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[casi] "Iraq admits plan to use chemical weapons"

Dear List

There is an issue raised in The Times today that many of you might be
interested in. Richard Beeston, the diplomatic editor, runs a story
entitled "Iraq admits plan to use chemical weapons", which claimed to quote
an "unnamed Iraqi official", making a statement to that effect. This
alleged admission is then used explicitly to back up the British
government's case for war.,,3-495141,00.html

The problem is that the "unnamed Iraqi official" seems not to say this at
all - the allegation (and the quotation) comes straight from the Israeli
intelligence front organisation, the "Middle East Media Research Institute"

The interview with the Iraqi official was in al-Quds al-Arabi on
MEMRI and Beeston base their allegations on this interview.

In contrast to the title of the Times piece, the unnamed Iraqi official
doesn't indicate plans to use chemical weapons. He mentioned two situations
in which Iraq had in his conception defended itself (Faw, Halabja) using
CWs in the past, and then at the end of the article says:

"don't expect us to stand idly by in the face of any threat that wants to
obliterate us and banish us not only from power, but from life as well."

(my translation; MEMRI and Beeston use a slightly erroneous: "do not expect
us to stand idly by in the face of any aggression that seeks to destroy and
banish us not only from the regime but also from life.")

The Iraqi official's statement seems to read to me as a statement about the
Iraqi regime's determination to repel invaders, with an ambiguity over the
means. MEMRI by contrast leap straight in with: "In the first statement of
its kind, a senior Iraqi official confirmed that his country is not ruling
out the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction to defend the

Beeston follows suit, a labels this "a complete contradiction of the
official Iraqi position":
"Iraq has given its first warning to the West that it does possess weapons
of mass destruction and that President Saddam Hussein would be prepared to
use them if his regime was threatened."

British official sources then back up the MEMRI/Beeston line. It's possible
that this will be used as "proof" of the regime's lies when the statement
on 8 December claims (as we all expect it will) that Iraq has no
non-conventional weapons.

MEMRI have have frequently distorted texts by providing inaccurate
headlines, summaries of articles and statuses of contributors to the Arabic

Examples are at:,7792,773258,00.html

All the best

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