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News for 31 Jan to 7 Feb, 2000 ------------------------- Firstly, a huge thanks to Drew Hamre for doing an excellent job with the news for the last few weeks. Thanks also to Colin Rowat and Peter Griffith for supplying various articles. Unfortunately, my email has been in dire straits for the last seven days and I might have lost articles they sent me. Anyway, things should be much better from today. I shall do better next week! "..." = Text cut from original article because it is irrelevant or a repeat of well-known information Headlines --------- * Mariam Appeal Press Release Regarding 12th March Flight from London to Baghdad * Two bombing raids in the last seven days by US/UK military against Iraq. * US detains Russian Oil Tanker allegedly illegally carrying Iraqi oil. * An interview with Hans Blix, the head of UNMOVIC. * An article on the resumption of the development of the US Missile Defense System. * Morrocan journalists on solidarity visit to Iraq. * An interview with a French journalist regarding France's abstention on SCR1284. Sources: AP, Reuters, BBC and ArabicNews.com, The Independent, Mariam Appeal, RFE/RL (?) ------------------ Mariam Appeal Press Release Regarding 12th March Flight from London to Baghdad Following the epic Big Ben to Baghdad bus campaign journey which crossed 3 continents last year to highlight the suffering of the Iraqi people under sanctions the London based Mariam Appeal has announced plans for a London to Baghdad "mercy flight" on Sunday March 12th. It will be the first flight between the two capitals since July 1990. The aeroplane will carry a substantial quantity of medicines purchased from British pharmacies paid for by donations from Britain's Iraqi community and other well wishers. The Labour MP George Galloway and Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi, a British economist of Iraqi origin and a member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs are heading up the mercy flight which, to date, has received co-operation from the British Foreign Office and the Department of Trade and Industry. The head of the Catholic Church in Iraq stated today that more than 8,000 children were killed by the embargo in the last month of the 20th century. Patriarch Raphael said "there has been a frightening increase in the infant mortality rate and these deaths should move the world to take action to do something against the embargo." Galloway, who spent two months last year on board the red London bus, which crossed 11 countries and 15,000 kilometres said today "Obviously even a one-off resumption of flights between London and Baghdad is a welcome sign of thaw and the medicines we are taking are desperately needed by Iraq's children who continue to die at the rate of one every six minutes under the sanctions regime." Dr Al-Chalabi added "Medicines not bombs are a better way of breaking the cycle of hostility between Britain and Iraq." The flight will arrive in Baghdad immediately before the Muslim religious festival of Al-Eid and Dr Al-Chalabi said "this message from Big Ben to Baghdad will be joyfully received by the ordinary people of Iraq on this holy occasion." For further information contact Stuart Halford, director of operations at the Mariam Appeal, or Dr Al-Chalabi on 0171 581 0506, fax 0171 225 3273, mobile 0973 818691, e-mail email@example.com Also see www.mariamappeal.com ------------------ http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid%5F633000/633770.s tm >From the BBC Monday, 7 February, 2000, 12:06 GMT Russia washes hands of oil tanker The Russian authorities have distanced themselves from the affair of the Russian tanker which is accused of carrying illegal oil from Iraq. After initially insisting the oil came from Iran, they now say it's a matter for the tanker's owner. ... ---------------- Monday February 7 2:53 AM ET Russian Tanker Carried Iraqi Oil By ROBERT BURNS AP Military Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - Tests confirm a Russian tanker seized by the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf was carrying Iraqi oil in violation of the U.N. economic embargo, Defense Secretary William Cohen said Sunday. The Volga-Neft-147 was taken Monday to Muscat, the capital of Oman. A diplomat at the Russian embassy in Muscat, Alexander Nazarov, said it will dock at Fahl port once some technical procedures are completed. Fahl is used mainly by oil tankers for exporting Omani oil. The Omani government will determine the fate of the merchant vessel and its crew, Cohen told reporters while flying back from Germany, where he attended a conference on European security. Cohen also disclosed that an Iraqi naval officer was on board the ship when it was seized by U.S. Navy SEAL commandos. The Russian government had insisted the oil was from Iran, not Iraq. The tests were completed Sunday on samples of oil from the tanker that was seized Wednesday on suspicions it was carrying Iraqi oil. ``They do reveal that the oil was from Iraq,'' Cohen said. ``The government of Oman will make a determination as to what they will do with the ship itself. That's up to the Omanis at this point.'' He said the Russians were informed of results of the tests but was unaware of any immediate response from Moscow. Under normal procedure, the contraband would be sold and the profits used partly to offset the costs of the nation that agrees to take the vessel and partly to pay for the maritime force operation, U.S. officials have said. Asked what effect the development might have on U.S.-Russian ties, Cohen said: ``I don't think it will have any impact on relations.'' Cohen also said the fleet of ships used to enforce the oil embargo against Iraq has ``intensified'' its patrols since the Russian tanker was seized. He offered no details. His spokesman, Kenneth Bacon, said that at least one ship had been added to the multinational fleet used to patrol the Gulf. Cohen pointed out that the Russian tanker was privately owned, and not the property of the government. Moscow had protested the seizure and demanded the vessel's release. The State Department referred all questions to the Pentagon. Calls to the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow went unanswered. When the tanker was confronted in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, it ignored U.S. Navy signals to halt, so armed Navy SEALs were dispatched by helicopter to board and seize the vessel, the Pentagon said Saturday. U.S. officials had said earlier that the Russian crew offered no resistance to being boarded Wednesday and cooperated with U.S. Navy personnel involved. Once the SEALs got on board, the Russian crew cooperated, and no shots were fired, a Pentagon official said Saturday. The U.S. ship was part of a multinational maritime interception force that enforces the 9-year-old U.N. embargo against Iraq. Russia, which maintained that the oil was from Iran, long has supported steps that would lead to the eventual lifting of the U.N. economic embargo against Iraq. The Clinton administration has insisted on full Iraqi compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions, including a requirement Iraq not possess weapons of mass destruction. Washington said it merely was merely enforcing the embargo against Iraq in ordering the seizure. Iraq is banned from most international commerce but is allowed to export up to $5.2 billion in oil every six months in order to buy food, medicine and other essentials for its people, and spare parts for its oil industry. Despite the effort to enforce the U.N. sanctions, the State Department said last week that illicit oil exports from Iraq average 100,000 barrels a day, compared with 50,000 barrels in 1998, when oil prices were much lower. ------------------------- http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000205/2000020515.htmlFrench FM discusses in Saudi Arabia developments in ME and Iraqi crises Saudi Arabia, Politics, 2/5/2000 French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine is due to make a two days official visits to Saudi Arabia kingdom during which he will meet king Fahd Bin Abd El-Aziz. Diplomatic sources said that "Vedrine will discusses with the Saudi leaders the developments in Middle East and French proposals for disarming the Iraqi weapons and guaranteeing Iraq's not getting any new weapons." It is worthy to mention, that France provided Riyadh with 3 developed frigates of Lana Peet style that are equipped with anti ships missiles. ------------------------- Friday February 4 10:29 AM ET Russia to Send Naval Ship to Mediterranean MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's RIA news agency quoted the military as saying Friday that a reconnaissance ship would be sent to the Mediterranean Sea next week in connection with what it said were new NATO moves aimed at Iraq. RIA quoted an unnamed senior military official as saying the Kildin would be sent in response to what it said was a buildup of NATO craft in the Gulf. The dispatch was announced a day after a Russian tanker was seized in the Gulf by the U.S. navy on suspicion of smuggling Iraqi oil. --------------------------- http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle%5Feast/newsid%5F631000/6 31335.stm >From the BBC Friday, 4 February, 2000, 18:54 GMT Iraq concessions unlikely says UN Iraq opposes the resumption of weapons inspections The head of the new United Nations arms monitoring agency has said that he does not expect the international community to make concessions to Iraq in order to secure co-operation with fresh weapons inspections. Hans Blix, was appointed last month after the UN Security Council decided to set up the new agency, send inspectors back to Iraq and promised to ease nine-year-old trade sanctions if Baghdad co-operated. But Iraq has rejected the new agency, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Instead it has urged the UN to change its resolution and lift sanctions completely while limiting weapons inspections to non-sensitive sites. But Mr Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister, said it was unlikely the Security Council would amend its resolution. "The members worked for a very long time to re-establish consensus ... and the resolution is the result. I think they will stand behind this," he told his first news conference since his appointment. "I think no points are off-limit here. No resolution has ever made such a concession in the past," he later added. Mr Blix, 71, a retired director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he knew he faced a difficult task in trying to end the impasse over inspections of banned weapons. He will take up his new position as UNMOVIC chairman in New York on 1 March. 'No magic formula' "I have no magic formula to apply," he said. "I have no plans presently to go to Iraq." Mr Blix said he had two tasks - to ensure all weapons of mass destruction were eliminated in Iraq and to ensure no new weapons were manufactured in or taken into the country. UN arms inspectors left Iraq in mid-December 1998, shortly before the US and Britain bombed the Arab state for not co-operating with the inspectors from UNSCOM, the predecessor of UNMOVIC. Iraq has not allowed them to return. Mr Blix said the present weapons situation in Iraq was unclear as only aerial verification had been possible over the past year in the absence of ground inspections. He said the biggest question marks facing the agency were over possible biological and chemical weapons, though the nuclear area could also not be declared clean. "We will never be able to come to certify that not even the smallest item, the smallest capacity, remains in a large country. UNMOVIC, the IAEA and the Security Council must wrestle with that," said Mr Blix. Inspections were possible only with Iraqi co-operation, he said. "The inspectors cannot shoot their way to any site but they need to be admitted. If they are not admitted - as they have been refused on several occasions - then the reaction will have to come through the Security Council and members," he said. --------------------------- Thursday February 3 3:31 PM ET Western Planes Retaliate Against Iraqi Fire By Sue Pleming WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Western planes struck at Iraq's air defense system on Thursday for the second time this week as U.S. officials expressed growing concern Baghdad is rebuilding weapons destroyed in Operation Desert Fox in 1998. It was the eighth clash this year between Iraqi forces and British and U.S. planes patrolling the Western-imposed northern no-fly zone in Iraq. The patrols are part of Washington's containment policy against Iraq that has been criticized by some Republicans for not going far enough to achieve the U.S. aim of ultimately ousting Saddam Hussein as Iraq's leader. ``The Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) at coalition aircraft from sites near Bashiqah (in northern Iraq),'' the U.S. military said in a statement released on the Internet on Thursday. ``Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attack by dropping ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system,'' it added. The U.S. military said all the aircraft left the area safely. It gave no further information and did not indicate the extent of Iraqi damage or whether there were any casualties. In Baghdad a military spokesman said the Western planes had bombed civilian targets. ``Ten hostile formations ... flew over the provinces of Duhok, Arbil and Nineveh and attacked our service and civil installations,'' said the spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency. Western military officials insist such attacks are aimed only at military targets. U.S. and British planes patrol no-fly zones over Iraq's north and south nearly every day. The zones were declared by the West after the 1991 Gulf War to protect groups opposed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The U.S. statement said coalition aircraft would continue to respond to any threats by Iraqi forces and would monitor and enforce the no-fly zones. Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, who testified for the second day to a Senate committee on Thursday on the State of U.S. security, has said Iraq still poses a threat to the West. ``A major worry is that Iraqi reconstruction of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)-capable facilities damaged during Operation Desert Fox and continued work on delivery systems shows the priority Saddam continues to attach to preserving a WMD infrastructure,'' Tenet told the committee on Wednesday. While Saddam's military options had been limited, he could still hurt coalition forces and remained one of the largest military threats in the Middle East, Tenet said. ``His continuing challenge to the no-fly zone enforcement remains his only sustainable means of engaging U.S. and U.K. forces,'' he said, adding that Saddam's military successes in the past year had been largely tactical. The New York Times reported this week that satellite photographs and U.S. intelligence reports showed Iraq has within the last year rebuilt military and industry sites damaged in 1998. ... The newspaper said the recent finding raised U.S. concerns that in the extended absence of weapons inspectors, Iraq had continued its pursuit of biological and chemical weapons. Last week the United States accused Baghdad of ``shooting itself in the foot'' by blocking the return of arms inspectors and pledged that sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 would stay until Iraq complied with the United Nations. ... -------------------------------- Thursday February 3 1:04 PM ET U.S. Fighter Jets Strike Iraqi Site ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense system in response to artillery fire Thursday as they patrolled a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said. The U.S. planes hit a site near Bashiqah, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a statement. All of the planes, based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, left the area safely, the statement said. The incident was the eighth confrontation between U.S. jets and Iraqi forces in northern Iraq this year. U.S. and British planes have frequently targeted Iraqi military sites since Iraq began challenging the patrols in December 1998. Baghdad does not recognize the no-fly zones, which were set up shortly after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north from the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. ------------------------------------------- Missile Defense to 'Avert Nuclear Blackmail' Saturday, February 05, 2000 By Charles Aldinger MUNICH (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen warned on Saturday that the United States and Europe could face nuclear blackmail from "rogue nations" and urged its allies to support a U.S. national missile defense. Cohen defended the controversial anti-missile program, suggesting at an international security meeting that the West would have thought twice about sending troops into Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War if Iraq had nuclear missiles aimed at Washington, London and Munich. He urged U.S. allies not to oppose possible deployment of a U.S. system, saying that if Washington had weapons to shoot down a limited number of missiles it would not be vulnerable to nuclear blackmail from states such as Iran and Iraq. European allies are deeply concerned about Russian threats to back away from nuclear arms control treaties if the United States deploys a missile defense. "We never want to be in the position of being blackmailed by anyone posing a threat to our national security interests," Cohen told European and U.S. officials at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy. "It is becoming increasingly clear that effective limited defenses are technologically achievable," he added despite the recent failure of an anti-missile test over the Pacific Ocean. "For America and Europe, the threat of missiles from rogue nations is substantial and growing," Cohen said. "They want long-range missiles to coerce and threaten us." President Clinton is expected to make a decision in July on whether to begin deploying a $12 billion system of interceptor missiles based in Alaska or to wait for further testing. RUSSIA SAYS START-2 TREATY THREATENED Russian Colonel General Leonid Ivashov voiced strong objections to Washington's request to amend the 1992 anti-ballistic missile treaty so that such a defense might be deployed within the treaty. "Ratification of START-2 is threatened. Russia will take notice," he told the conference, referring to the Russian Duma's failure so far to ratify the second nuclear arms reduction treaty between the two countries. Many European officials are deeply concerned about the effect on former arms control treaties if the United States breaks out of the ABM treaty. "It is in the interest of Germany, Europe and the alliance to avert a handicapping of the arms control process," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher told the meeting. "We should draw our conclusions collectively. Otherwise, it won't just be the technological gap across the Atlantic that grows wider," he cautioned. The U.S. military failed in January to shoot down a dummy warhead in a second $100 million test over the Pacific. But last October's first test was successful and a third is set before Clinton's planned decision on building a system. Cohen said last week that the second interceptor missed its target by less than 100 feet (30 meters) and the third test would be a key in his advice to Clinton whether to go ahead. He said on Saturday that Washington did not want to pull out of the ABM pact. The limited defense was only a shadow of former President Ronald Reagan's dream of a massive space-based "Star Wars" missile shield against the former Soviet Union. "We have made clear that we do not want to abandon the ABM treaty," Cohen said, noting that the pact allows for amendments. "The threats that we will soon face were not envisioned when the treaty was signed 28 years ago," he added. "There is no reason to force a choice between arms control and strategic stability, on the one hand, and defending our population from rogue-state missile threats on the other." -------------------------------- http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000205/2000020525.html Moroccan journalists on solidarity visit to Iraq Morocco, Politics, 2/5/2000 A group of Moroccan journalists is paying a solidarity visit to Iraq where they will hand to colleagues at the Iraqi news agency "INA" a batch of computers and printers. The trip is sponsored by the union of Moroccan journalists (SNPM) in a first initiative to support the Iraqi media. The Moroccan journalists who will meet Iraqi colleagues will conduct investigations and write stories to be published in Morocco to denounce the "unfair embargo" enforced against Iraq and draw international attention to the plight of Iraqis. Several Moroccan institutions have co-financed the equipment purchase and the trip fares. ---------------------- A very informative insight into the softer stance of Paris towards sanctions was explained by French political analyst Eric Rouleau in an interview with RFE/RL, broadcast on 2-2-2000. This is an edited version, but worth reading in full despite the relative length remaining. Rouleau is a longtime observer of French policy toward Iraq and the Middle East. His career spans some 30 years at France's daily "Le Monde," followed by three ambassadorial appointments. Today he is an independent writer and frequent commentator for "Le Monde Diplomatique." His opinion, of course, cannot be taken to constitute the official French position. RFI/RL asked Rouleau why France abstained in December's vote at the UN: "France, I think, did not abstain from voting because it is against the principle of a conditional suspension, but because there were other parts in that resolution which France objected to. To put it in a nutshell, France believes that the time has come to lift the sanctions even though we might keep them for some time to come. Why? Because Iraq, in the French government's view, has implemented Security Council Resolution 687 [which imposed sanctions to enforce Iraqi disarmament] even though it is necessary to maintain a variety of permanent controls over Iraq. Ten years have gone by since the sanctions were imposed, and it has been confirmed since that Iraq has no nuclear capacity -- and it has been confirmed more than once by the international nuclear agency. As for the other weapons of mass destruction, like biological or chemical weapons, even if Iraq is still producing it, probably in small quantities, experts in [France]believe there is no way of making sure that production is going on --because, as everybody knows, you can produce biological and chemical weapons in very small spaces ... [and] in any case they are being produced all over the Middle East, these weapons and nobody is checking on them ...And the last thing I want to say about this is that Iraq ... has no long-range carriers for weapons of mass destruction, even if they might be producing some biological or chemical weapons." France frequently has said that it favors offering Iraq incentives to cooperate with any new arms monitoring system, something Baghdad so far has refused to do. RFE/RL asked Rouleau to explain what incentives France envisions. "Well, I will tell you what they mean by incentives. You have to refer to American statements on the subject. The Americans have made several official statements saying that sometimes sanctions would not be lifted until [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein is overthrown or, in other periods over the past few months, they have been saying that it is not enough for Iraq to implement [UN] resolution 687, which deals only with the oil embargo and the weapons of mass destruction, but all other resolutions [too]. As you know, there are something like 75 other resolutions, [and this] in the view of France is not fair because [resolution] 687 is very clear about this, that once the international community would have the feeling that Iraq has no more weapons of mass destruction, the oil embargo should be immediately lifted. But this is not the position of the American and British governments on this subject. So when France uses the word incentives it only means one thing, that we have to give the feeling to the Iraqis that we are serious about implementing 687 and that ... we will not maintain the sanctions until Saddam Hussein is overthrown but only [until] Iraq has proven it is not producing anymore any weapons of mass destruction." Rouleau explains the incentives further: "Incentives can take many forms. One that has already been suggested is that the Security Council should admit publicly and formally that some progress has been made, for example, on the nuclear issue or the question of long-range carriers (missiles) which have been destroyed. But the American and British governments refuse to admit any progress in the arms inspections, which is a way also of telling Iraq that, whatever they do, nothing will come out of it. So, it is very clear that if the Iraqi government ... has the conviction that whatever they do will lead to nowhere, there will be no incentive for them to do anything to be helpful." ---------------------- The Independent 30/1/2000 Britain's Secret War on Saddam Costs Taxpayer £1m a week Back-bench Labour MPs are leading criticism of the UK's 'hidden war' against Iraq, which is costing tax-payers £4.5m monthly. This pays for, for example, the 200 RAF sorties a month (December 1999) and the 134 bombs dropped during 1999. According to Alan Simpson MP: “This is the hidden war against Iraq which is now almost akin to punishment beatings… and it is difficult to see what moral, ethical or military sense any of it makes.” Simpson added that people were not being told about the situation, despite the huge publicity surrounding the air-strikes against Saddam's Iraq in 1998 and the campaign in Kosovo. “No one knows, no one cares and we are currently spending a colossal amount of money peppering Iraq on a daily basis.” -------------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi