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News, 22-29/11/02 (1) INSIDE IRAQ * Iraq Christians Pray for Peace * Taking on 'Uncle Saddam' with sarcasm, smugness * Rights group accuses Saddam's son of torturing sportsmen * Standing by Saddam from a distance * Iraqis battered and bewildered by front-line life * Emigres discuss 'change' in Baghdad INSPECTIONS * Blix to Go Down in Iraq Art History, If Arms Report "Good News" * Iraqi Official Surprised by U.N. Visit * Iraq Seen As a Weapons Turning Point * UN arms experts inspect 4 suspected labs in Iraq * Weapons Inspectors' Experience Questioned * Iraq admits plan to use chemical weapons * Saddam hides arsenal in people's homes INSIDE IRAQ http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/22/112206470.html * IRAQ CHRISTIANS PRAY FOR PEACE by Bassem Mroue Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 22nd November BAGHDAD, Iraq- Worried about a possible U.S. military attack on their country, hundreds of Iraqi Christians fasted Friday and prayed for peace, days before U.N. inspectors are to resume their search for banned weapons for the first time in four years. Faithful of all ages attended special services Friday called by leaders of Iraq's Christian churches. About 5 percent of the country's 22 million people are Christians, with the vast majority of the population Shiite or Sunni Muslim. At the Notre Dame de la Deliverance church in Baghdad's well-to-do Karradah neighborhood, some 500 Assyrian Catholics chanted, "Forgive us and give us peace." Many lighted candles in front of a a statue of the Virgin Mary as they headed into Mass. President Bush has warned that Iraq will face military action if it does not cooperate with inspectors searching for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The first contingent of 18 inspectors arrives in Iraq on Monday and they are expected to resume their work on Wednesday. Iraq has been under U.N. economic sanctions since 1990 when it invaded neighboring Kuwait, provoking the 1991 Persian Gulf War. U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted after the invasion demanded Iraq give up its weapons of mass destruction, and the demand was renewed in a resolution passed last week. In his sermon on Friday, Father Rafael Qoteimi said, "We are praying for our Iraq that has been suffering for years from war, and until this day we are threatened by war." "We call upon world leaders to work for peace ... and let people live in peace and security," he said. "We raise our hands so that war stays away from us and peace prevails." Margaret Saadallah, a housewife dressed in black, said the Iraqis are a people who want to live in peace. "We have tried war and it was horrifying. I hope there won't be another war," she said. Christians do not play a major role in President Saddam Hussein's government; the highest ranking Christian is Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. While Shiite Muslims are Iraq's majority sect, the government is dominated by Sunnis. Several of the worshippers at Notre Dame noted that most Americans are Christians and pleaded for their help in preventing war. "We ask those American Christians to make their government help the Iraqi people. We want the help of all Christians after all this suffering," said Fadi Victor, a 24-year-old businessman. Salam Dawoud, a 14-year-old student, addressed his plea to a higher power. "I am very much afraid of war," he said, "and I ask the Lord and Jesus in this day to prevent a war." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/11/25/DD194111.DTL * TAKING ON 'UNCLE SADDAM' WITH SARCASM, SMUGNESS by Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco Chronicle, 25th November UNCLE SADDAM: Documentary. Directed by Joel Soler. (7 p.m. Tuesday on Cinemax.) With war looming in Iraq, it's more crucial than ever to get cogent analysis of the country and its despotic leader, so what does Cinemax offer? Irony. Smarmy, smarmy irony. "Uncle Saddam," which airs Tuesday night on the cable station, gives viewers an exclusive look inside the palaces, museums and other edifices that Hussein maintains on Iraqi soil, and it also provides a time line of Hussein's life, from his troubled childhood to his post Kuwait grip on power. Filmmaker Joel Soler does it with so much snideness and smugness, however, that his movie is almost unwatchable. For some reason, Soler had Scott Thompson (of the comedy troupe "Kids in the Hall") write the script for the film, and he had Wallace Langham (who plays a character on the comedy series "The Larry Sanders Show") do the narration. The result is a work that is more mockumentary than documentary. It's as if Cinemax had sent Jay Leno and David Letterman to Baghdad to interview average Iraqis and then make a movie about Hussein. Soler, who is French, filmed "Uncle Saddam" in 1999. Iraqi officials gave him permission because Soler promised to capture the suffering of Iraqis under U.N. sanctions and to glorify Iraq's architecture. Soler interviewed hospital officials, Hussein's personal architect, Hussein's personal interior designer and others who thought that Soler was doing a serious film. Here are four examples of how Soler and Cinemax spliced the movie to suit an agenda that pokes fun of Hussein at every turn: -- Using footage of Hussein in swim trunks, showing his bloated belly and hairy chest and explaining that Hussein is compulsive about his diet and weight, Langham says, tongue in cheek, "It's no secret why Hussein is Iraq's biggest heartthrob!" -- While showing images of Hussein greeting happy, smiling kids -- including a scene where he's holding a yellow, slightly bruised apple -- Langham says, glibly, "Saddam is supposedly good with children. Even if the apple he's offering here is a bit rotten, it's the thought that counts." -- Soler shows the interior of the Saddam Art Center in Baghdad and lets its director talk to the camera about all the paintings there that feature Hussein's likeness. Instead of snide remarks, Soler uses the song "Mona Lisa" (which was popularized by Nat King Cole) over the interview and footage to ridicule the sizable collection of Hussein paintings. -- Talking about the U.N. sanctions that Hussein and many Iraqis blame for millions of deaths in Iraq, a man tells Soler, "The embargo tries to destroy dreams." "Uncle Saddam" turns this quote into "irony" by reporting that in the mid-1990s, U.N. officials rejected Iraq's request for a liposuction device. The film's conclusion is that Hussein wanted the medical equipment so he could lose weight rapidly and doesn't really care about Iraqis' suffering. Perhaps Hussein deserves this kind of treatment, but "Uncle Saddam" doesn't really break any new ground and -- so far -- it has led only to death threats and revenge killing. Iraqi officials apparently caught on to Soler's ulterior motives while he was in Iraq and he was forced to flee the country (with his secret footage). Soler has since received threats on his life; an arsonist reportedly burned trash cans in front of his home and he got a note that read, "In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate, burn this satanic film or you will be dead." The interior designer Soler interviewed was killed by poison a month after appearing on camera, and "minders" who followed Soler during his stay in Iraq were punished for not figuring out the filmmaker's true plan. Didn't Soler, a former television producer, know that the people he talked to would face retribution when or before his film came out? Was it worth it to make this movie? (Soler mocks Hussein's minders in the closing credits, which also say the film is dedicated to Iraq's sick children.) If anything, "Uncle Saddam" should spark debate about how far TV studios and film companies should go to produce "entertainment." "Uncle Saddam" isn't a completely worthless film. In fact, Soler captures the private life (and phobias) of Hussein in a way that few Americans have seen. We see Hussein praying to God. We see Hussein talking about bathing habits and body odor. We see Hussein throwing grenades into a lake to kill fish. (Actually, it's not Hussein but a cousin of the Iraqi leader -- a fact the film doesn't reveal. Soler admitted this deception in a recent TV interview.) We see Hussein's first wife, a woman who dyes her hair blond. We see Hussein's children and cousins, all of whom vie for power and money (and their lives, because Hussein is not above killing blood relations, as the film makes clear). "Uncle Saddam" brings shame on Hussein, but it also brings shame on Soler and Cinemax. If this is what passes for wit and whimsy and solid journalism, the world is truly in an awful state, looming war or not.' http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=293 47956 * RIGHTS GROUP ACCUSES SADDAM'S SON OF TORTURING SPORTSMEN Times of India (from AFP), 25th November LONDON: A human rights organisation reportedly will file a complaint with the International Olympic Committee this week against Saddam Hussein's elder son Oudai, accusing Iraq's National Olympic president of punishing some of the nation's top sportsmen with beatings, harassment and electric shock torture. According to the Sunday Times, the London-based organisation alleges that he once made a group of track athletes crawl on newly poured asphalt while they were hit with a cable and ordered that some be thrown off a 75-foot high bridge. The organisation also alleges that he had a prison for sportsmen who had offended him and will present its case when the IOC meets in Mexico City this week. "It is inconceivable that a national Olympic committee that maintains its own prison and torture chambers could remain a member in good standing of the Olympic movement," the organisation, Indict, says in is formal complaint. It accuses Oudai of "extreme and outrageous" violations of the Olympic charter, including violations of human rights which threaten the integrity of the Olympic movement and warrant severe penalties, including Iraq's suspension from the IOC. The Sunday Times said that another complainant is Latif Yahia Latif Al-Salihi, who was recruited to be Oudai's double in October 1987. After the Iraqi football team lost a match in 1988, he said, an enraged Oudai attacked him with an electric shock baton. He was subjected to similar treatment at Baghdad airport over the greeting of a foreign Olympic delegation, Oudai believing he was not taking his duties seriously enough. Al-Salihi said he was present in 1989 when the Iraqi football team was brought to the Olympic committee headquarters after a poor performance. The players had their heads shaved and were beaten with baseball bats. The next year, he said, Oudai's girlfriend was captain of a basketball team competing in university cup finals. The team lost and she blamed her teammates. Oudai ordered that the women's heads be shaved. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1311482002 * STANDING BY SADDAM FROM A DISTANCE by Tim Cornwell The Scotsman, 25th November ON THE pavement outside the market place at Hashimi Square an elderly woman who will not give even her first name sells cigarettes and sachets of henna dye from a tray. She has 12 children in Baghdad, and a husband crippled in the Iran-Iraq war, and after three years working in Jordan she sends home ten or 15 Jordanian dinar - £15 - a week. Her daughter recently called to ask her to buy clothes. "Inshallah," she says (God willing). "It will be better if America ends its threats against Iraq." Just along the pavement another Iraqi woman, Zahra, 52, offers Aladdin dates with her cigarettes. She complains bitterly of how the Jordanian police have no respect for an old woman. Asked about Saddam Hussein, she gives a big thumbs up with a toothy grin. "Tell that good man to hold his head high," she said. "Carry him upon your shoulders." It is hard to find any hint of opposition to Saddam Hussein among the people milling in the square. Restaurants, food stalls, blankets with badly minted "Roman" coins and even a bumper-car ring are over looked by Amman's Roman theatre, in a place which is a focal point for the Iraqi community. In the streets of downtown Amman, a ten-hour drive through the desert from Baghdad, Iraqis declare their loyalty to their leader, and speak passionately of the US, not Saddam, as the problem. >From Shia Muslim men in traditional Arab dress from the southern city of Basra, to younger men who may be draft-dodging from the Iraqi army, to car dealers soon returning to Baghdad, to the worn women selling cigarettes, people speak of love, loyalty, and respect for a leader who has "kept his dignity" in the face of US threats. Few, even so, would give their first names. The Iraqi intelligence services are said to keep a close watch on Iraqis in Jordan. "We won't talk politics," said one of several Iraqi Christian men, who complain of waiting for months for visas to travel the UK, the US, and Australia. "You know the reason." Between 3-400,000 Iraqis now live in Jordan, it is estimated, many in the capital. It costs about $200 to get a visa at the Jordanian border. The long-running crisis with the US has sent the Iraqi dinar nose-diving against its far stronger Jordanian counterpart, cutting down Iraqis' buying power and driving economic migrants out. "There are a lot of jobs, but little money," said Taleb, 32, a Gulf War veteran who left Iraq recently and is on his way to join his brother in Dubai, counting on a contract job. The political situation in Jordan, he concedes, is "easier" than that in Iraq. But he, like several others, mentions with approval that Baghdad doubled food rations last month. Each family now gets 60 eggs a month - along with other staples like rice, sugar, tea, peas, bread and eggs. The jump in rations followed a release of political prisoners this summer, and a separate offer of amnesty to Iraqi economic refugees who returned. About 1,000 came back from Jordan. It appears a concerted effort by the Iraqi leadership to soothe the public and split the political opposition. Many Iraqis here speak passionately of feeling their country under threat, and denounce UN resolution 1441, threatening "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to co-operate fully with weapons inspections. Hassan, 24, a baker, left Iraq a year and a half ago for Jordan. He got his residence card - allowing him to work - after six months, and was taking a break from a building site. "There's no work in Iraq," he said. But "if anyone tries to attack" he insists he "will have the right to kill him". Jordan, with other borders mostly closed, is the Iraqis' gateway to the Middle East and beyond. It has been unusual recently for Iraqi opposition figures to speak out in Amman, observers say. But Ibrahim Janabi, a former Iraqi intelligence officer and Baath Party member, is now giving media interviews as the Amman representative of the Iraqi National Accord (INA) He said leaders of half a dozen leading opposition groups - famous for internal intrigues and bitter rivalries - are working to hammer out a common statement at a London conference next month. The INA were last in Amman in force when it joined an attempt to stage a CIA-backed coup inside Iraq in 1996. It failed disastrously with a bloody purge of those involved. Baghdad has played up the rivalries between the exiles. It recently lured four delegates of a small, little-known Iraqi National Alliance to pay a visit back home. The leaders were publicly promised a new constitution and sweeping political rights. Their stay in Iraq was closely covered in the state media. It was to Amman that the most famous Iraqi defector of all, Saddam's cousin and son-in law Hussein Kamel, came to tell UN inspectors of Iraq's nuclear weapons research . He returned to Baghdad with a pardon from the president and soon afterwards died in a pitched gun battle at his home. Mr Janabi himself was sentenced to death and then jailed on suspicion of spying when he worked as an intelligence officer in London. But he was quickly released in another prisoner amnesty in August 1990, when Saddam was facing another major test of his power - this one caused by the invasion of Kuwait. The newspaper, Babel, owned by Saddam's son Uday, was closed late last week. It came, said Mr Janabi, after the newspaper published over several days, a list of 5,000 names it claimed Iraqi opposition groups had given to the Americans for future war crimes prosecutions. An effort to bind Iraqi officials to the leadership had backfired, he claimed. His group, he said, has in fact put up just 12 names from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including his sons Uday and Qsay. [.....] http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1316102002 * IRAQIS BATTERED AND BEWILDERED BY FRONT-LINE LIFE by Tim Llewellyn The Scotsman, 26th November IT IS a scene of medieval swirl and religious intensity. Women draped in black and men in colourful turbans and robes glide across the courtyard of the Mosque of the tomb of Imam Ali, who was murdered as he prayed 1,341 years ago, near here, on the banks of the Euphrates. Imam Ali, the martyr and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed, is at the centre of the tragic narrative that split Islam into its two main streams of Shi'a and Sunni in the mid-seventh century. Many of the pilgrims arriving at the mosque are carrying makeshift coffins. The Arab and Persian Shi'a take their closest kin, in death, on a journey second only to that of the Haj, the voyage to Mecca. They bring their remains to Najaf to troop them round the ornate sarcophagus of the Imam before burying them in the cemeteries of this simple little town. Just eight days ago seven more coffins were put in the ground here, those of a family, man, wife, children, a baby, whose village just a half-mile away was destroyed by an allied air strike. "If anyone asks you who you are, say you're Turkish," my Iraqi guide says. This area, about 120 miles south-east of Baghdad and stretching 60 miles further south down the Euphrates to Kerbala, is the Shi'a heartland. Their historical sense of loss, martyrdom and victimisation is being intensified by the debilitating consequences of sanctions and the regular air patrols and air raids. We try to find the survivors of the air raid in the local hospital, which is quite new, but the stench of inadequate drains pervades the lobby and the corridors to the hospital director's office. Filthy water, lack of modern equipment, antibiotics and medicines, poor diet for mothers, lack of nurses and doctors - all these are mentioned by the harassed doctor as he tells me about the last fatality. An 18-year-old pregnant mother, Rasha Jawat Kaddam, who survived the bombing, lost her baby. "That made it seven dead. All this, lost families, no medicine, no education...all this, for what and for how long?" He adds: " This attack was not the first and it won't be the last. More will come. But they are all against the people, the civilian people, not againstŠ" He trails off. My guide, a driver, a soldier and an official from the District Governor's office are listening. I know what he means but does not quite want to say: the attacks are not, as far as he is concerned, hitting or hurting President Saddam Hussein. Neither can the Shi'ites of this region see how the overflights protect them from Saddam, as the Allies claim. The Iraqi leader can exercise his enormous power over them from ground level. The "cowboys of the air", as an elderly Iraqi lady I know calls them (they are fond here of Westerns and indulge their Wild West image of George Bush), are beyond their comprehension or control. The hospital director tells me that Rasha, the survivor, has been discharged. No-one will take us to see her. No-one knows where she is. Outside the Imam Ali mosque, pedlars sell packets of blocks of moulded dust from the shrine at Kerbala. The people of the city are preparing rows of black cauldrons to feed the faithful when dusk falls - it is the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan, heightening the religious aura and its juxtaposition with an uncomprehending West. As I return to Baghdad, I wonder what this volatile mixture might be fostering at its resentful heart. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2515587.stm * EMIGRES DISCUSS 'CHANGE' IN BAGHDAD by Kim Ghattas BBC, 26th November A group of Iraqi opposition figures is in Iraq for talks with the government about the possibility of change and a new constitution. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979. But members of the little-known Iraqi National Alliance are now in Baghdad - the first dissidents to respond to a call by the Iraqi president for exiles to return. The opposition figures have met Iraq's number two, Ezzat Ibrahim, and are hoping to meet with President Saddam. Abdul Jabbar el-Qubaysi, chairman of the group, said they had been promised that a new constitution would be drawn and that new political parties would be allowed as well as independent newspapers. Mr el-Qubaysi fled Iraq in 1976. His two brothers were executed in the early 1980s. He said he was not afraid to return because he believed the government's promise for real change. There have been rumours that the Iraqi president's son, Qusay, was planning to form a new government that would include independent and opposition figures. But Mr el-Qubaysi said he and his colleagues would not agree to participate in any government and would remain in the opposition. Saddam Hussein's recent political overtures have been denounced abroad as a ploy. Iraqi dissidents say the Iraqi leadership is trying to enlist support from opposition figures in exile. The opposition figures now in Baghdad have maintained some ties with the Iraqi regime over the years and would therefore be willing to return to Iraq and show support for the Iraqi president at this crucial time. INSPECTIONS http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=11/26/02&Cat=2&Num=1 * BLIX TO GO DOWN IN IRAQ ART HISTORY, IF ARMS REPORT "GOOD NEWS" Tehran Times, 26th November BAGHDAD -- Chief UN inspector Hans Blix may go down in history, art history, if his much-awaited report confirms that Iraq has none of the weapons of mass destruction claimed by the United States. "If the report is positive and brings good news to Iraq, then I will draw a portrait of Blix with our President Saddam Hussein," said Salam Abid, one of the main Saddam portrait artists in the country. "Good news" for Iraq, and Saddam personally, means the United Nations declaring Iraq free of arms of mass destruction, as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 which threatens Baghdad with "serious consequences" otherwise, AFP reported. Saddam is a favorite model for portrait artists happy to hear that Blix is due to launch arms inspections in Iraq on Wednesday after a four-year break, and that Washington said it might consent to Saddam staying in power if he agrees to give up suspected banned weapons. "I have been painting portraits of the president since 1976, but I have never painted him with anybody else -- except a few times with his sons Uday and Qusay," said 47-year-old Abid. "So if the Blix report is positive, I could make an exception if I am given the permission" by Iraqi authorities, said Abid with a broad smile under his thick black moustache. Abid explains that he has painted hundreds of large portraits and murals of Saddam, who has been president since 1979, some of them of gigantic proportions of up to 3.5 by 2.5 meters (11-ft 6-in by 8-ft 3-in). They are among the millions of portraits and statues of the Iraqi president adorning building facades, office walls, sitting rooms, roads and highways. The personality cult, though not a rare commodity in the region, clearly strikes newcomers in a myriad of oil paintings, neon-lit prints, sculptures and statues of various styles and sizes. Depending on where the portrait or the statue is erected, Saddam appears either smiling or serious, wearing army fatigues or Western-style suits, sitting on a horse or toting a rifle. There are books about pictures of Saddam. There are even exhibitions and competitions of his hand-painted portraits which allow artists to win prizes, gifts and cash. It may not raise fortunes, but the demand seems to be so strong that what usually starts as an artistic hobby eventually turns into a full-time job. In a nearby advertising company, Mohammed Abbas Fadel sits proudly behind a desk surrounded by brightly-lit portraits of the president. One of them shows the Iraqi president holding a rifle before the dome of the rock and carries a caption reading: "O Saddam ... Jerusalem Is Calling You." Saddam may not have traveled abroad since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but has made trips to governorates across the country, wearing clothing according to the region's traditions or crafts. He could be wearing a traditional "Shal-wa-Shabek" outfit from Northern Kurdish areas, a checkered southern Iraqi tribal scarf, peasant clothes, thick fur coats or even a swim suit while crossing the Tigris River surrounded by bodyguards. Abid, painting the last of Saddam's seven facial beauty spots on to a large canvas at his studio, even speaks of having "recently dreamt of having drawn a young and neatly-dressed Saddam Hussein with an old and wrinkled (U.S. President George W.) Bush." "It is actually more like a nightmare. But if Bush returns to his senses and stops threatening to attack us, then we will see," he added. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/27/112706655.html * IRAQI OFFICIAL SURPRISED BY U.N. VISIT by Bassem Mroue Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 27th November AL-AMIRIYAH, Iraq- On Day 1 of the new U.N. weapons inspection program, a 40-vehicle convoy led by a team of inspectors meandered for 80 miles down highways and side roads, with Iraqi officials and a horde of journalists wondering what the first target would be. Finally, the convoy veered off at the town of al-Amiriyah, 25 miles southwest of Baghdad, and pulled up to the steel gate of a graphite rod factory. Iraqi military guards swung open the gate, letting the inspectors' vehicles enter before slamming the door on about 100 journalists. The efforts at surprise appeared effective Wednesday. "We didn't expect it at all," said Ali Jasim Hussein, director of the nearby al-Rafah missile engine-testing station, where the inspectors spent five hours crisscrossing the grounds. "We opened the doors for them and openly let them work," Hussein said. "They checked all the equipment and documents, administrative and technical." Beyond the gates at the graphite rod factory, inspectors entered a single-story building near a well-kept garden. About half the team spent an hour inside. The rest left after 15 minutes for the al-Rafah missile engine-testing compound. The station was empty except for a few skeletal steel structures, a small concrete building with a TV antenna on the roof and a single-story office. Hussein, wearing an olive-green military uniform, said the compound was attacked by U.S. and British warplanes in 1998 and had been visited several times before by U.N. inspectors. He said nothing at the compound violates U.N. Security Council resolutions. But he still expects a return visit soon. Inspectors refused to say why they chose those sites and whether they found anything suspicious. Graphite has many uses, including as a moderator in nuclear power reactors - not prohibited for Iraq - and as a lubricant, possibly for missiles. Iraq is not allowed to develop missiles with ranges over 90 miles. U.S. intelligence analysts have said satellite photos suggest that the al-Rafah station was equipped for missiles with a greater range than allowed. Journalists were allowed just a few yards inside the al-Rafah gate after the inspectors left, but were barred from going any further or looking in any buildings. U.N. nuclear inspectors, meanwhile, visited the Al-Tahadi Scientific Research Center six miles east of Baghdad. The director, Haitham Maamoud, said the center had never been involved in Iraq's nuclear program. He said the inspectors toured maintenance workshops and asked questions during a visit of more than three hours. The inspection went smoothly, and factory officials answered all the questions they were asked, Maamoud said. As at the graphite factory, journalists were allowed to follow inspectors to the Al-Tahadi center's gates but were barred from entry while the inspectors worked. The policy appeared to be a compromise, after the issue of journalists' access had a point of contention. The inspectors have said they do not want reporters tagging along as their presence may disrupt the work, while Iraqi officials had insisted the press have free access. All the sites visited Wednesday were checked years ago by U.N. inspectors, and no significant new findings were reported. However, Wednesday's inspections were perhaps as much about how inspectors were received as what they might have found. "We were welcomed in a polite and a professional way, and that's good enough for us," U.N. inspector Dimitrius Perricos said. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=17000784&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * IRAQ SEEN AS A WEAPONS TURNING POINT Associated Press, 27th November CAIRO, Egypt (AP) ‹ U.N. inspectors searching Iraq will determine the future not just of any stockpiles Saddam Hussein has been hiding, but of international efforts to stop the spread of some of the world's most frightening weapons. If the inspections successfully end the long and bitter saga of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, some credit will go to international agreements banning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the institutions charged with policing the bans. Failure may tempt other countries to follow Baghdad's lead. "Iraq will be a turning point," said Joseph Cirincione, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nonproliferation Project. "What happens in Iraq will have a tremendous impact on the future of the nonproliferation regimes and the individual choices that dozens of nations will make." David Kay, once the chief U.N. nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq, believes Iraq already has provided a glimpse of the future, and it is bleak. "I'm afraid the lesson is that if you're a determined proliferator and willing to take the consequences, which for the most part are economic, you will eventually succeed," said Kay, who now works for a Virginia-based think tank, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. "I don't think the world is really determined" to stop Iraq, he said in a telephone interview, while acknowledging that the world still has a chance to prove him wrong. If Iraq is stopped, North Korea could decide there's no reason to spend any more political or economic currency in pursuit of nuclear weapons. In Iraq's neighborhood, Egypt, Syria and Libya ‹ countries that have in the past shown interest in weapons of mass destruction ‹ might abandon such ambitions. To some, Iraq already is an example of how the system can work, however slowly and fitfully. The lessons learned from dealing with Iraq, they add, have strengthened the system spelled out in such documents as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the chemical and biological weapons conventions. One of the 188 states that have signed the nuclear treaty is Iraq. Now the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body charged with implementing the treaty, no longer takes signatures at face value, said Shannon Kile, a nuclear specialist at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In 1997, responding to concerns both Iraq and North Korea were hiding information about their nuclear programs, the IAEA adopted the "additional protocol" ‹ new guidelines providing for more unannounced or short-notice inspections and advanced detection technology such as remote monitoring devices. Mohamed ElBaradei, executive director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said this week that Iraq has pledged to give a full accounting of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs by Dec. 8. "If they say that they don't have weapons of mass destruction, we will continue the inspection in order to make sure that this announcement is correct and accurate, and that's what we do in all countries that say so," ElBaradei said. "The purpose of inspections is to make sure that the country's announcement is complete and correct." Cirincione, of the Carnegie Endowment, said inspectors are more aggressive and better equipped. They have handheld scanners that can detect radioactive isotopes, sensors that can trace alloys used in nuclear weapons, and digital video cameras. The methods and equipment adopted for Iraq could be useful elsewhere. The inspectors are backed by U.S. threats of war unless Iraq complies. U.S. leadership lends crucial strength to international nonproliferation efforts, Cirincione said. In the future, diplomatic pressure or economic sanctions will work in some cases, but in others the world will have to threaten war to force compliance, says Kile, of the Stockholm institute. The sanctions formula, however, did little to dissuade Pakistan and India, both of which tested nuclear devices in 1998. Most of those sanctions have since been lifted as payback for both countries' support of the United States in the war against terrorism. "Whatever the solution might be for Iraq might not be applicable to others," Kile said. "The more general lesson that has to be drawn is that action has to be taken." http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=296 96549 * UN ARMS EXPERTS INSPECT 4 SUSPECTED LABS IN IRAQ Times of India (from AFP), 28th November BAGHDAD: UN experts on Thursday completed "without incident" surprise inspections of four factories and laboratories near Baghdad suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction. On the second day of the first inspections in four years, experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) carried out the checks over more than four hours. Team leaders Frenchman Jacques Baute and Greek Dimitri Perricos said the two days of inspections were "a good start" for the inspection missions which will be put on hold for a day on Friday, a holiday in Iraq. Perricos said at a joint press conference that his team took pictures and samples from a site, which had been under surveillance since the 1991-1998 previous inspection missions and from where they noticed some equipment had been moved. "But what is important is that when we asked them about it, they did not propose to bring it in, but offered willingly to take us to the other factory," he said. A first team of experts checked two sites at the huge Al-Nasr factory, 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of the Iraqi capital and which belongs to the industry ministry, and the nearby Dhu al-Fiqar. "Al-Nasr General Factory for Mechanical Production," announces a large sign at the entrance of the factory which, according to photographers who recently visited the complex, produces mechanical equipment. But Washington suspects Al-Nasr, located within the huge Al-Taji compound, of being used to produce weapons of mass destruction. A huge portrait of a smiling President Saddam Hussein on top of a large pastel ceramic of Baghdad's industries and landmarks welcomes onlookers, who are kept out by a fence, a gate and dozens of frowning guards. Complying with the UN inspectors' practice of "freezing" suspect sites, employees were prevented from either entering or leaving the compound. Even a pleading pregnant woman had to sit in a small waiting room at the entrance. The second team of inspectors visited two sites in Al-Dura, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Baghdad, including a former vaccines laboratory suspected of having been rehabilitated to produce biological weapons. "The inspectors went out seemingly satisfied, and we are also satisfied. There were no problems," said Muntasser Omar, director of the lab. "We have offered them all the facilities and all the answers. They took many samples from ventilation systems and water tanks," he told reporters who were allowed into the site after the departure of the inspectors. Omar said the laboratory had been out of service since it was dismantled in 1996 and the site has been visited more than 60 times during previous UN disarmament missions in Iraq. The factory was built by a French company at the end of the 1970s and started producing vaccines for foot and mouth disease in 1982, he said. According to UN sources, the number of inspectors will begin to increase rapidly in the coming days to reach about 100 by the end of the year to speed up the disarmament mission. [.....] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48596-2002Nov27.html * WEAPONS INSPECTORS' EXPERIENCE QUESTIONED by James V. Grimaldi Washington Post, 28th November The United Nations launched perhaps its most important weapons inspections ever yesterday with a team that includes a 53-year-old Virginia man with no specialized scientific degree and a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs. The United Nations acknowledged yesterday that it did not conduct a background check on Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge of Woodbridge, who was in New York waiting to be sent to Iraq as a munitions analyst. McGeorge was picked for the diplomatically sensitive mission over some of the most experienced disarmament sleuths in the world. A U.N. spokesman said McGeorge was part of a group recommended by the State Department, which in turn said it was merely forwarding names for consideration. The disclosures about McGeorge's qualifications come as concerns are being raised among some former U.N. weapons inspectors that the current team lacks experience. The former inspectors, who worked for the United Nations Special Commission created after the Persian Gulf War, say the new inspectors have been selected in part to avoid offending Iraq. These critics say that Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), is bypassing some experienced inspectors because they were opposed by Iraq as too aggressive in the earlier inspections. Former inspectors also say that rules requiring applicants to quit their government jobs meant that some of the best-qualified experts did not apply, leaving many positions to be filled by applicants, such as McGeorge, from the private sector. The former inspectors also say the current inspection team lacks the size, mobility and equipment to do its job adequately, and that the new U.N. policy of not sharing information with intelligence agencies could further handicap the team's ability to find weapons sites. U.N. officials defended their team of inspectors, saying that they are highly qualified and among the best in the field. But they acknowledged that they conducted no background checks. "As the United Nations, with people applying from many countries, we do not have the capability to do that," said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for UNMOVIC. "How would you check?" McGeorge is a former Marine and Secret Service specialist who offers seminars on "weaponization of chemical and biological agents" for $595 a session. Since 1983, he has been president of his own firm, Public Safety Group Inc., which sells bioterror products to governments. One online ad promotes his role as a "certified United Nations Weapons inspector." McGeorge does not possess a degree in one of the specialized fields -- such as biochemistry, bacteriology or chemical engineering -- that the United Nations says it seeks in its inspectors. U.S. and U.N. officials said a background check apparently was not conducted on McGeorge or any of the inspector applicants. An Internet search of open Web sites conducted by The Washington Post found that McGeorge is the co-founder and past president of Black Rose, a Washington-area pansexual S&M group, and the former chairman of the board of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. He is also a founding officer of the Leather Leadership Conference Inc., which "produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish community," according to its Web site. Several Web sites describe McGeorge's training seminars, which involve various acts conducted with knives and ropes. McGeorge said yesterday that a State Department official invited him to apply for the U.N. team, and officials at State and the United Nations did not ask about his S&M background. But he said he would tender his resignation to Blix if The Post printed a story about it. "I have been very upfront with people in the past about what I do, and it has never prevented me from getting a job or doing service," McGeorge said. "I am who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am -- not one bit. But I cannot allow my actions, as they may be perceived by others, to damage an organization which has done nothing to deserve that damage." A State Department official said that the Bureau of Nonproliferation collected résumés from potential UNMOVIC candidates and then passed along, without recommendation, those who appeared to meet the general criteria of the jobs. However, the official said he believes that background checks were not conducted before the résumés were forwarded. Half the 100 inspectors picked so far were recommended by governments, and the other half applied directly to the United Nations. Buchanan added that the United Nations considers McGeorge's private life irrelevant to his role as a munitions analyst. "I believe that Mr. McGeorge is technically very competent," Buchanan said. "He knows his subject, which is weapons. As a general principle, I think what people do in their private life, as long as it doesn't interfere with [their] professional life -- and I'm not aware that it has interfered -- or doesn't break any rules or laws, shouldn't be a significant issue." Interviewed by telephone, McGeorge defended his training and experience. "I was a military ordnance explosive disposal specialist," McGeorge said. "I was very well trained on chemical and biological agents." McGeorge's résumé indicates that he trained as an inspector with UNMOVIC in February 2001 in Vienna. He said he was interviewed in person by Blix and joined the team as a temporary staff member in December 2001. McGeorge's professional background reveals he served for a few years each as a Marine ordnance disposal technician and a munitions countermeasures specialist with the Secret Service, both stints occurring more than 20 years ago. On his résumé, McGeorge lists an honorary doctorate from a Russian institute in Moscow. McGeorge received an associate's degree in security management from Northern Virginia Community College in 1983. He also lists numerous articles on chemical and biological weapons in such publications as Defense and Foreign Affairs and NBC Defense & Technology International. One of his most cited achievements is preparing, under contract with the federal government, a compendium of incidents involving biological and chemical agents dating back to the 1940s. Past weapons inspectors have criticized the selection of inspectors, saying experienced candidates, including former missile inspector Timothy V. McCarthy, were passed over. The critics say the new team needs seasoning if it is to find minute evidence of weapons-making in a country the size of Texas. "We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the biological weapons inspection team for the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq. "They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes." The two renowned experts retained, Igor Mitrokhin and Nikita Smidovich, will not be conducting field inspections. Mitrokhin, a respected Russian chemical weapons expert, has been named the chief of the agency's health and safety division. Smidovich, a Russian missile expert whose encyclopedic knowledge of Iraq's missile program has long made him unpopular in Iraq, has been appointed head of inspector training. Smidovich said during a break at recent training session that although there is a "new culture" at UNMOVIC, the agency still has "very tough inspectors." He said that the less experienced inspectors can learn everything they need to know from a massive archive that includes a recording of virtually every meeting with the Iraqis. "We have it all on tape," he said. Blix defended the abilities of the new inspectors, saying that his chief inspector, Demetrius Perricos, "probably has the greatest experience in the world." "He has 30 years of inspections behind him," he added. "He handled the whole North Korea business in the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]; he was in Iraq in the beginning of the '90s; he was in South Africa and handled the verification of the disarming of their nuclear weapons." A U.N. Security Council diplomat said that Washington wants to increase the number of inspections and double the size of the inspection team's roster, which now consists of 300 people. The Bush administration has been pressing UNMOVIC to move up the date of the next scheduled training session from January to December. One council official said that Blix was likely to begin "a sort of worldwide trawl" for new inspectors. Another council diplomat acknowledged the new inspection agency lacks the experience of its predecessor and that it will take time to reach full speed. "A lot of the inspectors are inexperienced, and it's a matter of not trying to push UNMOVIC to run before it can walk," said a council member. Former inspectors also were concerned about reports that members of the current UNMOVIC team work in the private sector and might have products to sell. A stint on a U.N. inspections team can boost an inspector's profile, bringing media attention and lucrative business opportunities, as some of the former inspectors found. One current inspector works for a company developing a sensor to detect biological substances, such as anthrax spores. "I don't know of any technology out there for biology that you could wave over and say this is a bad building," said former inspector and biological warfare expert David Franz. Correspondent Colum Lynch and researcher Alice Crites also contributed to this report. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-495141,00.html * IRAQ ADMITS PLAN TO USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS by Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor The Times, 28th November 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. The remarks were a complete contradiction of the official Iraqi position. Baghdad has insisted repeatedly that it no longer has chemical, biological or nuclear weapons nor medium-range missiles. Speaking in an interview with al-Quds al-Arabi, a London-based Arabic newspaper, an unnamed senior Iraqi official said that Iraq had used chemical weapons during the war with Iran and would use them again if necessary. "When the regime was under intense attack in the Fao (Peninsula) and began to be under threat, it did not hesitate to use all the weapons of mass destruction in its possession," the official told the newspaper in an article published on Tuesday. "Similarly, when the people of Halabja, or some of them, became guides for the Iranian forces that tried to break the northeast (front), the regime did not hesitate to use chemical weapons. 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 paper declined yesterday to name the source, who also gave details about preparations under way by the Iraqi military to defend itself in the event of war. In spite of Iraq's denials that it possesses chemical and biological weapons, it has been given until December 8 by the United Nations to make a full admission of its weapons of mass destruction capability. If it does not, the United States and Britain have given warning that they will disarm Saddam by force, if necessary. British sources said yesterday that the newspaper interview appeared to confirm their strong suspicions that Iraq is concealing tonnes of chemical and biological weapons, about 20 Scud missiles and a secret nuclear programme. "I am not surprised by these threats," a British official said. "As we stated in our dossier earlier this year, there is strong evidence that Iraq is hiding chemical and biological weapons. They never accounted for huge stockpiles left over from the Gulf War and later development." Western military commanders take the threat of the use of these weapons on the battlefield very seriously, particularly if Saddam is cornered. "In strict military terms, these weapons are not very effective in killing and wounding an opponent," a senior British military source said, "but the psychological impact on troops is tremendous. "There are few soldiers who will stand and fight in the face of a chemical attack. We have to work on the assumption that Saddam has them and will use them." That assumption is based on Iraq's behaviour during its war with Iran, when it used chemical weapons extensively against Iranian infantry on the southern front and to subdue Kurdish civilians in the north. The Iraqis are said to have contemplated using biological weapons, in particular anthrax germs, as a weapon of last resort. Iraqi defectors also claim that chemical weapons loaded on to Scud missiles would have been fired against Iranian cities if the war had continued. Before the Gulf War in 1991, President Bush sent a letter to Saddam giving warning that he would "pay a terrible price" if he used weapons of mass destruction against coalition forces. In the event, Saddam fired Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia, but always with conventional warheads. American and Israeli forces are preparing defences against missile attacks. Anti-missile batteries have been sent to the region to defend the United States's allies. Earlier this week the American military, with Israeli observers present, test-fired a Scud missile in California to study its trajectory and improve missile defences. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-496333,00.html * SADDAM HIDES ARSENAL IN PEOPLE'S HOMES by Michael Evans The Times, 29th November SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered hundreds of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors. According to a stream of intelligence now emerging from inside Iraq, the full extent of the Iraqi leader's deception operation is now becoming apparent. As the UN inspectors knock on the doors of the major military sites in Iraq, suspected of housing chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, the bulk of the evidence is being secreted away in people's homes. The evidence of this latest concealment ploy is judged to be so damning that President Bush and Tony Blair are considering making a personal appeal to the Iraqi officials involved to let the inspectors know what is going on. Intelligence picked up from within Iraq and from electronic intercepts of Iraqi communications has revealed that scientists, civil servants and Baath Party officials have all been ordered to store key components of Saddam's secret weapons of mass destruction programme in their homes. Iraqi farmers have also been ordered to play their part, according to intelligence sources. One source said that farmers were being told to hide drums of chemicals among stocks of pesticides. In each case, the scientists, officials and farmers are being warned that they and their families will face severe penalties if they fail to hide these stocks of chemicals and biological materials from prying UN inspectors. Computers and laptops containing vital information about the weapons of mass destruction programme are also being hidden in people's homes. The intelligence sources said that UN inspectors were aware of what American and other Western agencies were uncovering. However, it made their job almost impossible because they would have no idea where to start if they had to search individual homes. The inspectors, however, do have the power under the Security Council resolution to seek interviews with individual officials and scientists suspected of having information about the weapons of mass destruction programme. A senior Whitehall official said Mr Blair was considering reminding people in Iraq that they all had the same obligations as their leader to be open with the UN inspectors. It is hoped that at least some of those ordered to hide evidence in their homes might have the courage to come forward. Apart from the evidence of deception, the latest intelligence has also uncovered a totally different mood in Iraq from the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf War. Then, there was little or no evidence that the people of Iraq were opposed to Saddam. Now, however, there are signs of a growing disaffection. One intelligence source said that at this stage the mood of discontent was only "simmering" because the Iraqi people knew that if "they put their heads above the parapet they and their families would face the consequences". However, the intelligence material emerging in recent weeks has uncovered a number of startling facts. First, Saddam has been sufficiently worried about potential internal opposition to his regime to take the extraordinary step of canvassing opinion in all the key cities. Intelligence sources say that Kurds have been used to carry out the survey. The answers coming back from the quasi-opinion poll, had given strong indications that people were looking towards a post-Saddam era and wondering whether it would improve their standard of living. To counter this, Saddam's regime has begun circulating rumours in Iraq that even if he were to fall from power, there would be no lifting of sanctions. One intelligence source said the very fact that Saddam had felt it necessary to check the opinions of Iraqi people was one of the most surprising pieces of information to come out of Baghdad in recent weeks. One piece of feedback from the survey was that people were worried that if Saddam were toppled, Iraq would split up as a country. The first sign of possible internal dissent came during the referendum in Iraq last month when Saddam was supposedly given a 100 per cent "yes" vote for continuing in office. Baghdad claimed it was also a 100 per cent turnout. However, intelligence emerging since then has revealed that only one in three people actually voted. Second, as a sign of Saddam's unease over the loyalty of his officials in Baghdad, he has begun handing out cars to everyone to keep them happy. The intelligence sources said senior officials were being given Toyota Avalons and junior officials South Korean-made Kias. Third, Iraqi troops are now being required to go through the equivalent of the British system of positive vetting every three months to test their loyalties to Saddam. Security officials have been ordered to investigate each individual and his family. Loyalties are thought to be near breaking-point in some of the more far-flung towns and cities, where there is evidence that troops and police are either not being paid or are receiving subsistence salaries. One piece of intelligence revealed that in the town of Dahuk in northern Iraq, close to the Turkish border, the police had not been paid since September. Iraqi soldiers based at two barracks in Dahuk were also being paid far less than the average wage in Iraq. Fourth, Saddam who is not known to be a very religious person, has ordered his officials to spread rumours that the Americans want to invade Iraq in order to convert everyone to Christianity. He has also written a prayer. The assessment of all the latest intelligence is that although cracks are now beginning to appear in the support for Saddam, it will have little impact on the Iraqi leader himself. It is believed he will never given up his weapons of mass destruction because they represent the means by which he can keep his people cowed. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk