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News, 7/4/01 (2) IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * U.N. requires destination of Iraqi oil * The UN and the US-UK flights over Iraq [Annan reports that it would be too complicated to monitor them. He appears in the article to call them Œviolations¹] * Iraq denounces Blix as a 'new spy' * U.S. stands firm on tighter sanctions against Iraq [says Hans Blix. The article goes on to report the Iraqi government mortality figures for February and the fact that Kuwait is permitting relatives of Iraqis held in Kuwait to visit them] * Iraq denies UN workers entry visa US POLICY * Policy Wars Over Iraq [Jim Hoagland is of the opinion that the Americans should do something, not very clear what, very tough] ACCIDENTS * Dead U.S. Soldier in Kuwait Identified CAMPAIGNING * Protester who hit PM guilty of harassment [the mystery of the tomato and the mandarin has been resolved. There were two separate trials - one for a mandarin and the other for a tomato. Silly of me not to have thought of it] NEW WORLD ORDER * Labour is risking British soldiers, says defence chief [apparently there is a risk that some ill intentioned foreigner might accuse a British person of war crimes for Œpolitical¹ reasons. After all, look at what is happening to Slobodan Milosevic, though somehow that analogy doesn¹t appear in the article] * It's hard to control what the American military do to us [gives an account of the establishment of US bases in Britain and elsewhere in the wake of the 1939 war] FOOT & MOUTH * Iran, Iraq, China, Russia turn to India for sourcing meat [not terribly relevant to Iraq but interesting to see what the crisis looks like in other parts of the world] * Experts: Plague could be bio-terror attack * Iraq halts meat imports to thwart foot and mouth disease * Iraq to replace lab equipment ruined by UNSCOM IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/meast/04/03/un.iraq.oil.ap/index.html * U.N. requires destination of Iraqi oil CNN, April 3, 2001 UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ U.N. oil monitors are now requiring the masters of vessels loading Iraqi oil to sign letters specifying the cargo¹s destination in a new effort to prevent diversion of oil shipments. The U.N. Office of the Iraq Program said Tuesday the new policy began April 1. Under the new policy announced March 20, any diversion from the destination authorized in the oil purchase contract and signed for by the master will be the liability of the shipping company. The signed letters are intended ³to prevent the diversion and trans-shipment of Iraqi crude oil to a destination other than that authorized in an approved contract,² the U.N. program said. It runs the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to export oil provided the money is used to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies for ordinary Iraqis trying to cope with sanctions imposed after Baghdad¹s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Oil revenue is also used to pay war reparations to Kuwait and improve the infrastructure of Iraq¹s oil industry. The United Nations said the new policy was adopted after it lost 8.5 million euros ($7.7 million) in February when an oil cargo of 2 million barrels of Basra Light crude which should have gone to the United States was offloaded instead in Singapore. Like other global oil producers, Iraq has different prices for different destinations as part of an effort to build a customer base with a large geographic spread. The difference can be as high as $2 to $3 a barrel. By diverting the 2-million-barrel cargo to Singapore, the United Nations said the oil was sold for an extra 8.5 million euros ($7.7 million) ‹ which did not go to the oil-for-food program. The U.N. Treasury is in the process of collecting this amount from the buyer at the request of Iraq¹s State Oil Marketing Organization, the country¹s export arm, the U.N. program said. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010404/2001040408.html * The UN and the US-UK flights over Iraq Arabic News, 4th April In a report issued on Monday, the UN secretary general Kofi Annan said that the UN does not have the technical means nor the necessary information to monitor precisely the US and British planes which violate the Iraqi airspace. News reports said that Annan explained in the report which covers the period extended from September 22, 2000 to March 27, 2001 that the UN inspection committee can not only embark on assumptions to monitor the planes which fly at high altitude. Annan added that the number of violations continued from 137 to 143 in comparison with the preceding 6 months and that the US and Britain are strongly persistent to take part in monitoring the two no fly zones. Annan continued that with the exception of these violations, the UN mission continued to carry out its missions without difficulties and as a result contributed to preserving stability and peace in north and south Iraq and recommended the UN security council to keep this mission which includes more than 1300 soldiers and military observers. The UN Security Council is expected to discuss this report today. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=13833 * Iraq denounces Blix as a 'new spy' Baghdad, Reuters, 5th April Iraq yesterday denounced as a "new spy" the head of the UN inspection commission on Iraq, Hans Blix, who is in Washington to meet U.S. officials for talks on his future work in Iraq. "Blix is a new spy to serve Washington and Zionism (Israel)," wrote the official Al Iraq newspaper reporting his first visit to the Bush administration to see how future U.S. policy toward Baghdad would affect his work. "Once again facts prove that these spying commissions cannot work without receiving orders and instructions from the American administration and coordinate their methods with American intelligence," the Iraqi News Agency INA said in a statement published in local newspapers. Blix, the executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC, will meet National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice after addressing the Monterey Institute of International Studies on Tuesday. He meets Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday. Blix told Reuters in New York that the purpose of the visit was twofold: to learn U.S. policy toward Iraq, currently under review, and to let Washington know his commission's plans to resume work. INA said there was "a coordination and information centre in Washington which used to liaise between the American administration and Blix's predecessors to carry out espionage activities in Iraq to serve American interests". "The new chairman of the so-called UNMOVIC is visiting this centre in order to present his credentials," the agency said. Blix's commission was created by a Security Council resolution on December 17, 1999 which called for sanctions on Iraq to be eased if Baghdad cooperates with the new UN disarmament agency, UNMOVIC. Baghdad rejected the resolution, saying it wanted no part of measures which seek to return weapons inspectors to the country in return for the suspension of sanctions. Iraq, which says it has long been rid of any weapons of mass destruction, has not allowed UN arms inspectors back into the country since mid-December 1998. They left shortly before the United States and Britain launched air strikes against Iraq for failing to cooperate with the inspectors. Baghdad has repeatedly accused the former UN inspection commission, UNSCOM, of spying and of serving United States interests by refusing to certify that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have all been accounted for, thus enabling Gulf War sanctions to be eased. UNSCOM was also the target of a spate of news reports that it worked hand-in-glove with U.S. intelligence agencies. An easing of the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq will depend on Iraqi cooperation with UNMOVIC, once it begins functioning. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=13883 * U.S. stands firm on tighter sanctions against Iraq Nicosia, Reuters, 6th April The head of the UN inspection commission on Iraq said yesterday the United States stood firm on the need for tighter sanctions against Iraq and the unconditional return of arms inspectors. Hans Blix, head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said he had met top U.S. officials to explain his commission's plans to resume work and to learn about U.S. policy toward Iraq. "I did not notice anything different from what they (the United States) say publicly, the basis of which is tightening sanctions," Blix said after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday. He also met U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday. "The message I understood from U.S. officials was that sanctions are in place until resolution 1284 is implemented," Blix said. The 1999 Security Council resolution calls for the easing of sanctions if Baghdad allows UN arms inspectors back and cooperates with UNMOVIC, the new UN disarmament agency, to oversee the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Washington is insisting on the "unconditional return" of arms inspectors to Iraq, Blix added. He said the United States was continuing to review its policy on Iraq and had not yet reached a final conclusion, but that "the broad lines are clear". Baghdad rejected the UN resolution, saying it wanted no part of measures seeking to return weapons inspectors to the country in return for the suspension of more than 10 years of sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In Baghdad, the Iraqi Health Ministry said in a report that UN sanctions were responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 people in Iraq in February, The report accused the UN oil-for-food programme, which began in 1996, of failing to overcome the shortage of medicine and food that accumulated since the sanctions were imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The official Iraqi News Agency quoted the report as saying ''10,525 Iraqis died in February due to a shortage of medicine caused by the 11-year UN sanctions imposed on Iraq.'' Of these fatalities, 7,270 were children under the age of five who died because of illnesses such as diarrhea and malnutrition, the report added. Foreign observers have reported that infant mortality rates are lower in northern Iraq, which is run by Kurdish administrations that are beyond the control of Baghdad. Meanwhile, Kuwait is to allow a number of Iraqi families to visit their relatives imprisoned in Kuwait for criminal offences, Al-Siyassah newspaper quoted a senior MP as saying yesterday. "Kuwait has accepted a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and these families will arrive by land," said liberal MP Ahmad Al Rubei, a member of the parliamentary committee for external affairs. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010407/2001040711.html * Iraq denies UN workers entry visa Arabic News, 7th April Officials at the UN said on Thursday that Iraq has refused the issuance of entry visas for more than 300 UN workers and advisors assigned by it to work in development programs in Iraq. News reports quoted these officials as saying that the postponement cost the UN humanitarian program on Iraq " the oil for food program" at least $ 4 million. A figure which is expected to increase $ 200,000 every month because of the contracts signed with individuals or companies. In a message he addressed to the UN to this effect last Friday, the Iraqi foreign minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf explained that the visas are submitted for foreigners, whereas Iraqis can perform the same works, carried out by these foreigners. He added that Baghdad had offered 991 entry visas in the year 2000, which is considered a very large number. Worthy mentioning that the memorandum of understanding the UN and Iraq signed in May 1996 set the conditions according to which the UN staff can go to Iraq and given the right to enter without obstacles. US POLICY http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52648-2001Apr7.html * Policy Wars Over Iraq by Jim Hoagland Washington Post, 7th April President Bush is said to have empowered three administration working groups to think hard and devise one more new-and-improved U.S. policy on Iraq. Have no doubt: This means war. No, not the kind of war that involves B-2s blasting Saddam Hussein's bunker in Baghdad, or U.S. grunts marching toward Basrah. Bush 41, our 43rd president's father, tried that (to some extent) before snatching stalemate from the jaws of victory in Operation Desert Storm. This will be a war fought in Washington with bullets of secret position papers, historical analogies, news leaks and other bureaucratic artifice. Opposing U.S. factions -- rather than Saddam's Republican Guards -- will be the immediate targets of ambush and of gas attacks of the hot-air kind. Progress will be measured in career advancement achieved rather than hilltops seized, in slanted insider accounts that make Page One rather than in enemy aircraft downed. These are Washington Rules, well known to longtime denizens of the Potomac who see policymaking as an unending, existential struggle over resources. But it would not take much to turn the justified review of 15 years of failed U.S. policy toward Saddam into something valuable and innovative. First, historical analogies not directly tied to U.S. experience in Iraq should be banished from these interagency battles. History used as a tool of argument invariably produces flawed analysis. Vietnam was not Munich and Desert Storm was not Vietnam. The Bay of Pigs is not the only outcome available to the United States in supporting Iraqi exiles who would try to topple Saddam. The Bay of Pigs comparison is aggressively advanced by those in the "regime change" working group who oppose doing anything significant to lift the Iraqi opposition out of its current weakened state. The fact that successive U.S. betrayals and failures helped plunge the opposition into that weakness does not seem to matter to the Bay of Pigsters -- some of whom engineered the earlier betrayals and failures and are back for more. Bush 43, Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice seem to be approaching the Iraq review with open minds. That goads the partisans into stepping up the skirmishing and the leaking, which by past Washington standards is still embryonic. "We're not organized enough yet to be fighting seriously over policy," one senior official said ruefully after the New York Times reported pitched bureaucratic battles between the Pentagon and the State Department. "I'm sure it will come, but we're not there yet." But the working groups -- the other two cover economic sanctions and the no-fly zones over Iraq policed by U.S. and British planes -- will provide excellent platforms for stealth assaults unless Bush, Cheney and Rice get a better handle on where the review is going. Otherwise unidentified State Department officials have followed up an energetic trashing of the existing sanctions regime in the press with a campaign of character assassination aimed at Saddam's opponents, who are largely guilty of being friends of the diplomats' enemies at the Pentagon. The Los Angeles Times on March 19 quoted anonymous U.S. and Arab diplomats and others as having called Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, "a crook" and a sponge who is hopeless when it comes to managing money. Left out were Chalabi's doctorate in mathematics and other graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his success in founding an Amman bank that was expropriated and looted by the government of Jordan on trumped-up charges of embezzlement, and his sacrifice of most of his fortune so he can risk his life to fight Saddam. Also left out was the salient fact that Chalabi has become the bête noire of the CIA and its friends at the State Department. He publicized the intelligence agency's gross failures in Iraq. A serious Iraq review would begin with a serious look at why and how the CIA fell on its face in Iraq under Bill Clinton. Chalabi is a dedicated advocate of democracy who does fight against enormous military odds and deep religious and social divisions in the Arab world. A policy review dedicated to trashing him and other exiles is a shameful and self-defeating way to begin anew on Iraq. It is a phony way to argue that nothing can or should be done to oust the predatory psychopath who holds Iraq hostage. It also risks becoming a way of letting the mistakes of Bush 41 become the mistakes of Bush 43. ACCIDENTS http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010402/ts/kuwait_soldier_dc_1.html * Dead U.S. Soldier in Kuwait Identified KUWAIT (Reuters, 2nd April) - The U.S. embassy in Kuwait on Monday confirmed that a U.S. army soldier had died while exercising at a fitness center and identified him as Andre Marquis Mobley. According to the embassy statement, Mobley, who died on Sunday, was a member of Task Force 2-5 from Fort Hood, Texas. He was among troops involved in year-round training in desert sites close to the border with Kuwait¹s former occupier Iraq. It was not clear what the soldier had died from, but the embassy said on Sunday that the incident was being investigated. The United States has maintained a military presence in the oil-rich state since leading the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) that ended Iraq¹s seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Last month, bombs dropped by mistake from a U.S. Navy (news - web sites) F-18 fighter killed five U.S. soldiers and a New Zealander during a training exercise in the Kuwaiti desert. A team of U.S., New Zealand and Kuwaiti investigators is looking into the incident and is expected to issue its final report on April 16. CAMPAIGNING http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,468111,00.html * Protester who hit PM guilty of harassment The Guardian, 4th April A woman who hit Tony Blair with a tomato during a protest against sanctions against Iraq was yesterday convicted of a public order offence. Lynn Coles, left, of Eastville, Bristol, admitted throwing the tomato at Mr Blair when he visited Bristol on January 9, but denied a charge of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress. Bristol magistrates, who found her guilty, gave Coles a one-year conditional discharge and ordered her to pay £50 towards costs. Friends, including house-mate Jo Wilding, who was convicted at another trial of the same offence after throwing a mouldy tangerine, clapped loudly at the sentence. Sarah Regan, prosecuting, told the court that in a police interview Coles, 26, apologised for any offence she caused by throwing the tomato. ³Ms Coles said, ŒI admit I was very naughty and shouldn¹t have done it. I did throw a rotten, squishy, very soft, not that offensive tomato, it was all very much a spur-of-the-moment thing¹. ³ Pc Roger Curry told the court: ³The defendant was, very pleased she was being arrested. She was shouting ŒGot him with veg, got him with a tomato¹. ³ Coles said she had grabbed the bag of tomatoes from another member of the crowd who had been throwing them ³because I thought I was a better shot². NEW WORLD ORDER http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=Qwk3xzSR&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/4/1/wwar01.html * Labour is risking British soldiers, says defence chief by Joe Murphy, Political Editor Daily Telegraph, 1st April THE chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, has warned that a new international court championed by the Government could result in British servicemen being forced to stand trial for alleged war crimes. The disclosure that Sir Michael, Britain¹s most senior military officer, is unhappy about the new court is an embarrassment for the Government. It contradicts repeated assurances by ministers that the Armed Forces were in full support. Sir Michael spoke out when asked by a parliamentary committee if he thought that handing over powers to the court, set out in a Government Bill, would affect morale and effectiveness in the Army, Navy and RAF. Sir Michael said: ³I think we need to be very careful indeed that when this Bill is taken through Parliament we do not put ourselves in a situation where a junior person, carrying out orders which he believes to be entirely proper, can subsequently find himself in front of the International Criminal Court. So far, I have been told that this is unlikely to happen . . . I cannot say that Œunlikely¹ fills me with huge confidence. I would be much happier with a completely unequivocal statement.² His warning will increase pressure on ministers to accept a string of amendments put down by the Conservatives to limit the power of the proposed bill to put British soldiers, sailors and airmen on trial. It is feared that panels of international judges will be swayed by national political considerations and that, for example, an Iraqi judge could decide the fate of an airman who had enforced the no-fly zone in northern Iraq. The Government has repeatedly dismissed such fears and insisted that the entire military is happy with the proposals. Baroness Scotland, the Foreign Office minister, told the Lords in October that the higher echelons of each of the Services were satisfied with the legislation, despite ³much vaunting² in the press. The plan for a permanent court sponsored by the United Nations was agreed in 1998 but requires legislation, currently before Parliament, to hand over jurisdiction. The Bill states that each military commander is held responsible for the actions of his troops. Heads of state are also liable for prosecution. Other countries, among them the US and Canada, have supported the court but have negotiated opt-outs of up to seven years for their armed forces. Francis Maude, the shadow foreign secretary, said Sir Michael¹s concerns showed that ministers had ³set out to deceive Parliament² when they denied that any such concerns existed. He said: ³The casual dismissal of the Armed Forces¹ concerns is an example of Labour arrogance. It is clear there are significant dangers. The Bill as it stands will leave our servicemen open to politically motivated prosecutions.² http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,468619,00.html * It's hard to control what the American military do to us by Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, 5th April The American spy plane now in the hands of the Chinese flew from the Japanese island of Okinawa, one of a string of bases the US retains throughout the world, including Britain. US bases in Japan are a relic of the last war, imposed by the victor on the vanquished. They are now used to monitor the activities of China, a country the Bush administration describes as a "strategic competitor" and to promote broader US interests in the Far East. Britons should be concerned about the other US bases here in the UK - relics of the cold war. Documents which have now emerged throw intriguing light on the secret decisions to allow the US to use those bases. They raise serious questions, including issues of legality, about the proposed use of early warning radar stations here for the new US missile defence project, a project seen by the Chinese as directed against them as much as against the alleged "states of concern" cited by Washington as North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq. The post-war Labour government handed over bases to the US with no formal agreement and without any public or parliamentary debate. The pretext was the 1948-49 Berlin crisis when the US deployed heavy bombers to Britain as a way, noted the US secretary of state, James Forrestal, of getting a "foot in the door". An air ministry document from 1961 recalls that the US offered to send the bombers as a "political gesture and as a token of US interest in the defence of Europe". It notes that in 1949, Ernest Bevin, the Labour foreign secretary, told the British ambassador in Washington that "there had never been a decision taken by the cabinet regarding the permanent location of American bombers in this country; neither had we never reported the question to parliament". The informal arrangement, which has no legal status, was known as the "ambassador's agreement", made by Whitehall and the then US representative to the Court of St James, one Louis Douglas. The arrangement would continue, British officials noted, "so long as, in the opinion of both the US and UK governments, the presence of such units in the UK is considered desirable in the interests of common defence". The documents, made available to the Guardian and the New Statesman, were obtained by Lindis Percy, the veteran peace campaigner who has fought - and continues to fight - a host of court injunctions preventing her from entering US bases in Britain. She is contesting the legality of the bases, including Fylingdales, the US early warning radar station on the North Yorkshire moors and the large US eavesdropping station at Menwith Hill, near Harrogate. Both would play a key role in the US missile defence project as would a new X-band radar station which would cover more than 17 acres near Fylingdales, located, incidentally, in a national park. We know the use of US bases in Britain is covered by a form of words drawn up by Sir Oliver Franks, Britain's ambassador in Washington in the early 1950s. It states that the use of British bases "in an emergency would be a matter for joint decision by HM government and the US government in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time". This clever formula implies Britain has an informal veto, or at least the right to be consulted. In practice, as successive prime ministers have privately acknowledged, it provides nothing of the kind. The US merely informs the British government. Though Mrs Thatcher told the Commons in 1986 that President Reagan sought her agreement for US bombers to use the Lakenheath nuclear-capable base against Libya, Whitehall officials said Washington forewarned her but did not seek permission. When Harold Macmillan had to cope with the embarrassment following the shooting-down over Russia of a Brize Norton-based US spy plane in 1960, he was forced to describe the joint formula as a "loose arrangement". During cold war crises, the US did not consult Britain before putting nuclear strike forces here on full alert. The most significant document Percy obtained from the MoD is a paper by a senior official from the treasury solicitors - Whitehall's lawyers. In it, he rehearses the arguments deployed inside Whitehall at the time about the legal status of the US bases. The treasury solicitor advised ministers in 1950 that RAF officers, described as "station commanders", "will have no right to interfere with anything which the Americans may do at the stations either in regard to their operational activities or their general administration of these stations." Though in theory, he continues, the British authorities may resume occupation whenever they want to, "the Americans will in fact be in sole occupation". Government lawyers justified the "sole occupation" even of land requisitioned or acquired under compulsory purchase orders by the MoD by abandoning the law and jumping straight into the strategic arena. The plan for the defence of Britain, they argued, "involves the cooperation of the American forces and that it is in order that they may be able to play their part in this plan that these stations will be placed at their disposal". The "defence of this country", notes the document, "should be understood as comprehending the defence of the various countries of the Atlantic Pact". Moreover, it adds: "'Defence' must be regarded as comprehending in certain circumstances offensive action." Perfect: the MoD is under obligation to use its land for the defence of Britain. Since US forces were essential to this task; they can occupy the bases. That US and British forces were thus united in the common defence of these islands may have been broadly accepted at the height of the cold war. But that is behind us. The MoD in a recent policy document said it was unlikely that a direct threat to the country's strategic security would re-emerge in the forseeable future. Yet the US now wants to use British bases for a missile defence project it says is necessary for its own security but which is opposed by senior military commanders, foreign office security advisers and ministers. The present Labour government says that far from setting up expensive anti-missile systems against perceived threats, it is in Britain's national strategic interest to "engage" with these countries, including, presumably, with China. Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, admits that Britain would be more threatened, indeed a target, if it hosts new US bases. Countries such as Japan where the currently captive China spy plane was based, should take note of these problems America can bring. And perhaps Britain should too. FOOT & MOUTH http://www.economictimes.com/today/02econ08.htm * Iran, Iraq, China, Russia turn to India for sourcing meat Economic Times, India, 2nd April AFTER the bad news, comes good news for meat exporters. The wide-spread foot-and-mouth disease in European countries has resulted in many meat-consuming countries ‹ like Iran, Russia, Iraq, Indonesia and China ‹ considering India as an alternative market, since in India the outbreak of the disease is reported to be confined to certain states. If the trade enquiries turn into proper orders, India¹s Rs 1,000-crore meat exports, currently reeling under a one-month ban from Egypt and suspension by Saudi Arabia and Jordan, may survive the current crisis unscathed, and may also win over a few more markets. ³Iran has already stepped up its meat imports from India over the last one month. In February, Iran imported around 2,000 tonnes of buffalo meat, against a monthly average of 200 tonnes last year,² said Irfan Allana, chairman of Frigorifico Allana and president of All India Meat & Livestock Exporters Association. According to him, trade enquiries are coming in from other countries too, which used to source meat from various European countries. ³Of the 117 meat importing countries, 90 countries, at the last count, have banned meat imports from Europe, the latest to announce ban on European meat being Singapore and Taiwan. The entire scenario is now shifting in favour of India¹s exports,² said Allana. Major importers of meat are Australia, New Zealand, EU, the US, Canada, Argentina and Brazil. India¹s share in the international meat trade is a meagre two per cent. After the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation issued health warnings about meat imports, meat consuming countries have become over cautious. Mumbai-based meat exporters claimed that the recent bans and suspensions are temporary, and the India¹s buyers are in the middle of reviewing their bans. ³A large majority of Indian exports (around 97 per cent) are deboned, de-glanted bone-less buffalo meat. The meat in India, which has a low Ph value of below six and is frozen under minus 40 degree celsius, is the most risk-free stuff since no FMD virus can survive in these conditions,² said an exporter. Egypt buys meat from Ireland, France, Germnay and Argentina, and all these countries have reported confirmed, widespread outbreak of FMD. ³The West Asian countries can not sustain without Indian meat, and its one-month ban is likely to be lifted shortly,² claimed another exporter, adding that he is already packing his consignments to Cairo in anticipation of the ban removal. Saudi Arabia was importing a majority of buffalo meat from Europe and the US. Now that the country has shut doors to European meat, and is likely to turn to India. ³A high level Saudi team had come down to India to check the processing plants and abattoirs here. The recent ban by Saudi on India¹s goat/sheep meat is only part of a review of its imports,² said another exporter. The exporters claimed that the Indian meat exports have always adhered to stringent international quality standards, and in the past had never been rejected at the destination port on account of poor quality of health reasons. http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=174320 * Experts: Plague could be bio-terror attack by CLAUDE SALHANI WASHINGTON, Apr. 4 (UPI) ‹ Is a new breed of terrorists responsible for the epidemics of Mad Cow and foot and mouth diseases currently plaguing Europe, and are these part of a well-planned ³agro-terrorist² assault? While the idea of agro-terrorism might seem to jump straight out from the script of ³The X-Files,² a James Bond movie, or even be the subject of some far-fetched conspiracy theory, terrorism experts consider the scenario all too credible. ³I take this extremely seriously,² said Peter Probst, who consults on terrorism and is also Vice President and Director of Programs for the Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, in Washington, D.C. Probst, who has studied this possibility for the last six years, said such an attack would not only have a devastating impact against a nation¹s agriculture in economic terms but would also have far-reaching psychological aspects. ³If you have a conspiratorial mindset you might think the U.K. is being used as a test,² said Probst. Agro-terrorism ‹ the term used by these experts ‹ is not science fiction, and it¹s a lot closer to reality than many may realize. ³It¹s incredibly easy to do it, and it requires no sophistication,² said Dr. Peter Chalk, a policy analyst with Rand, in Washington, D.C. who has also studied agro-terrorism. ³As a weapon, it¹s less expensive. It¹s also very good in so-called asymmetrical warfare ‹ where you hit a very powerful country at its most vulnerable point ‹ the economy,² said Chalk. ³I would call the American agriculture base, the soft underbelly of the American economy,² said Probst. ³It generates $1 trillion a year in export revenue, and an attack against beef or swine would be incredibly costly. It would be disastrous.² While both experts agree that there is no concrete evidence at the moment to support the notion that the current outbreak in Britain and other parts of Europe is the result of a terrorist attack, they do not altogether close the door on that possibility. Probst, from the Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence agrees. ³I have no information that what is happening in Europe is terrorist related,² he told UPI. But he then hastened to add: ³Now, all that being said, attacks by terrorists or rogue states against the agriculture basis is something which is been long considered by many states.² According to Chalk, there is certainly a history of states investing in biological warfare programs that target agriculture. But could Iraq, for example, be responsible for such an attack? While agro-terrorism experts remain reluctant to admit that the current virus infecting Britain¹s agro-industry is the result of a terrorist attack, some, nonetheless, believe this is what happened. One such expert, who asked not to be named, went as far as to point the finger at Iraq. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligences sources at the Dept. of Agriculture say they are working on a vaccine for foot and mouth because they think the terrorist threat here is immediate. Chalk noted that major nations in modern times have seriously explored the possibility of unleashing biological attacks upon their enemies. ³Germany for instance, had an operation going in 1917, here in the United States,² he said. ³They infected draft animals that were going to be sent to Europe. The Soviet Union had about 10,000 scientists and technicians working on anti-agriculture agents.² Proving that a specific country, or group, is responsible for an agro-terror attack will be difficult. ³There is something called stealth terrorism,² said Probst, ³which is basically terrorist acts that masquerade as acts of God or unfortunate accidents.² Then there are ³black operations,² where in another situation, one country would purposely leave clues pointing to another nation. One example, said Probst, ³would involve a scenario where Iraq would leave trails leading to Iran.² Indeed, if the perpetrators do not want the action traced back to them, proving it would be nearly impossible. Iraq, for example, could well be out for revenge against Britain and the United States for the part they played in the Gulf War in 1991, and for the continued economic sanctions imposed on it to this day. What is particularly attractive to potential terrorists when targeting agriculture is the ease with which it can be attacked. ³Firstly,² said Chalk, ³when talking about terrorism and terrorists experimenting with exotic weapons, like biological weapons, one of the main factors that appears to have constrained their escalation to that level has been the difficulty in actually weaponizing pathogens and viable agents and actually accessing suitable strains. ³With agricultural diseases neither of those conditions hold. Something like foot and mouth, for instance, spreads by itself,² Chalk said. ³There is no need to weaponize the agent, it¹s so transmissible.² The nature of agriculture livestock in many Western countries, particularly in the United States, where it is so concentrated, further facilitates the agro-terrorist¹s task. ³If you introduced the disease at a location, you would be sure to get a very rapid transmission of that disease,² said Chalk. ³The second thing is that it is very easy to get the disease and import it,² he said. An added bonus for the terrorist is that there are numerous places around the United States where foot and mouth is prevalent, Chalk said. ³All you have to do is pop one of the lesions on an infected animal in order to have enough to ensure an outbreak. Needless to say it is harmless to the handler,² he said. The next question is why would terrorists want to attack the agriculture? The answer is an easy target that can lead to great social disruption. Think how the current disease has affected tourism and industry in Britain. Since the outbreak, many parts of the country have been closed to visitors, costing the tourist industry millions every week. Daily life has been greatly perturbed with consumers shunning meat products, sports events have been cancelled, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has been forced to postpone the general elections he was expected to hold in May. More than a million heads of cattle, sheep and pigs ‹ many of them in good health ‹ are being slaughtered as a prevention to curb the epidemic from spreading. There are serious concerns now among those closely following these issues that it may spark off extremism from animal rights protestors and environmental activists ‹ both of whom act more or less in coordination with one another. The epidemic could also turn the population against the government because it could be charged with incompetence. One of the best ways to do this would be by an attack on agriculture, specifically using foot and mouth disease, because it is so highly contagious, and because of the ripple effect on the economy. ³If you actually had a disease that was transmissible from animal to human, you¹d also have the potential to spark mass panic,² said Chalk. There was a slight indication of that occurring with the West Nile virus outbreak in New York and other parts of the East coast last year. That outbreak was taken very seriously by the FBI, the U.S. Army, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia and other intelligence gathering agencies in the United States. Brazil, according to one report, blamed sabotage for an outbreak of foot and mouth on its territory last year. According to the British New Scientist magazine, ³the U.S. is so worried about bio-terrorist attacks on its livestock industry it has just spent $40 million on upgrading its secure research facilities for animal disease on Plum Island, New York.² The question of how easy it would be for potential agro-terrorists to attack livestock and agriculture was raised at a bio-terrorism conference held in St. Petersburg, Fl. last November that was organized by the CDC, Florida¹s Pinellas County, the University of South Florida and Battelle Memorial Institute. But a better example would be the Rift Valley fever that hit Saudi Arabia, also last year, and that started out in animals but then spread to humans. ³The issue of bio-terrorism has become more of a public health issue,² said Barbara Reynolds, a spokesperson at the CDC. Dr. Chalk said that, taking all those factors into account, ³you¹ve got economic impact, you¹ve got destabilizing of the government, you¹ve got social attacks and you¹ve even got the possibility of mass scare.² ³I actually think it would be far more likely than some of the nightmare scenarios that are painted of mass anthrax attacks on Manhattan for instance,² said Chalk. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=13745 * Iraq halts meat imports to thwart foot and mouth disease Baghdad, Reuters, 4th April Iraq has banned imports of beef and mutton in a bid to keep out foot-and-mouth disease which severely hit its livestock two years ago, Iraqi and UN officials said yesterday. "Iraq has prevented imports and entry of red meat and animals and their products from all countries to avoid this dangerous disease due to its spread in neighbouring countries," Fadhil Jassim, head of the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary board, said. Iraqi cattle was severely hit by foot-and-mouth disease in 1999. A UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report then said nearly 2.5 million head of livestock were hit by the disease and half a million cattle died. Baghdad took preventive measures against the disease in March. Veterinary teams were sent to border areas with Turkey to disinfect vehicles and the shoes of travellers entering the country. Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Mahmoud Saleh also banned movement of animals between Iraqi provinces. "There is no foot-and-mouth disease in central and south Iraq. But our concern is the north because the disease was found in neighbouring Turkey and Iran," a UN official said. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the government had taken precautions to prevent the disease spreading in the north, he said. "A high level mission consisting of UN experts and Iraqi agriculture ministry officials went to the north in March to take necessary action to prevent the disease," the official added. The mission decided to set up quarantine stations at border entry posts with Turkey and Iran, he said. Baghdad, which is under UN trade sanctions for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, fears the disease could easily spread in Iraq because of the lack of vaccines. Under an oil-for-food deal with the UN Iraq is allowed to sell crude to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs. Baghdad signed several contracts to buy vaccines under the oil programme but has often complained that they are delayed by the UN sanctions committe which oversees the embargo. Agriculture Minister Saleh said Iraq used to produce millions of foot-and-mouth vaccines at a plant which was destroyed by UN weapons inspectors hunting for Iraqi arms programmes. They believed the plant could be used to produce biological weapons. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the biggest importer of cattle in the Gulf region, yesterday reported more foot-and-mouth disease cases, bringing the total number of afflicted animals to more than 3,000. "The total number of infected animals reached 3,617, including 2,933 cows and 685 sheep and goats," said a statement by the Agriculture Ministry. The statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the cases were discovered at 67 sites in different parts of the kingdom. Agriculture Minister Abdullah bin Muammar said last week that more than 2,417 cases of foot-and-mouth had been detected at 46 sites. Yesterday's statement said veterinary teams were being sent to infected and suspected sites on a daily basis. Saudi Arabia last week extended a ban on beef and mutton imports to include several Arab, African and Asian states to prevent the disease from spreading further. The kingdom imports about two-thirds of its beef requirement, estimated at 100,000 tonnes in 1999. http://www.timesofindia.com/080401/08mide6.htm * Iraq to replace lab equipment ruined by UNSCOM Times of India, 8th April BAGHDAD, Iraq: Iraq plans to refurbish a laboratory destroyed by UN weapons inspectors in order to manufacture vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iraqi ambassador to the world body, Mohammed al-Douri, said Iraq is taking this course because of the outbreak of the livestock disease in neighbouring states. The letter, which was circulated Friday at the UN headquarters in New York, says Annan will be asked to approve the financing of the laboratory's refurbishment out of revenue from the UN oil-for-food program. The letter warns Annan "against attempts by the United States and the United Kingdom to obstruct this process." The United States and Britain have taken the toughest line in vetoing Iraqi imports that may have a military use. Iraq says so far this year it has had no incidence of foot-and-mouth. But Saudi Arabia, which borders Iraq to the south, reported 400 cases last month and Iran, which lies east of Iraq, also reported an outbreak. Foot-and-mouth is spread by a highly contagious virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals such as cows, sheep and pigs. It does not pose a medical threat to humans, but it causes sickness, weight loss and sores on animals. A laboratory in the Baghdad district of Doura used to produce sufficient quantities of foot-and-mouth vaccine to meet Iraq's requirements and to export to other countries. But in 1996 the then UN disarmament commission, UNSCOM, destroyed the laboratory's equipment on grounds that it could be used for the manufacture of biological weapons. In an annex to the letter, the ambassador says this destruction "led to an epidemic of the disease in Iraq in 1998 and caused the loss of 575,421 lambs and calves and the infection of more than 2.5 million animals." "It led to a sharp fall in the incomes of Iraqi farm households, whose livelihood basically depends on what their animals produce, and it also had an impact on per capita protein consumption ... This increased the incidence of acute malnutrition, especially among children," the annex said. The United Nations did authorise the import of foot-and-mount vaccine in 1998, but by the time it arrived in significant quantities, large numbers of livestock had died. The ambassador said the Iraqi government "will initiate contacts with specialist companies" to recommence production of foot-and-mouth vaccine. Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq may bypass the sanctions imposed since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait in order to sell oil and import goods approved by a UN committee on which Washington and London are represented. The sanctions can only be lifted when Iraq proves that it has eliminated its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Iraq says it has done so, but refuses to cooperate with UN arms inspectors. (AP) -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk