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[casi] News, 15-22/6/02 (2)

News, 15-22/6/02 (2)


*  CIA given powers to topple Saddam: WP
*  Gunning for Saddam - but is the CIA capable of triggering his demise?
*  Behind 'Plot' on Hussein, a Secret Agenda [Scott Ritter]


*  Islamist militants suspected behind Iraq blasts
*  Iraqi Kurds fear talk of war
*  Kurds report ethnicity cleansing by Iraq


*  3 new Israeli submarines may carry nuclear warheads
*  Iraq is ready to discuss issues of the missing since the Gulf war
*  Iran 'opposes US attacking Iraq'


*  U.S. Plane Bombs Iraqi Defense Site
*  US planes strike command center in Iraq
*  US-British raids kill four Iraqis in Baghdad


*  US turf wars betray the Iraqis
*  Iraqi opposition to hold meeting in London


Dawn, 17th June, 05 Rabi-us-Saani 1423

WASHINGTON, June 16: US President George W. Bush early this year signed an
intelligence order directing the CIA to conduct covert operations to topple
Saddam Hussein, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The covert programme included authorization to use lethal force to capture
Saddam, the Post said, citing informed sources.

Bush has openly declared his desire to remove the Iraqi president, by
military force if necessary, but has offered few details of how he plans to
accomplish that.

The Post said the presidential order directs the CIA to use all available
tools, including:

 Increased support to Iraqi opposition groups and forces inside and outside
Iraq including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence

 Expanded efforts to collect intelligence within Iraqi government,
military, security service and overall population where pockets of intense
anti-Saddam sentiment have been detected.

 Possible use of CIA and US Special Forces teams, similar to those that
have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 airliner
attacks. Such forces would be authorized to kill the Iraqi president if they
were acting in self-defence.

Sources said CIA Director George Tenet told Bush and his Cabinet that the
covert program alone - without military action or diplomatic and economic
pressure - had only about a 10 per cent to 20 per cent chance of succeeding,
the Post said.

One source said the CIA covert action should be viewed largely as
"preparatory" to a military strike so the agency can identify targets,
intensify intelligence gathering on the ground in Iraq, and build relations
with alternative future leaders and groups if Saddam is ousted, the Post

"It is not a silver bullet, but hopes are high and we could get lucky," the
Post quoted another source as saying.-Reuters

by David Usborne
Independent, 18th June

Saddam Hussein now knows what he is up against: President George Bush has
given the green light to the Central Intelligence Agency to do all it can to
drive him from power - even killing him, although this would have to be in

But if the Iraqi leader is quaking at the news, is it from fear or just

On the one hand, the CIA has 55 years of experience in diverting the
politics of other nations, sometimes to historic effect. Governments have
been ousted in countries as far apart as the Congo and Chile thanks to its
dastardly doings.

And leaders have indeed been killed, with CIA connivance. During the 1950s,
60s and 70s the agency clandestinely and successfully masterminded coups in
Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, Chile, Guyana and the Congo, formerly Zaire.

On the other hand, the CIA's operations over the decades have frequently
either gone awry - remember the disastrous "Bay of Pigs" invasion of
communist Cuba in 1961 - or even when deemed a success, left a tragic
political legacy.

The CIA-backed assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo in 1960 made
way for the 32-year reign of terror by the former dictator Joseph Mobutu,
later Mobutu Sese Seko. The 1954 coup in Guatemala led to 35 years of civil
war that left more than 140,000 dead.

And as secret documents have been declassified, Americans have learned of
many of the unsavoury alliances CIA operatives have forged to achieve their
aims - for example, in America's efforts to oust President Salvador Allende
of Chile. And there was Washington's silent approval of the invasion of East
Timor by Indonesia, along with the illegal use of US arms.

Mr Bush's order to the CIA, detailed by The Washington Post last weekend, to
use all its resources to precipitate Saddam's ousting, means the agency will
once more be up to its old tricks in Iraq. As well its own spies, it will
have crack teams of American special forces at its disposal. It is a mission
in the best - and arguably the very worst - of the agency's traditions. That
it might fail is something that the CIA director, George Tenet, has
reportedly put on record already.

According to the Post, Mr Tenet told the President and his cabinet recently
that the CIA's actions alone, without any kind of follow-up military
assault, stands only a 10 to 20 per cent chance of succeeding. He knows his
history and his caution was probably well-placed.

So dismal was the image of the CIA when it turned 50 in 1997 that voices
were raised in Washington - including those of two former directors - that
it be dismantled and a new
intelligence body be built from scratch. That didn't happen. It is ironic
that since 11 September, when its worst failure of all - protecting America
from foreign terror - was exposed, the agency has been given new and
multiplied burdens, notably hunting al-Qa'ida and now toppling President

Now all the old questions about the CIA and its methods will be asked anew.
How far can its operatives go in precipitating the murder of a foreign
leader? And what sort of tactics - ethical or repugnant - might it employ?
And in the event that the CIA does trigger President Saddam's demise, would
Iraq without him prove more benign or even more of a nightmare than it is

The killing of Saddam should be as easy as popping some poison in his whisky
- he is, we are often reminded, fond of more than an occasional glass of the
stuff. That sounds silly but it was, after all, the kind of approach that
was adopted by the agency in the early 1960s when Washington was clamouring
for the removal of Cuba's left-wing leader, Fidel Castro.

Early in 1961, the CIA sought the services of a mobster from Chicago to kill
the Cuban revolutionary. At a secret meeting in Miami, they furnished him
with tiny gelatine capsules filled with botulinum toxin. The gangster, John
Rosselli, was
instructed to drop the capsules in Mr Castro's food, with the warning they
wouldn't work in "boiling soup". The plan failed, of course, partly because
Mr Castro suddenly stopped frequenting the restaurant that Rosselli had

There were plenty of other, equally comical, plots hatched in the corridors
of the agency. Famously, one proposed lacing one of Castro's cigars with a
hallucinogenic similar to LSD, in the hope that he would then give a speech
under its effects and be revealed as a ranting madman. Someone else in the
agency thought of dusting his shoes with thallium to make his beard fall
out. There was also the idea of infecting his diving suit with a fungus to
cause a chronic skin disease.

It was also in 1961 and in Cuba that the CIA suffered possibly its most
humiliating disaster ever. That was the CIA-led Bay of Pigs mission:
designed to topple Mr Castro, it foundered almost as soon as the brigade of
anti-revolutionary fighters tried to come ashore. Despite attempts at
secrecy, Mr Castro apparently had ample warning to respond. When it was
over, 114 members of the invading force were killed and 1,189 more were
taken prisoner.

It is unclear, meanwhile, just how far the CIA could go in seeking, or
orchestrating the murder of President Saddam. Mr Bush couched his
authorisation for the Iraqi to be killed in "self-defence" for a very good
reason. Since the 1970s, the CIA - or any agent of the US government - is
prohibited from directly seeking the assassination of a foreign leader. The
attempts on Mr Castro's life were first revealed to a Senate intelligence
committee, known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank
Church, in 1976.

Members also learned how the CIA tried to infect a toothbrush of Lumumba,
the first post colonial premier of the Congo, with a deadly African plague.
That led President Gerald Ford to issue an executive order banning
assassinations by all US agencies. Later presidents renewed the ban.

There has always been debate, however, as to how water-tight the ban really

An executive order does not have the same legal standing as a law passed by
Congress. Nor is it obvious how far America's spies are at liberty still to
help engineer a murder of a
foreign leader, for instance by assisting would-be assassins from indigenous
dissident groups to commit the act so long as they leave no American
fingerprints. The other possible loophole - the one apparently chosen by
this White House - is to allow the killing of a leader "in self-defence".

Few people would mourn the death of President Saddam. But other unintended
consequences might flow from an extended CIA operation in Iraq. The
catalogue of the CIA catastrophes around the world - albeit some of them
catastrophes with the benefit of hindsight - is, after all, depressingly

Previous CIA plots

The 1951 nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company by Iran's Prime
Minister at the time, Mohammed Mossadegh, brought him into conflict with the
Shah of Iran when Britain boycotted Iranian oil in protest. The US and
Britain orchestrated a coup by encouraging Iranians working for the CIA to
turn the Islamic community against the nationalist Mossadegh. In August
1953, the Shah signed a CIA-penned royal decree replacing Mossadegh with
General Fazlollah Zahedi, who was handpicked by America and Britain.

The CIA began undermining the coalition government of the socialist
President Salvador Allende even before he was elected in 1970, amid fears of
the impact of his election on US owned mining firms. President Nixon ordered
the CIA to prevent him taking office but the first attempted coup failed.
The CIA did not give up, having been told to "make the economy scream". The
US approved $1m in covert aid to political parties and private organisations
three weeks before Allende's overthrow in 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet.
For years, Washington denied its role in the coup.

Two years after the overthrow of the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio
Batista in 1959 by Fidel Castro, the US launched its disastrous Bay of Pigs
invasion, which sent 1,300 CIA trained Cuban exiles to the island. Their
defeat after three days of battles was a huge embarrassment for President
John F Kennedy. Various madcap assassination schemes followed. President
Castro has survived 40 years of sanctions, which the US is refusing to lift.

Patrice Lumumba, who led his country to independence from Belgium and became
its first elected Prime Minister in 1960, was assassinated in a CIA-backed
operation with the help of Belgian intelligence  and UN connivance -- four
months after he took office. He was abducted by Congolese rebels and killed
in the province of Katanga, which declared independence after Lumumba's
election. The order for his assassination came from President Eisenhower.
Belgium has apologised for its role in his killing.

President Suharto came to power in a CIA-backed coup in 1966 that ousted
Sukarno, the father of the current President, Megawati Sukarnoputri. The
coup followed an abortive putsch in 1965, engineered by America and Britain,
and blamed on Indonesia's Communist Party. Hundreds of thousands of
Communist sympathisers were massacred by the army. Historians have said
America passed on the names of Communists to the army. The new president
offered lucrative concessions to Western firms.


by Scott Ritter
Los Angeles Times, 19th June

President Bush has reportedly authorized the CIA to use all of the means at
its disposal- including U.S. military special operations forces and CIA
paramilitary teams--to eliminate Iraq's Saddam Hussein. According to
reports, the CIA is to view any such plan as "preparatory" for a larger
military strike.

Congressional leaders from both parties have greeted these reports with
enthusiasm. In their rush to be seen as embracing the president's hard-line
stance on Iraq, however, almost no one in Congress has questioned why a
supposedly covert operation would be made public, thus undermining the very
mission it was intended to accomplish. It is high time that Congress start
questioning the hype and rhetoric emanating from the White House regarding
Baghdad, because the leaked CIA plan is well timed to undermine the efforts
underway in the United Nations to get weapons inspectors back to work in

In early July, the U.N. secretary-general will meet with Iraq's foreign
minister for a third round of talks on the return of the weapons monitors. A
major sticking point is Iraqi concern over the use--or abuse--of such
inspections by the U.S. for intelligence collection. I recall during my time
as a chief inspector in Iraq the dozens of extremely fit "missile experts"
and "logistics specialists" who frequented my inspection teams and others.
Drawn from U.S. units such as Delta Force or from CIA paramilitary teams
such as the Special Activities Staff (both of which have an ongoing role in
the conflict in Afghanistan), these specialists had a legitimate part to
play in the difficult cat-and-mouse effort to disarm Iraq. So did the teams
of British radio intercept operators I ran in Iraq from 1996 to 1998--which
listened in on the conversations of Hussein's inner circle--and the various
other intelligence specialists who were part of the inspection effort.

The presence of such personnel on inspection teams was, and is, viewed by
the Iraqi government as an unacceptable risk to its nation's security. As
early as 1992, the Iraqis viewed the teams I led inside Iraq as a threat to
the safety of their president. They were concerned that my inspections were
nothing more than a front for a larger effort to eliminate their leader.
Those concerns were largely baseless while I was in Iraq. Now that Bush has
specifically authorized American covert-operations forces to remove Hussein,
however, the Iraqis will never trust an inspection regime that has already
shown itself susceptible to infiltration and manipulation by intelligence
services hostile to Iraq, regardless of any assurances the U.N.
secretary-general might give.

The leaked CIA covert operations plan effectively kills any chance of
inspectors returning to Iraq, and it closes the door on the last opportunity
for shedding light on the true state of affairs regarding any threat in the
form of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Absent any return of weapons
inspectors, no one seems willing to challenge the Bush administration's
assertions of an Iraqi threat. If Bush has a factual case against Iraq
concerning weapons of mass destruction, he hasn't made it yet. Can the Bush
administration substantiate any of its claims that Iraq continues to pursue
efforts to reacquire its capability to produce chemical and biological
weapons, which was dismantled and destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors from
1991 to 1998?

The same question applies to nuclear weapons. What facts show that Iraq
continues to pursue nuclear weapons aspirations? Bush spoke ominously of an
Iraqi ballistic missile threat to Europe. What missile threat is the
president talking about? These questions are valid, and if the case for war
is to be made, they must be answered with more than speculative rhetoric.
Congress has seemed unwilling to challenge the Bush administration's pursuit
of war against Iraq.

The one roadblock to an all-out U.S. assault would be weapons inspectors
reporting on the facts inside Iraq. Yet without any meaningful discussion
and debate by Congress concerning the nature of the threat posed by Baghdad,
war seems all but inevitable. The true target of the supposed CIA plan may
not be Hussein but rather the weapons inspection program itself. The real
casualty is the last chance to avoid bloody conflict.

Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, is author of
"Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem, Once and for All" (Simon & Schuster,


Times of India (from AFP), 15th June

DUBAI: Suspicions are centered on "Islamist extremists" in two recent bomb
blasts in the Kurdish enclave of northern Iraq that left two people slightly
wounded, an Iraqi Kurdish spokesman said on Friday.

"The bombs exploded on last Friday (June 7) in the summer resorts of
Shaklawa and Shallal Ali Bek" in the northern province of Arbil, which is
under the control of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the KDP's London
representative Dilshad Miran said over telephone.

Miran said investigations into the minor blasts were still ongoing, but they
followed a pattern of bomb explosions in Iraqi Kurdistan in recent months
for which "extremist Islamist elements" were found to be responsible.

Such attacks targeted perceived "un-Islamic" manifestations, such as shops
that sell alcohol and beauty salons, he said.

He said that while local authorities had still not determined who was
responsible for last week's blasts in popular resorts, the purpose of the
attacks against "soft targets" was clearly to "spread fear and confusion in
the area."

The KDP shares control of northern Iraq, which has been off limits to the
Baghdad government since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, with the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

KDP leader Massoud Barzani and PUK chief Jalal Talabani agreed during a
meeting in Germany in mid-April to pool their two factions' resources to
combat Islamist radicals they say are operating in the Western-protected
Kurdish enclave.

The PUK has clashed in recent months with Islamic radicals based in the part
of Iraqi Kurdistan it controls, pushing them back to the mountainous Biara
region bordering Iran.

A PUK spokesman said in May that an outfit calling itself "Ansar al-Islam"
(Supporters of Islam) comprises a number of groupings, including 200-to-300
members of the so-called "Jund al-Islam" (Soldiers of Islam).

The spokesman added that some of the members admit to having links with the
al-Qaeda "terror" network, which Washington blames for the September 11
attacks, and having received training in Afghanistan from "terror" groups.

However, critics accuse Kurdish officials of playing up the al-Qaeda link in
a bid to win further US support and protection.

The KDP's Miran said his group and the PUK had been "fully cooperating" in
the fight against extremists through a joint operations center they have set

In the past, the KDP and PUK often fought each other for predominance in the
Kurdish north, but Barzani and Talabani agreed at their Germany meeting to
complete the implementation of a 1998 US-brokered peace deal between their
two factions.

by Joshua Kucera
The Washington Times, 19th June

ERBIL, Iraq  Its people hate Saddam Hussein, its government is pro-Western
and its soldiers battle-hardened and familiar with the terrain. So it would
seem that Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish-controlled entity in northern Iraq,
would be a natural ally in an expected U.S. attack against Iraq. Top Stories

Not so fast, say officials and ordinary people here.

In the 10 years since Kurdistan has been sheltered from Baghdad's control by
an Anglo-U.S. no-fly zone, it has provided its mostly Kurdish population
with a life relatively free of the hardships and restrictions most Iraqis
face. There are freedom of speech, education in local languages, Internet
and cell phones in the big cities, and better economic opportunities.

Government officials say they want to make sure any action they participate
in will maintain this situation.

"We are not going to be the initiator of any military action," said Sami
Abdul-Rahman, a deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
"But if a military conflict takes place, we'll behave in the best interests
of the Kurdish people and Iraqi people."

Specifically, Kurds want to make sure that Saddam's successors don't end
Kurdistan's autonomy. "The status quo is the best thing our people have had
in their recent history, and it would be good if it continued," said Mr.
Abdul-Rahman. "We hope that such a successful experiment will not be

After the 1991 Persian Gulf war, an uprising by Kurds in northern Iraq was
repressed by Iraq, prompting the United States and Britain to impose the
no-fly zone protecting three Kurdish provinces. Two other provinces, Mosul
and Kirkuk, are still under Baghdad's control but are considered by Kurds to
be part of Kurdistan.

In their protected enclave, Kurds established a parliament and government

Infighting among the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan in the 1990s left about 1,000 dead. But a deal in 1998 ended that
conflict, and the two now share power, the KDP controlling two provinces and
the PUK the third.

Many believe that the KDP and PUK are leery of war because they want to
protect their fiefdoms. Concern that Kurdistan's autonomy might be
threatened or that Saddam might pre-empt or retaliate against a U.S. attack
by moving into Kurdistan are overstated, said Yonadam Y. Kanna, general
secretary of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a member of the Kurdish
enclave's parliament.

"That's politicians saying that, not people. [They] want a guarantee from
the West that they'll have some autonomy [in a post-Saddam Iraq]," he said.

PUK and KDP leaders have recently met American officials in Berlin and in
Virginia, where they discussed the Kurdish position on a U.S. attack.
Concerns about war appear to be less based on issues of autonomy than on
instability in general, as well as worries that any action might be based
more on U.S. interests than on those of Kurds or Iraqis.

Wasfi Barzanjy, who owns a computer shop here in the capital of the Kurdish
enclave, is expanding because business is getting better. "In a year and a
half, everyone will be able to buy a PC," he predicted. The talk of war
worries him, though. "People are afraid of the news about the U.S. and Iraq.
people are afraid of what will happen in the future," he said. "If Saddam
Hussein is gone, we don't know if anyone better will come."

"The Kurdish people will help the U.S., but people don't want change to come
from the outside," he added.

Although people here hate Saddam Hussein  he destroyed 4,500 Kurdish
villages in the 1980s, attacking some with chemical weapons after they had
been overrun by Iranian forces in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war  Kurds have
no problem with ordinary Arabs.

There is a small indigenous Arab population, and in the last 10 years many
Arabs have come to Kurdistan for better job opportunities. Most people are
not interested in Iraqi Kurdistan becoming an independent country, but
rather staying part of Iraq and controlling their own affairs.

"We can't live alone. We don't want the U.S. to bomb Iraq, because we're
part of Iraq and we don't want the Iraqi people to suffer," said Jamal, a
retired bazaar salesman in Erbil.

There is also a lingering mistrust of the United States because it
encouraged and then abandoned the uprising in 1991, and then failed to back
another in 1996.

"If nothing like in '91 or '96 happens, then we'll help [a U.S. attack],"
Jamal said. "But if it's like then, we don't want to have the U.S. anywhere
near here."

by Joshua Kucera
Washington Times, 22nd June

BENASLAWA, Iraq  Iraqi police went to Mohammed Osman's home in Kirkuk,
northern Iraq, in May 1996, and gave him a choice: Renounce his Kurdish
ethnicity or leave town. Mr. Osman, who in the past managed to buy time with
a $60 bribe, could not afford it anymore and chose to leave.

Mr. Osman came to this refugee camp, where 100 families from Kirkuk have
fled what they call the "Arabization" of the city. They are among tens of
thousands of Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians who have had to leave Kirkuk for
one reason: They aren't Arabs.

Kirkuk is a center of oil and agriculture and is of prime strategic
importance for northern Iraq. Since the founding of the Iraqi state after
World War I, Arab-controlled governments in Baghdad have been expelling
non-Arabs in an effort to solidify control, say non-Arabs and international
human rights groups.

In 1999, the government introduced a new policy of "nationality correction,"
under which non-Arabs are asked to change their ethnicity on identity cards
and census documents or leave.

Mr. Osman said he knows of only a handful of people in Kirkuk who have
accepted the offer. "We are Kurds. We refuse to be Arabs," he said.

Those who do change their ethnicity still face discrimination. They are not
allowed to hold top jobs in the government or oil industry and may have to
adopt Arabic names. In a perverse twist, some are punished for having
"incorrectly" declared their Kurdishness in the first place, according to
some Kurds who have left the area.

In Kirkuk, there is no education in Kurdish, and the only media source in
Kurdish is a two hour daily television program of propaganda from Saddam
Hussein's Ba'ath party.

"When we were in Kirkuk, they forbade Kurds from owning houses or cars or
marrying Arab girls. If we wanted to have a car, we had to register it in an
Arab's name," said Azad Ali, who was kicked out of Kirkuk as a high school
student in 1996 and is now a soldier living in the Benaslawa camp.

According to a report by two French human rights groups in 2001, Kurds in
Kirkuk are subject to "harassment, intimidation, arrests, torture and

"As long as the Ba'ath party is in power in Baghdad, I don't want to go back
[to Kirkuk]," Mr. Osman said.

Since 1991, the three northernmost Iraqi provinces have been administered by
the Kurdistan regional government, protected from Saddam Hussein's rule by
U.S. and British enforcement of a no-fly zone. The Benaslawa camp lies in
this area, just outside Kurdistan's capital, Erbil.

Two more largely Kurdish provinces are still controlled by Baghdad,
including the province of Kirkuk.

The Erbil-based Committee for Confronting Arabization in Kurdistan estimates
that since the 1960s, 190,000 people have been expelled from Kirkuk province
into Dohuk and Erbil provinces in the no-fly zone. The committee is
preparing a census to get more accurate numbers on the people affected by

According to Iraqi census figures, from 1957 to 1977 Kirkuk's Kurdish
population fell from 47 percent to 38 percent while the proportion of Arabs
rose from 28 percent to 44 percent. Iraq has not published newer census

Arabs moving to Kirkuk get incentives such as a modern house, a plot of land
to farm or a good job, the Kurds say. They also get paid to rebury their
relatives in Kirkuk to make it appear that the Arab presence has been a long
one, the committee said.


by Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 15th June

Washington -- Israel has acquired three diesel submarines that it is arming
with newly designed cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads,
according to former Pentagon and State Department officials, potentially
giving Israel a triad of land-, sea- and air-based nuclear weapons systems
for the first time.

The U.S. Navy monitored Israel's testing of a new cruise missile from a
submarine two years ago off Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, according to
former Pentagon officials.

One former senior American official said U.S. analysts have studied the
nuclear capability of the cruise missile. But, according to a former
Pentagon official, "It is above top secret knowing whether the sub-launched
cruise missiles are nuclear-armed." Another former official added, "We often
don't ask."

The possible move to arm submarines with nuclear weapons suggests that the
Israeli government might be increasingly concerned about efforts by Iraq and
Iran to develop more accurate long-range missiles capable of knocking out
Israel's existing nuclear arsenal, which is primarily land-based.

Although developing a sea-based leg would preserve the deterrent value of
Israel's nuclear force, according to analysts, it would complicate U.S.
efforts to keep other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere from
seeking to acquire nuclear arms. It also could spur a nuclear arms race in
the Middle East.

Israel has long refused to confirm or deny it has nuclear weapons. U.S.
analysts say it has a modest arsenal of short- and medium-range nuclear-
capable missiles, nuclear bombs that could be delivered from jet fighters
and Harpoon missiles that could be launched from planes or ships.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, confirmed that his country
had recently acquired three submarines from Germany but would not comment on
whether they were being outfitted with nuclear weapons. "There has been no
change in Israel's long-standing position not to introduce nuclear weapons
in the Middle East," Regev said.

A book published this week by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
reported that Israel was attempting to arm its diesel submarines with
nuclear cruise missiles.

"Probably the most important nuclear-related development in Israel is the
formation of its sea-based nuclear arm," wrote Joseph Cirincione, director
of the Carnegie Endowment's nonproliferation project and a former staff
member of the House Armed Services Committee who served as chief author of
the book.

The U.S. government "favors" Israel's preserving the ambiguity surrounding
its nuclear force, just as it has since the late 1960s, a former senior U.S.
diplomat said. "It gives it a strategic deterrence," he said, adding, "If
(Israel) were being explicit, that would create problems with its neighbors
like Egypt and Syria . . . whose leaders years ago agreed that (ambiguity)
did not pose an offensive threat to them."

Iraq and Iran, he added, are different because "they are destabilizing"
countries and could launch a first strike against Israel or U.S. forces in
the region if they succeed in developing and deploying nuclear weapons.

There have been published reports going back to 1998 that describe Israel's
acquisition of the diesel submarines and its testing of a cruise missile.

In an article two years ago in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Reuven
Pedatzur, a former Israeli fighter pilot and director of the Galili Center
for Strategy and National Security, wrote that Israel was motivated by "the
need to find deterrence solutions . . . from the probability that during the
next decade Iran, and maybe even Iraq, will acquire the nuclear ballistic
capability to hit Israeli targets."

Pedatzur said that faced with that threat, a submarine force armed with
missiles is a reliable deterrent because Israel's enemies would not be able
to locate and destroy them and thus "it is impossible to avoid their lethal

The Carnegie Endowment book said Israel "is believed to have deployed" 100
Jericho short range and medium-range missiles that are nuclear-capable. In
addition, it has nuclear bombs that could be delivered from U.S.-made F-16
jet fighters and U.S.-built Harpoon missiles that could be launched from
planes or ships.

Israel's nuclear-capable, sea-launched cruise missiles were tested in May
2000, the book said, and might have a range of more than 900 miles. With
three submarines, Israel could "have a deployment at sea of one
nuclear-armed submarine at all times," the book said.

Cirincione said that at least eight countries have nuclear weapons -- the
United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India and Pakistan --
and three more are apparently seeking them -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
Four countries, he said, have in recent years given up their weapons --
South Africa and the former Soviet republics Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan.

The Carnegie Endowment book attributed Iran's decision to seek nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons to its experience during its war with Iraq
in the 1980s, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons
against Iranian forces. Iran is influenced by its "extended neighborhood
(where) it sees Israel, India and Pakistan with advanced nuclear weapons"
and Iraq's weapons program no longer subject to inspection by the United
Nations, the book said.

The authors said U.S. sanctions against Iran, which have hurt its ability to
build conventional military forces, "have likely worked toward reaffirming
belief in the utility of unconventional weapons."

Iraq's search for nuclear and biological weapons rests on Hussein's desire
to be the "dominant power in the Middle East" and his belief that "a nuclear
bomb would provide him with the ultimate symbol of military power," the book

It said "Iraq may have a workable design for a nuclear weapon" and that if
Baghdad "were to acquire material from another country, it is possible that
it could assemble a nuclear weapon in months."

Arabic news, 18th June

Iraq on Monday informed the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC
its readiness to discuss the issue of the missing since the Gulf war. In a
message sent to the office of the ICRC in Baghdad, the Iraqi foreign
ministry said that the Iraqi government is ready to directly cooperate with
the ICRC and with Kuwait in order to discuss the issue of the missing Iraqi
and Kuwaiti peoples, in line with the international law.

by Guy Dinmore in Tehran
Financial Times, 20th June

Iran is strongly opposed to any US-led attack on Iraq but would probably
remain neutral in the event of an attempt to remove President Saddam Hussein
by force, according to a leading Iranian official.

Although Iran has made clear it opposes US ambitions to impose a change of
regime in Baghdad, the statement by Mohsen Rezaei was the clearest
indication to date by a senior official that Iran would not seek actively to
oppose a US military campaign.

Mr Rezaei, who commanded the Revolutionary Guards for 16 years, told the FT:
"The US will definitely attack Iraq. Even if Saddam lets the weapons
inspectors in, the US will attack. Iran opposes such a move as we opposed
the attack on Afghanistan, but I believe Iran would be neutral and keep its

Analysts said Mr Rezaei's comments should not be seen as a green light for
the US to intervene in Iraq, but rather as an indication that Iran would not
lend tacit support as it did last year during the US campaign in Afghanistan
through its backing of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.

Mr Rezaei spoke of the deep disappointment within the Iranian establishment
over the conduct of the US campaign in Afghanistan and its aftermath. For
this reason, he said, it was impossible to predict how Iran would respond to
a US assault on Iraq.

"Our government is very dissatisfied with the behaviour of the US in
Afghanistan, which had a very negative impact on Iran. In Afghanistan we
really co- operated within the framework of the United Nations, but the US
did not show correct behaviour towards Iran."

Mr Rezaei did not elaborate but European diplomats in Tehran said his
comments reflected how the more pragmatic among Iran's leaders were
frustrated that their response to the September 11 terror attacks on the US
and subsequent co-operation in supporting the interim administration in
Afghanistan had not led to a serious dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

President George W. Bush's bracketing of Iran in an "axis of evil" alongside
Iraq and North Korea came as a shock to the reformist administration led by
President Mohammad Khatami and strengthened hard-line clerics opposed to re-
establishing ties with the US.

Mr Bush's verbal attack on Iran, reinforced by signs that the US intends to
tighten its unilateral economic sanctions, was based on concern over Iran's
alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its support for militant
Palestinian groups.

European diplomats think the "axis of evil" speech, made in late January,
was a tactical mistake from the point of view of engaging Iran's
co-operation in bringing about "regime change" in Baghdad.

Although Iran, which fought a devastating 1980-88 war with US-backed Iraq,
actively supports Iraqi opposition groups, the ayatollahs in Tehran are more
convinced than ever that the fall of Mr Saddam is seen in Washington as a
prelude to removing their clerical regime.

The continued US military presence on Iran's doorstep in Afghanistan and the
opening of bases in several central Asian countries to the north has
heightened their fears of encirclement. Although Iran would not wish to
provoke US retaliation by actively opposing any military campaign in Iraq,
it could play a significant role in shaping a post-Saddam government through
its backing for the Iraqi Shia Muslim opposition, which has forces based
inside Iran led by Ayatollah Mohammad-Baqer Hakim.

As in Iran, Shia Muslims form a majority of the Iraqi population, although
they have never wielded power in Iraq's modern history.


The Associated Press, 19th June

WASHINGTON (AP)  An American fighter jet dropped a bomb on an anti-aircraft
artillery site in northern Iraq on Wednesday after Iraqi air defense forces
fired on U.S. planes patrolling a ``no fly'' zone, officials said.

All U.S. planes departed the area safely, according to a brief statement
issued by U.S. European Command, which is responsible for U.S. military
operations over northern Iraq.

U.S. and British warplanes have been enforcing ``no fly'' zones over
northern and southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq
considers the zones to be illegal and has vowed to shoot down an American

Times of India (from AFP), 20th June

WASHINGTON: Warplanes from a US-British coalition on Thursday struck an
Iraqi military command and control center that was helping to direct
anti-aircraft artillery fire at coalition aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone
in southern Iraq, the US military said.

The US Central Command said the air strike was launched at 0930 GMT after
aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone came under Iraqi attack.

Warplanes used precision guided weapons to strike "facilities of a military
command and control center," the command said in a statement.

"This facility was struck because it helped direct anti-aircraft artillery
attacks against coalition aircraft authorised by the United Nations Security
Council to enforce the no-fly zones in southern Iraq," it said.

The facility was located about 265 km southeast of Baghdad at al Amarah, a
place that was struck June 14 by US warplanes, said Lieutenant Colonel
Martin Compton, a spokesman for the US Central Command said.

The strike came a day after a US-British air strike in the northern no-fly
zone and was the latest in a series directed at Iraqi air defenses.

Daily Star (from Bangladesh), 21st June

AFP, Baghdad: Four Iraqis were killed and 10 wounded when US and British
warplanes bombed southern Iraq yesterday, a military spokesman in Baghdad

The United States and Britain "added another ugly crime to their black
record when their aircraft attacked our civilian and services installations
in Missan province, 366 km south of Baghdad, killing four citizens and
wounding 10 others," said the spokesman, quoted by the official INA news

The US Central Command earlier said US and British warplanes struck an Iraqi
military command and control centre that was helping to direct anti-aircraft
artillery fire at coalition planes patrolling a no-fly zone in south Iraq.

IRAQI OPPOSITION,3604,739411,00.html

by Henry Porter and David Rose
The Guardian, 18th June

President Bush's instruction to the CIA to kill or capture Saddam Hussein
defies previous presidential orders banning the assassination of foreign
leaders. It can also be seen as another bewildering turn in American policy
towards Iraq. Policy has been characterised by drift, inconsistency and a
marked indifference to the suffering of Iraqis. Bush may be determined that
Saddam "needs to go," but the US record does not augur well.

The CIA is all but starting from scratch in Iraq. In 1995, President Clinton
ensured the defeat of a planned uprising by announcing the withdrawal of US
support on its very eve. Many of the CIA's assets were murdered. Since the
departure of the UN weapons inspectorate in 1998, the sole source of
information about what is happening on the ground and in Saddam's regime has
been the Iraqi National Congress, a dissident group led by Dr Ahmad Chalabi
in London.

The INC has helped arrange the defection of a stream of high-ranking members
of the regime who have brought out crucial information. These include Adnan
Saeed al-Haideri, a specialist building contractor who had documents to back
his story of how his firm had built new chemical and biological weapons
facilities, and Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, an Iraqi intelligence
brigadier-general, who in three days of interviews with us in Beirut,
cheerfully confessed to directing massacres, torture, extra-judicial
imprisonment and a training camp for terrorists near Baghdad.

The INC maintains contact through encrypted emails and satellite phones with
a network of agents inside Iraq, some of whom have access to political and
military secrets. The INC has the wherewithal to ask specific questions of
its agents in the field and to provide swift, accurate answers.

This is an invaluable asset in planning insurgency and the administration
could be expected to seek to boost the INC's information-gathering role.
Unsurprisingly, given the US record in Iraq, it is trying to close it down.

The INC depends for its funding on money voted in 1998 by Congress. The
purse strings are held by the State Department. Last week, driven by bitter
rivalry within the US government, officials gave Dr Chalabi an ultimatum:
all funding would be withdrawn unless the INC agreed to cease its
information-collection programme permanently. Chalabi refused, saying the
INC would be "disembowelled" and reduced to exactly the vapid, exile talking
shops its Washington critics have long claimed it to be.

What makes this so hard to understand is that the US has few real
alternatives on the ground in Iraq. During the past decade there has been
only sporadic CIA representation in the north-east, where for a time the INC
operated with the cooperation of one of the warring Kurdish factions.

Bob Baer, a former CIA officer, has described in his recent book, See No
Evil, how his attempt to orchestrate armed opposition against Saddam during
the mid-90s was frustrated by mixed messages from the State Department and
ended when he was hauled back to Washington and investigated by the FBI on a
charge of conspiracy to murder Saddam Hussein.

After the covert attempts on Fidel Castro's life in the 60s and many similar
operations all over the world, the US was trying to clean up its act, at
least for public consumption. Today America is shamelessly having it both
ways, to the point where a Democrat such as Dick Gephardt can insist that
the no-assassination policy is intact.

That is precisely the kind of confused double-think which left so many
Iraqis stranded during two uprisings against Saddam and which must make them
doubt Bush's word now. The defector Abu Zeinab testified that Saddam waited
to see if the US would intervene with airpower in support of the insurgents
in 1991. When this failed to materialise the regime took it as a sign that
it could suppress the uprising with all necessary force. Tens of thousands
of people were killed.

Cutting off the INC's money is a sign of the State Department's wariness of
the INC's pro democracy agenda. Since the 1995 debacle, the chief market for
INC intelligence has not been the CIA, which works closely with the State
Department, but the defence intelligence agency, which is run by the much
more hawkish Pentagon and places a high value on information concerning the
manufacture and movement of weaponry. It is this intelligence which has been
used to press Bush to take action against Saddam.

Much of American foreign policy seems to owe its genesis to a turf war
inside the Beltway, which is at least as complicated as anything in the
Middle East. But with so much at stake in Iraq and the Middle East, it is
disastrous that America appears unable to elaborate a coherent policy which
goes beyond the excited rhetoric of smart bombs and covert action.

Times of India (from AFP), 21st June

LONDON: Iraqis who oppose President Saddam Hussein will meet in London with
90 of their army officers in July to discuss overthrowing his regime, those
organising the meeting said Thursday.

Iraqi army officers will come "from all over the world" for the July 6 to
July 8 meeting, Albert Yelda of the Iraqi National Coalition told AFP.

All Iraqi opposition movements, large or small, have been invited to the
meeting which will be held at an undisclosed location, he said.

They will discuss how to topple the existing regime, Iraq's future and the
role of the army post-Saddam, he added.

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