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NEWS SUPPLEMENT, 310/9/00 * Panel will call for $3.2 billion in biological defense * State Dept. Accuses Iraq, Afghans [on religious toleration] * Pentagon says attack on Kurds would prompt U.S. military response (CNN) * Unrest Expected Amid Rumors of Saddam¹s Ill Health (Stratfor.com) * Opec has world running on empty (The Star, Malaysia) * PANEL WILL CALL FOR $3.2 BILLION IN BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE by Pamela Hess WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (United Press International) - A panel of senior advisors to the Defense Department is urging the Pentagon to create a massive new $3.2 billionprogram to protect the country from terrorists armed, not with bombs, butwith engineered diseases that could kill thousands or even millions ofpeople before the man-made outbreaks are detected. The Defense Science Board will recommend in a report to be made publiclater this month that the Defense Department create a new organization tooversee the development of a data base of biological weapons, a computerchip to automatically diagnose the diseases in patients, and a computernetwork that will rapidly warn health care centers about man made outbreaks. United Press International obtained a draft copy of the report, entitled"Task Force on Defense Against Biological Weapons." The science board says the United States is wholly unprepared for an attackof any magnitude, asserting a wave of 100 to 1,000 cases of one of thesediseases in a single city would collapse the health care system. The board warns there are massive shortfalls in medical supplies to address a "significant bio incident" and no plans to address the shortage. The science board paints a grim picture of the brutal effectiveness ofbiological warfare: An attack on a city with 100 kilograms of bioagent wouldkill one to three million people, twice the number of fatalities that wouldresult from a one megaton nuclear weapon. Moreover, because of the commercial nature of the ingredients needed tomanufacture viruses and pathogens, biological weapons are harder forgovernments and monitoring regimes to track and control than nuclear weaponsdevelopment. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its robust germ warfare program makesthe possibility of such weapons getting into the hands of terrorists orcriminals even more likely. At one former biological warfare center inAlmaty, Kazakhstan, there are 900 strains of the plague, 300 of anthrax, 200of tularemia and 200 of cholera. The first step recommended by the board is for the Defense Department tocreate a "Bio Print" database that would create "signatures" of the to 50bioagents that cause human disease. It says an "urgent priority" would be acquiring and profiling former Sovietstrains and agents, which would not only yield medicines and vaccinesagainst them but also help track leakage of the diseases into "states ofconcern" like Iraq and terrorist groups. At the same time, it would profile the signatures of organisms used in theprivate sector for legitimate purposes. This project would cost about $675 million over five years to map about1,350 genomes, according to the report. Only 100 microbial genomes have been sequenced to date, according to thereport which warns of a "massive capacity gap in public and private sector." The next step would be to create the diagnostic "Zebra Chip" - a referencethat compares discerning a zebra from a pack of horses to discerning abioagent from a multitude of natural human infections. The miniaturized zebra computer chip would provide immediate diagnoses ofdiseases documented in the Bio-Print database, flagging manmade or unusualdiseases to health care workers even before there are symptoms. It would benon-intrusive and disposable, working with a sample collected from a patientduring a routine clinical screening. The chips would be introduced in the DOD health care system which serves4.4 million people, and eventually transferred to the civilian health caresystem. The same computer chips could also be used to screen immigrants andvisitors to the country to detect whether they have been handling or exposedto biological weapons, according to the panel's report. The science board estimates these chips could be produced for between $1and $2, with 12 million produced the first year for DOD patients. If the "front line" zebra chip detected bioagents, the Defense Departmentwould then deploy more sophisticated forensic zebra chips designed to probefor the specific agent in question. The Defense Science Board estimatesthose chips would cost around $52 million. Once a biological agent has been confirmed, the information would bebroadcast on the Biological Warning and Communication System (BWACS), whichwould warn all DOD health care organizations, military bases, the Reservesand the Center for Disease Control and other civilian health organizations. With a staff of 150 and an initial investment of $300 million, the BWACSwould gobble the lion's share of funding, requiring $1.5 billion over fiveyears. At the same time, the science board is recommending the Pentagon investheavily in research and development for bioagents drugs and vaccines, andwork with the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate the review process.It also recommends the Pentagon fund a $50 million to $100 millionmanufacturing facility for vaccines or after-exposure drugs in order tospeed production. Overseeing all this development would be a new organization called theJoint BioDefense Organization. The JBDO would direct the military responseto a bioagent outbreak and would coordinate efforts with the civilian sectorand media, and would report directly to the president and the defensesecretary through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The study was chaired by George Poste, chief executive officer of HealthTechnology Networks, a consulting group that specializes in the impact ofgenetics, computing and other advanced technologies on healthcare researchand development. He was previously the president of research and developmentat SmithKline Beecham and was involved in the Human Genome Project. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=3398562&template=iraq/index .txt&index=recent * STATE DEPT. ACCUSES IRAQ, AFGHANS WASHINGTON (Associated Press, Tue 5 Sep) ‹ A State Department report released Tuesday says a significant percentage of the world population does not have the right to religious freedom, and it names Iraq and Afghanistan among the worst offenders. ``Much of the world's population lives in countries in which the right to religious freedom is restricted or prohibited,'' the report says. The situation exists even though 144 countries belong to an international covenant that acknowledges the right of all citizens to religious freedom, according to the study. In 1998, Congress required the State Department to issue an annual report on the state of religious freedom worldwide. The 2000 report covers the period from July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000 and includes reports on 194 countries and territories. Some highlights: Iraq ‹ For decades, the government has conducted a "brutal campaign of murder, summary execution, and protracted arbitrary detention against religious leaders and adherents of the majority Shiite population.'' Security forces murdered senior Shiite clerics, desecrated mosques and holy sites, arrested tens of thousands of Shiites and forcibly prevents Shiites from practicing their religion. Afghanistan ‹ The government has engaged in persecution and killing, particularly against the Shiite minority. "The Taliban enforced its strict interpretation of Islamic Shari'a law, and, according to reports, public executions, floggings, and amputations took place weekly against those who violated the law.'' China ‹ Government respect for religious freedom in China deteriorated as the persecution of several religious minorities increased. While membership in many faiths grew rapidly and government supervision of religious activity was minimal in some regions, "government officials in other regions imposed tight regulations, closed houses of worship, and activity persecuted members of some unregistered religious groups.'' Myanmar ‹ The government continued to repress systematically members of both minority faiths and the majority Buddhist population. "Buddhist monks who promoted human and political rights were arrested, and some Buddhist monasteries were destroyed. Government security forces frequently employed coercion to induce Christian members of the Chin ethnic minority to convert to Buddhism.'' The report also found varying degrees of repression in communist countries such as Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam. Among countries friendly to the United States, the report said religious discrimination exists in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. The study concluded there were ``significant improvements'' in Azerbaijan and Laos. In Azerbaijan, the report traced the changed situation to a presidential pledge last November to improve the status of religious minorities. In Laos, the government released in mid-June a large number of Christians who had been imprisoned because of their faith, the report said. It added that there were noteworthy improvements in 31 other countries. http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/09/06/iraq.us/index.html * PENTAGON SAYS ATTACK ON KURDS WOULD PROMPT U.S. MILITARY RESPONSE (CNN, 6th September) by Chris Plante, CNN National Security Producer WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has developed highly classified plans for at least three days of intense attacks against Iraqi military targets if President Saddam Hussein's military strikes at the minority Kurdish population in northern Iraq this fall, Defense Department sources said. The sources told CNN that a U.S. Army Patriot missile battery -- recently placed on a "heightened state of readiness" for possible deployment to Israel -- was alerted out of concern that Iraq might fire Scud missiles at Israel in response to any potential U.S. military action. Officials cautioned that any action by the United States would have to be prompted by Iraqi military assaults against the minority Kurds, who are generally considered by Baghdad to be hostile to the government of Saddam Hussein. Plan likely to include cruise-missile attacks U.S. analysts are divided on whether the Iraqi military will pursue military objectives in the Kurdish region this fall, said sources who asked not to be identified. But they said the planning was "prudent" in light of Iraq's violent history with the Kurds. The proposed U.S. strike plan would almost certainly include cruise-missile attacks and air strikes against a range of Iraqi targets, including military sites and Iraqi infrastructure associated with Saddam's military machine, officials familiar with the plan said. One official said the United States has closely monitored recent Iraqi troop movements in the northern part of the country, but has seen no unusual activity. "It could just be normal troop rotation," an official said. Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were briefed on the planning Tuesday evening in the Pentagon's classified briefing room known as "the tank." U.S. carrier battle group in Persian Gulf The aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington and its battle group are in the Persian Gulf. The carrier group includes a number of ships capable of firing Tomahawk Land Attack cruise missiles. The George Washington carries an airwing of about 75 combat aircraft. The United States maintains a carrier battle group in the Gulf at all times to provide air power for enforcement of the southern "no-fly" zone and to keep a high-profile U.S. presence in the region. Iraq is vulnerable in the south to U.S. and British warplanes based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and in the north to fighter and attack planes based in Incirlik, Turkey. U.S. officials apparently do not want to be caught flat-footed, as they were in 1996 when Iraq moved against Kurds in the north under the guise of carrying out routine exercises. In response to the suprise Iraqi move, the United States struck 14 targets on September 3, 1996 in southern Iraq with 27 Tomahawk Land-Attack cruise missiles, but only after an Iraqi military assault against the Kurdish town of Irbil. The Baghdad government at that time installed pro-Saddam Kurds into positions of power in Irbil. That round of U.S. strikes was widely seen as an impotent response to the Iraqi strongarm tactics in Irbil. Strikes would last several days Sources said the contingency plans call for several days of strikes, but would not be as intense as the attacks that took place December 16-19, 1998, during Operation Desert Fox, when the United States attacked 100 targets in Iraq in response to a dispute between Iraq and United Nations arms inspectors that led to the departure of the U.N. team. Pentagon officials said at the time that the strikes set back by about two years Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction and greater ballistic missile capability. There has been speculation that the United States might respond militarily to an anticipated Iraqi refusal to allow United Nations arms inspectors back into Iraq, but Pentagon officials said such a proposal was opposed by important U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia ,which provides bases to U.S. and British warplanes patrolling Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone. http://www.stratfor.com/SERVICES/giu2000/090700.asp * UNREST EXPECTED AMID RUMORS OF SADDAM¹S ILL HEALTH (Stratfor.com, 7 September) Summary Saddam Hussein may have cancer. The Iraqi president's health is difficult to determine, but the effects on Iraqi domestic policy are straightforward. Rumors about Hussein's health are historically followed by internal unrest, and increased powers for his heir apparent Qusai Hussein. Analysis The Middle East is abuzz with rumors that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein suffers from lymphatic cancer. He is reportedly under the care of French, German and Swiss doctors in a villa-turned-hospital outside of Baghdad. Hussein's son Qusai is heading a family committee that would run the country if his father is unable. The state of Hussein's health is difficult to verify but the consequences of the rumor are much more simple. Hussein's physical state immediately affects activities of any potential opposition. If history is any guide, we can expect a purge and a power transfer to follow in the next few months. The Iraqi opposition broke the cancer story in July, and the London-based Arab daily Al Sharq al-Awsat revived it, along with additional information from an anonymous Iraqi doctor in a Sept. 3 report. This isn't the first time Hussein has been linked with the disease his health has been in question for the last five years. The cancer rumors first emerged in January 1996, and Hussein himself denied their veracity. Again, the cancer was described as lymphatic. The story flared for a week or two, but Hussein continued to live, and the story died down. But events suggest that others consider Hussein weak. A month after the cancer announcement a top Iraqi defector returned to Baghdad. Hussein Kamal Hassan - the architect of the Iraqi arms program - returned from self-exile in Jordan, only to be executed within a week of his arrival. His death marked the start of a small purge of his family members by Hussein's forces. Hussein then increased preparations for his succession. In March 1996, he placed his son Qusai at the head of a special security body charged with protecting the president. Two years later, in October 1998, Israeli television reported new rumors that Hussein was ill. Again, the Iraqi president proclaimed his health, but moved quickly to stabilize the situation. His gave more power to his heir apparent Qusai, who then oversaw a massive crackdown against the Shia opposition in southern Iraq. Iraqi opposition reported hundreds of arrests in November and December 1998, and some 150 executions. In both cases, the political unrest that followed rumors of Hussein's poor health was suppressed and Qusai gained more power. It is possible that Hussein is using these rumors as a means to trick his opponents into revealing themselves. More likely, his opponents took advantage of a real concern about Hussein's health, but were beaten back. The recent rumors have some merit. Hussein lost his father and a sibling to cancer, according to the Toronto Star. And the president gave only a short speech on the July 17 anniversary of the Ba'ath party revolution, rather than the multi-hour orations of the past. Hussein's speech was rambling, almost mystical, as he compared the revolution to "the smile of a baby, the prayer of a hermit and rain falling on parched land," according to The Times. We expect to see another bout of political unrest, either from within Hussein's inner circle or from the opposition within Iraq. This too, will be suppressed, as will more power transfer to Qusai, the next leader of Iraq. Iraq on Stratfor.com: Saddam Contains Eldest Son's Bid for Power -14 April 2000 Power Struggle Brewing Between Sons of Saddam -29 March 2000 Iraqi Succession Conflict: A Situation Report -11 October 1999 Qusai Hussein Solidifies His New Position -11 August 1999 Who is the real Prince of Baghdad? -6 August 1999 http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2000/9/7/business/07b14ope&se c=business * OPEC HAS WORLD RUNNING ON EMPTY (The Star, Malaysia) Forty years ago, in an oil glut, American petroleum giant Standard Oil announced a cut in the posted price of its Middle East crude exports. For the producing countries, whose resources Standard and other oil majors controlled, it was the last straw. Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and Kuwait--the source of 80% of the world's petroleum exports--met in Baghdad on Sept 10, 1960, to form the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). Internal rivalries, surplus supplies, US import quotas and the oil majors' tight grip on production left Opec on the sidelines for much of its first decade. "At the start Opec was not even recognised by the oil companies,'' recalls former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani, still the cartel's most famous face. "But things changed and soon they knew who we were.'' Now, during the latest oil shortage to punctuate Opec's feast-or-famine history, the cartel is reminding the world of an original objective--to make the West pay more for its crude. At around US$30 a barrel, oil prices in real terms are still some way short of the US$70 peak that Opec engineered at the end of its 1970s heyday, in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution. While most thought Opec had long said goodbye to the days of confrontation, some in the cartel are enjoying the opportunity for an encore. A mixture of old-fashioned political posturing by Venezuela and the fear of provoking another price slump mean Opec ministers who meet on Sunday are unlikely to do much to prevent a winter of discontent for oil consumers. Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chavez, a former paratrooper, wants high prices and a high profile when it hosts a summit for Opec heads of state at the end of this month. With a fuel price revolt in France and official complaints from the United States, the European Union and Japan ringing in his ears, Chavez appears to have got his way. Though economists are fretting again that rocketing fuel costs could spark another 1970s style recession, the world finds itself far better prepared to manage another Opec crisis than in the 1970s. Vowing not to be caught out again, the West has invested heavily in its own oil. The multinationals, sent packing by Opec nationalisations, have invented new technologies to slash the cost of finding crude and pumped oil from regions like the North Sea. And power generators in nations without oil have turned nuclear and then increasingly to cleaner fuels like natural gas. Consumers also have become more efficient. High taxes in the industrialised world, with the exception of the United States, have replaced high prices as the incentive for efficiency gains. Oil prices, set first by the multinationals and then by Opec, have long since fallen under the spell of the market. While Opec controls the spigots, flickering futures screens and financial derivatives now dictate market direction. Opec says taxes and excessive market speculation are to blame for today's high prices. In Europe, up to 80% of the cost of a litre is tax. British motorists pay US$190 a barrel at the pump for petrol that fetches US$40 a barrel at the refinery gate. Opec secretary-general Rilwanu Lukman, asked whether the cartel would avoid bringing motorists to tears, said: "They should weep quietly at petrol stations but not because of Opec. They should cry out because their government taxes oil too heavily.'' Petroleum product inventories at record lows mean Opec probably has lost control over the market for the course of the coming northern hemisphere winter. High prices will endure into 2001. But just as the glut and 25-year price lows of 1998 eventually led to the current spike, so high values inevitably will lead to another slump soon. Yamani says Opec's current tactics are bound to backfire. "Increasing the price of oil in the 1970s was a serious mistake. Opec used to have 70% of the world's production and it fell to 30%. The same mistakes are being made,'' he says. Most in the industry concur that, while prices will stay higher at least for the next six months, it is likely to be another case for Opec of short-term gain, long-term pain. Shell chief executive Mark Moody-Stuart agrees with Yamani. New production technologies that mean most crude reserves are accessible at US$12 a barrel or less will bring prices slumping sooner rather than later. "When Opec started cutting output in 1998, they were hoping for US$18. Then the target moved to US$21, then to US$25 and then US$28. Now we're at US$30 they're saying, this isn't so bad after all. But it won't last.''--Reuters -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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://www.casi.org.uk