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[casi] News, 15-22/11/02 (1)



News, 15-22/11/02 (1)

WEAPONS INSPECTIONS

*  UN Security Council will decide on Iraqi breach
*  Experts: Iraq hid vast chemical-biological stocks
*  Iraqis 'infiltrated UK germ labs'
*  Weapons inspector says spies will be dismissed
*  U.S., U.N. Differ on Arms Hunt
*  Saddam hiding arms in mosques: U.S. spies
*  Iraq has powder that carries poison
*  Experts Weigh Smallpox Threat
*  Blix offers prospect of ending Iraq sanctions
*  Armed and dangerous? Spy antics helped derail U.N.'s last Iraq mission
*  As arms inspectors arrive, row erupts over US smears
*  Iraqi aide puts limits on arms inspections
*  Microbiologist on a mission

ECONOMIC BLOCKADE

*  U.S., Britain "Block" $7.5bn in Supplies for Iraq
*  Allies seek to interdict Iraq's oil shipment
*  More Must Be Done to Help Iraqis: Annan


WEAPONS INSPECTIONS

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c
=StoryFT&cid=1035873344994&p=1012571727172

*  UN SECURITY COUNCIL WILL DECIDE ON IRAQI BREACH
by Roula Khalaf in London
Financial Times, 15th November

Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector,on Friday said only the United
Nations Security Council could decide what constitutes a "material breach"
by Iraq of its UN obligations.

Speaking at the UN before leaving for Europe en route to Baghdad, Mr Blix
said the first inspections of Iraqi sites would take place on November 27.
Inspectors should report on Iraqi co-operation to the council two months
from that date, or any time they encounter obstruction.

But the chief inspector insisted that his findings would be factual, leaving
it up to Security Council members to evaluate any possible violations.

Mr Blix leads the first inspectors' delegation to Iraq in four years after
Baghdad this week reluctantly accepted a tough UN resolution that provides
inspectors with enhanced powers. The resolution is Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein's final opportunity to disarm peacefully.

According to the resolution, false statements or omissions in the
declarations submitted by Iraq and failure at any time to co-operate would
constitute a further "material breach." A declaration of material breach is
likely to be seen in the US as grounds for war.

The purpose of the first visit by Unmovic, the UN weapons agency and the
International Atomic Energy Agency is to meet Iraqi officials and
re-establish the offices of the inspectors in Baghdad. The teams arrive in
Iraq on Monday.

Mr Blix made clearon Friday that a main hurdle ahead was Iraq's full and
final declaration of weapons programmes, which Baghdad must submit in three
weeks.

He suggested that despite Baghdad's repeated denials, the government still
had time to change its mind. "Iraq has changed positions before," he said.
"[The] declaration is a very important document that we hope they take very
seriously."

If Iraq insists it has no weapons, Mr Blix said he would present any
information he might have to the council, adding that this would be the
moment for other states to do the same. "If any member state has other facts
it's for the council to assess," he said.

Russiaon Friday called on Mr Blix' agency to draw lessons from previous
inspections and avoid "crude and arrogant methods used which ignored the
sovereignty and dignity of Iraq and its people".

[.....]


http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1663653

*  EXPERTS: IRAQ HID VAST CHEMICAL-BIOLOGICAL STOCKS
Houston Chronicle, 15th November

WASHINGTON (Reuters News Service): Despite Iraqi denials, Western experts
believe Baghdad has produced and concealed vast amounts of chemical and
biological agents and may have rebuilt part of its illegal nuclear program.

In its letter this week to the United Nations accepting the return of
weapons inspectors to its soil after a four-year absence, Iraq said it "has
not developed weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or
biological, as claimed by evil people."

Western analysts, building on what was discovered by the previous U.N.
inspection regime known as UNSCOM, which lasted from 1991 to 1998, and what
was strongly suspected but could not be proved, believe Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein is still concealing a deadly arsenal.

One 1998 assessment by the U.S. House of Representatives task force on
terrorism and unconventional warfare concluded, "Despite Baghdad's
protestations, Iraq does have small but very lethal operational arsenal of
weapons of mass destruction and platforms capable of delivering them."

When the UNSCOM inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they said they still did not
know the full extent of Iraq's chemical and biological programs but had
collected both hard and circumstantial evidence suggesting that the programs
were far more advanced and wider in scope than previously believed.

[.....]

Rod Barton, a former Australian defense official who worked on UNSCOM
biological inspections in Iraq, wrote in an analysis in 2001 that he
believed Baghdad may have perfected a way of freeze drying anthrax so that
it would retain its potency for many years.

[.....]


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2483419.stm

*  IRAQIS 'INFILTRATED UK GERM LABS'
BBC, 16th November

Some of Britain's top laboratories were infiltrated by Iraqi scientists
researching germ warfare in the run-up to the Gulf War, a scientist has
claimed.

Iraqi scientists - financed by generous grants from the Iraqi government -
reportedly applied for and gained research posts in academic and medical
institutions.

Dr Joseph Selkon, a leading Oxford microbiologist, told BBC Radio 4's File
on 4 that the infiltration was discovered after he became suspicious about
one Iraqi research applicant.

We have little or no idea where the vast majority of these overseas students
come from, what they've been doing hitherto, or what their affiliations are

His suspicions sparked extra security checks, which revealed that leading
microbiology laboratories had been targeted by Baghdad.

About 10 top Iraqi microbiologists had been granted places in sensitive
research establishments around Britain.

Dr Selkon, retired director of the Oxford Laboratories Microbiology
Laboratory, received the job application from the medically-trained Iraqi
scientist in 1990.

"He had a superb CV, he was going to work for us for free, and we would
receive 20,000... from the Iraqi government," Dr Selkon said.

Dr Selkon's team had been working on a project to prevent bacteria becoming
more resistant to antibiotics. But antibiotic resistance is not a
significant problem in Iraq.

Dr Selkon's suspicions grew when he questioned colleagues in surgery and
other medical departments.

He found it was only microbiology - the discipline most applicable to germ
warfare - which had attracted Iraqi interest.

Dr Selkon reported his worries to the security services.

"I asked them to check whether this was just a one-off application to Oxford
or whether this was part of a more general plan; they rather thought I was
thinking science fiction.

He was going to work for us for free, and we would receive 20,000 from the
Iraqi government

Dr Joseph Selkon "But nevertheless they went away and came back later to say
they had found nine or 10 scientists of this nature - all from Iraq - who
had already been accepted by universities across the country to work in the
microbiology field."

Dr Selkon concluded the Iraqis were working on plans to make bacteriological
weapons resistant to standard methods of treatment by antibiotics.

The Iraqi researchers, he says, were arrested at the outbreak of the Gulf
War and sent back to Iraq.

His revelations come as MPs on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee voiced
concerns that the government's system of vetting overseas applicants for UK
research posts in microbiology and genetic research is not effective enough.

Currently universities are asked to report applications for research posts
to the Foreign Office if the applicants come from countries of concern and
if they wish to work in potentially sensitive areas of scientific research.

Some MPs are calling for this voluntary reporting system to be made
compulsory.

"I think we are extremely vulnerable indeed," said Labour backbencher and
Select Committee member Andrew Mackinlay.

"We have little or no idea where the vast majority of these overseas
students come from, what they've been doing hitherto, or what their
affiliations are.

"In my view we need to have an inspectorate who can turn up at an academic
institution at any time, go into a laboratory and say who is this person,
what is he or she doing, where is their work?"

'File On 4' on bio-terror will be broadcast on Tuesday 19 November at 2000
GMT on BBC Radio 4.


http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1665027

*  WEAPONS INSPECTOR SAYS SPIES WILL BE DISMISSED
Houston Chronicle, 16th November

PARIS (Reuters News Service): Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said
today he could not rule out there might be spies among the team due to
resume weapons inspections in Iraq, but any intelligence agents would be
ordered off the group.

Blix, stopping over in Paris on his way to Cyprus and Baghdad, also said any
delay in allowing inspectors access to sites in Iraq would be very serious,
but did not say whether it would violate a U.N. resolution which could
trigger war.

Iraq has accused some previous U.N. arms inspectors of being spies working
directly for the United States, but Blix said he could not be sure that his
team, due to resume work in Iraq on November 27, would be free of undercover
agents.

He stressed that the group was made up of 45 different nationalities in an
effort to ensure it remained impartial.

"People have asked me: 'Can you be absolutely sure we will have no spies in
any of the member states?' and I said no, I don't think either the KGB or
the CIA can give that absolute assurance," Blix told a joint news conference
with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

"All I can say is that if I see someone having two hats, then I would ask
them to walk out from us and to be somewhere else," he added.

Blix, a 74-year-old Swede, is head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission, which is in charge of accounting for Iraq's chemical
and biological weapons and ballistic missiles.

He urged Iraqi authorities to comply with the inspectors, returning to Iraq
after four years to search for weapons of mass destruction under a U.N.
Security Council resolution that could trigger a U.S. attack on Iraq.

"A denial of access or delayed access or trying to put something off grounds
for us, this would be very serious," Blix said.

Blix told French daily Le Monde in an interview published on Friday that
inspectors would report such delays but it would be up to the U.N. to decide
whether they constituted a "material breach" of the resolution -- a
potential trigger for war.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64597-2002Nov16.html

*  U.S., U.N. DIFFER ON ARMS HUNT
by Colum Lynch
Washington Post, 17th November

[.....]

UNSCOM, which was established at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 to
eliminate Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and missiles with
ranges longer than 90 miles, is credited with destroying more Iraqi weapons
than U.S.-led forces during the conflict. But it was shuttered in late 1999,
following revelations that the United States had used the inspection agency
to collect intelligence on the Iraqi government.

The Security Council established a successor agency, the U.N. Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, in December 1999 to
complete Iraq's disarmament. The new inspectors have been placed on the U.N.
payroll to decrease the likelihood that they will serve the interests of
their governments.

Iraq refused to allow the new inspection agency to resume its work, however,
until it was confronted by a credible threat of U.S. military action.

The United States has pressed Blix to appoint a senior U.S. official to
manage the flow of American intelligence to the inspection agency. It has
also insisted that Iraq be required to permit its scientists and their
families to be interviewed abroad, and imposed a 30-day deadline on Iraq to
provide a complete account of the status of its chemical, biological and
nuclear facilities.

Blix has not yet agreed to the U.S. request about having an American in
charge of monitoring the intelligence flow. Although Blix has pleaded with
Washington to increase its intelligence support for UNMOVIC, he has also
expressed concern that the relationship could compromise his organization.
He said today in Paris that the former inspection agency had "lost its
legitimacy by being too closely associated with intelligence and with
Western states."

Speaking to reporters Friday before leaving New York, Blix said there may be
"practical difficulties" in conducting interviews outside Iraq. He also has
questioned whether Iraq could file a full declaration on its petrochemical
industry within the 30-day deadline, making it clear that he would judge
Iraq's "intention" before deciding whether Iraq has violated any of the
resolution's requirements.

Some former weapons inspectors say they are concerned Blix may be falling
into an Iraqi trap and have urged him to undertake an even more aggressive
approach to inspections than UNSCOM. "Blix may go too far down this line,"
said David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who heads the Institute for
Science and International Studies. "If you are too weak, the Iraqis will
read you in a second and take advantage of it."


http://www.canada.com/regina/story.asp?id={5CC0CFED-C1EA-41B3-B0E9
B9B724A4478F}

*  SADDAM HIDING ARMS IN MOSQUES: U.S. SPIES
by Philip Sherwell and David Wastell
Edmonton Journal, from Sunday Telegraph, 17th November

Saddam Hussein is hiding chemical and biological weapons supplies in mosques
and hospitals in an effort to thwart the new United Nations inspection
mission to Iraq, American intelligence officials believe.

They say the Iraqi leader has also set up highly trained "clean-up" squads
at his most sensitive secret weapons sites to hide evidence and "sanitize"
key facilities even as inspectors are on their way.

But other sources say Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has persuaded Saddam
to shift his remaining weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the
Middle East.

The Iraqi president has done this with the help of Libya, Syria and Egypt,
sources say.

Saddam was completing his concealment strategy as French and Russian
diplomats wrangled with their American and British counterparts at the UN in
New York over the Security Council resolution backing the return of the
weapons inspectors.

American intelligence has intensified its information-gathering campaign
about Saddam's secret weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program as
Washington prepares to provide the inspectors with the data to counter
Baghdad's concealment efforts.

In a significant breakthrough, the claims of Adnan al-Haideri, an Iraqi
civil engineer who defected to America last year and revealed how Saddam was
building underground vaults to hide chemical and biological weapons
laboratories, have recently been backed up by U.S. spy plane missions.

The aircraft are fitted with a device that detects underground voids -- such
as bunkers and tunnels -- through variations in the Earth's gravitational
field. The device found a void where al-Haideri said there was a
subterranean nerve-agent laboratory.

Several scientists responsible for Iraq's weapons program have already been
shifted out of the country on false passports to prevent the inspectors
questioning them, leading exiles have told the Sunday Telegraph.

In the past two weeks, two scientists have been sent to Yemen, two elsewhere
in the Middle East and one each to Romania, Malaysia and Singapore,
according to the Iraqi National Accord (INA), an opposition group with good
contacts within the regime.

Ayad Alawi, the group's leader, also revealed that the regime was moving
documents and materials from weapons laboratories and a ballistic-missile
site into hospitals, schools and mosques in the northern cities of Mosul and
Kirkuk.

The concealment operation is being co-ordinated by Brig.-Gen. Walid
al-Nasri, a trusted aide from Saddam's home region of Tikrit who reports
directly to Qusay Hussein, the dictator's second son and head of his
powerful State Security Organization.

"They have trained large numbers of personnel in how to deal with an
intrusive inspection regime," said an official of the U.S. Defence
Intelligence Agency.

These "cleanup" squads have developed methods for rapidly cleaning and
sterilizing equipment such as fermenters and centrifuges used to manufacture
chemical and biological agents. Iraq has also tried to "bury" small-scale
weapons-making activity in larger-scale industrial sites.

British and American intelligence have developed a plan for the weapons
inspectors that meets a timetable for attack early next year. They want them
to look at about 1,000 sites. About 100 are considered certain to contain
evidence of illegal activity.

In his first public comments since the resolution was passed, Saddam said
Saturday that he had accepted the harsh terms to avert a U.S. attack.

After again insisting that Iraq is "devoid of weapons of mass destruction,"
he used typically vituperative language to denounce Israel, America and the
"devils" that follow them.

The first test will come Dec. 8, the deadline set by Resolution 1441 for him
to declare Iraq's stocks of biological and chemical agents, its nuclear-bomb
program and remaining ballistic missiles.

"If the Iraqis stick with a declaration of 'nil,' then it's war," said John
Chipman, director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the
London-based think-tank that produced a damning recent dossier on Iraq's
weapons programme.

He said that Baghdad would most probably come up with a "middling"
declaration.

The United States, backed by Britain, would argue at the Security Council
that the incomplete Dec. 8 declaration already puts Baghdad in "material
breach" of Resolution of 1441. France and Russia would in turn be expected
to contend that the inspectors be given the chance to prove that Saddam is
lying.

Despite the growing American military buildup, Pentagon planners still
prefer to launch a closely co-ordinated air and ground offensive after late
December, when more than 200,000 U.S. troops would be in the region.

The plan is that U.S. intelligence will provide the UN inspectors with the
"killer" data once America is ready for the military finale. The inspectors
would then make unannounced spot checks while the U.S. keeps the sites under
surveillance, relayed live by unmanned spy drones.

Washington believes the Iraqis will either be seen trying to conceal weapons
material or will be caught in possession.

The UN Security Council will be allowed a short time to debate, but the
Pentagon will already have launched the final brief countdown to war.


http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1666362

*  IRAQ HAS POWDER THAT CARRIES POISON
by Matt Kelley
Houston Chronicle, from Associated Press, 17th November

WASHINGTON -- Iraqi scientists know how to make chemical weapons that can
penetrate military protective clothing, and Iraq imported up to 25 metric
tons last month of a powder that is a crucial ingredient to such "dusty"
weapons.

Iraq told the United Nations the powder was destined for a pharmaceutical
company that a former weapons inspector says was ordered by President Saddam
Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War to work on chemical and biological
weapons.

The powder, sold under the brand name Aerosil, has particles so small that,
when coated with deadly poisons, can pass through the tiniest gaps in
protective suits.

Experts inside and outside the U.S. government say they are not certain Iraq
has dusty chemical weapons. Declassified U.S. intelligence documents say
Iraq produced a dusty form of the blister agent mustard in the 1980s and
used it during its eight-year war with Iran.

If Iraq made and used a powdered form of its deadliest nerve agent, VX, it
could kill U.S. troops dressed in full protective gear, according to a 1990
Defense Intelligence Agency assessment. Although the military's protective
suits have been improved since then, experts say dusty weapons could
penetrate the new suits.

Pentagon officials refused to discuss the permeability of the new suits or
whether Iraq has weapons that could pass through them. Such information is
classified, they said.

The 1990 DIA document said soldiers could protect themselves by throwing
rain ponchos over their chemical suits, which would reduce the fatality risk
to near zero. One expert wrote later: "One gets the sense that this was
recommended in the face of few other options."

The researcher, Eric Croddy of the private Center for Nonproliferation
Studies, said dusty VX would be a serious danger to U.S. troops. VX is so
toxic that, in its liquid form, a drop on the skin can kill within minutes.

"The effects of dusty VX, depending on how it gets in the body, would be
somewhat faster," Croddy said. "It's certainly much more injurious and much
more of a severe threat."

Dusty chemical weapons are formed by mixing a liquid chemical agent with a
fine powder to coat the powder's tiny particles with the deadly poison. The
particles' small size allows them to pass through the fabric of a protective
suit and any tiny gaps around the seal of a gas mask.

The latest U.S. military protective suits have a layer of charcoal in the
fabric to trap any poisons that might penetrate the outer covering, but
particles small enough could pass through even the charcoal layer.

The poisonous powder also would settle in the tiniest nooks and crannies of
buildings and equipment, making decontamination extremely difficult.

Even if dusty chemical weapons caused no U.S. casualties, they could force
American soldiers to work in clumsy protective gear, decontaminate their
equipment and avoid contaminated areas, giving Iraqi soldiers time to mount
defenses.

U.S. intelligence reports before the Gulf War said Iraq was capable of
making dusty VX. They said that during the 1980s, Iraq imported more than
100 metric tons of Aerosil, a brand of fumed silicon dioxide.

The reports said no evidence was found that Iraq had made dusty VX, and U.N.
inspectors were unable to find any hard evidence.

In September, the New York Times quoted an Iraqi defector as saying Saddam's
chemical weapons scientists secretly began producing dusty VX as early as
1994.

Aerosil, made by the German chemical company Degussa AG, has an
exceptionally small particle size: 12 nanometers. That means more than 2,100
of the particles strung together would be as thick as a human hair.

U.N. documents show that Iraq's Samarra Drugs Industry sought 25 metric tons
of Aerosil last year under the U.N.-run oil-for-food program, and at least
some of that order was delivered last month.

American intelligence agencies were not overly worried about the shipment of
Aerosil because the substance has many legitimate uses.

Richard Spertzel, a former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, was stunned
when a reporter told him about the shipment. Saddam ordered the Samarra
enterprise to work on chemical and biological weapons in 1989, and his
government still controls the company, Spertzel said.

"Do you know how much (dusty agent) a kilogram of that stuff makes? A couple
cubic feet," Spertzel said. "This gives me another thing to worry about."


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021118/sc_nm/iraq_usa_bi
ological_dc_1

*  EXPERTS WEIGH SMALLPOX THREAT
by Alan Elsner
Yahoo, 18th November

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Iraq may have developed smallpox as a biological
weapon, leaving the United States with a tricky decision about whether to
vaccinate part of its population against the threat, an American scientist
told a conference on biosecurity on Monday.

"I'm assuming that Iraq has the smallpox virus. It's certainly the working
hypothesis," Ronald Atlas, president of the American Society for
Microbiology told the conference organized by Harvard University and the
Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, who said he was expressing a wide
consensus.

The conference brought together emergency responders, police, military
personnel, scientists, public health officials and local government leaders
to discuss the threat posed by "biological terrorism" and ways to combat it.

The four-day meeting began as an advance team of international weapons
inspectors returned to Iraq after a four-year absence to begin enforcing a
United Nations (news - web sites) resolution mandating that Baghdad give up
all its suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (news - web sites), a keynote
speaker at the conference, said bioterrorism had become the most serious
single threat facing Western nations.

He said Israel took the possibility of Iraq launching a smallpox attack so
seriously that it had already begun vaccinating 10,000 emergency personnel
who would be the first to respond to such an attack. Israel has drawn up
plans and stockpiled drugs to vaccinate the entire population within days
should an attack occur.

But Kenneth Shine, director of the Rand Center for Domestic and
International Health Security, said the United States was lagging far behind
in its plans to meet a smallpox threat.

"We should start vaccinating first responders in small groups and carefully
monitor secondary infections. We desperately need a national vaccination
policy," he said.

The Bush administration is expected to announce a policy on smallpox
vaccination shortly. Existing models predict that up to 1,400 Americans
would die from the effects of the vaccination or by catching the disease
from others who were vaccinated if the entire population was immunized.
However, scientists at the conference said they thought that figure was
based on outdated information and far too low.

Given the number of Americans with depressed immune systems due to diseases
like HIV (news - web sites) or because they were undergoing cancer therapy,
they said many more could be expected to die.

Robert Crone, chairman of the conference and president of Harvard Medical
International, a non-profit subsidiary of the university, said there were
large gaps in U.S. defenses against biological weapons.

"While government is doing an admirable job, I'm not sure we are fully ready
to deal with large-scale chemical or biological attack today," he said.

Atlas said he feared Iraq might also have experimented with genetically
engineering smallpox to provide an even more deadly agent that could not be
killed by the existing vaccine.

In its letter last week to the United Nations accepting the return of
weapons inspectors to its soil after a four-year absence, Iraq said it "has
not developed weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or
biological, as claimed by evil people."

Atlas cited one recent experiment in Australia aimed at controlling the
mouse population. Researchers inserted a gene called interleuken-4 into the
mousepox virus, a relative of smallpox that is harmless to humans. Instead
of making mice infertile, the engineered virus became far more deadly than
the natural strain, killing mice that had been vaccinated against mousepox.

"The fear is that if you put interleuken-4 into human smallpox, you would
create a virus that circumvents the vaccine," he said.

Iraq is known to have experimented with camel pox in the 1980s, leading some
Western experts to suspect it was trying to adapt yet another variant of the
disease for use against humans.

Atlas said U.N. inspectors needed to urgently investigate whether Iraq had
done any research with interleuken-4. He said U.S. scientists at a
university in Louisiana were expected to gain approval soon for an
experiment to see if the gene worked with monkey pox in the same way as it
did with mousepox.

"There is no question that biotechnology can contribute to the threat of
bioterrorism," he said.


http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c
=StoryFT&cid=1035873401797&p=1014232938216

*  BLIX OFFERS PROSPECT OF ENDING IRAQ SANCTIONS
by James Drummond in Cairo
Financial Times, 18th November

Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, arrived in Baghdad on Monday
holding out the prospect of lifting UN sanctions if Iraq shows it is free of
weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, will re establish the inspectors' headquarters in Baghdad after a
four-year break. The visit marks the first step in a UN disarmament process
riddled with uncertainty and risk.

After two hours of talks with Iraqi foreign ministry officials, Mr Blix said
they were "making progress". Earlier, on arrival at Baghdad airport, he
said: "There is a new opportunity and we hope that opportunity will be
well-utilised so that we can get out of [UN] sanctions."

The reference to sanctions is important for the Baghdad regime, which has
often complained that despite efforts towards disarmament in the 1990s, the
sanctions have remained.

The more immediate choice facing Iraq today, however, is peaceful
disarmament or US military action, rather than disarmament or continued
sanctions.

[......]

In talks in Vienna last month, Baghdad gave inspectors four CD-roms meant to
explain changes that have occurred at sites that were under constant
monitoring before inspectors left in 1998. These are buildings such as
factories or laboratories that could be converted from civilian use to
making weapons of mass destruction and where inspectors had installed
cameras and tagged equipment.

Mr Blix was on Monday met by Husam Mohammed Amin, the head of the Iraqi
National Monitoring Directorate, the agency that liaises with the
inspectors.

[.....]


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134578538_spyvsspy18.html

*  ARMED AND DANGEROUS? SPY ANTICS HELPED DERAIL U.N.'S LAST IRAQ MISSION
Seattle Times, 18th November

Israel handed U.N. weapons inspectors a "goody bag" of intelligence on
Baghdad's elite security force. The Iraqis at one point enlisted chickens to
dupe inspectors into thinking a bioweapons plant produced poultry feed.
Throughout, the United Nations teams and the Iraqis vied in a high-tech,
high-stakes battle of spies spying on spies.

A new book on the largely successful campaign to root out Iraq's weapons
programs in the 1990s offers a foretaste of tensions that may resurface as
the United Nations sends nuclear , chemical- and biological-weapons hunters
back into Iraq beginning today.

"The United Nations and Iraq" by Yale University scholars Jean Krasno and
James Sutterlin, to be issued next month by Praeger Publishers, draws from
previously unpublished oral history interviews with former inspectors and
others.

Charges that U.S. and other intelligence agencies infiltrated the U.N.
operation contributed to its shutdown in 1998, in the seventh year of
weapons monitoring after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War.

Hans Blix, the new chief inspector, says his reconstituted team wants
helpful information from such agencies but will not collect intelligence for
them.

In the book, one of Blix's predecessors, fellow Swede Rolf Ekeus, says he
doesn't "exclude the possibility" of "planted agents" in his operation in
the 1990s.

Former U.S. inspectors also tell of outside intelligence efforts. Robert
Gallucci says U.S. spy agencies sought out U.N. team members for
information. "There was some interest in debriefing," he says. Another,
Charles Duelfer, says he has "no doubt that a lot of people went back and
shared information" with their governments.

The Iraqis feared such activity, rather than dealing with weapons, was aimed
at tracking and undermining President Saddam Hussein and his inner circle.

The most such statements have come from former U.N. inspector Scott Ritter,
an American, who says the CIA placed two agents inside the U.N. weapons
team. In "The United Nations and Iraq," Ritter discloses more about another
connection, with Israeli intelligence.

"We had this goody bag of information from Israel," he says.

Ritter says Ekeus, risking the wrath of Arab governments, authorized his
close contacts with the Israelis, beginning in 1994. Ritter obtained from
them information about the inner workings of Iraq's Special Republican
Guards, the military unit assigned to conceal weapons programs from the U.N.
experts. He also found that the Israelis were better than the Americans at
interpreting U.S. reconnaissance photos.

By 1997, the U.N. experts were engaged in a high-tech contest in which the
Iraqis spied on the foreign "spies" in their midst, and the U.N. specialists
in turn eavesdropped, hacked into computers and otherwise spied on Iraqi
counterintelligence directed against them.

U.S.-supplied equipment let the U.N. team listen in on office conversations
throughout Baghdad, one unnamed inspector tells the authors. But this
operation slipped beyond U.N. control, the book suggests, because the
resulting mass of Arabic-language tapes had to be sent for analysis to the
United States, whose agencies could then glean nonweapons-related
intelligence from them.

Even Richard Butler, the Australian who battled the Iraqis as Ekeus'
successor, tells the authors he regretted allowing such equipment to be used
and removed it.

Decidedly low-tech means were sometimes employed by the Iraqis to foil the
inspectors.

When the U.N. team suspected, correctly, that a facility was producing
biological weapons, the Iraqis said it was a poultry-feed plant. They then
trucked in chickens to add credibility. The inspectors weren't fooled.

The dry accounts of "The United Nations and Iraq" don't always hide the
apprehensions and emotions of men caught up in a historic, often dangerous
international effort.

Another former inspector, the Dutchman Cees Wolterbeek, tells of the arduous
excavation of a bombed-out building where unexploded ordnance had to be
carefully disarmed to reach a buried safe whose documents proved Iraq had
been developing weapons with the lethal VX nerve agent.

U.S. nuclear specialist David Kay describes the Iraqi scientist whose
boasting of his accomplishments in Iraq's nuclear-weapons program
inadvertently helped guide the U.N. team to important finds.

The foreigners knew that in repressive Iraq, such openness could prove
fatal.

"You really have to have a cold heart to do this," Duelfer says, "because
these guys' lives were on the line in many ways."

By 1998, the inspectors had demolished the nuclear program and destroyed
large amounts of chemical- and biological-weapons material and facilities.

Loose ends remain after a four-year break in inspections. But the authors
conclude that the accomplishments of 1991-98 were "vastly important to world
security" and a model for a greater U.N. role enforcing arms reduction
globally.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,842944,00.html

*  AS ARMS INSPECTORS ARRIVE, ROW ERUPTS OVER US SMEARS
by Helena Smith in Larnaca and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, 19th November

The United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, yesterday accused
hawks in Washington, who are bent on going to war with Iraq, of conducting a
smear campaign against him.

The extent of the tension between Mr Blix and elements of the US
administration burst into the open on the day that he led UN weapons
inspectors back to Baghdad for the first time in four years to renew their
search for chemical, biological and nuclear-related weapons.

Key figures in the Bush administration have criticised Mr Blix in recent
weeks, claiming he is too weak to stand up to the Iraqi president, Saddam
Hussein, and that he may fail to find the weapons that the CIA claims have
been hidden by the Iraqis.

In an interview with the Guardian in Cyprus, the last staging post before
his flight to Baghdad, Mr Blix rounded on his critics. Asked whether he
thought US hawks were behind the smear campaign, Mr Blix said: "You can say
there's some truth in that judgment."

Mr Blix and the head of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA),
Mohammed el Baradei, who will join the inspections, later arrived in Baghdad
aboard a cargo plane with the black letters of the UN painted on its side.
Amid chaotic scenes at the airport, Iraqi and Arab journalists pressed the
inspectors on whether they expected friction with the US. The inspectors
insisted they did not expect it.

Mr Blix's report, which will be presented to the UN security council early
next year, could be the deciding factor in whether or not there is war in
Iraq. The US whispering campaign against Mr Blix, a former Swedish diplomat,
may be designed to undercut any report that is favourable to Iraq.

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the defence secretary, Donald
Rumsfeld, have both said they do not believe the inspectors will succeed in
disarming president Saddam, and their aides have anonomously briefed against
Mr Blix who failed to detect Iraq's nuclear programme in the 1980s when he
was head of the IAEA.

Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and an associate of Mr Rumsfeld, said in
London last week: "If it were up to me, on the strength of his previous
record, I wouldn't have chosen Hans Blix."

In his first response, Mr Blix said yesterday: "I haven't seen the criticism
myself but I have heard about it. I don't see the point of criticising
inspections that have not taken place... it's not very meaningful."

He described the accusations that he was not up to job as "not very
meaningful, and certainly unhelpful."

One of his team also dismissed the criticism, rejecting the allegation that
Mr Blix had failed to find evidence of the nuclear programme."That's
absolutely wrong. Back then inspectors were only allowed to visit sites that
were declared," the inspector said. He added that the powers now available
to the inspectors, such as the ability to visit sites without prior notice,
did not apply before the 1991 Gulf war.

Washington's alarm over Mr Blix intensified after a recent speech in which
he said he favoured cooperation with the Iraqis rather than confrontation.
His colleagues said Mr Blix was acutely aware of the animosity aroused by
the last team of inspectors who were accused by Iraq of abrasive behaviour
and of spying for the US.

The inspectors, who sought and destroyed Iraqi biological, chemical and
nuclear-related weapons after the Gulf war, abandoned Baghdad in December
1998, claiming Iraqis were obstructing their work.

Mr Blix, 72, who came back from retirement to take over the job, has done
much to change the culture of how inspectors work.

The 26-strong UN team was formally welcomed at the airport by General Hosam
Amin, head of the Iraqi monitoring directorate, a group of scientists,
engineers and military personnel.

Mr Blix and Mr el-Baradei held talks with Gen Amin and his officials last
night. Mr Blix and Mr el-Baradei are due to leave Iraq tomorrow after talks
with Iraqi officials.

The advance team that arrived with them will prepare the office,
accommodation and communications for the arrival of the inspectors next
week. Mr Blix said preliminary inspections could resume next Wednesday, with
full-scale checks starting after Iraq files a declaration of banned weapons
programmes, if any, by December 8.

The arrival of the UN team coincided with air attacks on Iraqi defensive
positions. The Iraqis fired back, a move the US insists contravenes the UN
resolution passed this month.


http://www.iht.com/articles/77659.html

*  IRAQI AIDE PUTS LIMITS ON ARMS INSPECTIONS
International Herald Tribune, from The Associated Press, 21st November

BAGHDAD: The vice president of Iraq said Wednesday that there would be
limits on the United Nations weapons investigation, although the top
inspector says Baghdad has agreed to unannounced checks even on President
Saddam Hussein's "special" sites.

Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Iraq would fully cooperate with
weapons inspectors, but he vowed to prevent them from gathering
"intelligence."

"Any demand or question or a manner of work that conforms with the objective
of the inspectors who want to verify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass
destruction will be met with full cooperation," Ramadan said in an interview
from Baghdad with the private Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.

"But for demands which are clearly for intelligence or for other objectives
that have nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction, we will act in
such a way so as to safeguard the country's sovereignty and security," he
said.

[.....]


http://www.faz.com/IN/INtemplates/eFAZ/docmain.asp?rub={B1311FCC-FBFB-11D2
B228-00105A9CAF88}&sub=&doc={CADD3922-30F2-4FE3-9DC7-767B6448A9E0}

*  MICROBIOLOGIST ON A MISSION
by Heidi Sylvester
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22nd November

By the end of the year, Sweden's Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector
who was in Baghdad for two days this week to reestablish the inspectors'
headquarters after a four-year break, hopes to have around 100 inspectors
from more than 40 countries combing Iraq. One of those inspectors will be
German microbiologist Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack.

Initially training as a vet, this blonde slim women with her trademark pink
Dior lipstick doesn't easily fall into many people's idea of a weapons
inspector. But with 26 inspection missions alone in Iraq under her belt, she
is no stranger to this world, where her poker-face and somewhat unhinging
smile are probably real assets when playing the sort of cat-and mouse games
that were commonplace in the past.

How she came to be involved in biological weapons is the stuff of stories:
As a small child her parents bought her a microscope for Christmas. The
young Gabriele was instantly hooked - she examined everything from hair
strands to spit, from yogurt to flour. Today, it's her job to recognize
deadly bacteria, viruses and fungi when she studies the microscopic probes.
On these sheets of glass are potential biological weapons, viruses which
spread deadly diseases.

Her first trip to Iraq came in 1995. Although she was prepared for almost
anything, what she didn't count on was being made chief inspector
immediately upon touching ground. Simply getting down to work without making
a fuss is one of her strong points. Kraatz Wadsack has been on 26 inspection
missions in Iraq since then, on eight of which she was chief inspector. With
such knowledge she's perfectly suited to training inspectors before they
enter the country.

Being able to recognize potential biological weapons isn't enough. The
inspectors in Iraq also need to have the skills of a modern-day Sherlock
Holmes. Keeping calm during cat-and mouse tactics, deciphering lies and
half-truths and managing to follow instructions scribbled on scraps of paper
that are later destroyed are all part of everyday life for them when they
are on the job.

Kraatz-Wadsack is level-headed, and she is more aware than most that there
is nothing hard about making biological weapons; what's tricky is making
them in mass without anyone noticing.

With her keen eyes and German organizational skills, Kraatz-Wadsack also
knows that the Iraqis aren't keen on having an old hand like herself on
their soil.

When she first went to Iraq, the youngest of her four children was only five
years old. At that time, she told him that she was going to the desert to
heal camels. This time around, there's no need to tell any make-believe
stories - her entire family is aware of the dangers. It's not for nothing
that Kraatz-Wadsack always carried black hair dye and an inconspicuous head
scarf with her on her last foray in Iraq, just in case she needed to escape
the country through Jordan.

Born in 1955, Kraatz-Wadsack holds degrees in veterinary medicine and
microbiology from the University of Munich. She joined the Bundeswehr in
1985, where she specialized in biological weapons. She has served as
department chief of Bacteriology and Toxinology at the Federal Armed Forces
Medical Academy, Institute for Microbiology in Munich, and as expert and
chief inspector for interim biological monitoring groups in Iraq.

Since August 1998, she has served as head of the biological warfare
discipline for disarmament and long-term monitoring in Iraq. Following the
attacks on the United States in 2001, Kraatz-Wadsack was put to work at the
Robert Koch Institute in Berlin in their special biological terrorism
research team.


ECONOMIC BLOCKADE

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=11/18/02&Cat=9&Num=10

*  U.S., BRITAIN "BLOCK" $7.5BN IN SUPPLIES FOR IRAQ
Tehran Times, 18th November

BAGHDAD -- Iraq accused the United States and Britain on Saturday of
blocking contracts for supplies under the UN oil-for-food program worth more
than $7.5 billion. Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said "2,144
contracts totaling $7.583 billion are still blocked ... due to obstacles set
by the American and British delegates in Committee 661."

Saleh, in remarks carried by the official Iraqi news agency INA, was
referring to the UN Sanctions Committee on Iraq grouping all 15 members of
the Security Council.

He repeated Iraq's demands that the only way to end the suffering of the
Iraqi people was by lifting the harsh sanctions regime the country has
suffered since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Listing the blockages, Saleh said he was most concerned for the country's
dilapidated oil industry, with 719 orders for spare parts and equipment for
the sector put on hold.

The oil-for-food program is designed to help alleviate the suffering of
ordinary Iraqis. Under it Iraq can sell oil to purchase food, medicine and a
host of other supplies. Iraq holds the world's second largest oil reserves.

Saleh said that other blocked applications include 167 orders for food, 153
for medicines, 251 for agriculture and irrigation, and 176 for water and
sanitation, Reuters reported. Supplies for education, housing,
transportation and electricity were also blocked, the minister said, adding
that "acts by the American and British envoys to Committee 661 reflect the
hostile course adopted by their governments against the people of Iraq." The
United States and Britain, Saleh said, were doing all they could to harm the
Middle Eastern country through what he called control of the Security
Council and "pressuring the committee to prevent Iraq from benefiting from
its own money."


http://www.dawn.com/2002/11/18/int13.htm

*  ALLIES SEEK TO INTERDICT IRAQ'S OIL SHIPMENT
by Tony Perry
Dawn, from Los Angeles Times, 18th November

ABOARD A NAVY PLANE OVER THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ: As the Bush administration
considers a military strike against Iraq, the United States and its
coalition partners have stepped up pressure on Saddam Hussein's regime by
blocking the flow of illegal Iraqi oil through the Persian Gulf.

The US Navy and other nations have attempted for a decade to enforce a
United Nations order limiting Iraqi oil shipments. But that effort has been
significantly bolstered in recent months with additional planes and ships
and a newly aggressive attitude.

Navy P-3 Orion surveillance planes track hundreds of vessels in the gulf,
looking for oil smugglers. Suspect vessels are watched and possibly boarded
at gunpoint by sailors from US, British and Australian warships.

At the same time, the Orions watch for terrorists who might be tempted to
strike a military or commercial ship, particularly at the Strait of Hormuz,
where the gulf squeezes down to a 40-mile funnel between Oman and Iran.

"Our job is to stop the bad guys from doing bad things and make sure the
good guys can navigate freely," Lt. Cmdr. Gilbert Hageman said recently as
his Orion patrolled at more than 20,000 feet.

Crew members on the aging P-3s joke that they are the Highway Patrol of the
Persian Gulf, pulling over bad drivers and protecting good ones. The path
used by tankers attempting to smuggle oil the roughly 900 miles from Iraq to
the open sea is known as the Smugglers Superhighway.

The effectiveness of the stepped-up interdiction effort is unclear.

US Navy statistics show that, compared with a year ago, more than twice as
many potential smugglers are being tracked and five times as many are being
turned back. Ships that lack a letter authorizing their shipment under the
UN's "oil for food" programme, which allows the Iraqi government to raise
money for humanitarian purposes by selling oil, are turned back to port.

By Navy figures, nearly 43,000 tons of oil was turned back in September.

But there are also indications that Iraq is managing to smuggle more oil to
market through overland routes, particularly with the aid of Syria. Analysts
also note that economic pressure has rarely worked to force Hussein to
moderate his ways.

"Maybe it's not a knockout punch," a Western diplomat said of the
interdiction effort, "but it's a nice jab to his face."

The programme comes in at least three phases.

First is a screen of ships near the Iraqi access in the northern reach of
the gulf. A team of US, British and Australian warships led by an Australian
commodore is backed by Orions peering down from above.

If suspected ships slip past that screen, the Strait of Hormuz allows a
second opportunity. The navigable channel is only a few miles wide and the
Orions have photographic technology that can detect a sailor swabbing a
deck.

"We're not the action heroes, but we're helping out in the long run," said
aviation warfare systems operator Tammy Gonzalez, 24, of Hillsboro, Ore.
"We're not focused on, 'Oh my God, we may go to war with Iraq.' We're just
doing our job every day."

If smugglers get past the Strait of Hormuz, a rotating task force of
Canadian, Dutch, US, Italian, Australian, German, French, British and
Spanish planes and ships awaits in the Gulf of Oman to give chase.


http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20021120163843768

*  MORE MUST BE DONE TO HELP IRAQIS: ANNAN
Palestine Chronicle, 20th November

NEW YORK - The UN Security Council considered a plan to let Iraq sell oil to
buy food. The Council held the debate as per an appeal made by UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan to remember the 'dire' problems faced by the Iraqi
people.

In his report to the Security Council, Annan urged the world powers to
extend the 'Oil for Food' program which expires next Monday.

Annan said that while food supplies have been improved more must be done to
help the Iraqi population of about 24 million people.

"While understandably, the current discussions are focused on the resumption
of the weapons inspection regime, I should like to appeal to all concerned
to also focus attention on the humanitarian dimension and to spare no effort
in meeting the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people."

Executive director of the UN's Iraq oil program, Benon Sevan, told the
Security Council that there was a 3.1 billion dollar deficit in the
purchases because of reduced oil output. "As long as the comprehensive
sanctions remain in force, there is no alternative to the program to
addressing the humanitarian situation in Iraq," Annan said.

The Security Council will discuss the oil-for-food program again on Thursday
and is expected to adopt technical measures recommended by Annan to improve
the supplies.

Iraq says that under the terms of UN resolutions the return of UN weapons
inspectors to the country should go in parallel with lifting of economic
sanctions against Iraq.

-Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Redistributed via Press International
News Agency (PINA).




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