
Debbas of the National Mobilisation Committee for the Defence of Iraq said
in a statement.

The committee explained when it launched the One Million Pencils campaign in
December that pencils are banned "because they are afraid the Iraqis might
take out the graphite for other (military) ends." 

The campaign "has been a great success having surpassed its targetted mark"
with nearly 2.5 million pencils collected and ready to be sent to Iraq,
Debbas said.

"This campaign is the largest popular activity in Jordan to publicly break
the sanctions imposed on Iraq for the past 10 years," said Debbas.

The committee, representing political parties and labour unions, has invited
contributors to the campaign, including members of the private sector and
schools, to escort the pencils to the border with Iraq on January 28.

"A large convoy of cars will escort the shipment of pencils to the
Jordanian-Iraqi border as a show of defiance to the sanctions and solidarity
with Iraq," Debbas said.

A 20-member team from the committee and Jordanian towns where pencils were
collected will then accompany the pencils across the border.

"If they don't let us through we shall stage a sit in at the borders,"
Debbas told AFP.

Leading international opponents of sanctions such as British MP George
Galloway and former US attorney general Ramsey Clark contributed 10,000 and
15,000 pencils respectively to the campaign, Debbas said.

Galloway is leading a campaign to get the UN sanctions lifted and Clark last
week accompanied a multi-national delegation of humanitarian organisations
to Baghdad to deliver aid worth two million dollars.

A 120-member Spanish delegation which returned Friday to Amman after a
solidarity tour of Iraq last week has pledged to launch a pencil-collection
campaign at home, Debbas said.

Palestinians from the West Bank town of Ramallah meanwhile launched their
pencils-for-Iraq campaign four days ago, Debbas added.

Sunday, January 23 3:45 AM SGT 

Iraq, Jordan sign oil deal
BAGHDAD, Jan 22 (AFP) - 
Iraq will provide Jordan with 4.8 million tonnes of oil, half of it free
just like last year, under an agreement signed here Saturday, officials

Jordan will not have to pay more than 300 million dollars for the 35 million
barrels of oil, Jordan's Energy Minister Wael Sabri told reporters at the
ceremony where he signed the accord with Iraqi counterpart, Amer al-Rashid.

"The quantity of crude oil and derivative products which Jordan will import
from brother Iraq is equivalent to 4.8 million tonnes, the same as last
year," he said.

"Iraq's President Saddam Hussein is making a gift to Jordan of half of the
amount it's going to import -- worth 300 million dollars at the most and at
least 200 million dollars," he added.

The agreed formula for Jordan's purchases has a ceiling of 19 dollars a
barrel for crude, he said. "This ceiling will be retained as long as world
prices exceed this level, as is currently the case," Sabri said.

Under last year's agreement, half of the 4.8 million tonnes of Iraqi crude
that Jordan imported were free and Amman paid a preferential rate of nine
dollars a barrel for the rest.

Sabri and Trade Minister Mohammad Halayka arrived in Baghdad Friday, after
earlier negotiations in Amman failed over a price for Iraq's oil.

Talks in December to renew the deal collapsed as Iraq demanded that the
price be raised by at least six dollars per barrel to make up for an
increase in crude prices over the past nine months.

Halayka, meanwhile, has held talks in Baghdad on renewing a trade accord
which was worth 200 million dollars in 1999, 50 million dollars less than
the previous year.

Jordan imports oil from Iraq under an exemption to the sweeping UN sanctions
imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and receives between 70,000 and
80,000 barrels per day.

The deal is separate from Iraqi oil exports under the UN-authorized
oil-for-food deal, which allows Baghdad to sell oil to purchase essential
goods under strict supervision.

Kuwait most at risk from Iraqi partition, warns UAE defence minister    
KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - The Emirati defence minister warned that Kuwait would be
most at risk if Iraq were divided and said the ongoing U.N. sanctions only
served to reinforce Iraq's leadership, in an interview published Tuesday. 
"Our brothers in Kuwait should know first that they will face the most risk
in the event of the partition of Iraq which will lead to instability in the
region," Sheikh Mohammad Ben Rashid Al Maktoum told Al Qabas newspaper. 

"The Gulf region should reject any such move," the minister said, adding
that the United States had never been serious about toppling Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein. 

"The United States cannot risk the partition of Iraq," he said. "The
partition of Iraq means the opening of a dark tunnel in the territory in
which it is located. Nobody can predict what lies at the end of the tunnel."

Sheikh Mohammad, who is also crown prince of the emirate of Dubai, slammed
the U.N. sanctions enforced against Baghdad ever since its August 1990
invasion of Kuwait. 

"The embargo and economic sanctions are in fact enhancing Iraq's strength,"
he said. "My support of Iraq is aimed at putting an end to the pains of
(Iraqi) children and ... the agony of the oppressed people of Iraq." 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) minister pointed to the demarcation of the
Kuwaiti-Iraqi border as a potential source of conflict in future, following
the U.N.'s handover of border territories to Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War.

"There are real fears with respect to the delineation of the Kuwait-Iraq
borders. Some might consider this a timebomb which was placed between Iraq
and Kuwait," he said. 

ARABIA ONLINE NEWS: Iraq is ready to cooperate with Kuwait on searching for
missing persons 
Friday, 07-Jan-2000 10:00AM.
Iraq has until now publicly taken the line that although it took some
Kuwaiti prisoners when it was driven out of the Emirate at the end of the
Gulf war in February 1991, it lost track of them.
DUBAI, January 7th 2000 - Iraq is seeking to provide Kuwait with information
on about 600 people [missing since its seven-month illegal occupation of the
Emirate] Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said Friday,
signalling an apparent change of policy on missing persons. Sahhaf told the
popular Qatar-based TV Al-Jazira satellite channel that 29 cases had already
been solved. "We have provided all the information we have," he said,
adding: "We still have to give information about 297 missing persons, and
complete our information on another 301." 
Iraq has until now publicly taken the line that although it took some
Kuwaiti prisoners when it was driven out of the Emirate at the end of the
Gulf war in February 1991, it lost track of them during a Shiite Muslim
rebellion in the south of the country which broke out immediately
Sahhaf blames Kuwait for "politicising" the question of prisoners "as part
of their policy of hostility towards Iraq."  "That will not give results,"
he said. However, since the US and British air strikes on Iraq in December
1998, Baghdad has boycotted all meetings of the UN Tripartitre Commission
including the Red Cross, saying it will not take part as long as Britain,
France and the United States  -- all permanent members of the UN Security
Council which has imposed sanctions on Baghdad since its illegal 1990 Kuwait
invasion -- are invited. 
Kuwait on December 31 pressed Iraq to cooperate fully on the question  of
605 missing persons at a forthcoming meeting in Geneva.  A spokesman for
KNCMPA, Kuwait's Committee on detainees said that Baghdad should participate
in a Red Cross-led meeting on February 7th, "if the Iraqi government is
serious about the matter." 

W E D N E S D A Y   | January 19, 2000 
U.N. says expert review vital for Iraq oil export 
BAGHDAD, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A United Nations team currently  evaluating
Iraq's oil industry is vital to Iraq's crude export  under the U.N.
oil-for-food humanitarian programme, a U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday. 

George Somerwill said the team was not linked to a December  17 U.N.
resolution calling for easing sanctions on Iraq if it cooperates with a new
weapons inspections regime. Baghdad has  dismissed the resolution. 

"No it is part of a regular series of examination of the Iraqi oil
industry," Somerwill told Reuters Television when  asked whether the team
was part of the new U.N. resolution. 

That resolution called for sending a team to Iraq to determine whether its
dilapidated oil industry can produce enough funds to feed its people under
the oil-for-food deal. 

"The Secretary-General every 90 days puts out a report on  the oil-for-food
programme and in each of the last two reports...he has strongly called for
these oil experts to come  to Iraq," Somerwill said. 

The deal allows Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of oil to buy relief needs
for its people suffering from trade sanctions  imposed on the country for
its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

The six-member team which arrived in Iraq on Sunday is  assessing Baghdad's
needs for spare parts and equipment and the  state of its oil industry in
order to boost Iraqi crude export  to generate more funds to meet the
country's relief needs. 

"It is very important that the oil industry in Iraq is kept  in good
condition...and if there is no oil revenues generated then there is no
oil-for-food programme," Somerwill said. 

"This is the third time they (oil experts) have come in the country for the
last year and a half and they have come here to  look at the oil spare parts
which are required by the oil  industry inside Iraq," he added. 

A previous but less extensive review of Iraq's oil industry in 1998 led to a
Security Council resolution that now allows  Baghdad to import $300 million
worth of oil spare parts and  equipment every six months. 

But Iraq has been complaining that only few spare parts  have  actually
arrived in the country, accusing U.S. and  British  representatives on a
U.N. sanctions committee of blocking  contracts for equipment signed under
the oil pact. 

Somerwill said he hoped the situation would change regarding  items which
were put on hold by the committee entrusted by the  Security Council to
supervise Iraq's humantarian purchases. 

"When this report is examined and discussed may be we will  see some
changes," he said. The team, drawn from various consulting firms, includes 
two  Britons and experts from Norway, Russia, Jordan and the  Netherlands.
It is led by a Briton from the Dutch oil consulting  company, Saybolt
Netherlands BV. 
Wednesday, January 19 9:07 PM SGT 

Bush salutes US air strikes on Iraq as "Lord's work"
AHMAD AL-JABER AIR BASE, Kuwait, Jan 19 (AFP) - 
Former US president George Bush on Wednesday told American airmen based in
Kuwait to enforce a no-fly zone over Iraq that they were doing God's work.

"I'm delighted that I've been invited out here today to salute you, who, in
my view, are doing the Lord's work," Bush said to rapturous applause from
400 troops of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group.

Bush, silhouetted against a huge US flag, praised the airmen's mission at
this desert air base.

"Iraqi minions pillaged this great country," he said. "I hope no-one in the
US Congress or anywhere else in the United States forgets the importance of
this mission ... or underestimates it.

"We (US) are a moral country and we made a moral statement in January 1991
that that aggression will not stay, and you are making a moral statement
today," he said, referring to the Iraqi invasion and Gulf War that followed.

"You are making sure this aggressor (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) knows
that his aggression will not go rewarded but punished," Bush said to the
crowd assembled in a disused hangar to the background hum of incoming

Bush was decorated with Kuwait's highest award and given an honorary
doctorate in 1993 for his role in the US-led Gulf War victory over Iraq,
whose troops occupied Kuwait for seven months from August 2, 1990.

The former president's visit to the emirate came on the ninth anniversary of
the start of the six-week conflict. His son, also called George, is the
leading Republican candidate for this year's US presidential election.

Stepping down from the podium, Bush mingled with the airmen to the strains
of piped marching tunes, merrily signing hats and posing for group

Ahmad al-Jaber air base, 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of Kuwait City,
is the temporary home of dozens of US warplanes which have been punishing
Iraqi violations of an exclusion zone in southern Iraq with air strikes.

Squadrons of US F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-18s and A-10 Warthog ground attack
aircraft all fly out of the base.

Some 3,500 US troops and staff are also stationed at Kuwait's Camp Doha,
where the US military prepositions and stockpiles equipment for use in live
firing practice and desert training.

Bush's main ally during the Gulf War, former British prime minister John
Major, is also in Kuwait on a private visit for the anniversary. The emirate
signed defence accords with London, Washington and Paris after the conflict.
Iraq stops importing cheese under UN deal  
BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 - Iraq said on Tuesday it had stopped importing cheese
under its oil-for-food programme with the United Nations and would no longer
include it among foods available on ration cards.     
       ''The Ministry decided to stop importing cheese and halted
distribution of this material within the items of the ration card,'' Trade
Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh was quoted by al- Ittehad weekly as saying. 
       The government introduced cheese and milk early last year to the
ration-card food distributed to Iraqis each month to ease the impact of U.N.
       Saleh gave no reason for the decision to drop it. 
       Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan simultaneously criticsed the food
component of the U.N. oil-for-food programme, saying it did not cover the
humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. 
       ''The programme have never achieved alleviating the extensive
humantarian suffering of the Iraqi people,'' Ramadan said in a letter to
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency. 
January 17, 2000

Saddam Marks War, Urging Iraqis Not Lose Hope

Filed at 7:44 a.m. ET

By Reuters
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President Saddam Hussein marked the ninth anniversary of
the Gulf War on Monday by urging Iraqis not to lose hope in the face of
crippling U.N. sanctions. 

He said the Mother of All Battles, Iraq's epithet for the 1991 Gulf War over
its short-lived seizure of Kuwait, was still being waged against his country
by means of the embargo. 

``The prolongation going on now in the Mother of All Battles, no matter what
color the schemes take and the more wicked and cunning they become...will
not make Iraqis change the course they have taken,'' he said in an address
on national television. 

Saddam compared the ordeal of suffering the embargo to crossing a wide

``Keep up your sailing unburdened and undistracted from the necessary effort
you should exert to cross safely,'' he said. 

He acknowledged that his country had suffered a great deal from the
sanctions, punishing Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but said Iraq
would not submit. 

``The embargo has taken things from you, Iraqis, ... and deprived you of
things,'' he said. 


Several thousand demonstrators took to the streets of Baghdad and burned the
U.S. flag in front of a United Nations office in the capital. 

The demonstration was led by former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, a
long-time opponent of the sanctions who brought $2 million worth of donated
medical aid to Iraq. 

State-run newspapers lashed out at the United States for the sanctions,
which Iraq says have killed tens of thousands of its people. 

The government newspaper al-Jumhouriya said ``American hands are stained
with Iraqis' blood.'' 

Iraq also marked the war anniversary -- the day a U.S.-led multi-national
alliance began bombing Baghdad -- with processions and artistic and musical

Saddam hit out at the allied forces which drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait
and insisted that Iraqis emerged victorious in the six-week war. 

``As the true believers that you are, you stood up to oppose the tyrants and
the renegade oppressors of the age and all those who took ignominy as a
stand and (showed) shame and disgrace as... their character,'' said Saddam,
wearing a dark civilian suit. 

But his speech did not include any reference to a December 17 U.N.
resolution, already dismissed by Baghdad, which under certain conditions
could suspend sanctions. 

The resolution paved the way for a possible return of U.N. weapons
inspectors to Iraq, something ruled out by the Baghdad government. Any
easing of the sanctions would depend on Baghdad's cooperation with a new
U.N. disarmament program. 

Secretary-General Kofi Annan struggled through the weekend to get Security
Council approval for the head of a new United Nations weapons inspection
commission for Iraq but missed a Sunday night deadline, diplomats said. 
Saturday, January 22 6:01 AM SGT 

No Signs Of Progress On UN Iraq Arms Inspection Chief
UNITED NATIONS (Dow Jones)--Unable to agree on a candidate for chief U.N.
Iraq weapons inspector, talks continued among key members of the Security
Council this week with no sign of how or when the issue would be resolved,
diplomats said Friday. 
On Monday U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan nominated Sweden's U.S.
Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, the first chief inspector for Iraq, to lead the newly
formed U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). 

But the nomination prompted a deadlock among the five permanent council
members Tuesday along familiar lines, with the U.S. and U.K. supporting
Ekeus and France, Russia and China, Iraq's supporters on the council, in

U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, council president for the month of
January, said the "issue will have to get resolved, but I'm not saying how
or when." 

Diplomats said discussions among council members were continuing at
capitals, but there was no sign of a solution late Friday. 

Technically Annan must still nominate a candidate, according to his
spokesman, Fred Eckhard. However, after failing to win unanimous council
support for any of 25 names proposed for the job, Annan was said to be
waiting for the council to forward a list of acceptable nominees from which
to choose, he added. 

"I don't think the Secretary General is out of the picture, but for the
moment, the ball is in the council's court," Eckhard said Wednesday. 

The U.S. continued to back Ekeus. After a meeting with Annan Thursday,
Defense Secretary William Cohen said Iraq should be allowed to dictate the
terms of the appointment to the U.N. 

Iraq's state-run media has attacked Ekeus' nomination, and U.S. officials
have accused Baghdad's supporters on the council of rejecting Ekeus simply
to please Iraq. 

U.S. officials also say they are in no hurry to fill the post, a position
that has prompted some to question Washington's motives. UNMOVIC was created
after a tense, year-long debate at the council to resume weapons inspections
in Iraq a year after they were suspended. 

One Western diplomat said that while the resumption of arms inspection could
bolster U.S. Vice President Al Gore's campaign for President, a stand-off
that escalates into another crisis could be a domestic political disaster. 

"The first moment we have inspectors on the ground, the incidents will
occur," said the diplomat. "It's obvious and the Americans know it." 

Arms inspectors left Iraq in December of 1998 ahead of U.S. and U.K. air
strikes over Iraq's failing to cooperate with them. The council must declare
Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction before lifting crippling economic
sanctions imposed in 1990 for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. 

The resolution creating UNMOVIC also holds out the possibility that
sanctions could be suspended if Iraq demonstrates cooperation with the
January 18, 2000

France Rejects U.N. Nominee for Iraq Inspection Panel
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 18 -- France today joined Russia in formally opposing
the nomination of Rolf Ekeus, as Swedish disarmament expert, as the head of
a new inspection commission charged with finishing the job of disarming

Mr. Ekeus, who was nominated on Monday by Secretary general Kofi Annan, was
the first chief arms inspector sent to Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
The Iraqis do not want him back. 

The rejection by two veto-wielding Security Council members -- and signals
that China is also likely to openly oppose the choice -- has created a
crisis for Richard C. Holbrooke, the United State representative and this
month's Security Council president. In the midst of a month of sessions
devited to Africa, he will now have to detour back to Iraq after carefully
avoiding entanglement in that vexed issue since his arrival in August. 

The council is expected to meet late Tuesday afternoon to discuss where to
go next. For several weeks, council members have been unable to agree on any
of more than two dozen candidates being considered by the Secretary General,
who had until Sunday at midnight to name an executive chairman for the new
disarmament panel, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission. 

On Monday morning, with no consensus on the council, which must approve Mr.
Annan's choice, the Secretary General named Mr. Ekeus, now Sweden's
ambassador to the United States and a candidate thought to have the backing
of the United States and Britain. 

The council split, apparent in December when the new commission was created
and China, France and Russia abstained rather than vote for it, had now
deepened. Iraq, sensing victory, stepped up its attacks on the new
commission and Mr. Ekeus today. 

A new showdown over Iraq is something that the Clinton administration has,
by most accounts, sought desperately to avoid in an election year. American
diplomats had seemed hopeful earlier today that there would be no serious
challenges to Mr. Annan's choice. 

The Security Council is to take up the issue at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, diplomats
said. There are concerns among council delegations that friends of Iraq, led
by Russia, intend to make this into what American politicians would
recognize as a filibuster. By stalling action on a new inspection system,
they could indefinitely postpone any resolution of the Iraq crisis. 

Meanwhile, support for economic sanctions is steadily eroding, most of all
in Russia and France, where business interests are paramount. 

Iraq has been under United Nations sanctions since the invasion of Kuwait in
August 1990. To have them lifted, it has to meet disarmament requirements in
biological, chemical, nuclear and missile systems. But officials here
predict that additional nations may be tempted to expand commercial
interests in Iraq, which is selling oil at record prices under a more
generous program intended to provide civilians with needed goods. Iraq's
recent history would indicate that it will try to use the cover of civilian
imports to acquire material for weapons. 

A resolution on Dec. 17 to revise United Nations policy toward Iraq and send
arms inspectors back to the country stipulated that a new chief arms
inspector be chosen in 30 days. Mr. Annan had spent several weeks steering
through multiple objections to a long list of candidates. 

"Over 30 days, he raised something like 25 names and could not find one on
which all could agree," said Mr. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard. "So he put
forward the name of the person he thought best for the job." 

Mr. Ekeus was chosen with at least the tacit approval if not the urging of
the Clinton administration, some United Nations officials and diplomats say.
His appointment was quickly applauded by the State Department. 

"We thank the secretary general for his exhaustive efforts to find a
candidate who meets the rigorous criteria necessary to carry out this
important disarmament mission," said a statement by a spokesman for the
State Department, James P. Foley. Some diplomats and officials, who have
watched the administration steadily withdraw from involvement on the Iraqi
issue here, said with Mr. Ekeus in place administration officials could
assure critics that a credible chief inspector was back on the job, even if
sanctions were ultimately lifted in the process. 

The administration would be history by the time that happened, given the
steps Iraq has to agree to take to meet disarmament requirements. 

Both Congress and the administration have had disagreements with Mr. Annan
in the past over his handling of Iraq, in particular his trip to Baghdad in
February 1998. That was even though the agreement that he signed there ended
a stalemate over inspections, sparing the United States from having to take
military action then. 

Later, Washington also objected to two of Mr. Annan's appointees in Iraq,
saying they were too sympathetic to the government. 

In recent days, diplomats and arms-control experts have said that Mr. Annan
could not afford to be seen as giving in to Iraq on a new inspector. 

Managing the issue now lies with the president of the Security Council this
month, Richard C. Holbrooke. Today, Mr. Holbrooke, who has largely stayed
clear of Iraq since his arrival in August as the American representative,
gave council members 24 hours to study Mr. Annan's nomination of Mr. Ekeus
and decide whether they would challenge it. Russia was the first to raise an

Had there been no objections, Mr. Ekeus would have automatically become
executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission. 

Iraq, too, immediately attacked the nomination. 

Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who is visiting Spain, called the move
dishonest. For several weeks, the Iraqis, apparently expecting a more
conciliatory gesture from the secretary general, have been harshly critical
of Mr. Annan in the controlled Iraqi press. While serving as chief inspector
in Iraq, Mr. Ekeus was routinely vilified by the Iraqis, who called him "the
damned Ekeus" and accused him of, among other things, causing the starvation
of Iraqi children and being an Israeli spy. 

In his low-keyed methodic way, Mr. Ekeus kept up the pressure in a
protracted game of cat and mouse. He sent divers to the depths of a canal to
find illegally imported missile parts that the Iraqis had hurriedly
jettisoned. He documented a nuclear program larger than atomic-weapons
experts had imagined existed. He badgered Iraq on its unacceptable
accounting for biological warfare materials until literally cartons of
damning information were suddenly "found" on a chicken farm -- and still he
was not satisfied. 

In an interview at the end of his tenure in June 1997, Mr. Ekeus said that
President Saddam Hussein had never given up plans to build biological and
chemical weapons and that the Iraqis were prepared to lie at every step of
the inspection effort to conceal and salvage their illicit programs. 

"They tell the most incredible stories," Mr. Ekeus said. "It's like the
'Thousand and One Nights,' where every night they tell a different story to
save themselves." 

Mr. Ekeus was criticized, however, for agreeing in 1996 to Iraqi demands for
restrictions on inspections at some sites close to the Iraqi leadership.
Some arms-control experts say that from that moment on Iraq steadily widened
the wedge of "unacceptable" searches and "off limits" sites, barring
inspectors from presidential palaces and ministerial offices where they
suspected that documents and equipment might have been hidden. 

Richard Butler, the Australian arms control expert who followed Mr. Ekeus as
chairman of the first disarmament commission, known as Unscom, inherited a
fast-unraveling system and ultimately lost the support of the Clinton
administration in efforts to stand up to the Iraqis. Today, Mr. Butler said
that the next 24 hours would be critical for the new inspection program. 

Mr. Butler, now a diplomat in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations,
said in an interview the council was confronted with "the same issue that it
was trying to solve with this resolution, namely a recalcitrant state
bucking its authority." 

"The first specific test," he said, "was the appointment of a new executive
chairman, and here the behavior last week of the members of the Security
Council who are clearly the spokespeople for Iraq suggests that they are not
prepared to see an appointment of which Iraq does not approve. 

"By that action, on this issue at least, they are effectively making Iraq
the sixth veto power at the council. All of this raises the gravest question
about the council's willingness or ability to implement its own law and to
protect its own authority. 

"In these circumstances, what chance is there that Iraq would agree to the
re-establishment of an effective monitoring system if they are being allowed
a veto on a matter like who the executive chairman should be? Rolf Ekeus is
an admirably qualified person. Probably no one knows more about this subject
than he. Maybe that's precisely why they are vetoing him." 
Friday, January 21 1:25 AM SGT 

Britain may compromise to end UN row over arms inspector
CAIRO, Jan 20 (AFP) - 
Britain signalled Thursday it was ready to compromise over the nomination of
a chief arms inspector for Iraq in a bid to keep the peace within the UN
Security Council.

Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekeus, chief arms inspector from 1991 to 1997 under a
previous disarmament regime, "has done the job before. He knows the job. He
knows the issues," Foreign Minister Robin Cook told reporters here.

But there were "other names acceptable to us" and the most important point
was that "we resolve this issue in the near future," Cook said at a press
conference during a two-day visit to Egypt.

Cook was speaking next to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa, who earlier
this week opposed Ekeus for the job "in the light of the crises which (he)
created in the past."

The United States and Britain have supported Ekeus, while France and Russia
have rejected him amid continuing gaps on Iraq policy. China, the fifth
permament council member, backed a candidate with the "necessary political

The Council on Tuesday voted to review the subject but set no timeframe for
finalizing a decision.

Ekeus has been tapped to head a new disarmament body called UNMOVIC, created
under a December UN resolution that offered Baghdad a temporary lifting of
decade-old sanctions if it cooperates with arms inspections.

The Swedish diplomat headed the former UN Special Commission on Iraq, which
was created under previous UN resolutions calling for a lifting of sanctions
once Iraq is certified to have scrapped all its banned weapons programs.

Iraq's media regularly attacked Ekeus when he headed UNSCOM, describing him
as "the cursed." His departure in 1997 after six years in the post was
greeted with a sigh of "good riddance" in the Iraqi press.

He was replaced by an Australian diplomat Richard Butler until Iraq barred
UNSCOM for good in late 1998.

Baghdad has now slammed plans for Ekeus to head the new Iraqi disarmament

Cook also repeated remarks he made during his visit to Jordan on Wednesday
that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should take advantage of the new UN
resolution to suspend sanctions in return for progress on disarmament.

He described the British-backed resolution as a "very fair offer," and if
Iraq spurns it, "we can only conclude that Saddam is not serious about
trying to achieve an end to sanctions," imposed after his 1990 invasion of

Cook, who also spoke earlier after talks with President Hosni Mubarak, said
Britain and Europe intended to promote prosperity for all and boost economic
opportunities in the Middle East to ensure a permanent Arab-Israeli peace.

"If a peace settlement is to be just, to be sound, there must be a real gain
for peoples of the region, particularly the Palestinian people...," Cook

"Europe stands ready to do that, to show the people in Palestine that peace
can be a real benefit to them," Cook said, adding it was ready to work for a
"fair prosperity throughout the region."

Both Cook and Mussa also condemned Russia's campaign in Chechnya for its
impact on civilians and Cook said EU foreign ministers would review the
subject when they meet in Brussels next week.

Moussa: Renominating Ekeus creates a lot of question marks
Egypt, Politics, 1/19/2000

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa yesterday depicted nominating Rolf
Ekeus to head the new international weapons inspection committee in Iraq as
stirring up a lot of question marks.

Moussa said that coming back to the old names which assumed such missions is
not required in light of the crisis that were created by those names.

In answering journalists questions concerning Annan's nomination of Ekeus,
who had previously served as the chairman of the UNSCOM inspection group,
Moussa said, "This subject stirs up a lot of questions," adding that
international and Arabic public opinion demands clarifications concerning
the continuity to economic sanctions on Iraq indefinitely, in addition to
demanding clarifications concerning suspending the sanctions and its
conditions in light of the confusion surrounding the general atmosphere
concerning the Iraqi issue.
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