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[casi] From today's papers: 05-03-02

A. Saddam 'steps up quest for nuclear bomb', The Times, 5th March
B. 'Saddam must allow weapons inspectors into Iraq or suffer the
consequences', The Times, 5th March [opinion piece by the Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw]
C. Iraq developing nuclear bomb, says Straw, Guardian, 5th March
D. Why is Blair banging the drum for an attack on Iraq?, Guardian, 5th March
[opinion piece by Hugo Young]
E. . So how would you stop Saddam without going to war?, Independent, 5th
March [opinion piece by Donald Macintyre].
F. US to present evidence of Iraq weapons activity, FT, 4th March
G. Lieberman: Action Against Iraq Might Start Secretly, Reuters, 3rd March

The Times:

Today's Times contains a major propaganda piece by Jack Straw (B), which is
also reported on in today's Guardian (C).

Having stated that Saddam Hussein ' persistently flouts the authority of the
UN Security Council and international law' - a judgement which certainly
applies to the US and Britain - Mr Straw goes on to make a number of
allegations about Iraq's WMD capabilities the 'threat' of which he claims to
be 'growing once more.'

With tiresome predictability Straw then goes on to claim that sanctions have
nothing to do with suffering in Iraq which is 'inflict[ed]' by Saddam and
no-one else:

'It angers me when well-meaning people are taken in these lies. The UN
allows the regime access to more than enough money for all the humanitarian
goods the Iraqis need. It is the regime which refuses to use these funds to
order food and medicine. It suits Saddam to make Iraqis suffer and starve,
because this distracts attention from the threat he poses to global

Goebbel's would have been proud!

Straw then goes on to give a plug for "smart" sanctions before claiming that
SH 'effectively threw out the UN inspectors three years ago' and issuing a
veiled threat that 'no one - especially Saddam - [should] doubt our

D. is a 'dovish' opinion piece from the Guardian, E. excerpts from a more
hawkish piece in the Independent.

F. is from yesterday's FT: Washington is apparently about to release
'evidence' 'proving' that Iraq has been using trucks procured under
oil-for-food for military purposes.

Finally in G. 'a leading Democrat' claims 'that U.S. action against Baghdad
might begin without notification to Congress to allow President Bush "to
employ surprise in attacking or going against the leadership of Iraq.'

Several anti-sanctions letters appeared in today's Indy and Guardian, so
keep it up! Note that the Times require exclusivity for their letters and
all the papers require you to provide an address and telephone number.

Best wishes,

voices uk


A. Saddam 'steps up quest for nuclear bomb'
By Philip Webster, Political Editor

The Times

March 05, 2002

SADDAM HUSSEIN has stepped up his efforts to obtain nuclear materials and
would have a nuclear bomb by now but for the sanctions imposed by the West,
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, says today.
Writing in The Times Mr Straw — ratcheting even higher the rhetoric against
Iraq in advance of Tony Blair’s talks with President Bush next month — says
that if Saddam refuses to open his weapons programme to international
inspection, “he will have to live with the consequences”.

In a clear reference to the findings of Western Intelligence, Mr Straw says
that evidence is building that the threat from Iraq’s weapons programme is
growing again, with many of the facilities damaged in 1998 by Operation
Desert Fox repaired.

“There is evidence of increased efforts to procure nuclear-related material
and technology and that nuclear research and development work has begun
again. Without the controls which we have imposed Saddam would have had a
nuclear bomb by now.”

He adds: “We cannot allow Saddam to hold a gun to the heads of his own
people, his neighbours and the world . . . let no one — especialy Saddam —
doubt our resolve.”

B. Saddam must allow weapons inspectors into Iraq or suffer the consequences
by Jack Straw

The Times
March 05, 2002

The stalemate between the United Nations and Iraq cannot go on for ever. For
more than a decade, Britain and the United States have led the UN’s efforts
to protect Iraq’s neighbours from aggression and protect the world from Iraq
’s weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq persistently flouts the authority of the UN Security Council and
international law. But the people who have suffered most of all from
President Saddam Hussein’s brutality are the Iraqis themselves.

The threat from Iraq is not receding. Unique among the world’s tyrants,
Saddam has both the ruthlessness and capability to employ weapons of mass
destruction. He used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in the 1980s
and against citizens of his own country at Halabja, in the Kurdish region,
in 1988.

In 1991 it took concerted international action to oust Saddam from Kuwait,
and to establish UN procedures for inspecting and destroying Iraq’s arsenal
of weapons of mass destruction. But UN inspectors, consistently prevented
from doing their job, left Iraq in 1998.

Since then, evidence has been building up that the threat from Iraq’s
weapons programmes is growing once more. Many of the facilities damaged in
1998 by the American and British strikes in Operation Desert Fox have been
repaired. Iraq has persisted with its chemical and biological weapons
programmes, and is developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering such
weapons to targets beyond the 150km limit imposed by the UN. This would
allow Iraq to hit countries as far away as the United Arab Emirates and

There is evidence of increased efforts to procure nuclear-related material
and technology, and that nuclear research and development work has begun
again: indeed, without the controls which we have imposed, Saddam would have
had a nuclear bomb by now.

The regime has admitted hiding weapons of mass destruction in the desert, in
caves and in tunnels. It has admitted manufacturing chemical weapons like
sarin and mustard gas, and biological agents like anthrax. The destructive
potential of these weapons beggars the imagination. Nerve agents can cause
death within minutes. Tiny doses of sarin or anthrax are deadly. UN weapons
inspectors, denied access to Iraq, cannot account for large quantities of
materials used to make these deadly substances.

Because we have contained the threat for so long, many have assumed it has
gone away. This is patently not true. But meanwhile the Iraqi propaganda
machine has tried to pin the blame on the UN policy of containment for the
suffering which Saddam inflicts on the Iraqi people.

It angers me when well-meaning people are taken in by these lies. The UN
allows the regime access to more than enough money for all the humanitarian
goods the Iraqis need. It is the regime which refuses to use these funds to
order food and medicine. It suits Saddam to make Iraqis suffer and starve,
because this distracts attention from the threat he poses to global

It is time to stop him hiding behind the human shield of his people’s
suffering. British and US diplomats have devised an improved policy, which
tightens controls on military goods, while lightening controls on civilian

There would be a “Goods Review List”, focused on military and
weapons-related goods, which would be subject to review before they could be
exported to Iraq. There would be no prohibitions against exporting to Iraq
any civilian goods not on the list.

The United Nations Security Council has decided in principle to implement
these revised measures. But Saddam opposes the idea because helping the
Iraqi people is not his priority. He prefers to spend money on weapons, not
food; on statues and monuments to himself, not medicines.

The international community’s most pressing demand is for Iraq to allow UN
officials to inspect his weapons programmes. Saddam broke his word and has
been in breach of his international obligations since he effectively threw
out the UN inspectors three years ago.

If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he let them return and do so without
preconditions? As long as he refuses, we can only suspect the worst — and
this obliges us to look at other ways of limiting his capability.

We cannot allow Saddam to hold a gun to the heads of his own people, his
neighbours and the world for ever. Intense diplomatic efforts will continue,
and I hope they will achieve our aim of removing the threat which Iraq’s
weapons of mass destruction pose to humanity. But if he refuses to open his
weapons programmes to proper international inspection, he will have to live
with the consequences.

No decisions have been taken, but let no one — especially Saddam — doubt our

C. Iraq developing nuclear bomb, says Straw

Nicholas Watt, political correspondent
Tuesday March 5, 2002
The Guardian

Saddam Hussein is pressing ahead with the development of a nuclear bomb and
would already have one were it not for sanctions imposed by the United
Nations, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, warns today.
Mr Straw's tough rhetoric is designed to increase the pressure on Baghdad
ahead of the prime minister's talks in Washington next month with George

Tony Blair warned at the weekend that Britain is preparing to join the US in
a military confrontation with Baghdad. He will also meet US vice president
Dick Cheney for talks on Iraq next week in London, it was reported last

Stepping up the pressure on Baghdad to open up its weapons programme to
inspections, Mr Straw warns that Saddam will have to "live with the
consequences" if he refuses to abide by international law.

"There is evidence of increased efforts to procure nuclear-related material
and technology, and that nuclear research and development work has begun
again," the foreign secretary writes in today's Times. "Without the controls
which we have imposed Saddam would have a nuclear bomb by now.

"We cannot allow Saddam to hold a gun to the heads of his own people, his
neighbours and the world... Let no one - especially Saddam - doubt our

Mr Straw says that Iraq is developing ballistic missiles capable of
delivering weapons beyond the 90-mile limit imposed by the UN, which would
allow it to hit countries "as far away as the United Arab Emirates and
Israel". There is a growing feeling at Westminster that the increasingly
bellicose rhetoric from the British government is designed to soften up
public opinion ahead of any strikes against Iraq. It is understood that Mr
Blair is planning to publish detailed intelligence material outlining Iraq's
weapons programme in the same way that he published intelligence about

D. Why is Blair banging the drum for an attack on Iraq?

The PM is talking up the case for action when he should be sceptical

Hugo Young
Tuesday March 5, 2002
The Guardian

Listening to the right in Washington and the left in London, you might think
an American invasion of Iraq this year is certain to happen. It is not. The
question remains moot, for the compelling reason, sensed in Washington as
keenly as anywhere, that an invasion would be very risky.

The Foreign Office hopes it will not happen. So does the Ministry of
Defence. So, according to all available intelligence, does Tony Blair. So
another question presents itself. Why is Mr Blair going round the world
softening up opinion for a war that may not happen, and which he would
prefer not to see?

An Iraqi war would be difficult, first of all, militarily. Iraq is not
Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is hard enough. American troops have been
bogged down there, not just destroying the Taliban but trying to stop
factions disintegrating into civil war, much longer than the Pentagon
wanted. Battle scenarios in Iraq contemplate at least 200,000 US troops on
the ground, whatever the result of an air assault. This is very big stuff,
involving armies that may not be easily extricated from what they're doing,
let alone smoothly assembled. The generals may not want to do it.

The rationale is as troubling as the battle plan. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq
will lack the pretext that fitted it for urgent coalition-building and
attack. The most ferocious Washington warriors have failed to find an
al-Qaida connection. The continuity between Afghanistan and Iraq is one of
timing alone. This could be the convenient moment to move on from global
terrorism to the recalcitrant enemy. That may make sense to Pentagon
hardliners, but would mean an Iraqi war conducted in much more fragmented
political conditions than the war against Osama bin Laden. Quite forbidding.

Most of the Arab world would like to see Saddam Hussein destroyed. But how
many regional leaders will talk and act accordingly? On past evidence,
they'll wait to see who's winning. Vice-President Cheney's coming tour is
designed to shore up the coalition for all eventualities. It will not be
easy. In Afghanistan, the neighbour whose support was crucial, and fiercely
fought for, was Pakistan. In Iraq, an entire region will be in play as the
US military seeks a swift success that must include the visible departure
from this life of Mr Saddam. Hard to plot with certainty. Another pragmatic
flaw in the brutalist world-view of Richard Perle.

So, compared with the instant response to September 11, the slow build-up to
an Iraqi war has problems on every front. I have touched on only a handful.
Even if the UN procedures are gone through, with weapons inspectors once
again proposed and rejected, the world's will for American action will be
deeply splintered.

Louring over everything is the gamble on success. The domestic politics of
war might play well in the autumn, during mid-term elections the Republicans
are in danger of losing. But the politics of mili tary failure would play
catastrophically in 2004 when Mr Bush is up for re-election.

Outsiders might be seized of another thing. Added to these reasons that
might yet make Bush hesitate is the prospect of international chaos, as one
nation unilaterally decides to exert its powerful will to revolutionise
another. All in all, a shocking price to pay, justifiable, a sceptic might
think, only in the event of clear and present global danger, together with
the certainty that such action could eliminate it.

But Tony Blair is doing everything he can to sound unsceptical. He seems to
have launched himself on another of his missions. His words are as
calculated as they are gratuitous. He makes the Bush argument about weapons
of mass destruction if not the axis of evil, and offers no doubt about the
need to go after them. He is making himself part of the propaganda build-up
to normalise the necessity of invasion.

Into a scepticism that extends even to parts of Washington, let alone his
other friend Vladimir Putin, he drops statements that solidify the case the
hawks are making, and incidentally assure Bush that anything he does will
not be unilateralist: he will always have a friend in Downing Street.

Yet here, too, Iraq is not quite like Afghanistan. Whereas the war against
al-Qaida drew little dissent that mattered, war in Iraq is another matter.
The cabinet might at last have something to say. Mr Blair talks as if his is
the only British voice that counts. But foreign policy here is not, as in
France, a presidential fief. Decisions like this one surely need proper
collective endorsement.

As we will see when the Commons debates it tomorrow, the Labour backbenches
are seriously divided. They're the open face, I believe, of covert anxieties
about the Iraqi option that are starting to grow across the cabinet.

It's possible, I'm prepared to concede, that the objective doubts anyone
ought to have about an invasion may begin to fall away. Saddam Hussein is an
international criminal, brutal to his own people and an unrepentant enemy of
any world order the UN attempts to invigilate.

Maybe the indigenous forces vital to his overthrow can be fashioned by the
US into a credible replacement. Maybe a military plan can be shaped in
Washington and Tampa that makes watertight sense. Maybe the neighbours can
be persuaded, by whatever furtive means, not to oppose America outright.
Maybe - perhaps it's more than maybe - other major nations of the EU will
not, if it comes to the point of war, publicly oppose the US.

Britain, we know, would fall into that unresisting camp. But does this have
to happen so brazenly before the question is even asked? Does our leader
need to go round not only talking up the weapons of mass destruction, but
implying that just about any action will be legitimate to attack them? When
strategy and tactics are, for the best of reasons, disputed, why does he
choose to put his weight behind the hawks and not the doves, especially when
the entire British and EU political establishment, except the Duncan Smith
fraction, is more conscious of the hazards than the necessity of an Iraqi

Pushed on this, Mr Blair would say his influence lies behind closed doors.
He talks an American game in public to play a European one in private. If
that was ever true, it's now plainly a fantasy. His stance is American in
private as well as public: reassuring, cosy, intimate, trusted, enlisted,

There is another way. Last month, the German foreign minister, Joschka
Fischer, was asked about an Iraqi invasion. He said calmly, "There is a
debate that is getting more intense and that we view with concern." Such
quiet scepticism probably reflects British public opinion. Consider it in
Blair's mouth, and you reach the heart of the British predicament. It would
sound like mutiny. Yet that is the barrier Britain needs to cross. If the
mere expression of concern is a price loyalty declines to pay to
independence, then the relationship really has become a curse.


E. So how would you stop Saddam without going to war?
by Donald Macintyre.

The Independent
5th March


'The issue ... [is] the threat, regional and global ... that Iraq

'The British Foreign Office, at least, has set considerable store on the
negotiations, which will come to a head in the next two months, for the
so-called "smart sanctions" UN regime, which the Russians, partly for
commerical reasons, have so far declined to countenance. But they would have
the double advantage of further reducing the export of hardware with
military potential while expanding the export of medical and food supplies,
to an extent which would make it much more difficult for Saddam to claim
that Iraqi children are dying because of UN sanctions.'

'It may be .. that those who resolutely oppose any action against Iraq are
making the wrong point. To say that wiping out the Taliban is right but that
stopping Saddam's continued defiance of international and democratic opinion
is wrong is a form of moral relativism, that is not, in the end, so easy to
apply. But the real criticism of the more hawkish elements in Washington is
that they appear, at times, dangerously uninterested in a more enlightened
approach towards Iran or to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue that might create
support for its toughening stance on Iraq.'

'The cause worth fighting for, in other words, is not so much the
elimination of the threat of military action  - at least, as the last
resort - against Iraq. For it's a case that invites the hard question: what
would you do instead?'

F. US to present evidence of Iraq weapons activity

By Carola Hoyos, United Nations Correspondent

Financial Times
Published: March 4 2002 21:55 | Last Updated: March 5 2002 00:41

The US this week will present the United Nations Security Council with
intelligence showing that Iraq has converted trucks imported through the
UN's humanitarian programme into rocket launchers and other military

The sharing of evidence on Iraq, which is expected to include satellite
pictures, is highly unusual for the US. A diplomat said it will be the
"first time in years" that new US intelligence about Iraq's weapons
programme has been discussed in the sanctions committee, which is made up of
the 15 members of the Security Council, including Russia, China and Syria.

UN diplomats said Washington was motivated by two goals. Its first was to
justify the blocking of contracts involving trucks in the so-called
oil-for-food programme, which allows Iraq to sell its oil and purchase
humanitarian goods. The US has come under growing criticism as the number of
contracts it has held up has increased to about $5bn - a quarter of the
total value of goods that have reached Iraq since the UN's programme began
in December 1996.

The US's second aim, diplomats say, is to win over UN sceptics for a tougher
policy on Iraq by revealing the full scale of Iraq's activities. Kofi Annan,
UN secretary general, is scheduled to meet a high-level Iraqi delegation on
Thursday to discuss ways of breaking the stalemate between the UN and Iraq.

Mr Annan is expected to urge Iraq to allow the return of UN weapons
inspectors, who left the country on the eve of the US bombing campaign in
December 1998.

Iraq's talks with the UN are seen as part of Baghdad's efforts to avert
another US military campaign that could aim to dislodge the regime of
President Saddam Hussein. The US has bracketed Iraq as part of the "axis of
evil", which also includes Iran and North Korea. The administration has
warned Baghdad to resume inspections or face the consequences, but the more
hawkish members of the US defence department are said to favour direct
military action on Iraq, which would be more difficult if weapons inspectors
were on the ground.

The US and UK have often alleged that Iraq diverts money from the
oil-for-food arrangement to its weapons programme.

"The briefing will show clearly that Iraq is misusing all kinds of trucks
ordered through the oil-for-food for military purposes," said one diplomat,
adding that the information could explain the contract hold-ups.

Others, however, doubt whether the US will be able to prove the trucks were
bought through the UN programme and not smuggled into the country via Turkey
or Jordan.


G. Lieberman: Action Against Iraq Might Start Secretly
Sun Mar 3, 1:19 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leading Democrat said on Sunday that U.S. action
against Baghdad might begin without notification to Congress to allow
President Bush "to employ surprise in attacking or going
against the leadership of Iraq.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat and former vice presidential
candidate, criticized the Bush administration for generally failing to
consult enough with members of Congress in the ongoing war against
terrorism, telling CBS's "Face the Nation" program: "The administration
could at this point do a better job of involving members of Congress in some
of the discussions about where the war is going."

But Lieberman made a blunt distinction with regards to Iraq and efforts to
overturn President Saddam Hussein. Bush's recent declaration of Iraq, Iran
and North Korea as an "axis of evil" bent on pursuing weapons of mass
destruction fueled speculation the U.S. administration would act next
against Saddam, whose regime survived the U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War.

Bush has warned Saddam his country will face the consequences if he does not
allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return, and also has reportedly approved a
covert plan to topple Saddam. Iraq denies it has any weapons of mass

"The president should consult with members of Congress as his administration
it seems to me has clearly turned a corner here and made a judgement that it
is critically important to American security to change the regime in
Baghdad," Lieberman said.

"But I think you have also got to give the commander in chief the right to
employ surprise in attacking or in going against the leadership of Iraq,"
the senator added. "And therefore, consultation, but it may be that we will
not have an actual congressional resolution until after activities or
actions have begun in Iraq."

Lieberman was one of 10 leading members of Congress who have urged Bush to
make Iraq the next target in the U.S. war on terrorism, saying it had
reinvigorated its weapons programs since U.N. inspectors left in December

Another senator who joined the effort, Arizona Republican John McCain, told
CNN's "Late Edition" program, "Saddam presents a clear and present danger to
the United States" and should be removed from power.

"The administration and others are discussing and planning whether to pursue
diplomatic, economic and other means," said McCain, a former presidential
rival to Bush.

"The United States I think has to examine all options. I don't think there
is going to be a precipitous invasion of Iraq but I do believe that we have
to explore the options necessary for a regime change," he said.

Lieberman also hailed the Middle East peace proposal recently outlined by
Saudi Prince Abdullah, calling it "a significant development."

"The United States should seize this moment of opportunity, send a
high-level, permanent ... representative to stay in the Middle East and use
the Abdullah plan as a way to begin to create negotiations," Lieberman said.

McCain called the plan "an important framework" the United States must
embrace in the face of "a terribly, terribly explosive situation."

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