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News, 17-24/8/02 (3) IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * Hans Blix, United Nations' chief weapons inspector IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * IRIB [ Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] to Establish Permanent Office in Baghdad: Iraqi Daily * Kuwait Airways gets $56m * Bahrain joins Iran in opposing U.S. attack on Iraq * Kuwait Says OPEC Can Boost Output If Iraq Attacked * U.S. Strike on Iraq: For Jordan, Ball Is in Baghdad's Camp * Most Arab parliaments ready to attend Baghdad meeting on US threats * Baghdad ready to restore ties with Riyadh: VP * Syrian PM Meets With Iraqi Trade Minister * Iraq, Turkey hail improved trade INSIDE IRAQ * Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Moussa Dead - Industry Source * Iraq opens warehouse to press to refute US biological weapons charges. * Iraq says Abu Nidal was working against Baghdad * Abu Nidal killed by Iraqi assassins, insist supporters IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast_with_frost/past_programmes/2 201544.stm * HANS BLIX, UNITED NATIONS' CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR Interview with Huw Edwards BBC Breakfast with Frost, 18th August 18th, 2002 HUW EDWARDS: Now from the White House in the past few days came the strongest indication yet that America will take military action against Iraq regardless of the debate over weapons inspections in that country. Condalezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, said that West didn't have the luxury of doing nothing. Even Mr Blair is facing rising pressure from Labour MPs - Bob Marshall-Andrews underlined that earlier on - and divisions among Cabinet members too. Meanwhile the United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector, Han Blix, has received an invitation from Baghdad to hold technical discussions on the return of weapons inspectors. But it is worth considering? That was the question I put to Mr Blix, a little earlier. HANS BLIX: UNMOVIC was set up two-and-a-half years by the Security Council and we have been preparing ourselves for inspections and we are ready for it. So we are very eager to start inspections. However, you have to read the small print of any invitation and it seemed to us that this was by no means a distinction by the Iraqis to invite inspection but rather to suggest discussions about what issues were open in 1998. We have not been directed by the Security Council to do that. We would be very glad to discuss with the Iraqis the practical arrangements - like where were to land in Baghdad - where are inspectors to be lodged and the communications and so forth. But the Iraqis have so far not been interested in discussing that. I hope they will be. HUW EDWARDS: Are you saying that the invitation, as it currently stands, is pretty meaningless? HANS BLIX: It was totally at variance with the order and procedure laid down by the Security Council and we are not playing any politics of our own. We are respecting what the Council tells us and therefore their proposal was not really acceptable as it stood. HUW EDWARDS: Could you tell us then what conditions need to be met so that you can go in and do the work that you want to do? HANS BLIX: Well not very much. If they simply said that you are welcome tomorrow with the inspectors, we could go in and we will go there. However, we think it would be useful to avoid having any frictions about practical issues - like landings, like communications in Iraq - to discuss those in advance. We are ready to do that and we have said that to the Iraqis. We have also given them a list of such issues. But they have not so far responded to that. HUW EDWARDS: So crucially Mr Blix, the Iraqis want discussions about a disarmament mission before giving inspectors unlimited access? You want the opposite don't you? HANS BLIX: They want talk first and in the light of the talks maybe decide whether they will invite inspections. Whereas the Council assumes that we will go in and we will take a look for about two months in Iraq and thereafter try to identify which are the important issues and take them to the Council for approval - not to the Iraqis for approval. HUW EDWARDS: Well it seems to me Mr Blix that you are a very, very long way from getting the kind of invitation you want from Iraq at the moment. Would you agree with that? HANS BLIX: No, not necessarily. I think there are many surprises and unexpected turns in this matter. We are simply patiently waiting for an invitation and to do the job. We are determined to be an authority of integrity and of the UN - we serve the Council and nobody else. We are also not coming to Iraq to harass or to insult or humiliate them - that's not our purpose. We want to try to find out what is the situation with the weapons of mass destruction - do they have any, or they don't have any. And the Iraqis who claim that they have absolutely none, I think in my view, they should be interested in having us. HUW EDWARDS: Well the response of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Anan, to Iraq's invitation was very cautious. But the response from America and Britain was immediate rejection. Did that upset you at all? Did you think the invitation should be considered by America and Britain at least semi-seriously? HANS BLIX: No. We had absolutely no contact with the British or the Americans or anybody else before the Secretary-General answered. He and I talked about it and we analysed it. We reached it on a Thursday and a Friday morning - he and I were agreed on what should be answered. The British and the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese, of course can form their opinions as they like, but we answered on our own. HUW EDWARDS: Well, there is a view of course that the confrontation over weapons inspections might be used by the White House as one reason to push ahead with military action. Now are you concerned that you and your team could be caught up in that type of reasoning? Would that not be unhelpful in your view? HANS BLIX: Well, I do not presume that we are going to have an easy task. But I think that we have to be absolutely firm in being a UN authority - the preceding organisation, UNSCOM, was very skilful but it was much more directly dependent upon member states. We have our own inspectors paid by the UN and we have a greater degree of independence and we intend to exercise that on behalf of the Council. HUW EDWARDS: But how much more difficult does it make your job trying to gain access to these weapon sites, if they exist, while President Bush in the White House and Britain are all making very belligerent noises towards Baghdad? HANS BLIX: Well, I would think that if the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone is the inevitable then they might conclude that it's not very meaningful to have inspections. But my conviction is that the worry - the concern - that they may retain weapons of mass destruction is a very important element, both in Washington and anywhere else. And if inspectors are allowed in and if they are given really unfettered access with no delays etc., they I think this might play an important role and we would be eager to do that and to help towards a non-belligerent solution. HUW EDWARDS: If the inspections continue to be blocked, is that reason enough to press ahead with more direct action - if I can call it that? HANS BLIX: Well, that's not really for me to answer at all. We are doing what the Council tells us and the governments, of course, will react and they will draw their own conclusions. We are ready to serve the world community. HUW EDWARDS: Now given all the expertise and all the intelligence at your disposal, what would you expect to find in Iraq, Mr Blix? Would you expect to find a big weapons programme or not on the basis of what you know? HANS BLIX: Well, we are not here in order to speculate about what they have but rather to find on site - in situ, what there may be or may not be. There are many issues which, in our view, are unclear and which would need to be answered. So that will be our task. Of course, we read the newspapers and we hear what various intelligence organisations are saying and I'm not assuming at all that the Iraqis have retained weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it would evidently be naïve of me to conclude that they don't. In that case, the inspection would not be needed. So inspection on site is important. HUW EDWARDS: Well, lots of people listening to this interview will find a little surprising that you have no idea what the Iraqis may or may not have there. HANS BLIX: Well, we listen to, as I said, what various intelligence organisations are saying but they are not providing any evidence on the table and it would be our job to go to the various places they might have talked about and see on site whether there was something or not. HUW EDWARDS: What about the current atmosphere? The US National Security Adviser, Condolezza Rice, was saying very clearly just last week, that in her view there was a strong moral case for a change of regime in Baghdad. Now when we have that kind of rhetoric, doesn't it make your job almost impossible? HANS BLIX: Well, we are not given the task by the Security Council to express views on the regime in Baghdad. There are human rights mechanisms in the UN, reports about the situation in Iraq and we read them. We have a very defined task and that is go for inspection and look for weapons of mass destruction. HUW EDWARDS: Is it your hunch, Mr Blix, that within the next few weeks or months, you might well find yourself in Iraq looking at these sites? Do you think that that is going to happen? HANS BLIX: I really don't know. So far the Iraqis have not given a sign that they are ready for inspection but it may well happen. This situation is one that had many unexpected elements from all sides. HUW EDWARDS: Well, we wish you good luck with your work Mr Blix and thank you very much for talking to us. HANS BLIX: We are ready for it. Thank you. HUW EDWARDS: Hans Blix talking to me a short while ago. IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/17/02&Cat=5&Num=1 * IRIB [ Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] TO ESTABLISH PERMANENT OFFICE IN BAGHDAD: IRAQI DAILY Tehran Times, 17th August BAGHDAD -- The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is planning to open a permanent office in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, an Iraqi daily said Wednesday. The Baghdad-based daily "Babel", published by President Saddam Hussain's son Uday, wrote that two Iranian journalist delegations have arrived in Iraq. "Babel" said that a six-member team from the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) is visiting Iraq, planning to report on the current living conditions of the Iraqi nation, and cover Iraq's news. It added that another Iranian journalist delegation, affiliated to IRIB working for its satellite network, "Sahar". The IRIB team is after the establishment of a permanent office in Baghdad for Sahar, and the newly launched IRIB Arabic program "Al-Aalam". In order to gain the permit for the establishment of a permanent office in Baghdad, the IRIB's visiting authorities met and discussed the matter with Iraq's information Minister, Muhammad Said as-Sahhaf. "Babel" wrote that the Iraqi minister has approved of the idea in general, saying that the finalization of such a project depends on going through the legal formalities, said IRNA. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=60901 * KUWAIT AIRWAYS GETS $56M Gulf News, from Reuters, 18th August State-owned Kuwait Airways Corp (KAC) said it has received $56.1 million in partial compensation from Iraq for losses incurred during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. KAC said in a statement received yesterday the payment was part of a case against Iraq's national airline in a British court demanding compensation for "costs of retrieving six planes from Iran and for operating losses related to their grounding". "KAC expects to receive in October, 2002, another ruling... for the remainder of total compensation of around $100 million with interest for the loss of aircraft and the six aeroplanes retrieved from Iran," the statement said. The Airbus planes were flown to Iraq during Baghdad's seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Iraq flew the cream of its air force and the Kuwaiti airliners to Iran to keep them safe from allied bombing during the 1991 Gulf War that freed Kuwait. Loss-making KAC has claims for payments against Iraq and its national carrier before the British courts and a UN body which pays out Gulf crisis compensation from Baghdad's oil earnings. It has already been awarded some $557 million for damages during the Iraqi occupation and collected insurance payments. KAC, with losses of over $100 million a year in recent years, suffers from heavy debt payments for a new fleet after it lost 84 per cent of its assets during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. KAC now has one of the world's youngest fleets, with new aircraft bought after the war. KAC operates five A300s, three A310s, three A320s, four A340s and two Boeing 777s. Occupancy in recent years has been around an annual 65 per cent with some 2.21 million passengers using the airline in 2000. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/08/18/bahrain.us.iraq.ap/index.html * BAHRAIN JOINS IRAN IN OPPOSING U.S. ATTACK ON IRAQ CNN, 18th August TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Bahrain, a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf region, joined Iran on Sunday in opposing American military action against Iraq. "Iran and Bahrain declare their determined opposition to any unilateral military action against Iraq," said a joint statement issued at the end of a two-day visit to Tehran by Bahrain's king, Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The statement, carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, called for respecting "Iraq's territorial integrity and noninterference in Iraq's internal affairs." Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. The tiny island was a base for America to run supplies and other operations for the war in Afghanistan. Washington also has granted Bahrain major non-NATO ally status. But the king's comments Sunday mark Bahrain's clearest opposition yet to the idea of American military intervention in Iraq. Toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a U.S. policy goal, and President Bush has raised the threat of a military assault to achieve it. Bush has said other tactics are also being considered. Iran, which fought a war with neighboring Iraq from 1981 to 1988, repeatedly has opposed U.S. intervention. In a meeting with Sheik Hamad, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "any power planning to take action against the Islamic world today will definitely meet great problems," Iran TV reported. Khamenei said "any incident in this region will be detrimental to those creating it," an apparent reference to the United States. Dialogue and closer relations between Iran and its Arab neighbors would help stop American threats, he added. "The U.S. president openly speaks of a crusade war. Under such circumstances, Muslim countries should get closer together and increase their cooperation," the television quoted Khamenei as saying. In the Saudi coastal city of Jiddah, visiting Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Sunday he opposed an attack on Iraq, saying it would have "serious repercussions for security in the region." Saleh told reporters Yemen "is maintaining the Arab stance that rejects striking (Iraq) because it is unjustifiable, especially after Iraq has declared its willingness to start dialogue on (weapons) inspection." The president of Yemen -- a southern Arab peninsula state that forged close ties with America following the Sept. 11 terror attacks -- said changing Iraq's regime is "the business of the people of this country." The joint Iranian-Bahraini statement said both states would soon sign a security pact because "the two countries believe security for each was security for the other." Sheik Hamad is the first Bahraini leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. His visit reflects a significant improvement in ties after years of unstable and sometimes tense relations. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/21/02&Cat=9&Num=21 * KUWAIT SAYS OPEC CAN BOOST OUTPUT IF IRAQ ATTACKED Tehran Times, 21st August MOSCOW -- OPEC member Kuwait's oil minister said in an interview published on Tuesday that the cartel was ready to increase crude supplies to world markets if the United States decided to go ahead with a military strike on Iraq. "If a war starts, OPEC countries are ready to fill any possible supply disruption," Kuwait's Acting Oil Minister, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, told Russia's "Vremya Novostei" daily. "Kuwait's quota inside OPEC is 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), but we can export more, up to two million bpd. Many others are also able to increase production, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates," Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, in Moscow on a three-day visit, said. He said Kuwait would not support a military strike on Iraq, but said no decision had been taken on whether or not to allow U.S. forces to use Kuwaiti bases. On Monday, Al-Sabah said he did not expect OPEC to raise oil output at its September meeting unless the price of its basket of crudes went above $28 per barrel. Analysts have warned that without at least another one million barrels per day of extra OPEC output, prices could quickly spiral higher in the second half of the year. OPEC ministers will meet in Osaka, Japan, on September 19 to decide whether to raise output in response to the current oil price rally, sparked in recent months by concerns that a U.S.-led military strike on Iraq could disrupt flows of crude from the Middle East, home to two-thirds of world oil reserves. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/22/02&Cat=2&Num=002 * U.S. STRIKE ON IRAQ: FOR JORDAN, BALL IS IN BAGHDAD'S CAMP Tehran Times, 21st August AMMAN -- Jordan is convinced that the United States is determined to launch military operations against Iraq and believes that the ball is now in the Baghdad Camp, officials and diplomats say here. In a final bid to avert an eventual strike, King Abdullah II met U.S. President George W. Bush in early August at the White House to sway him against any military operation but he failed in his task. Since then Jordanian officials have said the kingdom has no illusions about whether or not the United States would go ahead with plans to attack Iraq and topple its President Saddam Hussein. Last week Abdullah urged Iraq to "assume its responsibilities", in a wide-ranging speech to the Jordanian people. "We will continue to offer all we can for Iraq. But the decision in the end is that of the Iraqi leadership, they bear the responsibility in front of their people, nation and the world," he told AFP. A senior Jordanian official told AFP that "all the attempts made by Jordan to avoid an attack on Iraq have failed". "The ball is now in Baghdad's Camp. It is up to Iraq to play the game by accepting the return of the UN (weapons) inspectors and bowing to the will of the international community," the official said. Jordan, which shares borders with Iraq, is worried that a military strike on its large eastern neighbor will have negative repercussions on its cash-strapped economy and its very own survival. Although Jordanian officials have repeatedly stressed in the last few weeks that the kingdom will take no part in an attack on Iraq, they are also saying that they will not adopt the position taken by Amman in 1990. That year, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Jordan did not follow the example of several Arab countries and join the U.S.-led international coalition which launched the 1991 Persian Gulf war to liberate Kuwait. Amman's position adopted then by Abdullah's late father, king Hussein, was seen as favorable to Iraq. But now Jordan's margin of maneuver is limited, according to diplomats in Amman. The diplomats said Jordan must ensure that its position is not perceived as hostile by the United States. But it also must avoid upsetting Iraq on which it depends for its oil needs, as well as calm the kingdom's pro-Iraqi public opinion. Jordan has an intrinsic interest in keeping good economic and political ties with the United States which is providing it with 450 million dollars in aid for 2002 and views Amman as a key moderate ally in the Arab world. "Jordan has much to lose by backing Iraq," a Western diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. Supporting Iraq could backfire on Jordan, he said, if the United States decides to cut off aid to Amman as it did in 1990. "It would be a catastrophe," the diplomat said. Amman must likewise keep good ties with Baghdad, which provides Jordan with all its oil needs, otherwise the flow of oil could stop, another diplomat said. "Jordan must remain neutral as the tension builds between the United States and Iraq in order not to upset that country and avoid any riposte," the diplomat added. Jordan must also contain public opinion at home, where there is large grassroots support for Iraq. "All of Washington's Arab allies have said that any military operation against Iraq must be quick in order to avoid the anger of their populations and the threat of destabilization," the diplomat said. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-08/23/content_535136.htm * MOST ARAB PARLIAMENTS READY TO ATTEND BAGHDAD MEETING ON US THREATS BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- Most Arab parliaments have expressed their readiness to attend an extraordinary meeting of theArab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) on US threats against Iraq, due to be held here next month, AIPU Secretary-General Noureddine Bouchekoudj said on Thursday. Bouchekoudj conveyed the information to Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Saadoun Hamadi during their meeting here earlier in the day, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. Iraq has invited all Arab parliaments to attend the meeting to "seek means to confront US threats against Iraq and to serve the Arab nation's interests," Hamadi said. The Iraqi parliament last month sent letters to its Arab counterparts, calling for an extraordinary AIPU session, either in Baghdad or in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where the AIPU is based, to discuss the US threats against Iraq as soon as possible. [.....] http://www.dawn.com/2002/08/23/int9.htm * BAGHDAD READY TO RESTORE TIES WITH RIYADH: VP Dawn, 23rd August 2002 , 13 Jamadi-us-Saani 1423 DUBAI, Aug 22: Iraq is ready to restore relations with Saudi Arabia when Riyadh judges fit, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said in an interview published on Thursday. "When our brothers in Saudi Arabia judge the time is right to re-establish full diplomatic relations, they will find that Iraq is ready," he told Asharq Al-Awsat. Ramadan voiced satisfaction at the refusal of Saudi Arabia, which broke off ties with Iraq in 1991, to take part in any new US-led assault on Baghdad. "We appreciate the kingdom's stance on this and believe it shows our brotherhood and our common destiny," he said. Ramadan warned that Saudi Arabia would in turn become a US target if Washington goes ahead with threats to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. He told the daily that US plans to attack Iraq were not linked to the disarmament issue or Saddam Hussein himself but "to the programme, objectives and line of conduct" followed by the Iraqi president.-AFP http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/24/02&Cat=9&Num=5 * SYRIAN PM MEETS WITH IRAQI TRADE MINISTER Tehran Times, 24th August DAMASCUS -- Syrian Prime Minister Mustafa Miro held talks Thursday with visiting Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh on "strengthening economic, trade and industrial cooperation" between their two countries, the SANA news agency said. The two reviewed the agenda for the upcoming meeting in Damascus of a Syrian-Iraqi Trade and Economic Committee, to be chaired by Miro and Iraq's Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan. The Iraqi minister discussed ways of raising agricultural cooperation and said that his country had "lifted all the barriers to the entry of Syrian citrus fruits." Syria'Industry Minister Issam Zaim presented feasibility studies for two glass factories in Syria, a chemical fertilizer factory in Iraq, and a joint industrial holdings company, AFP reported. Saleh, also met with Economic Minister Ghassan Rifai to discuss the "difficulties hindering the application of a free trade area," following the accord their two countries signed in january 2001. Syria is presently seen as strongly opposed to any U.S. strike on Iraq, as opposed to its stance during the 1991 Persian Gulf war when Saddam Hussein's troops occupied oil-rich Kuwait. In 2001, Iraq imported two billion dollars worth of Syrian goods under the UN-administered oil-for-food program. The summer of the same year, they set up seven joint companies involved in the industrial, pharmaceutical and telecommunications sectors. http://www.bday.co.za/bday/content/direct/1,3523,1159415-6078-0,00.html * IRAQ, TURKEY HAIL IMPROVED TRADE Business Day, South Africa (from AFP), 24th August ANKARA - Iraq and NATO member Turkey, a key Muslim ally of the United States, hailed Friday improved bilateral trade and expressed their desire to further develop economic ties, Anatolia news agency reported. "Our trade volume, which had all but stopped in 1990, has reached a point of surpassing one billion dollars," State Minister Edip Safter Gaydali said ahead of talks with visiting Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, according to Anatolia. The two ministers expressed determination to further improve economic exchange, despite recent saber-rattling by the United States, which has expressed its intention to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Turkey has in recent years moved to revitalize its trade with its neighbor to compensate for economic losses - estimated at some 40 billion dollars - inflicted by sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The economic progress has been achieved despite political bitterness between the two neighbors over Turkey's hosting US warplanes who have since the 1991 Gulf War enforced a no-fly zone over mainly Kurdish northern Iraq. Foreign Trade Minister Tunca Toskay, who also met with Saleh, said that "a very serious relationship based on (mutual) trust has been developed with Iraq in the past three years." He said Turkey had become one of the main exporters to Iraq and that Turkish companies had undertaken projects worth $1.2-billion in the country, Anatolia reported. But he added: "We are concerned over a war breaking out there... It is obvious we will suffer." [.....] The Iraqi minister was scheduled to also meet with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit Friday. He was to travel on to Istanbul to meet with Turkish businessmen and then to Izmir to visit an international trade fair. [.....] INSIDE IRAQ http://quotes.freerealtime.com/dl/frt/N?art=C2002081900231r0664&SA=Latest%20 News * IRAQI DEPUTY OIL MINISTER MOUSSA DEAD - INDUSTRY SOURCE by Jim Efstathiou Dow Jones Newswires, 19th August LONDON, Aug 19, 2002 (ODJ via COMTEX): Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Taha Hmud Moussa, the second most senior official at the Ministry of Oil, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack, an industry source said Monday. Moussa's responsibilities included business development, and he negotiated oil field development agreements with international oil companies, the source said. Moussa was second in seniority to Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rasheed. He also attended meetings of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Rasheed's absence. Moussa joined in the ministry as deputy minister in 1991. Its unclear whether he will be replaced, the source said. NO URL (taken from Iraq Sanctions Monitor) * IRAQ OPENS WAREHOUSE TO PRESS TO REFUTE US BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CHARGES. Text of report by Iraqi satellite TV on 20 August Iraq has refuted the US allegations and lies published by the Washington Post about a food warehouse affiliated with the Trade Ministry. The Washington Post report claimed that the warehouse is used to produce biological weapons. Correspondents of news agencies as well as Arab and international television stations toured the warehouse and inspected the foodstuffs and infant milk it contains, and the other materials listed on the supply ration card. [Correspondent Riyadh Sa'di - recording] No sooner had a US bubble been burst than another popped up. The latest of such bubbles is an accusation that this food warehouse produces weapons of mass destruction. Some US media reported that satellites tracked some trucks carrying materials that are thought to be biological. The Ministry of Information organized a free tour of the warehouse for Arab and international journalists and correspondents of television stations and news agencies in Baghdad only 48 hours after the Washington Post allegation. [Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salih] Currently, the warehouse contains sugar. The warehouse contains three compartments: one for sugar and the other two contain infant milk, foodstuffs and milk. We started supplying other governorates and Baghdad from this site after the ministry announced that it would distribute the food rations for two months in one go. This required supplying food to the other governorates from this site. It seems that the Americans are filming this site. Sixty trucks left this site, as the Americans said, laden with infant milk. They claimed that these materials are used for weapons of mass destruction. During the tour, we highlighted the countries that produced the milk, which are the Sultanate of Oman, Tunisia, Yemen, Vietnam and Indonesia. The warehouse contains different kinds of milk, as well as sugar from India and Egypt. [Sa'di] This large warehouse was built by a French company in 1986 to store meat, but it came under devastating US bombing in 1991. Reconstruction at this site began in 1993. Now it is being used exclusively for keeping the foodstuffs imported in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Iraq and the United Nations. [Salih] The UN staff visit the site every week and verify with us the storage of the foodstuffs, just like the other warehouses in other parts of Iraq. [Sa'di] These US accusations are part of a media campaign launched by Washington against Iraq with the aim of expanding its aggression against it despite the fact that it has implemented all its commitments towards the United Nations and the Security Council resolutions. [Director-General of the National Monitoring Department Husam Muhammad Amin] Iraq is free of any weapons of mass destruction and the means of producing, storing and developing these weapons and anything to this effect. This is because Iraq implemented its commitments in full and the [UN] Special Committee [Unscom] supervised the destruction of all weapons and their means of production. Anything to do with weapons of mass destruction was destroyed. The US allegations against Iraq have not been echoed in any country in the world, especially after the bad US role has been exposed and all world countries have become aware of the US goals. [Sa'di] It seems that the US allegations are not only illogical but also grounded in lies and falsifications. This container and what is inside it testify to this. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/08/20/jordan.otsc/index.html * IRAQ SAYS ABU NIDAL WAS WORKING AGAINST BAGHDAD CNN, 20th August (CNN) -- New details have emerged about the death of Palestinian terrorist leader Abu Nidal, who was found shot to death in his apartment in Baghdad, Iraq over the weekend. CNN's chief news executive and newsgathering president Eason Jordan tracked down the story during a series of meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad. He spoke Tuesday morning with CNN's Paula Zahn. JORDAN: A remarkable story from the Iraqi capital. I've been here for several days meeting with Iraqi officials. I had a meeting just a short time ago with a senior Iraqi official who for the first time provided Iraqi government confirmation that Abu Nidal indeed committed suicide here a few days ago in Baghdad. But the story he told was absolutely amazing. The senior Iraqi official, who refused to be identified by name, said that one year ago, Abu Nidal snuck into Iraq on a false passport from the neighboring country of Iran, that Abu Nidal took up residence in Baghdad, but he was very quickly discovered by Iraqi authorities. Iraqi authorities, according to this Iraqi official, put Abu Nidal under house arrest. Some months later, according to this official, Iraqi authorities determined that Abu Nidal was conspiring with forces outside of Iraq to work against the Iraqi government. This Iraqi official said that one of the countries outside of Iraq was Kuwait. And this official said that when Abu Nidal was confronted by Iraqi authorities and told that they had discovered that he was working against the Iraqi government, Abu Nidal then chose to commit suicide. So there was no discussion about medical condition or anything else. According to this senior Iraqi official, Abu Nidal, the terrorist leader, decided to commit suicide after being confronted with allegations that he was conspiring against the Iraqi government. ZAHN: Eason, if you would square that with a report that came out of a Palestinian newspaper yesterday, Al Ayyam, which reported that Abu Nidal had in fact died from several bullet wounds to his body. Is there any suggestion that the Iraqis helped carry this out? Maybe he fired the first shot, and someone finished it off? JORDAN: Well, it's hard to determine fact from fiction sometimes. Here, I think it's remarkable that we've heard anything from an Iraqi official. We have been told that there's a senior official within the intelligence community here in Iraq, within the Iraqi Secret Police, who will make a public statement about this within the next day or two, and disclose from the Iraqi government perspective all of the details about what happened with Abu Nidal. Now there may be conflicting stories coming out of other places, but this is the Iraqi government version, which has not been disclosed to the Iraqi people. Only CNN has been told this information, and I'm sharing it with you and with the world for the very first time. I should also point out, this official had some very interesting things to say about the status of U.S.-Iraqi relations and the possibility of arms inspections here in Iraq. This official said to me, it would be foolish for Iraq to allow the U.N. arms inspections to resume, suggesting that there's just no way they're going to happen, that the U.N. arms inspections are over. He made it clear the only way there would be any inspections in Iraq would be if a U.S. congressional delegation came for a short time, for just a few weeks, to inspect suspected weapons sites here. Otherwise, there will be no cooperation from the Iraqi authorities here. And this official had very harsh words for the Bush administration, this Iraqi official calling President Bush "an idiot." Quote: "He's in the hands of the Zionists." And this official closed by saying, "We would appreciate it if the United States would invade Iraq on the ground, because then we could have a fair fight." ZAHN: So, Eason, any time we hear this stuff, we have to be pretty cynical. How much of this do you think is posturing on this Iraqi official's part, particularly when it comes to the whole issue of inspections? JORDAN: Well, certainly there's a lot of posturing back and forth in this spat between the United States and Iraq. This is especially harsh language that we're hearing from the Iraqi leadership, and it's clear to me that there is a bit of a debate within the Iraqi government about how far the Iraqis should go in allowing the possibility of arms inspections to resume. But this official, who's very, very high up in the government, made it clear that the U.N. arms inspectors are not coming back, that it would be foolish for the Iraqi government to allow them back, because the arms inspection teams of the United Nations, according to this Iraqi official, contain spies from the United States who would only use that information to help topple the regime here and any administration regime change operation coming from Washington. ZAHN: So, Eason, were you left with the impression then, based on what this Iraqi official told you, that Iraq would like to provoke an attack by the United States? JORDAN: Well, Iraqi officials -- and I've met with many government ministers here in recent days -- they all say they wish a conflict could be avoided. But they really believe, universally, believe a conflict is inevitable, and they say the only way the U.S. government can succeed in changing the regime here is to come in on the ground and have a real fight on the ground. And this Iraqi official, who did not want to be identified by name, said that the Iraqi military would relish this opportunity, because the Iraqi military wants to fight on its own turf, not in the air, but on the ground. ZAHN: I just think it's striking how much has changed in the last couple of weeks. Wasn't it the Iraqis, after all, who were suggesting that a U.N. group should come over to talk about the prospects of talks, and now, as this Iraqi official told you, that simply is not going to happen, no discussion, no inspections. JORDAN: Well, I think a lot of independent observers see this discussion between Iraq and the United Nations as essentially a delaying tactic. Iraq would like to put off an invasion, should that indeed come to pass. There's a lot of talk, very little action about letting arms inspectors in here. And this official, who is very, very senior, made absolutely clear the U.N. inspections are over. The only way there can be inspections going forward is if there's a very, very short inspection carried out in a few weeks, if a U.S. Congressional delegation comes here with inspectors of its own, and does its investigating, and then goes off on its way, and then the sanctions are ended. That's the only way, according to this Iraqi official, any kind of inspection will go forward. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=326502 * ABU NIDAL KILLED BY IRAQI ASSASSINS, INSIST SUPPORTERS by Robert Fisk in Beirut Independent, 22nd August Followers of Abu Nidal have rejected a claim by Iraq that the Palestinian guerrilla leader killed himself when Iraqi security men went to his Baghdad apartment to arrest him and put him on trial for entering Iraq illegally. "Abu Nidal, an unyielding believer who entered battle on several fronts, could not have attempted suicide for the reasons given," the Fatah Revolutionary Council said yesterday. "We consider this an assassination, conceived of in advance and carried out by an intelligence apparatus." The Iraqis exhibited photographs of Abu Nidal's bloodied corpse to back up their version of events. Blood you would associate with Abu Nidal. But suicide? In Baghdad? With the Iraqi goons politely waiting while the Palestinian killer went to change his clothes? And a court? Iraqi agents were taking Abu Nidal to court? Dead the frightful man certainly is. But that is the only thing certain about a Palestinian whose killers slaughtered Jews and Palestinians in about equal measure: 275 in all. Even the explanation of Tahir Haboush, head of Iraqi intelligence that he had entered Iraq illegally on a forged Yemeni passport in 1999 raised as many questions as it answered. That anyone let alone Abu Nidal, who once worked for Iraqi intelligence could slip into Baghdad without being noticed is beyond credibility, let alone that he could remain hidden. The White House was quick to seize the opportunity: Abu Nidal, it announced, had been given "safe haven" in Iraq, which proved Iraq's links to "global terror". The US has been looking for those links for some time, ever since its claim that an Iraqi agent met one of the 11 September suicide pilots in Prague fell to pieces. But is it not a bit too neat? Just when America needs a connection, Abu Nidal turns up dead in Baghdad with pictures to prove it: shot in the head, in a hospital bed with blood soaking the pillow, even a copy of the Yemeni passport. Mr Haboush also said his men had found AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, false identity cards and bags of explosives in the house. Iraq had been told that Abu Nidal entered Iraq from Iran in 1999 by an Arab state, which Mr Haboush declined to identify. There were rumours, too, that Abu Nidal had been in touch with Saudi and Kuwaiti intelligence officials and that there were plans in his house for an American invasion of Iraq. He had been in contact with a foreign power, Mr Haboush said, refusing to name the country. Iraq put Abu Nidal on its blacklist in 1983 after his group attacked the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, both supporters of Iraq's war with Iran. Tariq Aziz, who was the Foreign Minister, personally expelled him from Baghdad. A Palestinian present then later told the writer Patrick Seale that Mr Aziz told Abu Nidal: "President Saddam has come to the conclusion that you have become a dangerous burden ... you are to leave Iraq the moment you step out of this door." For years afterwards, Abu Nidal attacked Tariq Aziz in his Fatah Revolutionary Council newspapers, claiming he was in league with the Pope to destroy the Arabs. He even claimed that Iraq owed him $50m for the properties he lost in the country, although 29 corpses were allegedly found beneath one of them: members of his group killed for "treachery". So is it just possible that part of Mr Haboush's story is true? That perhaps Abu Nidal was sent to Iraq by an outside power? If so, you can understand why he might have killed himself. Who, faced with the Iraqi secret service in a bad mood, would want to live? _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk