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Rolf Ekeus stated during his 23 May 2000 Harvard presentation: "I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities fundamentally." This statement appears in George Gedda, "Iraqi Weapons Issue Under Wraps," The Associated Press, 16 August 2000, and so hereafter is "on-the-record." The article is enclosed below. Copyright 2000 Associated Press AP Online August 16, 2000; Wednesday 3:26 AM, Eastern Time SECTION: International news LENGTH: 802 words HEADLINE: Iraqi Weapons Issue Under Wraps BYLINE: GEORGE GEDDA DATELINE: WASHINGTON BODY: There was a time when Iraqi weapons of mass destruction topped the list of Clinton administration foreign policy problems, and officials were all too willing talk about it. In public. At length. That issue has been hidden from view for some time now, and it was no surprise to analysts Monday night when President Clinton saw fit to talk about Nigeria and Colombia in his speech to the Democratic National Convention but failed to mention Iraq. At one point, early in his second term after U.N. inspectors were expelled by President Saddam Hussein, Clinton said: ''It is essential that those inspectors go back to work. The safety of the children of the world depends upon it.'' But the weapons inspectors have not been allowed in Iraq for 20 months, and the Iraqis are saying they won't cooperate with a revised inspection program that should be ready in the next two to three weeks. None of this has elicited a stern U.S. response, although officials say the issue is getting a lot of attention, quietly, without publicity. When Iraq refused the last time to allow the inspectors' return in December 1998, the United States and Britain bombed military sites in Iraq for three days to punish Saddam for his defiance. Just what the Iraqis have been up to since then is a mystery. The administration won't say to what extent the Iraqis have been trying to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction. Many of these armaments were destroyed by the 1998 bombings or by U.N. sleuths who sought out the weapons for seven years before their expulsion. There are some aspects of the Iraqi situation that the administration is pleased to talk about. They include Iraqi human rights violations; the 600 Kuwaiti prisoners Iraq took during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis and has refused to release; the numerous palaces Saddam has built for himself despite widespread deprivation of the Iraqi people. The administration also contends Iraqi ''obstructionism'' has prevented the Iraqis from reaping the full benefit of a U.N.-sponsored humanitarian aid program for Iraq. State Department briefers talked about Iraq for an hour on Aug. 2, the 10th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In that session, they never mentioned the administration's thinking about the status of Iraq's military arsenal since Saddam banished the inspectors. The administration's rationale seems to be that public discussion of this issue could produce demands for a tough response. By avoiding the subject, the administration is able to keep its options open, which is no small consideration in an election year. In addition, there is no international consensus for renewing military hostilities against Iraq. France, China and Russia, all permanent members of the Security Council, are decidedly opposed. Last December, none supported the replacement of UNSCOM, the previous U.N. inspection system, with a new program known in diplojargon as UNMOVIC. But rather than veto, all three abstained; so UNMOVIC is coming into being with a weak international mandate. Experts are divided over what Saddam has been up to. A worst-case scenario has been set forth by Richard Butler, a former UNSCOM chairman. ''So you thought Saddam Hussein was out of your life?'' Butler, an Australian, asked in an opinion piece last month. ''Sorry he's back, manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.'' He says Saddam is a global threat. More optimistic is Swede Rolf Ekeus, Butler's predecessor at UNSCOM. ''I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities fundamentally,'' Ekeus said in a speech at Harvard in May. But rather than have U.N. inspectors try to track down whatever weapons remain, Ekeus believes the focus should be on preventing Iraq from engaging in a new weapons buildup. Also on the optimistic side is Hans Blix, another Swede chosen to head UNMOVIC. In an interview with the magazine Arms Control Today, Blix said he did not believe Iraq has been trying to rearm. He said there is no substantiation of media reports to the contrary. Meanwhile, the Iraqis appear unchastened by the pounding they took from the U.S.-led coalition that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupiers a decade ago. Al-Jumhouriya, an Iraqi daily that speaks for the regime, said recently that Kuwait was directly responsible for the continuing United Nations sanctions. ''Any one who kills any Iraqi should not sleep, let alone those (the Kuwaiti rulers) who have killed more than 1 million Iraqi children and adults,'' the newspaper said. EDITOR'S NOTE George Gedda has covered foreign affairs for The Associated Press since 1968. On the Net: State Department: http://www.state.gov/www/regions/nea/index.html Library of Congress country notes: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html LANGUAGE: ENGLISH LOAD-DATE: August 16, 2000 ----------------------------------------------- FREE! The World's Best Email Address @email.com Reserve your name now at http://www.email.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi