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[casi] News, 3-10/8/02 (4)

News, 3-10/8/02 (4)

IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, China,
Pakistan, Ireland, Far East in general, Israel, France)

*  War on Iraq won't help our interests
*  Schröder distances his party from raid on Iraq
*  A vote for me is a vote against war on Iraq, says Schroeder
*  [Australian] PM promises Iraq debate
*  [Japanese]Antiterror law won't cover Iraq: Nonaka
*  China Welcomes Iraq's Invitation for UN Weapons Experts
*  Claim against Iraq may be withdrawn
*  US Rejection of Iraq Dangerous, Canadian FM
*  US denied [Irish] airspace for Iraq war
*  Iraq complains to UN about Aust
*  Japan says US must show restraint against Iraq
*  Asian govts oppose US strikes, urge Iraq to obey UN
*  In the name of the father
*  War on Iraq Could Seriously Damage Global Economy: Analysts


*  U.S. Jets Attack Target in Southern Iraq: Military
*  The new nukes

IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, China,
Pakistan, Ireland, Far East in general, Israel, France)

by Haroon Siddiqui
Toronto Star, 4th August

THE WAR IN Afghanistan is not quite over yet. A war of a different kind
rages on between Israelis and Palestinians. So why is George Bush itching to
start another, in Iraq, especially when his European and Arab allies are
beseeching him not to, and his own administration is deeply divided?

No one outside his close circle knows. There are only informed guesses, the
best two being that he would rather have an ally guarding the world's second
largest oil reserves, and that an endless war on terrorism ‹ Iraq tomorrow,
Iran the day after ‹ can help sustain presidential popularity in the
post-Enron period of a softening economy.

What is easier to discern is the political fallout of a potential Gulf War
II: A deeper rift between America and the Muslim world that could endanger
the regimes the U.S. relies on to deliver cheap oil.

So flimsy have been the reasons for attacking Iraq that American credibility
is taking a beating even from those who very much wish to see Saddam Hussein

Casually setting aside the United Nations, Bush talks of a pre-emptive
strike against a regime that makes chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
But two former U.N. weapons' inspectors, Scott Ritter and Rolf Ekeus, say no
such arsenal exists.

As to whether Saddam has amassed weapons in the four years since he threw
out the inspectors, another U.N. official says no. Hans von Sponeck, former
head of the food-for-oil program, has just returned from Iraq and says the
sites of weapons of mass destruction remain "defunct and destroyed."

But Donald Rumsfeld says Saddam may have developed mobile labs "on wheels in
a trailer." The secretary of defence, however, offers no evidence, just as
Washington failed to substantiate its earlier charges that Saddam was linked
to Al Qaeda and the anthrax attacks.

What we have here is an administration trying to somehow justify a war,
either in the name of fighting terrorism or of reviving Bill Clinton's
failed policy of "regime change." It shows no sign of backing off even if
Saddam lets the U.N. inspectors back in.

"Regime change" is what Bush has already ordered for the Palestinians, and
may do so for Iranians as well ‹ undermining democracy in the only two
Muslim areas in the region where it semi-works.

Besides, there are many worse regimes. Why not order such "regime changes"
the world over?

As evil as he is, Saddam poses little direct danger to the United States. He
does to American allies ‹ Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan ‹ and, as
Bush says, to his own people. But the Arab states are begging the president
not to start a new war while he won't help stop the Israeli-Palestinian
carnage. As for American concern for Iraqi civilians, it is hard to accept,
given the untold suffering inflicted by the U.S.-led economic sanctions.

In a happy departure from the post-Sept. 11 patriotism, Congress is debating
the advisability of opening the Iraqi front.

How many American troops would be needed? About 250,000? Or could the
mission be accomplished with less, by having Special Forces swoop down on
Baghdad, à la the 1979 Soviet landing of an airborne division in Kabul to
begin the invasion of Afghanistan?

In the 1991 Gulf War, George Bush Sr. stopped well short of Baghdad, not
because he lost his nerve but, according to then British commander Gen. Sir
Peter de la Billiere, because the Arab members of the coalition would have
split. As much as they wanted the occupation of Kuwait reversed and a threat
to Saudi Arabia neutered, they did not want to face the consequences of a
shattered, Balkanized Iraq.

What are the military and political implications of Bush Jr. not even having
a coalition to start with? And what of its economic impact?

Arabs paid most of the $61 billion bill of the 1991 war, which also led to
higher oil prices and precipitated the 1991 recession, which, in turn,
contributed to the downfall of Bush Sr. a year later. Can this
administration, already mired in a mounting deficit, finance a war on its
own, in addition to the $1 billion a month it is spending in Afghanistan?

Iraq is not Afghanistan. Bombing Baghdad is not like blasting Tora Bora
caves. Saddam's forces are not the Taliban. Even if his forces collapse,
would he give up without a blast or two of his weapons of mass destruction,
which Washington insists he possesses?

How many Iraqi civilian deaths would be too many?

And, what after Saddam? A democracy with the human rights of the minority
Kurds and Shi'ites restored? Will America stay around to ensure such a
transition? Experts appearing before a Senate committee this past week
suggested 75,000 troops for at least a year at a cost of $16 billion, as a

Such is the burden of being the world's lone power dictating regional
geopolitics. An even heavier burden is that it be fair and even-handed among
the many people it must deal with. Otherwise, waging a war even on a Saddam
Hussein might prove counter-productive to long-range Western interests.

Haroon Siddiqui is The Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column
appears Thursday and Sunday. He can be reached at

by Haig Simonian in Berlin
Financial Times, 4th August

Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, will inaugurate his Social
Democratic party's main campaign for next month's general election with a
speech on Monday distancing his government from a possible US attack on

The chancellor, addressing a rally in his home town of Hanover, is expected
to underline Germany's solidarity with Washington and its concern about
international terrorism. But with the SPD trailing badly in the opinion
polls and an attack highly unpopular, Mr Schröder will emphasise that
Germany is no longer willing to be a silent partner of the US providing
financial backing, as it did in the Gulf war.

He will also stress that the political links between Washington and its
European allies, and the risks and implications of attacking Iraq, are too
great to justify a unilateral decision by one partner, even if it feels its
security is at stake.

Mr Schröder's party decided last month to bring forward the most intense
phase of its campaign from late August to have more time to influence
undecided voters ahead of the September 22 elections.

The party, which seemed a clear winner as recently as late last year, has
been hit hard by discontent over the weak economy and rising unemployment.
With little hope of a respite before polling day, party strategists are
pinning their hopes on a masterful campaign by Mr Schröder. In the polls his
personal standing is well ahead of that of Edmund Stoiber, the conservative
candidate for chancellor.

Mr Schröder initially brought Iraq into the election debate in a speech last
Friday, when he told party officials in Hanover: "I can only warn against
discussing a war in Iraq now without thinking of the political consequences
and without having a political concept for the entire middle east.

"Every form of division of labour which says, the Germans won't participate
but they'll pay - this form of division doesn't exist any more, at least not
with me."

Party officials denied accusations by the opposition Christian Democrats
that Mr Schröder was exploiting growing German concern over US policy to
re-assert his authority and gain the initiative in the campaign.

Advisers denied the chancellor's position marked a categorical refusal to
assist Washington and said Mr Schröder had raised the issue because it was a
fundamental question that needed to be discussed now.

"It would have come up anyway and the government's position needed to be
clarified," said an official.

Opposition leaders accused Mr Schröder of blatant electioneering. Wolfgang
Schäuble, the foreign affairs adviser to Edmund Stoiber, the challenger for
the chancellorship, said the SPD "was trying to paint the CDU in a pro-war
corner while presenting itself as the party of peace".

Wolfgang Gerhardt, parliamentary leader of the small Free Democrats, said Mr
Schröder's tactics were a last-ditch attempt to regain the initiative.

by Toby Helm in Berlin
Sydney Morning Herald, 6th August

Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has told voters that a vote for him
is a vote against war in Iraq, as he urgently seeks a "big idea" in his
fight for a second term.

Ahead of the launch of the "hot phase" of his Social Democrat Party (SPD)
election campaign yesterday, he told a party rally he would not support
United States "adventures" in Iraq nor provide a single euro to fund them.
The phase was brought forward three weeks because of the SPD's alarming
slide in the polls. The election is to be held on September 22.

In a clear criticism of US policy that he hoped would appeal to Germany's
pacifist majority, he said: "Whoever goes in has to know why he goes there
and what he wants there.

"I can only warn against discussing a war in Iraq without thinking about the
political consequences and without having a clear political concept for the
entire Middle East."

Referring to the Gulf War, which Germany helped to finance, although it
provided no troops, he said: "Such a division of responsibility, which says
'the Germans are not there but they pay', does not exist any more, at least
not with me."

After a month in which Mr Schroeder has sacked his defence minister and come
under heavy pressure over the economy and political scandals involving party
members, the SPD has suffered a potentially fatal slide in the polls.


News,com, 5th August

PRIME Minister John Howard has promised a thorough parliamentary debate
before committing Australia to any US-led military operation in Iraq.
Australia had not yet received any request from the US to provide military
or other assistance, Mr Howard said.

"We have not received any request from the United States to participate in
military or indeed other action against Iraq,

"If we were to receive it, then it would be the subject of a very thorough
debate in this country.

"I would favour a parliamentary debate on it because we did that in relation
to East Timor, as we did in relation to the previous engagement in the
Middle East," Mr Howard said at the NSW Press Forum.

Japan Times, 5th August

Liberal Democratic Party senior member Hiromu Nonaka said Sunday that
Japan's antiterrorism law does not enable its defense forces to extend help
to the U.S. military in the event of a military strike against Iraq.

The former LDP secretary general made the comments on a talk show on TV

"Unless we make arrangements under a new law, no cooperation can be extended
under the existing special measure law against terrorism," Nonaka said.

The current LDP secretary general, Taku Yamasaki, appearing on the same
program, said, "There exists the harsh reality of various preconditions"
before Japan can offer cooperation for a possible attack against Iraq.

Yamasaki said that action by Japan might be possible under the existing law
if the United Nations adopts a resolution endorsing such cooperation or if
it turns out that Baghdad is closely linked to the al-Qaeda terror network
of Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terror
attacks on the U.S.

Japan's antiterrorism law was enacted last Oct. 29, enabling Japan to
provide logistic support to the U.S. and other foreign militaries in the
fight against terrorism. but still banning the nation's Self-Defense Forces
from fighting.

Nonaka was also critical of the current support the SDF is providing in the
Indian Sea, saying: "Even now (the support we are giving) is unusual. I
think this country is headed in a strange direction."

People's Daily, 6th August

China welcomes Iraq's invitation for UN weapons experts to hold talks in
Baghdad, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman Kong Quan made the remark in response to a request for comment on
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri's letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, inviting Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission, and his experts to Baghdad to hold
technical talks on inspecting Iraqi weapons.

China regards Iraq's invitation as a positive step and welcomesit, Kong
said. China hopes the Iraq issue would be properly resolved at an early date
through political and diplomatic channels on the basis of relevant solutions
of the Security Council, the spokesman said.

Dawn, 6th August, 26 Jamadi-ul-Awwal 1423

ISLAMABAD, Aug 5: Pakistan is willing to withdraw a $16 million compensation
claim against Iraq with the United Nations special committee on
compensations provided Baghdad agrees to settle the issue on a bilateral

This has been communicated to the Iraqi government on bilateral ministerial
level, official sources told Dawn.

The compensation claim was lodged by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)
with the UN compensation committee against the Iraq Airways for damages on
account of the Gulf War, sources said.

They said that Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood during the February 2000
joint ministerial committee meeting in Baghdad was informed by the Iraqi
government that it considered the claim as an "unfriendly act" and it wanted
to resolve the matter bilaterally.

Baghdad also challenged the compensation figure of $16 million and wanted it
reviewed. As a result of prodding by the government, the PIA board of
directors agreed to withdraw the claim provided Iraq agreed to a bilateral
compensation of $1.4 million.

The decision was conveyed to the Iraqi minister for transport but Iraq
Airways wanted more details and justification for the $1.4 million being
demanded and the matter could not proceed amicably.

Pakistan has now informed the Iraqi government at the top level that on the
political level it has done whatever was possible and nothing more could be
done on the government level.

The government has also asked Baghdad to arrange technical meetings between
the airlines to agree on a compensation figure and resolve the matter.

Peoples Daily, 8th August

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham has said it is dangerous for the US
government to reject out of hand Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's offer to
let weapons inspectors back into the country, it is reported Wednesday.

The foreign minister said in Vancouver Tuesday that the Canadian government
believes any military action against Iraq should be authorized by the UN
Security Council.

He said that Canada has no intention of joining the United States in any
military action against Iraq without the agreement of the United Nations.

Graham's comment came amid mounting concern that the apparent determination
of the Bush administration to use military force to oust Saddam Hussein
could destabilize the entire Middle East.

Graham said it is clear that Saddam is not a trustworthy or desirable
leader, but he is not convinced that a strike by the United States against
Iraq without the blessing of the United Nations would be justified.

He said that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein is clearly always a threat, but
there is no evidence he is in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

by John Downing, Political Editor
The Irish Examiner, 8th August

AMERICAN Special Forces will not be allowed to use Irish airspace or
airports during any attack on Iraq. A Government official said the
administration supports UN diplomatic efforts to defuse the growing crisis,
but was against an all-out war.


Officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs said the issue should not be
seen as one in which sides must be chosen, for the moment at least.

A spokesman said the Government backed UN secretary general Kofi Annan's
call on Iraq to give unconditional access to independent arms inspectors,
but did not support an all-out war.

The spokesman added Ireland insists aircraft overflying national airspace or
using airports such as Shannon for refuelling cannot carry weaponry. He said
the issue would be assessed by the Government if an attack on Iraq was given
a fresh UN mandate.

Advocates of attacking Baghdad argue the UN has already given clearance. The
UN passed a resolution on weapons inspection at the end of the Gulf War over
a decade ago which included admission of weapons' inspectors., 5936,
4872922%255E401, 00.html

Daily Telegraph (Australia), 9th August

IRAQI Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
to intervene and stop US and Australian "piracy" against its ships in the

In a message to Annan carried by the official INA news agency, Sabri said
"these acts of aggression and terrorism by the US and Australia put maritime
traffic in the Gulf in danger and violate the UN charter and international

Sabri cited the cases of two Iraqi boats, Al-Raya and Al-Yarmuk, intercepted
by Australian sailors.

Australia has voiced strong support for pre-emptive US military action
against Iraq, which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass

Times of India (from AFP), 9th August

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a meeting of former
Japanese premiers the US should exercise restraint as fears grow it will
unleash military strikes on Iraq, a report said on Friday.

Koizumi met with five former Japanese prime ministers for an evening
discussion at a Tokyo restaurant Thursday night, Jiji and Kyodo news
agencies reported.

Former prime ministers Yasuhiro Nakasone and Kiichi Miyazawa both told
Koizumi that it was necessary to tell US President George W. Bush to
exercise "self-restraint" when it comes to military action against Iraq.

"I think so too, " Koizumi was quoted as saying by Jiji.

Miyazawa added that Koizumi should act as a consultant to Washington to help
prevent the US from being isolated in the international community, Kyodo

A war of words has erupted over a possible US attack on Iraq.


Bangladeshi Independent, 10th August

HONG KONG, Aug 9: Asian governments have urged Saddam Hussein to comply with
UN disarmament resolutions, but even staunch US allies in the region have
openly questioned the merits of any US military action to topple the Iraqi
dictator, reports AFP.

Permanent UN Security Council member China is among the most vocal and
predictable opponents of a possible US military intervention, but fellow
regional heavyweight and US ally Japan appears equally sceptical.

India, which has been forging ever closer ties with the Bush administration,
is strongly against any attack on Iraq, as is Indonesia, the world's largest
Muslim nation.

US President George W. Bush has repeatedly warned that Saddam's pursuit of
weapons of mass destruction poses a threat to the United States and its

And speculation is growing that Washington is prepared to launch a military
campaign to get rid of Saddam, with or without the support of trusted

While Saddam raised the stakes Thursday by warning the United States that
any new war was doomed to failure, Bush has threatened to use "any means
necessary" to bring about a "change of regime" in Baghdad.

Such sentiments have provoked growing unease in Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a meeting of former premiers
Thursday he believed Bush should exercise "self-restraint" over Iraq, Jiji
and Kyodo news agencies reported.

China in turn has made clear its objections to expanding the US-led "war on
terror" to Iraq and has welcomed Baghdad's invitation to the chief UN arms
inspector for talks on resuming weapons inspections.

China wants difficulties over Iraq to be "properly resolved at an early date
through political and diplomatic channels" on the basis of UN resolutions,
foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said this week.

"China regards Iraq's invitation as a positive step and welcomes it, " Kong

Neighbouring India has urged Baghdad to comply with Security Council

"India has consistently opposed armed action against Iraq as it is
counter-productive and would only serve to aggravate the sufferings of the
Iraqi people, " foreign ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said Tuesday.

Indonesia also stressed the need for a peaceful resolution.

Jakarta believes "there is a need for the Iraqi government to comply with
the relevant Security Council resolutions, " foreign ministry spokesman
Marty Natalegawa said Friday.

In less diplomatic language Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has
slammed proposed US strikes as unjust.

Mahathir, a moderate Muslim leader, said using force to unseat Saddam would
only serve to provoke greater hatred and dent the Islamic world's efforts to
show the "moderate face" of Islam.

"We don't think other governments have a right, no matter how powerful they
are, to change the government of another country. That is an undemocratic
thing to do, " he told a recent international Islamic conference.

"When you focus on Iraq, the people who will suffer are the helpless people
of Iraq and of course, you are going to arouse a lot of ill-feelings, " he

Even staunch US allies Australia and the Philippines have expressed caution.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard this week promised a full
parliamentary debate before Australia committed to joining any US action.
Howard said Saddam could not be left unchecked, but he warned of

"In the end it is always in Australia's national interest to see that the
threat posed by people like Saddam are not allowed to go completely
unchecked, " he said last week. "On the other hand the country is a long way
from Australia and there are some consequences if any military involvement
were to take place."

Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said officials were monitoring the
situation, particularly regarding how it would affect the 750, 000 Filipinos
working in the Middle East.

"The situation is tense, but it is different from saying that there will be
war in Iraq. So we have to be careful about alarming our overseas population
and their families, " he said Friday.


by Yoel Marcus
Ha'aretz, 10th August

If the Pentagon computer that issues operational code names is smart, it
will call the U.S. attack on Iraq "In the Name of the Father, " or
alternately, "The Son's Revenge." No matter how you look at the debate going
on in Washington about whether to let Saddam have it, and how, it is clear
that President Bush is acting from the gut.

This is not the Mafia, baby. In his book, everything's personal. What he
wants to do is wrap up his father's unfinished business, which cost Bush
senior the presidency. Surrounded by the same hawkish bunch that served his
father, it was obvious from the day he was elected that the first thing he
would do is settle accounts with Saddam.

Doubts about his leadership and sense of judgment disappeared after the
attacks on September 11. Bush has managed to create a patriotic atmosphere
and a sense that America is fighting for its home. With a popularity rating
of 70 percent, he has an open ticket to do what he wants, where he wants in
the name of the war on terror.

In the attack on Afghanistan, bin Laden wasn't captured. Al Qaeda and its
leaders got themselves new digs, and we'll be hearing from them for sure.
Mullah Mohammed Omar, head of the Taliban, got away, and thousands of
innocent Afghanis were killed in massive air attacks. But who's counting?
The main thing is that now there's a new regime.

Whereas Bush enjoyed international support and cooperation in the
Afghanistan campaign, bumping off Saddam has aroused opposition abroad and
tough questions at home. Abroad, people are afraid that Bush's obsession
with Saddam will warp his judgment and shake up the whole world order. At
home, they want to be sure that his determination to carry out the attack at
any price, even if he has to do it alone, is not some adventure that the
United States will pay for dearly.

America has tried many times to topple regimes, but it hasn't done a very
good job. The dictatorships stayed dictatorships and the despots stayed
despots. For 50 years, America has been trying to unseat Fidel Castro,
sitting there right under its nose, but so far, no go. In the matter of
Saddam, the generals have been the skeptics and the ones who put on the
brakes. It's the civilian cowboys around the president who are urging him to
hurry up and use all the force he can, but to keep the operation short and
on target.

Congress is not convinced that this is possible. Experts are being brought
in and thoroughly grilled. In 1991, there was a clear casus belli. The
occupation of Kuwait endangered the oil resources of America and its
regional allies. Today, there is no clear-cut casus belli, and no proven
link between Saddam and the September 11 attacks.

At the time, the United States acted in conjunction with the international
community and the surrounding countries, including Syria, which is now
considered a country that harbors terror. In spite of this backing, Papa
Bush halted the campaign and did not go into the heart of Iraq and Baghdad
with his half a million soldiers to eliminate Saddam. Why did he stop at
that point? Because they weren't sure they could pull it off without a
hitch. Where Bush the father failed, can Bush the son succeed?

At a briefing of newspaper editors at the end of the Gulf War, the head of
Military Intelligence said it was a good thing Saddam had been left in
power. Better a weakened Saddam than a void that would split the country and
turn it into a Shi'ite stronghold. Military intelligence was wrong, and so
was Bush senior. The son made up his mind to finish the job even before the
terrorists struck. Declaring war on terrorism has given him the pretext he

Saddam is a dangerous madman who could use chemical, biological and nuclear
warfare to lay waste to the Middle East and the entire free world. But the
international community objects to the precedent of one country replacing
the government of another by force. Bush is betting his entire political
future on the head of Saddam Hussein. If he succeeds, it will teach the
fanatics a lesson, and the map is going to look very different, not to
mention better for us. Bush's resolve to go ahead with the attack even if he
has to do it alone, without partners or international support, contains an
element of risk, not only for his personal career, but for the free world as
a whole. The world will be a very hard place to live in if America ever
loses this battle.

Tehran Times, 10th August

PARIS -- A U.S. war on Iraq could seriously damage the global economy and
hurt oil prices at a time when markets are in turmoil and growth remains
stubbornly sluggish, analysts have warned.

Economic experts say military intervention would further hit investor
confidence already bruised by a series of scandals in the U.S. and the
plunge of the global markets -- the only question is how hard the impact
would be. "A large-scale attack on Iraq threatens to unleash a crisis of
confidence among investors, who tend to turn their backs on the market
during crises and wait for better days, " said Jean-Francois Daguzan of
France's Foundation for Strategic Research, which carries out studies for
the government. "It's a worrying prospect for the markets."

Daguzan was speaking after a recent study by French bank BNP-Paribas warned
that even a short military campaign similar to the 1990-91 Persian Gulf
crisis would increase oil prices from $25 to $40 a barrel and cut world
growth by 0.5 percent in the first year after intervention, followed by 0.3
percent in the second, AFP reported.

A longer conflict could double current oil prices to $50 a barrel, the bank
warned, wiping out a full percentage point of growth in the first year, 0.5
percent in the second.

But Dazugan cautioned some of the more alarming predictions over oil prices
may be overstated. "The impact of the Persian Gulf war was relatively modest
because we were able to bypass Iraqi oil, " he said. "These days, there are
multiple production sources."

Most analysts agree, however, that a fresh crisis in the Persian Gulf would
put a heavy brake on economic confidence, at a time when the global economy
is already shaky.

Rene Desfossez of investment bank CDC Ixis said U.S. business leaders shared
fears that any military intervention in Iraq given the added "geopolitical
uncertainties" would strengthen a "widespread fall in consumer and investor

U.S. consumption dropped by 1.3 percent and investment in the United States
fell 6.9 percent during the Persian Gulf war, according to the BNP-Paribas

The new predictions are bad news for European governments -- many of which
are already struggling to keep their economic promises to voters -- and goes
some way to explaining the increasingly vocal opposition from European
leaders to another war on Iraq.

France, among others, is walking on a fiscal tight-rope, with the new
government's 2003 budget founded on a 3 percent growth forecast that has
already been called into question by the International Monetary Fund's own
2.6 percent prediction.

Philippe Marini, the French senator presenting the budget to the Upper
House, said a U.S. military campaign would leave the government's economic
forecasts "in tatters".


Tehran Times, 6th August

WASHINGTON -- U.S. fighter jets on Monday attacked an air defense command
and control facility in southern Iraq in response to attempts to shoot down
American and British warplanes patrolling the area, the U.S. military said.

It was the 25th strike of the year by U.S. and British attack jets in
northern and southern "no-fly zones" of Iraq, established after the 1991
Persian Gulf War to protect minorities in the country from attack by
President Saddam Hussein's military.

Those tit-for-tat exchanges have increased in recent months amid mounting
threats from U.S. President George W. Bush to depose Saddam, accused by
Washington of developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, and officials at the Pentagon
said Monday's attack occurred at about 9 A.M. Iraqi time 0600 GMT, 2 A.M.
against a command and control site 120 miles (190km) southwest of Baghdad,
Reuters reported.

All aircraft left the area safely and damage to the target was being
assessed, according to the command, which has responsibility for U.S.
military operations in the region. Iraq has charged that civilians have been
killed several times this year in U.S. and British air strikes on civilian
targets. The Central Command reiterated on Monday that "coalition aircraft
never target civilian populations or infrastructure, and go to painstaking
lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian facilities."


The Guardian, 6th August

For the first time since the height of the cold war, the US is seriously
contemplating the use of nuclear weapons. But this time they would not be
used, as they would have been then, against another nuclear power. The
proposal is that they would be used against countries developing weapons of
mass destruction - chemical and biological as well as nuclear weapons.

Last week the Pentagon, for the first time, secured funds from Congress to
develop "mini nukes", low-yield nuclear weapons designed in particular to
destroy underground bunkers. The plan to build a new generation of nuclear
weapons, military analysts say, is behind the growing pressure on the White
House to withdraw from the comprehensive test-ban treaty. American nuclear
scientists last week also secured an agreement whereby tests on new warheads
could start within a year of any request, rather than the existing mandatory
delay of three years. They have been instructed to drill new boreholes in
the test grounds of the Nevada desert.

"Part of American thinking is that some tasks cannot be achieved without
using nuclear weapons," says Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at the
University of Bradford.

All this was foreshadowed by the leaking, in March, of the Pentagon's
"nuclear posture review". The classified document blurs the long-accepted
distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. It foresees the use of
nuclear weapons in three scenarios: against targets able to withstand
attacks by non-nuclear weapons (such as underground bunkers); in retaliation
for an attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; and "in the
event of surprising military developments", such as an "Iraqi attack on
Israel or its neighbours, or a North Korean attack on South Korea or a
military confrontation over the status of Taiwan".

"North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya are among the countries that could
be involved in immediate, potential or unexpected contingencies," it says.

The review shows how the Pentagon unashamedly seeks to claim some kind of
moral high ground: new kinds of nuclear warheads, it says, could actually
reduce "collateral damage". What it is saying is that small nuclear weapons
might kill fewer civilians than conventional weapons.

Such an assertion contradicts scientific studies about the short- and
long-term consequences of radiation resulting from a nuclear blast - even
from a low-yield weapon striking a deep underground bunker. According to
William Peden, a Greenpeace expert, even a small nuclear weapon would kill
thousands, and thousands more would suffer from burns, radiation sickness,
blindness and other injuries leading to genetic deformities - as happened in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A weapon of five kilotons or even one kiloton - the
Hiroshima bomb, regarded today as tiny, was 15 kilotons - would be extremely
dangerous, precisely because the military would regard it as "usable", Peden

The Washington-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), which
campaigns for nuclear disarmament, says that an attack on Saddam Hussein's
presidential bunker in Baghdad with a B61-11 bomb, for example, "could cause
upwards of 20,000 deaths".

Even Nato admits that "any nuclear weapons use would be absolutely
catastrophic in human and environmental terms... Such human cost would
ensure an enormous political cost for any nation that chose to use nuclear
weapons, particularly in a first strike."

But, of course, not everyone agrees, or at least not everyone is listening.
One keen advocate of small, precision-guided, low-yield nuclear weapons is
Stephen Younger, a former director of the Los Alamos nuclear weapons
laboratory and now head of America's Defence Threat Reduction Agency,
responsible for "counter-proliferation" programmes. " Nuclear weapons pack
an incredible destructive force into a small, deliverable package," Younger
wrote last year in a paper entitled Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century.

A report published last year by America's National Institute for Public
Policy, a conservative thinktank, declared that "nuclear weapons can... be
used in counter-force attacks that are intended to neutralise enemy military

The authors of the report include Stephen Cambone, now a senior Pentagon
policy-making official; Stephen Hadley, George Bush's deputy national
security adviser; Robert Joseph, a member of the national security council,
and William Schneider, one of Bush's defence advisers.

"The old doctrine was that nuclear weapons were far too big and nasty to
use, and now they've moved towards developing nuclear weapons they can
actually use," says Peden.

And, as the defence analyst Dan Plesch puts it, by developing a
missile-defence system in combination with new nuclear weapons, the Bush
administration is "extending the notion of casualty-free war to nuclear

Washington's new policy directly contradicts the so-called "negative
security assurances", the official policy of the US, whereby Washington has
pledged not to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-armed state "unless
that state attacks the US or its allies in association with a
nuclear-weapons state".

Meanwhile, the British government, which abandoned Labour's traditional "no
first use" policy after the 1997 general election, appears to have adopted
the emerging US nuclear doctrine allowing for pre-emptive strikes against a
state that has no weapons of mass destruction, if it is perceived to be a

Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, told MPs earlier this year: "I am
absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be willing to use
our nuclear weapons." However, he also said he was less confident that they
would deter "states of concern" - a reference to Iraq in particular - from
threatening or attacking Britain with weapons of mass destruction. He later
insisted that the government "reserved the right" to use nuclear weapons if
Britain or British troops deployed abroad were threatened by chemical or
biological weapons.

The government has declined to enter into any debate about nuclear weapons
policy, refusing to explain what it meant when it referred to the Trident
missile's "sub-strategic" role in its 1998 strategic defence review. (The
smallest nuclear weapon that Britain's Trident could deliver now would be
100 kilotons, which is a "city destroyer".)

The government is also investing more than £2bn in the atomic weapons
establishment at Aldermaston, where nuclear warheads are designed.
Scientists from the centre have been stepping up their visits to nuclear
laboratories in the US.

Defenders of nuclear weapons have always insisted that they are needed as a
deterrent. Britain and the US appear to be admitting that this is no longer
the case.

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