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Dear all The Times is running a series by Paxman and Robert Harris about Iraq's WMD. The most interesting bit is the subheading: 'While George Bush names Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an axis of evil, Saddam Hussein's huge chemical and biological weapons arsenal emerges as the biggest threat to world peace'. Whatever view one takes, there is no basis for stating as fact that Iraq has a 'huge' CBW arsenal, and The Times should get rapped for saying so. email@example.com The article which is really of interest to us is about Iraq's WMD - also by Harris and Paxman - immediately after this article in the paper version of the Times today, but I can't find it on their website. Perhaps if someone else does they will post it to the list? It is full of the usual 'could have/may have' stuff. Neatly avoids the 'inspectors booted out in 1998', and refers to US nuclear threats against Iraq in 1991. Cheers Mil http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,7-204432,00.html Times 2 - features February 11, 2002 Cover story The bio-terror time bomb by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman Subheading: While George Bush names Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an axis of evil, Saddam Hussein's huge chemical and biological weapons arsenal emerges as the biggest threat to world peace Proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is the most urgent problem facing Western military planners. Apart from Iraq — which stands in an appalling category of its own — the quartet of Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea now appear to be co-operating in the development of weapons of mass destruction. Iranian oil wealth has helped to enable North Korea to develop a sophisticated long-range missile programme. Tehran has also provided Syria with financial assistance to enable it to threaten Israel by buying North Korean Scuds. Libya has expressed a desire to buy North Korean missiles with a range of 1,000km. All four countries have chemical and biological weapons programmes in various stages of development. North Korea is believed to have a stockpile of 300-1,000 tons of chemical weapons agents, including nerve gases, and to be experimenting with anthrax, cholera, bubonic plague and smallpox. Syria is producing chemical weapons at three sites, employed cyanide against a rebellion by Sunni Muslims in 1982 (according to Amnesty International) and is “pursuing the development” of biological weapons. Iran — which made use of mustard and cyanide gases in its war with Iraq — has continued to develop chemical weapons, has a biological weapons manufacturing capability, and is alleged to have stocks of anthrax and botulinum. Libya used chemical weapons against Chad in 1987, has a chemical weapons production facility, and appears to be trying to acquire the means to manufacture biological agents. Expert advice is not lacking. The image of a footloose, amoral scientist, skilled in developing weapons of mass destruction and prepared to sell himself to the highest bidder, is usually the stuff of thrillers. But in this case, reality has kept pace with fiction. The collapse of the Soviet Union left hundreds of scientists involved in its biological weapons programme surplus to requirements. Some were re-employed in legitimate industries. Some were paid a pension by the Americans in return for their discretion. But as the plants at which they worked rusted away, others found that curious visitors began calling. American diplomats were warned in 1997 that Iranian delegations had offered biologists new careers developing a biological warfare capability in the Islamic republic. Most seem to have declined the invitations. Others, whose salaries had not been paid for months, apparently found the lure of a steady income irresistible. It is the risk from those countries with a reputation for sponsoring terrorism which is now most exercising governments around the world. So far the terrorist use of chemical and biological weapons has been the province of cults and cranks. In September 1984, for example, in the United States, devotees of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh poisoned 751 people in the Oregon town of Wasco, contaminating drinking glasses and salad bowls with salmonella. Mercifully there were no fatalities, even though the salmonella had been bought from the same company which supplied anthrax and botulinum to the University of Baghdad. Much more serious were the activities of the Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikiyo, which made two ineffectual attacks with biological agents — botulinum toxin in 1990 and anthrax in 1993 — neither of which caused any injuries, before resorting to nerve agents. In June 1994, the cult used home-made sarin on the inhabitants of an apartment block in Matsumoto, killing seven and injuring 300. Then, in March 1995, came the worst incident of all. Five terrorists, each carrying plastic bags containing small amounts of sarin, boarded separate Tokyo subway trains, and at 8am simultaneously punctured the bags with umbrellas. Twelve people died; more than 5,000 were injured. Most recently there have been the anthrax attacks in the United States, carried out by means of contaminated letters. Five people have been killed by military-grade anthrax, reported to contain one trillion spores per gram. The letter sent to the US Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, alone contained two grams of anthrax — theoretically enough to kill 200 million people (a figure which demonstrates both how easy it is to be alarmist about biological weapons, and how astonishingly lethal they could be if the right means of dispersal could be employed). The high concentration would seem to indicate that this agent was originally procured from a national weapons programme — possibly even from America’s own former biological stockpile. The most frightening aspect of all these attacks — apart from the malice and contempt for human life which inspired them — is the ease with which they were mounted. And yet the perpetrators were, essentially, amateurs. If professionally trained terrorists, backed by the resources of a chemical and biological weapons-capable state, were to mount similar attacks, the results could be devastating. There have been intelligence reports that the al-Qaeda organisation has acquired botulinum toxin from a laboratory in the Czech Republic, paying $7,500 (£4,700) a phial. Anthrax “in some form” is also said to have been obtained from an Indonesian company. One of the hijackers who helped to carry out the suicide attacks of September 11 is known to have inquired about purchasing a crop- dusting aircraft — a perfect means of dispersing chemical and biological agents over a target population. A terrorist who was infected with smallpox, and who sought contact with as many people as possible before succumbing to the disease, would be the ultimate walking suicide bomb. In one exercise, undertaken by officials in Washington in 1999, the progress of smallpox was tracked as it spread through an unvaccinated American population. Within two months, 15,000 people were dead; within a year, the figure was 80 million. A Higher Form of Killing by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman (Arrow, £8.99) is available from The Times Bookshop (0870 160 8080) for £7.64 + 99p p&p -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.