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A. Britain and US prepare public for Iraq strikes, Guardian, 6th March B. Blair would follow Bush to Baghdad, but then what?, Times, 6th March [opinion piece by Alice Miles] C. U.S. believes Russia is shifting on Iraq, Baltimore Sun, 5th March D. Iraqis Will Face Blunt Terms in Weapons Talks at the U.N., New York Times, 6th March Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Times: email@example.com Baltimore Sun: firstname.lastname@example.org New York Times: email@example.com I could only find a couple of things about Iraq in today's UK broadsheets (A and B above). In A. an anonymous FCO official acknowledges that they are 'preparing people' for 'other options' ie. a military assault whilst B. is a 'dovish' opinion piece from the Times. It's possible that today's debate in the Commons may get coverage in tomorrow's papers so people may wish to hold their fire. C. suggests that Russia may not oppose an attack and D. contains more information on Blix and the negotations on the weapons inspection front Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk *************************************************************** A. Britain and US prepare public for Iraq strikes Richard Norton-Taylor and Julian Borger in Washington Wednesday March 6, 2002 The Guardian Britain and the US are engaged in a joint strategy designed to apply pressure on Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors into Iraq while preparing public opinion for military action against the country. This was made clear by Foreign Office and western intelligence sources as the US prepared to present the UN today with material purporting to show Iraq has converted trucks imported through the UN's humanitarian programme into mobile rocket launchers and military vehicles. A diplomat at the UN who has seen the evidence described it as "pretty clear". Charles Duelfer, former deputy head of the Unscom weapons inspection team, said Iraq had displayed new mobile launchers for an upgraded medium-range missile, the alSamoud, at an army day parade in April. "They have the capability to modify a vehicle like this, but not build it from scratch," he said. Mr Duelfer, now an analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, speculated that the US might have photographs of the al-Samoud launchers from the parade. Foreign Office sources insist that no decision has been made on military action against Iraq. However, a source said: "If there is no progress on the UN front, we will look at other options. We are preparing people for that". The sources said the focus was still on the UN where America and Britain are pushing for "smart sanctions" - essentially allowing Iraq to import more civilian goods while tightening controls over military related equipment - due to be implemented on May 30. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, yesterday stepped up the campaign saying that the Iraqi regime was rebuilding its nuclear, chemical, and biological, weapons programme. In an article in the Times based on information provided by the intelligence agencies, he said Iraq was developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering chemical and biological 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 Israel", he said. Mr Straw also said there was evidence that Iraq was making increased efforts to procure "nuclear-related material and technology". The foreign secretary pointedly added that many of the weapons facilities damaged by the US and Britain in the Operation Desert Fox bombing in 1998 had been repaired. The British government is planning to release a dossier, based on intelligence information, on Iraq's attempts to produce weapons of mass destruction and develop long-range missiles. The Iraqis are sending a high-level delegation to today's UN sanctions committee, led by the foreign minister, Naji Sabri al-Hadeithi, and including General Hussam Amin, who as head of the Iraqi na tional monitoring directorate represented Baghdad in its daily tussles with Unscom. Hans Blix, who would lead any new UN inspections regime, will also attend the meeting, diplomats said. Mr Blix is the head of Unscom's successor, Unmovic (the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission). But diplomats at the UN said he would have little discretion to bargain with the Iraqis over what form of inspections would be acceptable. "That decision is a matter for the security council," said a western diplomat. Iraq has repeatedly said it will not cooperate with UN inspectors. If Saddam continues to refuse to accept them, Whitehall sources say, it would make life easier for Washington. The suggestion is that this would give the Bush administration more excuse to take military action. Mr Straw's intervention follows remarks by Tony Blair to Australian television last week during the Commonwealth prime ministers' summit. They represent a significant shift away from the cautious approach towards Iraq by British ministers earlier this year. Backing President Bush's reference to the "axis of evil" of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the prime minister said: "We have got to act on it because if we don't act we may find out too late the potential for destruction." Mr Blair plans to meet president Bush in Washington next month to discuss what action they should take against Saddam's regime. ******************************************************** B. Blair would follow Bush to Baghdad, but then what? by Alice Miles The Prime Minister can dismiss the wishes of MPs, but not their concerns The Times March 06, 2002 The Government has a new “narrative”, which it is pumping out to anyone who will listen (guilty). Or, more accurately, it has an old narrative which is being rereleased with some urgency. It goes like this: There are four strands to government policy. The first is delivering a strong and stable economy. The second is the social justice agenda — Welfare to Work and child poverty etc (or “Gordon’s stuff”, as it is more commonly known). Third is the public services. Fourth is “Britain’s place in the world” — Africa and all that. Now, the narrative continues, numbers one, two and four are broadly “fine”. Number three can be separated into four parts: education, transport, health and crime. Of these, Labour has a problem with the second and third — and this is what the Government needs to focus on. No mention, note, of the euro. Blairite enthusiasts for the single currency who would have sworn a year ago that a referendum would be held this term now put the chances at 50:50. And it all depends, they say, on Gordon. So that’s that idea shelved. Why would the Chancellor take a risk on the Government’s, and therefore his, credibility by rushing inopportunely into the single currency (supposing a referendum could be won) when he can hold back and take us in himself as Prime Minister in a third Labour term? All speculation, but I pass it on. The euro isn’t the only interesting omission from No 10’s newly reissued narrative. War with Iraq doesn’t get a look-in either. I don’t get the impression that attacking President Saddam Hussein has been pencilled into the Government’s agenda. This hasn’t, of course, stopped the usual suspects getting up in arms about the issue. Tam Dalyell has called a debate in Westminster Hall today to give opponents a chance to air their objections. A defence debate three weeks ago gave a flavour of Labour MPs’ protests. Harry Cohen said that a large-scale attack on Iraq “would be an awful mistake and make the region less stable. It would also create grievance to an extent that could foster future terrorism”. Alice Mahon warned MPs of the potential for “many deaths” as a result of “such blatant warmongering” by the US. “No evidence has ever been produced that Iraq wants to attack this country . . . the escalation of military action will simply bring about another arms race, which will be devastating for the rest of the world.” Another MP, Malcolm Savidge, warned ministers against becoming “patsies for the present US Administration . . . the United Kingdom must not permit mission creep from patrolling no-fly zones to involving ourselves in war in Iraq simply to ingratiate the Republican Right rather than to defend British interests”. The trouble for the Government is that opposition to an attack on Iraq goes far beyond the left-wing “normal suspects”. It is hard to find anyone in the Parliamentary Labour Party who supports it. There are bound to be doubts in the Cabinet, too. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Donald Anderson, summed up moderate opponents’ views in a debate in December, saying that “we must be very cautious” about attacking Iraq: it is a functioning state possessing weapons of mass destruction and without an opposition which could be trusted as a successful replacement for Saddam’s administration. He also warned the House of the “major political implications for the region”, as set out by the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, namely instability in the Arab world, the collapse of the international coalition against terrorism, and the danger that Saddam would target an Israeli state governed by a man who would not be expected to show restraint in return. Wow. One hopes Mr Blair knows what he is doing. He can — and will — dismiss the wishes of his MPs, but he would be a fool to dismiss their concerns. Washington itself has no answer to the question of who or what it would like to see replace Saddam. Nor, contrary to what has been suggested, does it seem likely that the US is prepared to commit hundreds of thousands of ground troops to an effort to take Baghdad, in a campaign where they would be likely to get killed in vast numbers. At the moment the US doesn’t even have an exit strategy for Afghanistan. They haven’t caught bin Laden, they haven’t caught Mullah Omar, their soldiers are being killed and they don’t know how to get out. An air war didn’t rid Iraq of Saddam last time, and presumably won’t again, just as it failed to rid Afghanistan of Osama bin Laden. And a Prime Minister who so painstakingly built up the international coalition last autumn will be more aware than most of the part that assurances that the war aims would not be extended to Iraq played in that process. To all of which, the pugilists are entitled to ask: well, what would you do? Baghdad is developing weapons of mass destruction. It has chemical and biological weapons and is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. There have been no UN weapons inspections since 1998. Hawks and doves can broadly agree that ideally, an improved sanctions regime would be introduced and in return Saddam would allow weapons inspections to restart. Beyond that, the consensus crumbles. It is difficult to imagine Mr Blair disagreeing, however, with the notion that the US should re-engage with the Middle East and use its weight to steer Ariel Sharon back to the negotiating table. For the most worrying element of the American aggression is that there seems to be no wider strategy beyond picking off, country by country, those whom Bush views as a threat. No strategy. No clarity. No friends. All of which makes it even more worrying that the Prime Minister has apparently decided that if the US does decide to go ahead, he will, in the end, go along with it. ******************************************************************** C. U.S. believes Russia is shifting on Iraq White House official says Moscow appears ready to accept possible attack By Mark Matthews Baltimore Sun March 5, 2002 WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is becoming more confident that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin will not oppose possible military action against Iraq, a senior official said yesterday. If Russia were to agree, it would mark a major shift from the policy that the Kremlin has pursued since the late 1990s, when Moscow became Baghdad's principal defender in the United Nations Security Council and pushed for an early end to sanctions against Iraq. The administration is beginning to prepare the diplomatic ground for military action to remove President Saddam Hussein if he continues to bar U.N. weapons inspectors from Iraq or blocks their access to sensitive sites. Unlike the Clinton administration, which used airstrikes merely to try to force Iraq to cooperate with the inspections, the Bush team has made clear that its goal in any new military action would be to end Hussein's regime. The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has been involved in recent talks with the Kremlin. He said conversations with Russian officials indicate that the kind of Russian cooperation already evident in the U.S.-led war on terrorism might now extend to Iraq. "I think they acknowledge our analysis that if the Iraqis refuse to let the inspectors in, or obstruct the inspectors once they are in, they're in violation of 687," the official said, referring to the U.N. resolution laying out the terms of the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Russia also agrees that if the cease-fire has been violated, "the authorization to use force comes back into effect," the official said. A Russian Embassy spokesman, Yevgeniy Khorishko, declined to comment on the U.S. official's statements other than to say, "We are cooperating with the United States in the U.N. on the Iraq issue." Even if Russia supported military strikes to force Iraqi compliance on inspections, getting the Kremlin to agree to the forced removal of Hussein would be "a lot harder" the American official said, because of historically close ties between Russia and Iraq. "But on the other hand, the cooperation the Russians have shown since Sept. 11 in a whole range of things - operations in the Central Asian republics, operations in Georgia - are things that nobody would have predicted pre-Sept. 11. So I don't even rule that out necessarily." Since President Bush's State of the Union speech, in which he labeled Iraq part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and North Korea, U.S. officials have made it increasingly clear that the president is intent on what they call "regime change" in Iraq. But they have said no decision has been made on when or how to do it. The official who spoke in an interview yesterday said military action, if it occurs, would not come before the May summit between Bush and Putin. Even if Russia acquiesces, U.S. military action against Iraq faces opposition in Europe and among a number of Arab leaders, who would face strong domestic opposition to an American attack against an Arab state. And because Hussein himself would be threatened by the United States in a way that he wasn't during the 1991 war, the United States needs to prepare for the possibility that he would take desperate measures to save his regime - perhaps by unleashing an arsenal of chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces, Israel or Gulf Arab states. "The Hitler-in-the-bunker mentality - 'If I'm going down, I'm going to take everything else with me' - is not something you can discount," the senior administration official said yesterday. "And therefore the threat to other nearby countries in particular is something you have to worry about before you make any of these decisions." Vice President Dick Cheney's trip to the region this month "will be part of the process of finding out what people think so we can get a better handle on that." In an apparent move to prevent or forestall a U.S. military campaign, Iraq shows signs of relenting on its refusal for the past three years to allow U.N. inspectors back into the country. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri is due to meet Thursday in New York with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Most U.S. officials don't believe Saddam Hussein will allow inspections that might uncover weapons of mass destruction or weapons-development that he has been determined to keep hidden. But U.S. allies see a value to trying to get the inspectors back into Iraq. And Secretary of State Colin L. Powell indicated over the weekend that he did, too. "I have no illusions about the ability of inspectors to find everything, but I think they can play a useful role," Powell said in a CNN interview. The senior official added, "It's important to go through the exercise one more time so that there's no doubt in anybody's mind that the Iraqis are never going to really comply with 687, which requires free and unfettered access to the inspectors." The official's optimistic assessment of a changed Russian attitude toward Iraq is supported by some Washington analysts who watch the Kremlin closely. Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Nixon Center, said, "What choice does [Putin] have? He's not going to go to war against the United States. He's not going to postpone the summit, and if [the military action occurs] after the summit, he's not going to reject U.S. help in joining" the World Trade Organization. But Simes said it is important for the Bush administration "to appreciate Russian concerns," particularly the likely negative reaction by the Russian public, as well as Russian economic interests in Iraq, which owes a multibillion-dollar debt to Moscow and has also signed long-term oil-development contracts with Russian firms. The United States should assure Russia that it would press a post-Hussein regime in Iraq to fulfill its obligations to Russia and that it would "not promote American companies at the expense of Russian companies," Simes said. The U.S. official, referring to Russia's economic concerns, said, "I can't believe that we wouldn't be willing to accommodate them. We're not trying to exclude them from trade with Iraq or anything else, or to prevent them from getting their debts paid off. It may well be easier for them to achieve those objectives with regime change in Baghdad than it would be otherwise." Lilia Shevtsova, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Russia wants to be America's "ally and partner" on Iraq, but is "unhappy about the unilateralist overdrive." "If the inspectors are not returned, then Russia definitely will support the American approach - even military action," she said. Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun ************************************************************************* D. Iraqis Will Face Blunt Terms in Weapons Talks at the U.N. By BARBARA CROSSETTE New York Times March 6, 2002 UNITED NATIONS, March 5 — After three years of refusing to deal with United Nations arms inspectors, a high-level Iraqi delegation is about to come face to face for the first time with the leader of the inspection commission, Hans Blix. That the Iraqis have agreed to this meeting, set for Thursday, after asking to see only Secretary General Kofi Annan, is indicative of the concern they have that the threat of an American attack is real, if not imminent, diplomats and United Nations officials said in interviews this week. While no one expects a quick resumption of arms inspections in Iraq, diplomats said the Iraqis appear more conciliatory. They also said the five permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — are more unified than in recent years at least on the demand that until inspectors return on the Council's terms, no relief from sanctions can be permitted. Dr. Blix, a Swedish disarmament expert and international lawyer, said in an interview on Monday that the Council's terms meant unrestricted access and no Iraqi veto over the nationality of inspectors. "I am not giving any discounts on Security Council resolutions," he said. "There are no sanctuaries. The resolutions make it quite clear that there should be access that is unconditional, immediate and unrestricted." The Iraqis sought this week's meeting after a year of cold-shouldering the United Nations and another two years of playing Council members off one another. When Mr. Annan agreed to the talks, he decided to include Dr. Blix, executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, created in December 1999 to replace an earlier body, the United Nations Special Commission. A senior United Nations legal counsel will also be present. The Iraqi delegation to what is expected to be only the first round of talks will be led by a new foreign minister, Naji Sabri, who is considered more amenable than his blustering predecessor, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. Weapons experts will be included in the Iraqi group, the first to venture out on this issue since a reshuffle in the Iraqi foreign affairs hierarchy that may have reduced the influence of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, diplomats said. Mr. Aziz recently visited Moscow and Beijing but received little in the way of support from the Russians or Chinese for continued defiance of the Security Council. At the International Peace Academy, a research organization in New York that works closely with the United Nations, David Malone, the organization's president, said American threats to hit Iraq may have influenced thinking in countries like Russia and France, which have large commercial interests there. If the government of Iraq were to be dislodged or toppled by United States action, what would happen to those interests — to the debt of up to $8 billion Iraq owes the Russians? "Saddam Hussein may have played his cards wrong," Mr. Malone, a Canadian diplomat, said in an interview. "Overall, patience with Iraq has pretty much run out." Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, said today that Iraq's team looked promising. "The fact that they are coming with a senior and quite serious delegation is a good sign that they want to have discussions with the secretary general about — as they would see it — the options open to them," he said. "As the Security Council, and I'm sure the secretary general, see it, the options open to them are compliance." Britain and other Security Council members have met with Mr. Annan to encourage him not to allow the Iraqis to shift talks away from their immediate obligations. Iraq, seeking control over revenue from oil sales, wants a timetable for the lifting of penalties. Money now goes into escrow accounts, with some earmarked to assist the Kurds in northern Iraq, to pay reparations for the 1990 occupation of Kuwait and to support arms inspection. Dr. Blix has used some of that money to turn the commission he has headed since early 2000 into a much more technically professional body than its predecessor. A vast data base with sophisticated search engines for cross-referencing archival material on Iraq has been created, he said. Satellite imagery of Iraqi buildings, roads, power lines or other objects of interest to inspectors has been purchased from commercial suppliers. A blowup of the streets of Baghdad hangs on his office wall. About 230 inspectors from dozens of countries have been trained or are now in training to work in Iraq, Dr. Blix said. The Monterey Institute of International Studies in California has produced a media file of 3,000 to 4,000 articles or other material published on Iraqi weapons, including testimony from defectors and intelligence leaks. Technology has been upgraded. "They have acquainted themselves with a lot of new techniques," Dr. Blix said of his inspectors. "Sensors, tagging, cameras, etc. — all this moves very fast." The question hanging over the United Nations now is whether the United States really wants arms inspectors to return, based on public comments made by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld questioning their value. Some diplomats say the United States would not want inspectors on the ground if a military attack were being planned; the last inspectors to work in Iraq had to be pulled out ahead of American bombing in 1998. Other diplomats say they think that Washington fears that inspectors could be used to give the appearance of Iraqi compliance while continuing to stonewall inspectors and hide weapons programs. Publicly, however, Bush administration officials call for the return of inspectors in line with Security Council demands. As the Council approaches several critical months of work on the Iraq issue, European diplomats see the most unity on an agreement on a new list of what Iraq can buy freely with its oil money and of which items will be open to scrutiny because they look like civilian goods but could have military uses. That agreement is expected to be completed by mid- May. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk