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[casi] News, 11-18/10/02 (5)

News, 11-18/10/02 (5)


*  Film Probes German-Iraq Nuclear Link
*  Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Net Assessment
*  North Korea has what Iraq dreams of
*  U.S. Approaches to N. Korea And Iraq Are Vastly Different


*  A grim reminder of Iraq's tawdry evil
*  Bahrain calls for Arab summit to discuss Iraq crisis
*  UN's Iraq decision not binding, says Prince
*  Saudi Arabia won't take part in Iraq attack: Saudi FM
*  Syria expects U.S. to launch attack on Iraq
*  War Games Held in Southern Jordan
*  Key US headquarters move to Kuwait
*  Qatar Opposes Any U.S. War on Iraq, Considering Bases
*  Iraq accuses Iran of 53 ceasefire violations


by Charles J. Hanley
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 13th October

NEW YORK- A new investigative film traces the roots of the Iraq nuclear
crisis to links between German industry and Baghdad's bomb builders, and
questions the lenient sentence - probation - handed a German engineer for
treason in aiding the project.

The documentary, "Stealing the Fire," also offers a rare close-up look at a
"proliferator," the engineer Karl-Heinz Schaab, who emerges on film as a
bland, gray, fastidious 68-year-old technician who protests he's "too small
to be turned into a scapegoat for the others."

The film, produced and directed by Oscar-winning documentarian John S.
Friedman and Eric Nadler, premieres Tuesday at a New York theater.

Blueprints and other documents Schaab and associates brought to Iraq in the
late 1980s, along with Schaab's own hands-on skills, were a vital boost to
Baghdad's development of gas centrifuges - machines whose ultra-fast
spinning "enriches" uranium by separating U 235, the stuff of nuclear bombs,
from non-fissionable U-238.

Much of Iraq's nuclear infrastructure was subsequently wrecked by American
and allied bombing in the 1991 Gulf War and in 1998. More was destroyed
during U.N. inspections inside Iraq in the 1990s, and Baghdad officials deny
they are working on atomic weapons today.

But reconnaissance photos released by the Bush administration this week, as
it seeks support for a potential war against Iraq, indicate the Iraqis have
been rebuilding sites previously used for nuclear development. A newly
released U.S. intelligence report says they may have nuclear weapons by

"Stealing the Fire" looks at the source of these capabilities.

Iraq was failing with other enrichment technologies when German centrifuge
experts Bruno Stemmler and Walter Busse, recruited by a German company, H&H
Metallform, came to Baghdad in 1988 and sold the Iraqis old designs for
centrifuges. The next year they brought Schaab, who provided components,
technical reports and, most important, a stolen design for an advanced
"supercritical" centrifuge.

The design, classified secret in Germany, was used in enriching nuclear
power fuel at the European government consortium Urenco, for which a small
Schaab-owned company worked as a subcontractor. The Iraqis paid $62,000 for
the key documents.

In an on-film interview, Schaab says that on his last Baghdad visit, in
April 1990, he personally helped install Iraq's first test centrifuge.
Bomb-making would require thousands of such centrifuges.

A German court eventually - on June 29, 1999 - convicted Schaab of treason
and sentenced him to five years' imprisonment and a $32,000 fine, but then
suspended the prison term because he previously served 15 months in a
Brazilian jail.

He had fled to Brazil in 1995 after U.N. inspectors uncovered documents in
Iraq exposing the German connection. At Germany's request the following
year, the Brazilians arrested the fugitive engineer, but freed him when a
Brazilian court held that his alleged crime was political and he could not
be extradited.

In 1998, Schaab returned to Germany anyway, to be with his dying mother and
surrender to authorities, apparently assured his cooperation would win him

The light sentence he received raised questions, however, among
nonproliferation specialists. American physicist David Albright, who was on
the U.N. inspection team, suggested that the German government wanted to
minimize public perception of Schaab's crime.

"I think they wanted the Schaab story to disappear. It was intensely
embarrassing," Albright says in "Stealing the Fire."

The film suggests some people wanted Schaab himself to disappear. His
lawyers tell the filmmakers that Brazilian authorities had warned them that
foreign secret services wanted to kill or kidnap their client, and suggest
that the closely timed deaths of associates Stemmler and Busse in the early
1990s may not have been natural, as reported.

"Stealing the Fire" leaves such questions unexplored. But it firmly
establishes that German companies, more broadly, supplied technology usable
in Baghdad's plans. One high-ranking defector from Iraq's nuclear program
says Germany was an "open field" for Iraqi ambitions in the 1980s,
particularly for purchases from such companies as chemical giant Degussa and
its subsidiary Leybold.

A top Degussa executive retorts that "by the German laws, there were no
illegal deliveries" during this pre-Gulf War period.

German export controls, widely regarded as too lax, were toughened after the
Gulf War. German industry was not alone, however, in helping develop Iraqi
capabilities. In 1985-90, the U.S. Commerce Department, for example,
licensed $1.5 billion in sales to Iraq of American technology with potential
military uses.

Schaab "of course did it for the money," says his lawyer Michael Rietz. But
the centrifuge expert - described by wife Brigitta as "very quiet, very
well-behaved; he doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink" - insists he was focused
as much on the technological challenge, and not on illegality and
international repercussions.

"I stumbled naively into this thing," he says.

by Norman Dombey
London Review of Books, 16th October


Khidhir Hamza is a Shia from Diwaniyah in southern Iraq. In the 1960s he
studied physics at MIT and Florida State. He helped develop the Iraqi Atomic
Energy Commission in the 1970s, working in the reactor programme, and moved
to the weapons programme proper in 1980, ending up as a general in the
Special Security Forces involved in the warhead project. Unlike many of his
senior physicist colleagues he avoided imprisonment, and unlike many of his
senior Security Force and Baath Party colleagues he avoided execution. He
managed to transfer from the weapons programme to al-Mansour University in
Baghdad just before the Gulf War, and in 1994 slipped away to a small
university in Libya. He even managed, with insider information, to make a
lot of money on the Baghdad stock exchange. In 1995, after several spurned
attempts, he persuaded the CIA to take him in, and to arrange for his family
to be transported to the United States.

Hamza's ghost-writer is Jeff Stein, who, according to Google, contributes to
intelligence stories for a range of print and Internet media. Usually, it
isn't clear in the book what is Hamza's and what is Stein's. But sometimes
it is: 'The Jewish state and Iraq had been in a virtual state of war since
1948, when Palestine was dissected to make room for Jewish settlers' is
clearly Hamza, while 'The PLO was a collection of terrorist groups, no
matter how it presented itself' is surely Stein.

Hamza's account is vivid, but contains several errors. He says that Germany
had begun developing a nuclear weapon in the 1940s and that 'their work was
picked up by the United States.' But the Manhattan Project grew out of a
memorandum that Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls at the University of
Birmingham sent to the British Government in March 1940. They pointed out
the fundamental principle of a nuclear weapon (and the reason it is still so
difficult to make one): the necessity to separate the isotope uranium-235
from natural uranium, which consists of uranium-238 and uranium-235 in a
ratio of 142 to 1. You need about 25 kilogrammes of U-235 to make a weapon.
Hamza is confused about uranium enrichment (the increase in the proportion
of U-235 relative to U-238). There are two normal methods: gaseous diffusion
and gas centrifuge. Iraq considered both after Israel bombed its Osirak
reactor in 1981, putting an end to any hope of using plutonium. Hamza
writes: 'The centrifuge process involved extracting bomb-grade fuel by
spinning a uranium compound-gas inside a fast rotating cylinder. The lighter
uranium at the centre of the cylinder is enriched by the fuel.' This isn't
right: in fact the lighter uranium is the enriched fuel, although a cascade
of several hundred centrifuges is needed to increase the proportion of U-235
to anywhere near the 90 per cent enrichment necessary for weapons. During a
visit to the US in 1975, Hamza tells us, he looked at a nuclear accelerator
which 'was our guideway to accelerating atoms, and thus uranium enrichment'.
Yet neither the diffusion nor the centrifuge method uses accelerators,
because the gas involved in both processes is electrically neutral. The
electromagnetic method of isotope separation (EMIS) does involve ions
(charged atoms), and an accelerator might therefore be useful, but no one
had thought about using EMIS in 1975. Then, at a meeting with Saddam's
son-in-law Kamel in 1987, Hamza, as he puts it now, 'launched into . . . all
the problems with uranium enrichment, from the French reactor to Jaffar's
diddling with magnets'. But the French Osirak reactor project had nothing to
do with uranium enrichment: the Iraqis had hoped to use Osirak to make
plutonium, the alternative route to a bomb. As for Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, he
really was 'Saddam's bombmaker': he had a PhD in experimental nuclear
physics from Birmingham and was the senior physicist responsible for the
programme. His 'diddling with magnets' was EMIS, which would have delivered
the goods for Saddam by now had he restrained himself over Kuwait.

So what was Hamza's role in the project? He was clearly not as senior as he
makes out. In the book he frequently describes important meetings at second
hand. Jaffar was not his only scientific superior: he answered to Humam
al-Ghafour, Hussein al-Shahristani and Khalid Ibrahim Saeed, too. Besides,
how likely is it that Saddam would have allowed his senior physicist to move
to Libya without exacting retribution on his family, who remained in
Baghdad? Hamza says he told a PLO representative, while he was still a PhD
student, 'I don't know how to make a bomb,' then adds: 'I did,
theoretically, of course.' But did he? Nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons
(at least those of the atomic rather than thermonuclear kind) are based on
nuclear fission (a very large nucleus, typically uranium or plutonium,
splits into lighter nuclei with an accompanying energy release). When he
testified recently to a Senate Committee, Hamza was described as a nuclear
engineer: a professional who works with nuclear reactors. But Hamza has no
specific training in nuclear fission for either reactors or weapons. His PhD
wasn't concerned with the fission of a large nucleus but with the scattering
of small nuclei or, to be precise, on how to calculate three-body forces - a
very abstract topic. Solving the problem required a large amount of
computation ($40,000 worth back in the late 1960s) on an old-fashioned
mainframe. He went on from Florida State to Fort Valley State College in
Georgia to establish a computer centre there. On his return to Iraq he
became involved with the purchase of the Osirak reactor from France, but was
also appointed to head a committee to buy, and then run, an IBM360 for the
Nuclear Research Centre. Hamza's CV, which is on the Web, reveals him to be
a specialist in scientific computation and modelling. He ran calculations
for the gas diffusion enrichment project from 1980, for the dense plasma
focus project from 1988 and, though he doesn't say so explicitly, presumably
for simulations of the yield from the nuclear warhead that Iraq hoped to
have once it acquired sufficient HEU. He was, in other words, a glorified
computer scientist. Between 1987 and 1990, he also wrote reports on his
colleagues' work and progress. He was, in his own words, 'Saddam's chief
snitch'. And he doesn't seem to have had a high opinion of his colleagues:
Jaffar is always wasting money or 'diddling', while Saeed is 'short' and

In his testimony to the Senate Committee on 31 July Hamza said that,
according to German intelligence, 'with more than ten tons of uranium and
one ton of slightly enriched uranium . . . in its possession, Iraq has
enough to generate the needed bomb-grade uranium for three nuclear weapons
by 2005.' That is correct, but of no significance. It is well known that
Iraq, quite legally, has 11 tons of uranium in its possession (it actually
has substantially more listed on the IAEA website, and until 1998 it was
safeguarded by regular inspections). Using the ratio of about 140 to 1 of
U-238 to U-235 in natural or slightly enriched uranium, and taking 25 kg as
the amount of HEU needed for a bomb, it's easy to work out that 3.5 tons
(140 x 25 kg) is the amount of natural uranium needed for a bomb. So 11 tons
is the amount needed to build three bombs. It is not possible, however, to
construct weapons directly out of uranium or slightly enriched uranium.
Hamza managed to fool some people into confusing slightly-enriched uranium
with HEU. The Bishop of Oxford, for example, wrote in the Observer (4
August) that 'the US Congress was told recently that Saddam Hussein has
enough weapons-grade uranium for three nuclear bombs by 2005.'

In his interview with the Times in September, Hamza claimed that the three
nuclear bombs could be made within the next few months. This 'new estimation
. . . is centred on the number of pirated centrifuges that Baghdad has been
able to produce and the rapidity with which the reprocessing programme is
being undertaken'. I don't know what reprocessing has to do with it -
reprocessing is used in the production of plutonium, not HEU - but how does
he know about the pirated centrifuges? In the Sunday Mirror he even claimed
that 'Saddam now probably has hundreds of small centrifuges hidden around
Iraq.' Why didn't he mention the pirated centrifuges to the Senate
Committee? He hasn't been in Iraq for eight years, so this information can't
be first-hand. Nor was he involved with the centrifuge programme, which only
gets a few mentions in his book. According to Frank von Hippel, professor of
public and international affairs at Princeton and a former assistant
director for national security in the White House, 'Iraq had difficulty
producing reliable [centrifuge] machines' and 'no [centrifuge] production
facility had been established by the time the effort was halted by the
bombings.' Iraq would have had to have solved many technical problems at a
time of strict sanctions in order to set up a centrifuge facility since the
IAEA inspectors left in 1998. Furthermore, a thousand working centrifuges
would be required to produce enough HEU in one year. Nor could they function
if they were 'hidden around Iraq': they have to be connected in a cascade.

The reason Hamza's opinion changed so markedly between 31 July and 16
September is revealed in the Times interview. The International Institute
for Strategic Studies dossier was published on 9 September, and was, in the
view of Hamza's new masters in the United States, unhelpful. Hamza was
required to add some urgency to the debate.

There are two enlightening details in the book. First, Hamza claims that the
Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft was executed by Saddam in March 1990
because he took earth samples to test for the presence of biological or
chemical warfare agents. Unfortunately for Bazoft, his sample site was close
to al-Atheer, the warhead facility, and the samples would have shown that
experiments on nuclear warheads were being carried out in the vicinity.
Second, he describes the problems caused for him and his family in Baghdad
by a bogus story in the Sunday Times on 2 April 1995 announcing that he had
been kidnapped in Greece and probably assassinated. He was actually in Libya
at the time. The story reported that Hamza had confirmed a secret Iraqi
weapon programme, and referred to documents confirming this. Until then the
authorities in Baghdad hadn't been concerned about his absence from Iraq,
but this changed everything. He eventually discovered that the CIA had
planted the story and documents in order to smoke him out. It worked: Hamza
managed to get to Hungary and the US Embassy in Budapest. With some
difficulty he persuaded the CIA to take him and his family to the US. They
were reluctant to play ball until Hamza told the CIA man that 'a British
visa would be ready for me in a week . . . suddenly the roadblocks melted.
The next morning an embassy car whisked me to the airport.' A week later,
Madeline Albright quoted the CIA-forged documents at the UN Security Council
in order to prevent any relaxation of the regime of sanctions on Iraq.


The dossier also says that 'Iraq has sought the supply of significant
quantities of uranium from Africa.' So what? The IAEA has told me that Iraq
already has hundreds of tons of uranium at its disposal. Without enrichment
facilities this material is useless for nuclear weapons, although it could
conceivably be used in conventional weapons in the same way that depleted
uranium is used by the UK and US. It is also possible that this African
story is an intelligence sting: remember the capacitors destined for Iraq
found at Heathrow in 1990 that turned out to have been planted by the FBI.


Charles Duelfer told the Senate Committee that even before hostilities began
in 1991, Saddam had ordered missiles and bombs to be armed with biological
and chemical agents, and pre-authorised their use in the event of a US move
on Baghdad. Duelfer says the Iraqi leadership believes that this is the
reason the US agreed to a ceasefire. US power may win the day, as it did in
Afghanistan, but victory may come at a high price.


by Andrew Coyne
National Post, 18th October

Eight years ago this week, the Clinton administration brought home a piece
of paper from North Korea promising peace in our time. In exchange for
diplomatic recognition, 500,000 tons a year of heavy fuel oil, and a pair of
nuclear reactors, the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong Il (the diminutive "Great
Leader," not to be confused with his father, Kim Il Sung, the "Glorious
Leader") agreed to dismantle its burgeoning nuclear weapons program, and to
allow international inspectors full access to its stockpiles of plutonium,
to verify that these were not being used to manufacture a bomb.

The so-called Agreed Framework, brokered with the help of Jimmy Carter, the
former president and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, was hailed by The
New York Times as "a resounding triumph." Defying "impatient hawks and other
skeptics who accused the Clinton administration of gullibility" and warned
that North Korea "was simply stalling while it built more bombs,"
negotiators had instead taken the path of peace. "If the North fulfills its
commitments," the Times rhapsodized, "this negotiation could become a
textbook case on how to curb the spread of nuclear arms."

If the North fulfills its commitments. In fact, the North did not fulfill a
single one. It used the plutonium, according to CIA reports, to make not one
but two bombs. It has never allowed the sort of intrusive inspections
promised. And, as it has just acknowledged, it has all the while been
engaged in a clandestine program to develop more nuclear weapons, this time
using enriched uranium. Turns out those impatient hawks were right: It was
simply stalling while it built more bombs.

To its existing arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, to say nothing
of its enormous stockpiles of conventional arms, it may soon be able to add
several nuclear warheads, if it has not already. These may be used either to
terrorize its neighbours or to accessorize the long-range missiles that are
one of its few exports. Or they may simply be put to the same use as before:
as a means of extracting more concessions from the West, in return for still
more promises from the North Koreans.

The agreement, in short, has proved as good as North Korea's word. What
began as a craven exercise in appeasement -- there is no overstatement in
that word here -- has ended as these things usually do: with disillusionment
on one side, an undiminished threat on the other, and another round of
blackmail in the offing.

I mention all this for the benefit of those who still wonder what all the
fuss over Iraq is about. Even now, predictable voices are asking why, if the
United States is so determined to disarm Iraq that it is willing to go to
war, it does not do the same to North Korea. Indeed, the Bush
administration's reaction to the North's astounding confession of bad faith
was remarkably muted, limited to some faint murmurings about "dialogue" and
"peace-loving nations."

There is a very simple explanation for this. Listen closely: It's because
North Korea already has the bomb. If we attacked, or even threatened to,
they might level Seoul. It is precisely to avoid this predicament that the
Americans have been pressing to take out Saddam Hussein: now, before he has
the bomb. If we wait until he gets one -- I hear North Korea's terms are
quite reasonable -- it will be impossible to take it away from him.

Critics who accuse the United States of inconsistency have some nerve: These
same people have been warning us that the Americans and their cowboy
President were fixin' to invade every country that so much as looked at them
sideways. But let them show a little discretion and suddenly they're
hypocrites. In fact the situations are quite different, and call for
different responses -- not only because Lil' Kim has the bomb that Saddam's
dreams are made of, and not only because war in the Korean peninsula is of a
different order of magnitude, in terms of carnage and destabilization, than
an invasion of Iraq, but because there is more fluidity in the North Korean
situation than is conceivable in Iraq.

Crazy the regime may be, but it has of late been making some fitful attempts
to come to grips with the reality of the outside world. In the present case
it may have no higher aim in mind than to reprise the shakedown of 1994, but
after the regime is relieved of that delusion, the revised terms of trade
can be impressed upon it: If it does not give up its nuclear ambitions,
pronto, it will lose all the gains it has made to date, together with any
hope of future progress, whether in normalizing relations or inward
investment or aid for its suffering people.

The same applies to Iran, the third wheel on the "axis of evil." There is
every case for waiting out the mullahs, for reasons that preclude the same
approach to Saddam: The regime may fall of its own accord, it has no recent
history of invading its neighbours, and it appears to be guided by at least
some rational assessment of its own best interests. I was going to say it
had no nukes, either, but apparently all it takes is a half-million tons of
fuel oil and a letter of introduction from Jimmy Carter.

by Steven R. Weisman
Salt Lake Tribune, from The New York Times, 18th October

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration responded Thursday to the disclosure
of North Korea's nuclear weapons program with a strategy of urgent
diplomatic pressure free of military threats or even a tone of crisis.

It was a marked contrast with the drumbeat of warnings about force and
mobilization of troops and equipment against Iraq, also a member of the
"axis of evil" identified by President Bush, but one he says poses the most
serious danger to the United States.

The two separate and, in some respects, contradictory strategies reflected
the administration's desire not to let North Korea derail Washington's plans
to confront Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. The risk was that some Americans
might wonder why conciliation ought not to be tried with both countries.

Aides to Bush were quick to assert that the two situations are entirely

"There is not one policy that fits all," said Richard Boucher, the State
Department spokesman. "Each situation has to be dealt with on its own."

Administration officials say that although Iraq probably does not yet have
nuclear weapons, it poses a more serious threat to its region because of its
record of already using chemical weapons against its enemies and of invading
two neighboring countries.

Whereas North Korea is described by many experts as wanting its weapons as a
defensive measure, to deter an invasion of its territory by others, Iraq is
feared generally as a nation willing to use its weapons to bully others.
This concern is what the administration says justifies its policy of
pre-emptive action against Baghdad.

"North Korea is a fundamentally conservative dictatorship," said a former
diplomat who has dealt with problems on the Korean peninsula over three
decades. "They're the worst kind of totalitarian regime, and their
willingness to cheat is unquestioned. But they do not pose an imminent
threat to regional stability. The fundamental threat from North Korea is
still deterred by the presence of American troops in South Korea. So the
administration is right to focus on Iraq."

A State Department official said Iraq was different from North Korea not
simply because it has used so-called "weapons of mass destruction" and has
ties with terrorists but because it has proven itself to be "at least
sometimes susceptible to international pressure." As a result, he said,
diplomacy was justified, at least for now.

The administration's low key strategy toward North Korea was being carried
out by the four partners with which it has been working for years to coax
North Korea into living peacefully with its neighbors. The clear hope at the
White House was that Japan, South Korea, China and Russia could salvage the
possibility of negotiation to remove an advanced nuclear threat from a
nation as isolated, dictatorial and unpredictable as any on earth.

For Iraq, by contrast, the administration was continuing to threaten the use
of force as a way of bludgeoning Saddam's regime to accept inspections,
followed by disarmament, of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons

Perhaps inevitably, many in Washington and in policy circles were focusing
Thursday on why the approach of engagement toward North Korea -- which
included the implication that economic aid could resume some day -- might
not also be valid for Baghdad.

"The American reaction shows you the difference between dealing with a
country that already may have nuclear weapons and one that doesn't," said
Gary Milhollin, who is director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms and
is also a leading expert on nuclear proliferation issues.

The North Koreans were believed as early as 1993 to have one or two nuclear
bombs from their plutonium program, and the latest revelations about their
parallel program in developing highly enriched uranium means they could have

This means, according to Milhollin, that North Korea could have the capacity
to attack Tokyo, Seoul or even the United States right now, which
necessitates a cautious approach in dealing with the secretive government in

North Korea's artillery, rockets and other conventional weapons -- which
experts say could easily destroy large parts of Seoul -- have for decades
served as a deterrent against any possibility of an attack initiated by the
United States.

Military experts say that, for all its erratic conduct, North Korea has
armed itself to deter attacks rather than blackmail or coerce neighboring

In some ways, the purpose of North Korea's nuclear program is viewed by
diplomatic experts as analogous to that of Pakistan's.

Just as North Korea has acquired nuclear arms to protect itself from being
overrun by South Korea, Pakistan has moved to acquire such weapons to
counter the threat presented by it much larger neighbor, India.

If there was disagreement over how to handle North Korea in the Bush
administration, which was divided early last year, it wasn't evident on
Thursday. That could have been because the so-called hawks and doubters who
have criticized past conciliatory moves toward North Korea are now
preoccupied with mounting a military action against Iraq.

For North Korea, the negotiating approach is back in fashion for now, and an
administration filled with officials critical of the 1994 Clinton-era accord
under which the North promised to give up its nuclear weapons program is
working to see if the agreement can be revived and made foolproof.


by Matthew Fisher
National Post, Canada, 12th October

AL MUTLA RIDGE, Kuwait - There are no visible traces of war to be seen now
in the shifting sands of this windblown hill about one third of the way from
Kuwait City to Iraq. But it was here in 1991 that the naked thievery and
wretched incompetence of Saddam Hussein's army and the overwhelming might of
the U.S.-led coalition were starkly revealed.

Many hundreds of Iraqis who died at Al Mutla were buried beneath what is now
a border police parking lot at the top of the ridge. They had been caught
out in the open as the sun came up. Waiting for them on the far side of the
rise was a gang of U.S. M-1A Abrams tanks. Thundering overhead were
squadrons of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy attack aircraft. For those trapped
on the ridge, there was no escape and no means of defence.

When I reached Mutla on the morning after the massacre, the tanks and fire
trucks, buses and cars and stolen Rolls Royces taken by the fleeing Iraqis
were no more than twisted, smoking hulks. Mangled and charred bodies lay
everywhere on the margins of the road. Those who managed to escape the
vehicles had been cut down by shrapnel or bullets from warplanes, or caught
in minefields that had been planted by the Iraqis themselves.

Among the ruins was a dazzling, sometimes tawdry variety of plunder. The
Iraqis had hoped to return home with everything from mink stoles to diapers,
refrigerators and potatoes.

Images of the slaughter transmitted to the world were so horrific, they
quickly became a factor in the first president George Bush's decision to
call the ground war off after only 100 hours.

But they also served as an apt epitaph for Iraq's brutal, ultimately futile
seven-month occupation of what Saddam Hussein called Iraq's 19th province
and a useful reminder of how weak, undisciplined and rapacious the Iraqi
army was and undoubtedly still is.

George W. Bush is now making the case for war with Iraq if it does not
surrender its weapons of mass destruction and destroy its ability to make
more of the same. He calls Iraq and its dictator "a grave and growing
danger." What has often been forgotten by those in the United Sates and
elsewhere who have objected to the campaign against Iraq is how outrageously
the Iraqi army behaved during its seven-month occupation of Kuwait.

A far more extreme example of Iraqi perfidy and stupidity occurred the day
before the lopsided battle at Al Mutla. On Saddam's direct orders, 782
Kuwait oil wells had been set alight in a matter of hours. By the time the
last of these wildfires was tamed 10 months later, the black smoke they
spewed had caused fantastic environmental damage throughout the Middle East
and burned away billions of dollars of oil.

There is still no accurate account of how many people in Kuwait were
arrested, tortured or murdered during the Iraqi occupation or of exactly how
many of those who were kidnapped from Kuwait are still alive in Iraqi jails.
The number of victims of Iraqi violence was in the thousands. The number of
those whose property was stolen was in the many hundreds of thousands.

There were many summary trials and public executions for alleged acts of
treason and insurrection. Often there was no trial at all.

What has been recorded in an Atlas of Iraqi War Crimes published by the
government of Kuwait is that Iraqi forces burned 540 Kuwait homes and 600
businesses, shops, hospitals, schools and hotels. Every one of the country's
water and power plants and television stations was looted or destroyed. The
international airport was razed and a dozen aircraft were incinerated,
including a British Airways jumbo jet.

Dozens of unmarked minefields were left behind when the Iraqis ran away. So
were scores of anti-aircraft artillery. In a foretaste of what may happen if
the United States attacks Iraq this winter, most of these guns were
purposely placed in urban areas so the only way to eliminate them was to
bomb populated areas.

Iraq had also been busy changing scores of prominent Kuwaiti place names.
The community of Sabbiya became Saddamiat Al Metlaa. The port of Abdullah
became the port of Saddam.

About 42 major monuments to Saddam Hussein were erected during the
occupation and hundreds of portraits of the Iraqi leader filled public
spaces. A few depicted Saddam in a general's regalia. Others showed him as a
holy warrior, a businessman, a humble Bedouin or a wise legislator. Many
cast the Iraqi dictator as a benevolent father figure bestowing gifts upon
children or the infirm.

The ludicrous billboards of Saddam, which were quickly riddled with bullets
after coalition troops arrived, are still laughable. But the graphic horrors
of Al Mutla and the poisonous plumes of smoke that turned day into night
over the Burghan, Ahmadi and Magwa oil fields and much of the Persian Gulf
are still haunting.

What happened to all those swaggering Iraqis who suddenly left their
pathetic possessions  - mostly dirty blankets, half-eaten rations and
injection kits to ward off the effects of chemical warfare -- behind in the
warren of bunkers and foxholes that were everywhere around and near Kuwait
City and bolted, pell-mell, for home?

Iraqi survivors of the occupation of Kuwait know what vile deeds were
committed in Saddam's name. These soldiers must ponder whether the massacre
in the sands at Al Mutla Ridge was a harbinger of what lies ahead for them
and their country unless, as the Bush White House has suggested, they do
something to rid themselves of the preening bully whose oversized portraits
infest so many public places in Iraq.

Gulf News, 14th October

Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday
called for an immediate Arab summit to discuss the Iraq crisis, and
dismissed all suggestions of an Iraqi threat by chemical or biological
weapons as "mere exaggerations," the local media reported yesterday.

Speaking at his weekly majlis, attended by members of the ruling family and
senior officials, Sheikh Khalifa said the possible U.S. military
intervention in Iraq, which he described as "unacceptable", would destroy
Iraq's infrastructure and threaten its national interests.

"The continuous threats (by the U.S.) to wage war in this vital region was
not intended to enforce the return of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq but
to dominate this Arab country," he said, urging all GCC and Arab countries
to come forward to stop any further deterioration.

"We all have to speak up against this war. It is unfortunate that we just
continue to sit and watch a brethren Arab country being destroyed."

Warning of "war-mania" that would affect the economics of the region, Sheikh
Khalifa stressed that there was no proof that Iraq has biological weapons or
other weapons of mass destruction.

He said the Iraqi danger was being over exaggerated. The same thing happened
in 1991 so that gas masks could be dumped on GCC countries, he said.

by Syed Rashid Husain
Dawn, 14th October

RIYADH, Oct 13: Prince Sultan, the Saudi second deputy premier and minister
of defence and aviation, was reported here as saying that any UN Security
Council decision on Iraq will not be binding on the Kingdom.

This is in sharp contrast to what was said by the Saudi Foreign Minister
Saud Al-Faisal earlier that Saudi Arabia would be obliged to abide by any UN
resolutions on Iraq. He had hinted earlier that in case of any military
assault on Iraq under the UN umbrella, Saudi Arabia would be obliged to
offer its territory.

However, now the Saudi position seems to have changed. "We don't have the
ability to oppose the resolution of the United Nations or the Security
Council. But it is not obligatory on us to implement what is said. We give
priority to the interests of our country, then of the Muslims and the
Arabs," Prince Sultan was reported as telling the press in Dubai, after
visiting the MBC television there.

In the meantime, the build-up to any possible military assault on Iraq is
continuing unabated. The US has reportedly ordered the deployment of several
hundred army military planners to Kuwait from where troops could enter Iraq.
The US Central Command, based in Florida has already announced that a
forward post would be established in Qatar by November this year. The US
already has a large command headquarters in Bahrain. The US has reportedly
beefed up its forces in Gulf, in anticipation of a possible assault on Iraq.

In the meantime, it was also reported here that the US Navy is seeking two
big merchant ships to carry more armour and tracked vehicles from the US and
Europe to the Middle East.

Times of India (from AFP), 15th October

TIARET, Algeria: Saudi Arabia will not take part in a possible military
intervention in Iraq, whether it is launched solely by the United States or
has the backing of the United Nations, the country's Foreign Minister Prince
Saud al-Faisal said on Monday.

Speaking on the second day of talks in Algeria on problems facing the Middle
East, Prince Saud said that even official support from the UN Security
Council would not change the kingdom's decision not to participate in an

Approval by the UN executive council would "oblige all signatories of the
(UN) charter to help the Security Council in its mission," he said, adding:
"But there is no doubt -- on no country can it impose participation in a
possible operation."

The priority for Saudi Arabia, Washington's main ally in the Gulf, was now
"to protect Iraq against possible strikes", the diplomatic chief said.

In remarks published Monday, Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul
Aziz echoed Prince Saud's comments, saying:

"The kingdom has a special status in the Arab and Muslim worlds as it is
home to the two holy mosques (in Mecca and Medina) and will not sacrifice
this status for the sake of anyone."

Prince Saud said he had discussed Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during his stay.

by Nadim Kawach
Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, 14th October

Syria said yesterday it expected the United States to attack Iraq and urged
Arab states to unite against a possible U.S. occupation of that country and
threats to the region.

Suleiman Haddad, Syria's Assistant Foreign Minister, also paid tributes to
President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for his strong
support for Arab causes and efforts to prevent a military offensive against

"America will strike Iraq whether or not it allows back the UN arms
inspectors," Haddad said in a lecture at the Zayed Centre for Coordination
and Follow up in Abu Dhabi.

"Syria is opposed to this strike because Iraq is a sisterly country and
there are no justifications for such an attack. Unfortunately, the United
States, backed by Israel, has aborted all peaceful efforts because they want
to crush any Arab country which possesses large resources and elements of

Haddad, whose country shares an 80-km border with Iraq, said Syria was
exerting efforts to prevent an attack on Iraq by persuading it to allow back
the inspectors. It has also been in touch with the European Union, the
United Nations and other organisations.

"Any harm to Iraq will affect Syria. We have made arrangements to help our
Iraqi brothers in case of an attack. I don't think there is anything that
can stop a U.S. aggression on Iraq except total Arab unity and solidarity."

Haddad warned that the occupation of Iraq could lead to its fragmentation
and this could trigger a sectarian war. "But America should realise that
Iraq is not Afghanistan and the majority of the public opinion, including in
the U.S., are opposed to a strike," he said.

He stressed that Syria is against terrorism in all its forms and believes
that the "real terrorism is what Israel is doing to the Palestinian children
and women."

"Syria was among the first countries that called during the 1980s for an
international conference to distinguish between terrorism and the right of
people to resist occupation of their land and regain their rights," he said.

"Syria believes in peace as a strategic option that is based on justice and
UN resolutions calling for Israel to withdraw from the Arab lands it
occupied in 1967. This is a goal which we will never give up.

"It should be attained through peace, otherwise there are other
alternatives. We believe that the world will not back Israel forever and
Europe and other countries are now closer to our just cause."      

The Associated Press,14th October

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) ‹ Troops from the United States, Britain and Arab
countries took part in war games in southern Jordan on Monday, diplomats
said, and the government stressed the exercise had nothing to do with
preparations for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

Jordan previously said the war games were due to start around mid-October
and continue through early November. Monday, officials refused to answer
repeated calls by The Associated Press seeking comment. A Jordan-based
diplomatic source, insisting on anonymity, confirmed the desert maneuvers
started Monday.

Information Minister Mohammad Affash Adwan said recently the exercise
involved armies from several Arab countries, including Jordan and the United
Arab Emirates.

A British Embassy source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told The
Associated Press that British forces were also taking part in the drills at
an unspecified location in Jordan's southern desert. No other details were
immediately available.

Issues relating to the Jordanian military are usually not made public, but
the added caution Monday indicated that the government was trying to keep a
low profile on the war games to avoid sending a wrong signal to Iraq, its
main trade partner.

Adwan and other Cabinet officials have stressed over the last two weeks that
the drills were routine and periodical and have nothing to do with
developments in the region ‹ a reference to possible U.S. military action
against Iraq.

Jordan, like other Arab countries, opposes an attack on Iraq, saying it may
destabilize the volatile Middle East. Jordan is a longtime U.S. ally, but
also has close business ties with Iraq. Two-way trade with Baghdad reached
$700 million last year. Jordan also receives all its oil needs from Iraq.

by Tim Ripley
The Scotsman, 15th October

THE Pentagon is moving two key command teams to Kuwait in a move designed to
increase its ability to launch a strike against Iraq at short notice.

As well as sending the army¹s 5 Corps headquarters from Germany and the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters from California to the emirate, the
US has chartered two more civilian cargo ships to move tanks and other heavy
equipment to the Gulf from the US and Europe.

Attacks on US troops in Kuwait yesterday and last week highlighted the US
build-up in the emirate, which is strategically placed on Iraq¹s southern
border. For US military planners, the use of Kuwaiti military bases is
considered a requirement for any campaign against Baghdad to effect a regime

The low-key announcements clearly indicate that preparations for an attack
on Iraq are gaining momentum and will involve several divisions of US
troops. The two headquarters are each made up of between 600 and 1,000 staff
officers and communications specialists.

By deploying them ahead of any combat units, the US central command chief,
General Tommy Franks, hopes to allow key planning and preparation to be
completed in a low profile way, and in a manner that will not attract a
pre-emptive strike by the Iraqis.

Tens of thousands of combat troops will then be able to fly to the Gulf from
their bases in the US and pick up tanks and vehicles from stockpiles.

US planning envisages a brigade - about 5,000 men - completing this process
within 36 hours of landing at a Gulf airfield.

The US navy has also recently chartered a high-speed catamaran to speed the
transfer of troops and equipment from stockpiles in Qatar up the Gulf to

Some 14,000 US soldiers and marines are in Kuwait as part of the build-up of
forces, although the Pentagon is trying to play down their presence. It is
putting out the story that they are participating in "joint exercises" with
Kuwait forces - only the Kuwaitis seem to be taking the time off.

The arrival of the two headquarters in Kuwait later this month will coincide
with the deployment of Gen Franks¹ central headquarters in Qatar.

The US air force already has its Middle East command post up and running in
Saudi Arabia, and alternative facilities are ready in Qatar if Riyadh should
veto the use of its bases for an attack on Iraq.

By deploying the two corps headquarters to Kuwait, the US will have the
ability to launch multiple attacks simultaneously, for example launching a
siege of Basra with marines while also striking at Baghdad with armoured

Tehran Times, 16th October

KUWAIT - Qatar said on Tuesday it opposes any U.S.-led war against Iraq, but
has yet to decide if it will grant Washington's request to use its bases for
such an attack.

Qatar's Foreign Minister set out his Persian Gulf state's stance as the
United States seeks UN Security Council approval for tough new powers for
arms inspectors find and destroy what Washington says are Baghdad's weapons
of mass destruction.

The United States has threatened military action against Iraq if it fails to
comply with its demands and with UN resolutions, Reuters reported.

"Our view in Qatar is against any military action in the area and we hope
Iraq will accept (UN) Security Council resolutions and the entry of the arms
inspectors," Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr
al-Thani told reporters upon arriving in Kuwait for high-level talks.

"Until now even America has not decided on military action.

This issue is being discussed in America and the UN.

"So it is premature for U.S. [sic! - PB. Presumably 'us'] to state our
position now," the minister said when asked if Qatar would block the use of
its military facilities by Washington in case of a war.

"Nobody approached us until now" with a request to use Qatari bases in case
of war, he added.

Qatar is increasingly becoming a key base for U.S. military operations in
the region, with Washington boosting the capabilities of military facilities
there and moving command structure officers next month to the tiny, gas-rich

By December, a $1.4 billion U.S. upgrade of Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar is due
for completion with a state-of-the-art command and control room. Washington
said this month it was negotiating with Qatar on the use of Al Udeid in case
of war with Iraq.

"There is a resolution now being drafted in the Security Council and we hope
it will be fair for both Iraq and the UN and to be accepted by Iraq so the
region can avoid military action," Sheikh Hamad said of a U.S.-British
effort to have a new resolution on toughened rules for weapons inspectors
passed by the world body.

They have both warned Iraq, Kuwait's former occupier, of possible military
action, but Baghdad denies it has nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

A clear dispute between Qatar and the dominant Persian Gulf Arab power,
Saudi Arabia, is having some impact on war plans and the unity of
Washington's main allies in the region, diplomats said.

On the surface, Persian Gulf sources said, the dispute is over what Saudi
Arabia sees as programs that insult its royal family on the popular
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel.

But there are other differences over Qatar's general policies which the
kingdom at times sees as negatively impacting its own approach over the
Middle East crisis, dealing with the United States and other issues, the
sources said.

"I do not want to get into the details of this issue," Sheikh Hamad said
when asked about the dispute. "The ties between U.S. and Saudi Arabia are
important and strong and if there is a misunderstanding it will be resolved
in calm fashion."

After months of behind-the-scenes complaints by Saudi Arabia and a failed
effort by Sheikh Hamad to go to the kingdom to tackle the dispute, Riyadh in
September recalled its ambassador to Doha for consultations.

Sheikh Hamad, who came here in July, said on Tuesday his latest visit was
not to request Kuwait's mediation in the dispute but to offer Qatar's full
support after a U.S. marine was killed and another wounded last week in a
"terrorist" attack during war games on a Kuwaiti island.

Persian Gulf sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia, in what would be a
major blow to Qatar, might boycott a December summit of the six-nation
Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Qatar.

"We hope all will attend," the minister said when asked about a possible
Saudi boycott.


BAGHDAD, Oct 16 (AFP) - Iraq on Wednesday accused Iran of violating their
ceasefire agreement 53 times in 75 days this year, in a message to UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Baghdad charged in the message, delivered by Iraqi envoy to the United
Nations Mohamed Al-Duri, that "Iran has violated 53 times the ceasefire
between July 4 and August 20," according to the state INA news agency.

Iraq and Iran have yet to sign a formal peace treaty 14 years after the end
of their 1980-88 conflict, which cost about one million lives. They maintain
relations at the charge d'affairs level.

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