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News, 6-1/2/5/01 A rather dreary litttle selection this week perhaps because Išve been away and so may have missed more interesting material. IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS (ECONOMIC) * Railway line between Iraq, Turkey re-opened * Iran-Milk-Iraq [large haul of contraband Iraqi milk powder in Iran] * Interim Government [of Somalia] to Attend Arab Trade Meeting [in Iraq] * Jordan to start regular flights to Iraq soon [though I seem to remember earlier news items which said they had already started] * Iraq [-Turkey] rail line has links to history [the Berlin to Baghdad railway] IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS (POLITICAL/MILITARY) * Iraq Asks U.N. About Aggression [ie the interesting question as to whether or not under international law Iraq has the right to defend itself against aggression] * Arab countries freeze $1.8b Iraqi assets * Bahrain Emir meets President Bush * Iraqi Kurd faction leader Barzani meets Turkish prime minister IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * U.S. firms may score in Iraqi upstream development * Norwegian aid worth NOK 13 million to Iraq * Baghdad slams Britain for "old colonial tricks" [in response to Geoff Hoon in Bahrain defending the No Fly Zone patrols] IRAQ-UN RELATIONS * Iraq seeks funds diversion [to pay UN dues out of the money that is being stolen by the compensation committee] SANCTIONS POLICY * Iraq warns neighbours against supporting [smart] sanctions * Genocide by sanctions? [article in the Pakistani paper, Dawn] * Ex-U.N. leader [von Sponeck] decries Iraqi sanctions WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION * Iraq Denies Making, Testing Radiation Bomb [but admits investigating the possibility. The article gives a webpage with the text of the Iraqi documents on the matter. We wonder if the UN weapons inspectors, the obvious source of these documents, had a legal right to make them public in this way. NO FLY ZONES * Britain to Keep Patrols in Iraq at Current Level [in response to US suggestions that they should be scaled down in case someone up there gets shot] IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS (ECONOMIC) http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010507/2001050717.html * Railway line between Iraq, Turkey re-opened Arabic News, 7th May An Iraqi source on Saturday in Baghdad said that the railway line between Turkey and Iraq which has been suspended since 1981 was re-opened from the Turkish city of Mardin through the Syrian city of al-Qamishli, the two Iraqi cities of Rabeya and al-Mousel until it entered Baghdad after midnight. The Iraqi official explained that the current trip carried a delegation of 22 persons including the director general of the Turkish railways and several journalists and Turkish businessmen and traders. The Turkish official added that the two administrations of the Iraqi and Turkish railways agreed during the talks which were held in Ankara by the beginning of this year to start trips between the two countries through Syria to transport commodities and persons. For his part, the director general of the eastern region investment for the Syrian railways Qadri al-Qasem al-Hammoud said in a statement to SANA upon the train arrived in al-Hassake on Saturday that the general establishment of the Syrian railways and sides concerned at the province of al-Hassake provided facilities for the passage of the Turkish passenger train which is driven by a Syrian locomotive as a start to open the line and as a beginning for the transport operations between Turkey, Iraq and Syria in the context of talks recently held between the railways establishments and companies. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/18123024.htm thr 017 * Iran-Milk-Iraq Irna (Iranian news agency), 8th May May 8, IRNA -- Iran's customs officials in the northwestern Mahabad city have destroyed some 14 tons of contraband Iraqi dry milk, the head of the Customs Administration of the city, Edalat Esfahani said here on Tuesday. He put the total value of the destroyed haul at 120 million rials, saying the smuggled dry milk were not consumable. The contraband, smuggled from Iraq, were set on fire at the presence of officials from health, veterinary, justice as well as customs offices, he said. Customs officials had already destroyed some 12 tons of dry milk, smuggled from Iraq, he said, adding that some 200 people have been arrested, pending legal action. Mahabad, with a population of 181,000 people, lies some 150 kilometers from the Iraqi border. http://allafrica.com/stories/200105090227.html * Interim Government to Attend Arab Trade Meeting All Africa.com, 9th May May 9, 2001 Somalia will attend an Arab free trade meeting to be held in Iraq in early June. The meeting, to be attended by the economy and trade ministers of 10 Arab League member states, would be held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, from 6 to 7 June, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said on Tuesday. The ministers, representing the 10-member Council of Arab Economic Unity, will discuss ways of establishing a free trade zone. The members of the council are Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Mauritania, the Palestinian Authority, and Somalia. The meeting would be the first of its kind to be held in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war, AFP said. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=16782 * Jordan to start regular flights to Iraq soon Amman, Reuters, 10th May Jordan's state-owned airline Royal Jordanian is expected to resume scheduled flights to Iraq within one month after a break of over a decade, a cabinet minister said yesterday. Information Minister Taleb Al Rifai told reporters that the state carrier's logistical preparations were almost complete. "We have nearly completed the final touches to a regular air service between Baghdad and Amman for passenger traffic," Rifai said, adding that cargo flights would entail different procedures. "We expect the service will be launched within a period not exceeding a month," Rifai added. All commercial flights to and from Iraq were halted shortly after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Baghdad for its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but the embargo began to crumble in 2000. Rifai denied that UN resolutions barred scheduled passenger flights, but did not elaborate. Baghdad maintains that civilian flights are not included in the embargo. Jordan was the first Arab country to send a humanitarian flight to Baghdad last year. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/132/nation/Iraq_rail_line_has_links_to_history+.shtml * Iraq rail line has links to history by Jonathan Gorvet Boston Globe, 12th May ISTANBUL - The storied Berlin-to-Baghdad railway was one of the triggers for World War I, was spied on by Lawrence of Arabia, and was fought over by rival empires. Until this week, however, the last stretch of the line had been quiet for 19 years, shut down because of tensions among Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. It came to life again last weekend when a Turkish train rolled into Baghdad station, and with it the controversy and intrigue were back. The reopening of the railway refocused attention on the fraying UN sanctions against Iraq and, in particular, on Turkey's drive to restore economic and political links with Baghdad. ''While for us the railway is a trade issue,'' acknowledged Turkish Railways spokesman Erhan Demirkol, ''for sure for others it will have a major political implication, too.'' The line, built by German engineers in 1899 to extend the Kaiser's influence to the Persian Gulf, runs through some of the most politically sensitive territory in the region. Taking around three days from Istanbul, the train climbs through the Anatolian Mountains, rumbles along the scrub land of Turkey's southern border before crossing the deserts of eastern Syria. From there it crosses to the northern Iraqi capital of Mosul before winding its way down the historic river Tigris to Baghdad. The northern Iraqi stretch passes through hills once contested by Iraqi troops and Kurdish rebels, but the area is now back under Baghdad's command and considered relatively safe. ''Turkey has always had a desire for better relations with Iraq,'' said Iltar Turan, a professor of international relations at Istanbul's Bilgi University. ''As the atmosphere in the international system is changing, it's only natural that Turkey should make a move now.'' The United Nations embargo on trade was imposed following the 1991 Gulf War in an attempt to force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with allied demands to give up his weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's major pre-Gulf War trading partner was Turkey, which feels it has suffered disproportionately from the increasingly ineffective and unpopular embargo, saying it has lost billions of dollars in business. ''Local traders claim they are losing about $2 [billion] to $3 billion a year due to the UN sanctions,'' said Turan. The embargo hit the southeast of the country particularly hard, an area that is one of Turkey's poorest and the focus of the long-running conflict between Kurdish separatists and the army. When Turkey's recent financial crisis drove many businesses under, the pressure on Ankara to boost trade with Iraq became intense. ''In the southeast, cross-border trade with Iraq is the only trade going these days,'' said columnist Ferai Tinc of the mass-circulation daily Hurriyet, ''and much of it is illegal. Meanwhile, there is a strong group within Turkish politics who think Turkey should develop good relations with Saddam.'' Turkey has sent humanitarian aid to Iraq in recent months and upgraded its diplomatic representation. ''Sunday's train trip to Baghdad was very symbolic,'' Turan said. ''Many policy experts in Ankara don't want Turkey to be too closely identified with the US either, and things like the train are a good way of showing that Turkey is not oriented in a hostile way toward Iraq.'' There was much fanfare when the train arrived in the Iraqi capital, with government officials waiting on the platform to greet the sputtering diesel engine and its clutch of passenger cars. The hope is that it will carry not just Turkish officials next time but also Iraqi oil traded for Turkish and Syrian food and medical supplies, allowed under the sanctions. US insistence on maintaining the sanctions has also shown signs of softening. US Ambassador Edward Walker, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, visited the Turkish capital recently to discuss modifying the sanctions. The Bush administration has talked of moving toward ''smart sanctions'' targeting weapons and cash rather than a blanket economic blockade. Turkish officials were eager to stress that the railway would carry only goods permitted by the sanctions. ''We expect a substantial amount of goods purchased by Iraq under the embargo regime to be transported through the line,'' said Turkish Railways general manager Cahit Soyler. The trains are expected to run weekly. But it may be a while yet before passengers in Berlin can buy a ticket to Baghdad. Demirkol said Sunday's run turned up some ''technical difficulties'' on the route, which he would not detail. But, Turkish Foreign Trade Undersecretary Kursat Tzmen said, ''we've been waiting for this train for 19 years - what difference will a few more days make?'' IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS (POLITICAL/MILITARY) http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/may/05/050504723.html * Iraq Asks U.N. About Aggression Las Vegas Sun, 5th May BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq has asked the United Nations if it has the right to retaliate against military aggressions from neighboring countries, a government newspaper reported Saturday. The query came in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, accompanied with a separate list that pointed at Iran and Turkey and detailed attacks and violations against Iraq from inside those countries. "Does Iraq have the right to use the same means in attacking outlawed groups based in neighboring countries (that are) used in attacking Iraq?" Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz asked in the letter, published in the official Al-Jumhuriya newspaper. The letter also accused the United States and Britain of funding and arming outlawed groups in Iraq to destabilize internal security and threaten national unity. Iraq has previously complained of daily allied warplane patrols taking off from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, holding the two countries responsible for damages and casualties. Aziz said the destruction of Iraq's defensive power and the ban from rebuilding its defense capabilities "encouraged regional and out-of-region parties to commit armed aggressions against Iraq." The letter criticized the U.N. Security Council's silence and its double standards in dealing with the Iraqi issue. This policy endangered regional security and stability, Aziz said. Iraq has been exposed to direct military acts from Turkey and Iran. Turkey claims to chase fighters of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (the PKK) into areas of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, while Iran conducts operations against opposition groups based in Iraq, particularly the Mujahedeen Khalq. U.S. and British jets patrol no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq to protect Kurdish and Shiite groups against Iraqi government forces. Baghdad has challenged the patrols' legitimacy since late 1998, saying the zones violate its sovereignty and international law. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200104/08/n1040805.htm#BODY15 * Arab countries freeze $1.8b Iraqi assets Daily Star (Bangla Desh), 7th May (XINHUA, Baghdad) Iraq's total assets frozen by Arab countries from August 1990 to March 31, 2001 amounted to more than 1.8 billion US dollars, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported Saturday. INA quoted Iraqi Minister of Finance Hikmet Mizban Ibrahim as saying that Saudi Arabia topped the list with 652.7 million dollars, Syria ranked second with 499.8 million dollars, followed by Bahrain with 359.8 million dollars, Kuwait 213.1 million dollars, Somalia 97.6 million dollars, the United Arab Emirates 18.7 million dollars, and Egypt 2.7 million dollars. Iraq has repeatedly demanded the concerned Arab countries to return the assets frozen after the United Nations imposed punitive sanctions against it for its invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. [.....] http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1318000/1318321.stm * Bahrain Emir meets President Bush BBC, 8th May The Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, has asked the United States President, George W Bush, to do more to restart Middle East peace talks. After a meeting in Washington, the two countries also agreed to improve defence cooperation in the Gulf and called on Iraq to respect the sovereignty of Kuwait. President Bush described Bahrain as a strong ally and praised the emir as a reformer. In February, Bahrainis voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to support Sheikh Hamad's proposal to set up an elected parliament. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=16679 * Iraqi Kurd faction leader Barzani meets Turkish prime minister Ankara, Reuters, 9th May The leader of one of the two Kurdish factions that control northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, met Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit yesterday to discuss security and economic relations. They discussed the presence of Turkish Kurd guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, a key issue for Turkey, which has been fighting the group since 1984. "Our attitude has not changed. The PKK's presence in our region is unacceptable," Barzani's aide Safeen Dizayee quoted him as saying after meeting Foreign Ministry officials. "If members of the PKK insist on maintaining their presence in northern Iraq, we will continue to struggle to send them away." Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have controlled the breakaway enclave in northern Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War ended. The two factions signed a ceasefire in 1998 following fighting between them which killed thousands of people in the 1990s. They agreed under the Washington-brokered agreement to block the PKK from using northern Iraq as a base. The PKK has largely withdrawn from Turkey to northern Iraq and Iran since late 1999 when the group's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan ordered a ceasefire. But sporadic fighting still breaks out in its conflict with Turkish security forces that has killed more than 30,000 people, mostly Kurds. Turkey keeps a military presence in northern Iraq to fight PKK rebels there and pushes the two Iraqi factions to keep their commitment to resist the PKK, which once sought autonomy for Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast but now says it aims to win cultural rights. Just last month, seven Iraqi Kurds were killed by a landmine that the KDP said was laid by the PKK. Dizayee said Barzani and Ecevit's talks had focused on economic relations as well as political issues. "What was agreed was that relations between the KDP and Ankara should continue and they should be further developed, especially in the economic area, and perhaps (there should be) more Turkish investment or involvement of the Turkish business community," he said. IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=16686 * U.S. firms may score in Iraqi upstream development Dubai, Reuters, 9th May U.S. oil companies, losing the energy race in Iran and Libya due to Washington's unilateral sanctions, may soon stand a fighting chance in Iraq's upstream sector, the biggest potential oil play in the Middle East. Smart sanctions, pushed by the United States and Britain as a means of revitalising decade-old United Nations sanctions, may open the door for more foreign investment in Iraq's upstream oil sector, the world's second biggest after Saudi Arabia, analysts say. "The Americans will not be left out," said Raad Alkadiri of the Petroleum Finance Co in Washington. "Iraq's technocrats are looking West in terms of industrial development." But just when - or indeed whether - Baghdad would come round to smart sanctions, which target imports of weapons and military equipment while allowing more freedom for Iraq to import civilian goods, remains to be seen. "We have very good relations with American companies," a senior Iraqi oil official said yesterday. "But we can't perform in a beneficial way unless Washington changes its attitude." It is unclear just how far the new breed of sanctions, if enacted, would prise open Iraq's upstream oil sector. The UN already has granted approval to Russian firms Zarubezhneft and Tatneft for two drilling contracts. Representatives of U.S. companies are, in the meantime, making their presence known in Iraq. "There are a lot of unusual faces being spotted around here these days," said a Western source in the Iraqi capital. "What's to stop the Americans once sanctions are eased?" U.S. firms are no strangers to Iraq. Equipment from the United States, Britain and Germany built up the bulk of the country's oil infrastructure, Iraqi sources said. And according to current estimates, the West's cutting edge technology would aid Baghdad's ambitious drive to boost oil output from current levels of three million barrels per day (bpd) to six million bpd in the 10 years after sanctions are lifted. Top U.S. oil executives have stressed that their companies will not negotiate upstream projects with Iraq until UN sanctions are lifted. That is the official line. But it has long been suggested that U.S. companies are in quiet talks with their French and Russian counterparts about potential partnerships in Iraq's oil patch. Russia and China signed upstream oil deals with Iraq in the mid-1990s, for West Qurna and Al Ahdab, respectively. France's TotalFinaElf holds exclusive negotiating rights for the Bin Umar and Majnoon oil fields, which together could pump one million bpd. Other major Western oil companies - such as Royal Dutch/Shell, Italy's ENI and Spain's Repsol - have for years been in low-profile talks with Iraq. Baghdad has vowed repeatedly to bestow states pursuing a less hardline approach - namely Russia, China and France - with commercial rewards. But some industry sources fear the tide could turn on those European companies who have refused to sign direct crude oil contracts with Iraq this year because of Baghdad's insistence of an illicit surcharge payment. At the same time, U.S. refiners have lapped up Iraqi barrels, albeit through second and third parties, a point not missed on officials in Baghdad. When sanctions are eased enough to allow Iraq a full-scale opening, the race to invest will be frantic. "Iraq's potential is incredible," a Western oil executive said. "Everybody will jump in when sanctions are lifted." Exploration and development of Iraq's western desert blocks will be some time off as data are scant. But the pumps may start churning swiftly at 11 of Iraq's most promising oil fields which are the centrepiece of its $20 billion upstream development programme. "These fields already are delineated and a number of wells have been drilled," an industry source said. And Iraq's development production contracts (DPC), akin to the oil buy-back terms offered in neighbouring Iran, are regarded as highly competitive. "Iraq's upstream contract terms are better than what's on offer elsewhere in the region," an industry source said."And there is probably still some flexibility to improve them." http://www.norwaypost.no/content.asp?folder_id=1&cluster_id=16279 * Norwegian aid worth NOK 13 million to Iraq Norway Post, 11th May Norway has granted NOK 13 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq. The funds will be channelled through the Norwegian Red Cross. The aid programme is directed towards the nation's most vulnerable groups of the population, and will be used for health and rehabilitation, and in preventive medicine. -The programme is aimed at covering areas that are not covered by the "oil-for-food" programme, says undersecretary of state Raymond Johansen of the Department of Foreign Affairs. http://www.timesofindia.com/120501/12mide2.htm * Baghdad slams Britain for "old colonial tricks" Times of India, 12th May BAGHDAD: Baghdad accused London of "old colonial tricks" on Friday, branding Iraqi Pesident Saddam Hussein a threat to the region to cover up the real danger from Israel. British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said Wednesday, while visiting Bahrain, that Saddam was still a "considerable" threat to security in the Gulf. "It seems that British officials are taking great delight in using the tricks they inherited from their colonial past," the official INA news agency said. "They try like their masters, the Americans, to make believe that Iraq represents a threat to the security of the countries of the (Arabian) peninsula and the Gulf, while hiding the real danger of the Zionist entity to the Arab world," INA said. "The American and British deception concerning an Iraqi danger coincides with the escalation of Zionist aggression" in the Palestinian territories, it added. INA also charged the United States and Britain with inventing an Iraqi threat in order to spend more money on their armed forces. Hoon said Wednesday that "the threat to regional security from Saddam Hussein remains and we must all continue to urge him to conform with United Nations resolutions so that conditions for the Iraqi people can improve." He defended the US and British enforced no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq as protecting innocent people. Baghdad has been subject to international sanctions and military restrictions since its seven-month occupation of Kuwait from 1990 to 1991. IRAQ-UN RELATIONS http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1324000/1324389.stm * Iraq seeks funds diversion BBC, 11th May Iraq is reported to be pressing the United Nations to set aside $15m from its oil-for-food revenues to pay dues it owes the UN. Iraq is allowed to sell oil to pay for humanitarian supplies under an exemption from the embargo imposed on it over its short-lived invasion of Kuwait. The UN has refused previous Iraqi requests that some of the funds be used to pay back arrears. Iraq has no vote in the UN General Assembly until it pays its debts to the organisation. [.....] SANCTIONS POLICY http://www.timesofindia.com/060501/06mide1.htm * Iraq warns neighbours against supporting sanctions Times of India, 6th May BAGHDAD: Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tareq Aziz, on Saturday warned its neighbours they risked burning valuable trade links if they cooperated with Washington to help implement "smart sanctions". "I don't think neighbouring countries will cooperate. The US proposals will cause enormous losses for countries dealing with Iraq," Aziz told reporters on the sidelines of an international meeting on the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990. Washington has launched a campaign to redesign the international sanctions on Iraq by easing restrictions on civilian products and tightening those on military equipment and technology. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that "by early June, when we have the next rollover of the sanctions regime in the UN, America's ideas will have taken root and we'll see a change then." "I think we are going to have some progress," Powell said, adding he had had encouraging discussions on the matter with Arab officials. Aziz, who is also interim foreign minister, warned that countries cooperating with the US initiative "will lose their economic and trade advantages ... Those who want to safeguard their national interests will certainly refuse the US plan." More than 10 years after the 1991 Gulf War, most Arab countries have resumed contacts with Iraq, while Egypt, Syria and Tunisia have this year signed free-trade agreements. Aziz also blamed US and British representatives in the UN Security Council for "closing the door on any progress (in Iraq-UN talks) by their obstinacy in keeping their unjust, illogical and illegal policy towards Iraq in place." "If the next round in June is not fruitful, the blame will lie with the United States and Britain, not Iraq," he said, also welcoming the failure of the US to get reelected for the United Nations Human Rights commission. "The United States is a big liar when it speaks about human rights. And its membership in that committee was one of the obstacles towards balancing the policy of that committee and the resolutions and decisions taken by this committee", Aziz added. The United States was voted off the commission on Thursday, polling last among four candidates for three seats in its regional group in a ballot of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which oversees the commission. (AFP) http://www.dawn.com/2001/05/07/ed.htm#2 * Genocide by sanctions? Dawn (Pakistan), 7th May THE US Secretary of State Colin Powell is reported to have conferred with his Russian counterpart on how best to carry on with the ten-year-old US-backed economic sanctions against Iraq. Imposed through the United Nations since the end of the Gulf war in 1991, the sanctions have had a devastating effect on the lives of 22 million Iraqis. But perhaps the most pitiless victims of these sanctions have been the Iraqi children, including infants the latter's mortality rate is now 135 per 1,000 live births. According to statistics accepted by the UN itself, more than 250 children die every day because of malnutrition and non-availability of basic health care. This means a net loss of more than 60,000 innocent lives a year. The UN economic sanctions have cost Iraq a cumulative loss of over $ 1 trillion, while the country's civic infrastructure lies shattered as a result of 75,000 tonnes of bombs rained over it between 1991 and January 2001. These have completely destroyed some 3,500 schools and raised the number of youth suffering from psychological disorders alarmingly. Meanwhile, Iraqi hospitals continue to issue death certificates by the thousands everyday for deaths caused by infectious diseases and lack of medical supplies. Those who manage to escape death are condemned to live in destitution and pain. It is against this backdrop of colossal human misery and suffering in Iraq that Colin Powell has had the gall to boast to reporters in Washington the other day that he has had some success with the five permanent members of the Security Council and America's "Arab friends in the region" on the question of continuing the UN sanctions. The up-coming vote in the UNSC will reveal how many of the permanent five members of the council will still be willing to vote for 'death by sanctions' for the Iraqi people. Though linked to the politics of punishing Saddam Hussain, continuing or tightening the sanctions will simply mean a savage method of subjecting the hapless Iraqi people to genocide-by-sanctions. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/134293175_iraq08m.html * Ex-U.N. leader decries Iraqi sanctions by Marc Ramirez Seattle Times, 8th May He carries the charter of the United Nations with him in frayed, pocketbook form, the policy bible he has thumped in 18 countries since resigning his post as United Nations' assistant secretary-general last year. Hans von Sponeck, who like his predecessor, Denis Halliday, quit in protest of economic sanctions against Iraq, spoke here yesterday to condemn a policy he said has contributed to widespread death and social ruin while failing to topple Saddam Hussein. "Iraq is truly a Third World country again," he said in an interview with The Seattle Times editorial board before last night's address at the University of Washington. With Iraq's middle class destroyed and its education system obliterated, "the new generation of leaders will be disabled. The big price will be paid long after the sanctions are gone." Von Sponeck spent a year and a half in Baghdad overseeing the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program, which he said provided an inadequate $110 per person in Iraq over four years. "I've never been in a country where I've seen so many adults crying," he said. His talk at UW's Kane Hall marked the 78th such event on behalf of his protest since resigning in March of last year. The U.S.-driven policy against Iraq, he said, typifies a self-righteousness that led U.N. members to boot the U.S. off its Commission on Human Rights last week. Imposed to compel Iraq to disarm after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the sanctions make Iraq the only country to be so punished after a war, he said. He quoted a December UNICEF report that ranked the increase in Iraq's child-mortality rates highest among 188 countries since 1991 - a 160 percent surge as a result of lack of medicine, malnutrition and water-borne diseases such as dysentery. The economic crisis produced by the sanctions, he charged, has corrupted Iraq's oil operations and created unhealthy alliances between the government and businessmen profiting from higher prices produced by limited supplies of goods. While Iraq initially tried to circumvent its disarmament obligations, von Sponeck said, its current situation reflects a qualitative disarming that would take years to rebuild. Nevertheless, the sanctions remain in place because "it takes a tremendous dose of leadership and magnanimity to admit failure," he said. With a new U.S. administration in place, he said, it now falls to Secretary of State Colin Powell to address the question of containing Saddam while improving Iraq's living standards. Because von Sponeck opposes the sanctions, he said, he's often confused with supporting Saddam. But while Saddam should be held up as a criminal, he said, so should former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, under whose watch the sanctions continued. "Whether you die by bullets or by hunger and disease, you are still dead," he said. "Iraqis, in the last 10 years, have suffered beyond any imaginable allowable limits." Von Sponeck said he has been shaped by the legacy of his father, a German Army general accused of participating in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944. Having already been jailed for defying Hitler's orders not to withdraw German troops in Russia, he was executed when von Sponeck was only 5 years old. WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION http://www.britannica.com/news/reuters/article?article_id=160409 * Iraq Denies Making, Testing Radiation Bomb by Irwin Arieff, Reuters, 11th May Iraq denied on Friday it had produced or tested a radiation bomb more than a decade ago, but acknowledged it considered such a weapon and abandoned the effort as impractical. A letter from Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri -- apparently Baghdad's first public admission it had weighed making a radiological bomb -- said an Iraqi technician had conceived of the idea of the weapon in 1987, when Baghdad was locked in a long war with neighboring Iran. Radiological bombs are aimed exclusively at humans, intended to cause severe illness and slow death through radiation sickness rather than destroy their targets with explosive power. Iraq's denial contradicts its own documents given to the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) in 1995, which show Baghdad made the weapon and tested it three times. UNSCOM issued public reports to the Security Council on the bomb in 1995 and 1996, when it was in charge of ridding Baghdad of weapons of mass destruction as required under U.N. Security Council resolutions. Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions since 1990 when it invaded Kuwait. Aldouri's letter, however, was mainly a reaction to an April 29 New York Times article which quoted from Baghdad's classified documents. Aldouri, in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said Iraqi specialists ``explored the technical and practical aspects of this idea, and they ascertained it was not feasible.'' ``They abandoned it on the grounds that it was not efficacious and would cause soil contamination that it would be difficult to clean up after the expulsion of the invaders. The idea died, and no radiological bombs were manufactured and none were tested,'' Aldouri wrote. UNSCOM documents from Iraq give extensive details of the test results and the reasons for pursuing developing of the bomb and then abandoning the project in 1987. The Iraqi document says the bomb, 12 feet long and weighing more than a ton, was tested three times before being dropped as ineffective. It said Baghdad irradiated a mixture of zirconium, hafnium, uranium and iron in its Tuweitha nuclear power plant 12 miles south of Baghdad to make the weapon. The plant was later bombed in 1991 during the Gulf War. The mix was chosen in part because its radioactivity dissipates relatively quickly, making such a weapon hard to trace and analyze after use, according to the Iraqi document. The document, still stamped ``top secret'' is now posted on the Internet at http://www.iraqwatch.org. Aldouri's letter dismissed the New York Times report as the work of ``the mouthpiece of world Zionism'' and accused the United Nations and the United States of ``leaking and distorting'' the information relied on by the newspaper ``for the purposes of the United States-Zionist policy of aggression against Iraq.'' Philip Reeker, a State Department spokesman, told reporters on April 30 the experiments with the bomb showed the need for keeping sanctions on Baghdad. Iraq continued in its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction ``and that's our primary reason that we insist on strong controls to prevent Iraq from acquiring items of concern that would aid them in that goal,'' Reeker said. Documents uncovered in 1995 showed that Iraq, after invading Kuwait in 1990, also launched a crash program to test its first nuclear bomb, using highly enriched uranium. The target date for a test was April 1991. But the Gulf War intervened in January 1991, destroying many Iraqi facilities. NO FLY ZONES http://www.iht.com/articles/19581.htm * Britain to Keep Patrols in Iraq at Current Level Reuters, Friday, May 11, 2001 Britain said Thursday that it had no plans to alter warplane patrols over Iraqi "no-fly" zones despite recommendations by U.S. military commanders to reduce them because of a growing danger to pilots. Two U.S. generals overseeing the patrols, which enforce the decade-long ban on military flights over north and south Iraq, have recommended major changes in U.S. and British methods because of increasing Iraqi attempts to shoot down a plane, Pentagon officials said. A Defense Ministry spokesman in London said: "At the moment we will continue to patrol on a regular basis and respond robustly if attacked - as has happened on a number of occasions. "We will continue to patrol the no-fly zones. We have no plans to reduce or increase our presence in the north or south." No allied aircraft have been shot down while patrolling the zones, which were put in place after the 1991 Gulf War to protect the Shiite Muslim population in the south and Iraqi Kurds in the north from President Saddam Hussein's military. "There has been a fairly sustained effort over the last two years to shoot down one of our aircraft. It hasn't been successful to date, but there is no denying it is a very dangerous environment to operate in and a dangerous job, but one that needs doing," the ministry spokesman said. "We believe the no-fly zones serve a valid humanitarian purpose in preventing Saddam from using force from the air to suppress people living in those areas. It also provides us with a good idea of what is going on on the ground."Pentagon officials said President George W. Bush's administration would consider the recommendations made by General Tommy Franks of the army and General Joseph Ralston of the air force as part of a wider review of Iraqi policy. The officials said neither General Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, nor General Ralston, the top U.S. military officer in Europe, had suggested Iraqi planes should be allowed to resume flying in the zones. The Central Command enforces the ban on flights over southern Iraq. General Ralston is in charge of U.S. forces based in Turkey, which patrol the northern no-flight zone. General Franks recommended reducing the number of patrols in the south but maintaining a minimum number of allied flights to watch Iraqi troops, Pentagon officials said. They declined to confirm a report in the Washington Post that General Ralston, who is also NATO supreme commander in Europe, would prefer a halt to the flights in the north and to keep warplanes based in Turkey ready to launch retaliatory flights if Iraq uses its aircraft to harass Kurds or minority groups. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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