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News, 22-29/11/02 (2) IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * U.N.: Iraq Confused on Meeting Demands * U.S. Military Wants Certain Drugs Barred from Iraq * UNICEF sees gain in the well-being of Iraqi children * Excerpts From Iraqi Foreign Minister's Letter * U.N. Extends Iraq Food Plan for 9 Days * U.N. Council Predicts Showdown on Iraq * U.S. fears Iraq may try to jam GPS signals IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * Ministers Accused over Iraq Backbench Rebellion * Anti-war MPs rebel over Iraq * Poll shows Britons equally split on Iraq war * Rebels lay down barrage of criticism * Loophole 'forces Kurds into destitution' * Experts doubt Brown's £1bn war chest is enough for attack on Iraq * Frigate intercepts Iraqi contraband IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/22/112206487.html * U.N.: IRAQ CONFUSED ON MEETING DEMANDS by Charles J. Hanley Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 22nd November BAGHDAD, Iraq- Confusion persists within the Iraqi government over how to meet the Security Council's demand for a full account of chemical, biological and nuclear programs in the country, a U.N. spokesman said Friday. The report is due 11 days after international experts resume inspections of Iraq next week - following a four-year suspension - in search of storage or production facilities for weapons of mass destruction. The Baghdad government says it no longer has such weapons programs. But government officials also seem uncertain about how to comply with the U.N. mandate to provide a detailed accounting of its weapon capabilities. "They seem to have a lot of confusion as to what the declaration should include," U.N. spokesman Hiro Ueki said. Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix said earlier this week that Iraqi officials expressed "particular concern" about providing on short notice a detailed report on its chemical industry, which can include factories that can be used for weapons or peaceful purposes. Some specialists believe the Iraqis retain chemical weapons from earlier years. The mandatory report could prove critically important in deciding whether Iraq has complied with the U.N. resolution. "It's up to the Iraqi government to decide what to include" in their accounting, Ueki said. The inspectors are back in Iraq under a new Security Council resolution demanding the Iraqis give up any weapons of mass destruction or face "serious consequences." >From 1991 to 1998, U.N. expert teams destroyed large amounts of chemical and biological weapons and longer-range missiles forbidden to Iraq by U.N. resolutions after the Gulf War. They also dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program before it could build a bomb. Those inspections ended amid disputes over access to sensitive "presidential sites" and Iraqi complaints of U.S. spying from within the U.N. agency. The first operational contingent of 18 U.N. inspectors is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad on Monday. Their initial inspection is expected to be Wednesday, when they will probably begin revisiting sites inspected in the 1990s by other U.N. teams, looking for signs that weapons production has resumed. The council's Nov. 7 resolution requires the Baghdad government to make a declaration by Dec. 8 of any weapons of mass destruction, facilities to manufacture them, and "all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programs," even those not related to military uses. Major gaps and discrepancies in such Iraqi declarations could be construed as a serious enough violation to warrant a new Security Council debate over punitive measures. President Bush has threatened an invasion to enforce Iraqi disarmament, with or without U.N. approval. If the inspectors, on the other hand, certify that Iraq has cooperated fully with their disarmament work, the council is supposed to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. As the new round of inspections neared, the U.N. monitors were working to tie down critical loose ends, such as lists of potential Iraqi informants. The U.N. resolution requires Iraq to supply an updated list of scientists and technicians who worked on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. But Ueki said it has yet to be received. "We reiterated the Security Council's request for the list," he said. The names will serve as a roster of potential informants for the inspectors, who have the right under the resolution to request private interviews of Iraqi specialists, and even to offer to fly them out of the country to be interviewed. The inspection agency was also awaiting agreement with the U.S. government for the use of sophisticated surveillance aircraft, such as the U-2 or the CIA's unmanned Predator, to monitor suspected weapons sites in Iraq, as U-2s did for the U.N. inspections program in the 1990s. Ueki said he believed officials at the U.N. headquarters in New York continued discussions with Washington over such reconnaissance support. In what has become almost a daily occurrence the past week, the U.S. military reported its warplanes bombed air defense targets Friday in the U.S.-declared "no-fly zone" of southern Iraq. U.S. planes also attacked targets in southern Iraq on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/breaking_news/4582623.htm * U.S. MILITARY WANTS CERTAIN DRUGS BARRED FROM IRAQ by Evelyn Leopold The State, from Reuters, 22nd November UNITED NATIONS - Preparing for a possible war in Iraq, the U.S. military wants the United Nations to scrutinize any drugs Iraq may import to combat chemical and biological warfare, diplomats said on Friday. Under a 300-page "goods review list" approved in May, a U.N. Security Council panel must approve supplies that have military as well as civilian applications. Other civilian goods and medicines to Iraq can be expedited. To this end, the Defense Department had wanted the list include Cipro, an antibiotic that has been used in treating people exposed to anthrax, and atropine, which can be used as an antidote for nerve gases, the diplomats said. Iraq recently ordered large quantities of atropine from suppliers in Turkey, raising fears that Baghdad might intend to use nerve gas against any invading force without endangering its own soldiers. The Pentagon had proposed that U.S. diplomats reopen the list before the next six-month phase of the oil-for-food humanitarian program for Iraq was to be approved on Monday. But other Security Council diplomats apparently convinced the United States there would not be time and that the resolution would be adopted with few changes. A British draft resolution to extend the oil-for-food program for another six months contains a provision saying the list should reviewed or adjusted within the next 180 days. It also asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to assess how well the system is working and to make recommendations. Norway's U.N. ambassador, Ole Peter Kolby, said Washington wanted to shorten the period for review to 90 days, a proposal council members will discuss before Monday. Some council members said the United States would be hard-pressed to expand the list as Russia, France and other nations might have their own requests that Washington would oppose. "It's a Pandora's box," said one envoy. Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. To ease the impact of the embargoes, Iraq has been allowed to purchase civilian supplies, such as food and medicine, with revenue from oil exports under a strictly controlled system. Since the program began in December 1996, Iraq has imported $25 billion in civilian supplies and oil industry equipment, with an additional $10 billion in the pipeline, the United Nations said in a recent report. Iraq his year has averaged oil exports of about 1.2 million barrels per day, down from the 2.15 million barrels daily it can export and from about 3 million barrels daily it was exporting before the August 1990 sanctions were imposed. Nevertheless, Iraq argues that the sanctions have wreaked havoc on its population and its economy, while the United States says Baghdad has managed to smuggle goods and sell some $2 billion worth of oil on the side. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/326/nation/UNICEF_sees_gain_in_the_well_be ing_of_Iraqi_children+.shtml * UNICEF SEES GAIN IN THE WELL-BEING OF IRAQI CHILDREN by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Boston Globe, from Washington Post, 22nd November BAGHDAD - When it comes to the UN trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the official line of President Saddam Hussein's government is that the continued embargo has been responsible for a steady deterioration in living conditions. So it was something of a surprise yesterday when the government permitted UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, to release a report saying that the malnutrition rate among Iraqi children has actually fallen significantly since 1996. UNICEF attributed the drop primarily to an exemption in the sanctions that allows the Iraqi government to sell its oil to buy food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. "It is undeniable that the oil-for-food program has had a positive impact on the well-being of children in Iraq," said Carel de Rooy, the director of UNICEF operations in Iraq. According to a survey UNICEF conducted in conjunction with Iraq's Ministry of Health, the number of children suffering from chronic malnutrition fell from 32 percent in 1996 to 23 percent this year. The number of children who are underweight dropped from 23 percent to 9 percent in the same period. Although the survey was finished over the summer, UN officials said they did not receive permission from the Iraqi government to release the results. UN officials said they were told the report needed to be approved by several people in different ministries, but they believed Iraqi officials were worried about releasing a report that would run contrary to official pronouncements. A few days ago, UN officials were told they could issue the report. But when UNICEF held a news conference at a Baghdad hotel to release the findings, cameras from Iraq's government-run television stations, a conspicuous presence at most news events here, were absent. At the news conference, de Rooy went to pains to mention that more needs to be done in the area of children's nutrition. Nearly 1 million Iraqi children still suffer from chronic malnutrition, he said. "This is unacceptable," he said. "More still needs to be done to end the suffering of a generation of children." He also posed a question to himself: "Should the government receive credit for this achievement?" "Definitely," he said. De Rooy said the government had "not really objected" to the release of the report. "The bureaucracy here is quite slow," he said. "Getting permission to release these things takes time." He said he expects the improvements in nutrition to translate into a reduction in childhood mortality, although he said UNICEF has not yet started a study of that issue. The Iraqi government says 1.7 million children have died from disease, malnutrition, and other causes as a result of the sanctions. UN officials and Western health specialists who have studied the conditions in Iraq said they believe that figure to be inflated. One of the few Western humanitarian workers in Iraq, Margaret Hassan of the aid organization Care International, called the UNICEF figures "incredibly important," but she warned against "blowing up the importance of discrete items to reflect an overall change in society." "The quality of life that most people have has not really changed much," she said. "There still is an unacceptably high level of poverty." UN officials have also expressed concern that recent drops in Iraq's oil exports under the oil-for-food program could jeopardize purchases of food, medicine, and other products approved by the UN Security Council. Iraq currently has contracts approved by the UN to buy $2.96 billion worth of humanitarian supplies that it cannot pay for, according to UN documents. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,71314,00.html * EXCERPTS FROM IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER'S LETTER Fox News, 24th November Excerpts from a letter, dated Nov. 23, from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as translated from Arabic by The Associated Press: Operational paragraph 3. This paragraph is based on an imaginary assumption of the existence of mass destruction programs in Iraq. Iraq has strongly denied this claim and the United States and Britain failed to give one credible proof on this matter. ... Operational paragraph 4. This paragraph makes a false assumption that Iraq might make false statements or fail to comply with the resolution. This false assumption leads to another false assumption, that this act represents a material breach of U.N. resolutions. This arbitrary decision as stated in this paragraph represents an unprecedented act because it considers the giving of inaccurate statements ‹ taking into consideration that there are thousands of pages to be presented in those statements ‹ is a material breach. Its aim is very clear, and that is to provide pretexts in order to distort the position of Iraq and be used in the aggressive acts against Iraq, not to implement the declared goals of the Security Council. Secondly, considering leaving out some information to be a material breach means there is premeditation to target Iraq. ... Operational paragraphs 5 and 7. These paragraphs have given UNMOVIC and the IAEA unprecedented arbitrary powers that do not agree with their international work, which requires that they respect the sovereignty of countries they work in and the countries' laws and human rights according to the U.N. charter. These unprecedented measures in the history of the international organization and in the history of international affairs and disarmament and arms control procedures aims, in fact, to hinder the work of inspectors and to create causes for confrontation and a crisis in confidence with Iraq, and opens the door again to taking advantage of inspection activities for purposes not related to the declared aims of the council's resolutions. The procedures for disarmament and arms control are known, and there are adopted standards in international agreements to achieve the goal of disarming, which do not include, for example, meeting people inside their country without the presence of a representative of their government, or asking them to leave the country with their families to meet abroad, or to get a list of names of all scientists and researchers of the country, or to bring into the country U.N. guards to protect the sites of inspection teams at the time when Iraq is, according to the law, responsible for their safety as well as their salaries, or giving inspectors the authority to bring in and out of the country whatever they want of equipment without informing the government of the country they are working in, and this all goes on at the expense of this government, and they provide a statement neither on the money they are spending nor on the fate of equipment or vehicles, bought with Iraq's money, after finishing their mission. ... Operational paragraph 10. This procedure aims at destroying cooperation between Iraq and UNMOVIC and IAEA and gives some countries pretexts to interfere in their work, subjecting them to the pressure and desires and claims of specific countries, first of all the United States, which has aggressive goals. At the same time, it does not place any legal or political responsibility on those countries that give misleading information, aiming at obstructing the work. ... Operational paragraph 11. The aim of this paragraph is to ... create problems out of nothing with the aim of showing Iraq as not cooperating, and create pretexts to launch an aggression against it. ... We hope that the U.N. and the peace-loving countries, including permanent and nonpermanent members of the Security Council, will work to urge UNMOVIC and IAEA to commit their inspectors to their obligations according to the U.N. charter and to respect their mandate and adhere to serve the U.N.'s goals. This will lead to the quick uncovering of the false U.S. accusations regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and to enable the United Nations to fulfill its obligations stated in this resolution on Iraq, which represents the goal of lifting the unjust sanctions, respecting Iraq's sovereignty and security, and respecting its national interests. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/25/112502623.html * U.N. EXTENDS IRAQ FOOD PLAN FOR 9 DAYS by Edith M. Lederer Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 25th November UNITED NATIONS- A divided Security Council extended the U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq for just nine days on Monday, after an agreement for a six-month renewal fell apart over a U.S. demand to tighten the list of goods to ensure they can't be used for the military. Working against a midnight Monday deadline, council members couldn't agree on a timetable to review the list. In lieu of a deal, diplomats voted unanimously to extend the oil-for-food humanitarian program in order to buy time for further negotiations. The program, funded by revenue from Iraqi oil sales, provides food, medicine and other humanitarian goods for Iraqis trying to cope with sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Washington wants to add a number of items that Iraq has been trying to import to ensure that the list "is not exploited or utilized in any way by the government of Iraq to import items for military purpose under civilian guise." He said that the items include atropine injectors and atropine, an antidote used in the event of exposure to nerve agents, which could be used "in a chemical warfare kind of situation" as well as jammers for global positioning equipment, radio intercept and direction finding equipment. Atropine is frequently used to resuscitate heart attack victims. Western diplomats said the Pentagon also wants to add Cipro, which is used to combat anthrax and smallpox. Two weeks ago, administration officials said Iraq had imported significant quantities of atropine and obidoxime chloride over the last two years. Under a new system adopted by the council in the summer to speed humanitarian deliveries, Iraq can purchase any humanitarian items except those that may have a possible military use. So-called dual-use items on a "goods review list" must be individually approved by the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq. Russia had pressed for a routine six-month extension and a 90-day review of the list, a position backed by a majority of council members. But Negroponte said the United States wanted a maximum 90-day extension and review. Negroponte said Washington was even willing to agree to a 30-day extension and review of the list - but would not agree to a six-month extension until the list was revised. Security Council experts had reached broad agreement late Friday on a draft resolution that would extend the humanitarian program for six months and review the list within 90 days. The procedures to implement the list would have been reviewed within six months. Norwegian Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby, who chairs the sanctions committee on Iraq, said he "was surprised" that disputes over the timetable and oil pricing - which determines how much cash the Iraqis have to spend - had come up at the last minute. At the insistence of the United States and Britain, the United Nations has been setting the price of Iraqi oil at the end of every month - rather than the beginning - to prevent Iraq from taking advantage of fluctuations in the oil market and imposing an illegal surcharge. Washington and London maintain the so-called retroactive pricing policy has worked to cut illegal payoffs to Saddam Hussein's government, but U.N. officials and council members, including Russia and France, contend that it has also caused a sharp drop in exports which means fewer dollars for the humanitarian program. In response to the U.S. demand Monday to quickly reopen the goods review list, France proposed that the oil pricing issue be addressed during the next phase of the oil-for-food program. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/27/112705234.html * U.N. COUNCIL PREDICTS SHOWDOWN ON IRAQ by EDITH M. LEDERER Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 27th November UNITED NATIONS- Angry Security Council members predicted a showdown next week over an Iraqi humanitarian aid program after a last-minute U.S. push to further restrict military-related imports to that country. Several council diplomats blamed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for shattering a broad agreement reached last Friday by Security Council experts to expand the oil-for-food humanitarian program in Iraq for the usual six months. The collapse of the agreement set the stage for another round of wrangling in the United Nations ahead of a new, Dec. 4 deadline. On Monday, the United States suddenly insisted on a maximum three-month extension of the program and review of the U.N. list of military-related goods that Iraq requires approval to import. Much of the council objected because it would run out in late February or early March, a time many military analysts say is optimal for an attack on Iraq. As a result, the oil-for-food program was extended for just nine days until Dec. 4 to allow more time to resolve the dispute. "Frankly speaking ... at least 14 members were upset, because this is complicating the work of the council," Syria's deputy U.N. ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said Tuesday. With U.N. weapons inspections resuming Wednesday after nearly four years, diplomats said it's critical to preserve the hard-won unity that led to the council's unanimous adoption on Nov. 8 of a new resolution on Iraq's disarmament. Resolution 1441 threatens "serious consequences" if Iraq doesn't comply, and the Bush administration has said it will take military action if the council doesn't. As Monday's tense council meeting was breaking up, council diplomats said Russian U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov protested that Washington had given Moscow assurances that there would be no problems with the six-month extension of the humanitarian program if the council approved the new resolution. "Ambassador Lavrov said that there were assurances for him before the adoption of 1441 that the American side would cooperate and be flexible on the oil-for-food program and its extension, and what's happening is the opposite," Syria's Mekdad said. Several diplomats quoted Lavrov as saying U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave the assurance to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov during intense negotiations on the resolution, which was adopted unanimously on Nov. 8. But Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: "There absolutely has been no quid pro quo." The Russian Mission's spokesman, Sergey Trepelkov, said Lavrov denied making the comment during Monday's council meeting. The spokesman declined to say whether the ambassador made it afterward. The oil-for-food program, funded by revenue from Iraqi oil sales, allows Baghdad to purchase food, medicine and other humanitarian goods while sanctions - imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait - remain in effect. The list of items with possible military applications was established in May as part of an overhaul of the oil-for-food program. It was designed to speed delivery of humanitarian aid and counter growing criticism that sanctions have hurt ordinary Iraqis. Before Iraq can order items on the list, they must be individually approved by the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the United States wants nerve gas antidotes, jamming equipment, and other communications items added to the list to ensure that it "is not exploited or utilized in any way by the government of Iraq to import items for military purpose under civilian guise." The U.S.-drafted list includes everything from high-speed computers to heavy-duty trucks. Council diplomats said reopening the list will be very divisive, with the United States seeking additions and France and Russia almost certainly demanding to take some items off. It took Washington more than a year to negotiate the current list with Moscow, and since it has only been operating for four months, diplomats said it isn't critical to update it so quickly. Western diplomats predicted the Americans are not going to get a three-month extension next week, but they may get some kind of a commitment on a review of the list. One said the State Department supported the six-month extension, but not the Pentagon. "Hopefully the Americans will come on board for 180 days," Syria's Mekdad said. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1680068 * U.S. FEARS IRAQ MAY TRY TO JAM GPS SIGNALS Houston Chronicle, 27th November UNITED NATIONS (Reuters): The United States is raising fears at the United Nations that Baghdad may be buying cheap electronic devices capable of knocking America's smart weapons off-track in the event of war on Iraq. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte says Washington wants the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq tightened so it can block Baghdad from using money from its oil sales to buy the devices, known as Global Positioning System (GPS) jammers. Under new procedures approved by the U.N. Security Council in May, council members can review exports to Iraq that are on a special "goods review list" of items that could have military applications. The United States Monday blocked a six-month renewal of the oil-for-food program in order to press its demand for a tightening of the goods review list. GPS is a global navigational system that relies on 24 satellites in orbit around the Earth. It is typically used to provide users with highly accurate information about their precise position. But it is also widely used by the U.S. military to guide smart bombs and other weapons. The problem is that the system operates at low power levels, leaving it vulnerable to jamming. "A GPS jammer is just a radio transmitter that transmits on the same frequencies that GPS signals are coming in on," said Tim Brown, a senior analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington-based defense think tank. "The only challenge is to find the frequencies and jam them all simultaneously," Brown said in a telephone interview. Devices capable of doing this might range in size from something that could fit in a knapsack to something that would have to be carried around by a large truck, he said. While some experts have said $40 jammers available on the Internet could deal a blow to a U.S. attack on Iraq, others say far more expensive equipment would be needed to have a meaningful effect. But all agreed the devices are readily available, although it was unclear whether Iraq has any or is trying to buy them. "They are of clear concern because they stop bombs from hitting their targets," said one British diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is speculation (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein has some of these jammers. There is evidence that he has been able to use them," said a U.S. congressional aide who follows the issue, speaking on condition he not be identified by name. "The world knows how dependent we are on GPS, so it's logical people would want to take that advantage away from us," the aide said. "We don't want him to buy it." The Pentagon is also clearly concerned, awarding two contracts in October for development of a new generation of GPS anti-jamming technology to U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Co. But Brown said he thought the U.S. military was already well-equipped to deal with the threat. Washington's GPS-guided weapons are relatively resistant to jamming, he said. Even if they were not, "coalition forces could detect the jammers' location by honing in on their signals and then take them out with a missile." "That is not to say the Iraqis won't try to jam GPS. But the overall effect would be marginal," he said. IRAQI/UK RELATIONS http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=5450752 * MINISTERS ACCUSED OVER IRAQ BACKBENCH REBELLION by James Lyons and Chris Moncrieff, PA News The Scotsman, 22nd November Ministers were tonight accused of using a "sleight of hand" in a bid to head off a backbench rebellion. Labour MPs are demanding a Parliamentary veto on military action in an amendment to a Government motion on Iraq. But Conservatives have drawn up their own amendment in collusion with the Government. And the rebels fear it that will mean that their amendment is not discussed when MPs debate the issue on Monday. A Conservative Central Office spokesman insisted agreeing amendments with the Government was a "standard convention" on such issues. But Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP who tabled the rebel amendment, accused ministers of a plot aimed at "scuppering" the rebellion. Mr Dalyell, who as the longest serving MP is known as Father of the House, called on Speaker Michael Martin to allow a rebel motion to be debated and voted on. "I hope that the Speaker will chose my or another dissenting amendment," he said. "The dissenters are those of us opposed to war and we have a right to put our case, to be heard and get a vote. "Any attempt by Parliamentary sleight of hand to request the opposition, which is basically in favour of Government policy, to put in an amendment with the objective of scuppering our amendment, is to be deplored." The Government motion simply expresses support for the new UN Resolution 1441, which threatens Iraq with "serious consequences" if it fails to give up its weapons of mass destruction. However, some Labour MPs fear they may not be given a further opportunity to debate whether or not the UK should commit troops if Saddam Hussein fails to comply. The rebel amendment supports the UN resolution, but adds that the Commons "declines to support military action by the US against Iraq without the explicit authority of the House of Commons, given in advance, for engagement by British forces." Some 53 Labour MPs voted against the Government in a technical vote following the last debate on Iraq, in September, and nine have put their names to Mr Dalyell's amendment. The Tory amendment simply adds that the Commons "endorses the terms of the resolution that this is the "final opportunity for Iraq to comply and that continued violation of its obligations will result in Iraq facing serious consequences". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2513115.stm * ANTI-WAR MPS REBEL OVER IRAQ BBC, 25th November Thirty two Labour MPs have defied the government and supported an unsuccessful move to give the Commons a veto over any British participation in a war against Iraq. They voted with Liberal Democrats calling for the UN to pass a second resolution before any military action against Saddam Hussein. The call was rejected by 452 votes to 85 and a government motion backing the UN resolution was passed without a further vote. The number of Labour rebels does not match the more than 50 MPs who rebelled the last time the issue was discussed. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon used the debate to announce the UK was looking at the issue of calling up reserve troops for a possible Iraq war. There were "no immediate plans" to call out reservists, said Mr Hoon, but in due course the government might need to sound out individual reservists and their employers. UK ministers last week confirmed the UK was among 60 nations to have received a request from America for troops for possible action. Mr Hoon said discussions continued about how many UK troops could be involved. But it would be wrong to give details because plans could change and because revealing numbers could help Saddam Hussein's contingency planning. Mr Hoon, who stressed no decisions had been taken, also fended off Tory accusations that the armed forces were "running on empty". Earlier, Mr Straw promised MPs a vote ahead of a possible war as long as it did not threaten the safety of British soldiers relying on the "element of surprise". Mr Straw argued it would be "utterly irresponsible" to hold any vote ahead of war which put lives at risk. But Lib Dem spokesman Michael Moore denying that was the effect of his party's calls. The foreign secretary said the UK hoped there would be a second UN resolution before any military action, although none was necessary. Saddam Hussein had "his final opportunity to take the pathway to peace", added Mr Straw. Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said his party backed the UN resolution and the determination to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. Mr Ancram pressed for clarity on what would constitute a breach of the resolution. "Whatever happens the integrity and sovereignty of the state of Iraq is maintained," said Mr Ancram, echoing the UN resolution. Despite Mr Straw's promise of a vote at the "appropriate time", Labour's Neil Gerrard raised fears MPs could be getting their last chance to have their say before action. Urging people to support the Lib Dem motion, Mr Gerrard said: "I have real fears about the political consequences of any war on Iraq. "It could have devastating consequences for the whole of the Middle East region." Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saddam Hussein faced the might of Nato allies if he failed to give up his alleged weapons of mass destruction. Reporting back to the House of Commons from last week's three day Nato summit in Prague, Mr Blair also warned that the threat of terrorism was "not a war we can avoid". Mr Blair underlined Nato's "remarkable statement of defiance" against the threat of international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair said there was no appeasing fanatics, whose enemy was "anyone who isn't them". "The threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue, unstable states is not part of some different danger," he said. "It too, like terrorism, represents savage indifference to human life." http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1037872270638&p=1012571727159 * POLL SHOWS BRITONS EQUALLY SPLIT ON IRAQ WAR Financial Times, 25th November Britons are equally split over military action against Iraq, according to a poll published on Monday, as the House of Commons prepares to debate the United Nations security council resolution on Saddam Hussein's regime. A ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper found 40 per cent opposed action against Iraq, one percentage point lower than a poll three weeks earlier. However, the number supporting military action rose seven points to 39 per cent, mainly at the expense of the "don't knows", which fell six points to 21 per cent. The poll, the ninth in a series tracking views since August, has put opposition to action ahead of support for war over the last three months, except immediately after the Bali bombing. Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary (pictured), will on Monday announce plans to call up reservists in preparation for possible military action in Iraq. But he is unlikely to spell out how many staff employers might have to release at a later stage. This comes as Labour anti-war rebels threaten to vote against the government in the Commons. The backbenchers, believed to number 20-30, have accused the government of trying to block attempts to give parliament a veto if it comes to sending troops into battle. http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,847780,00.html * REBELS LAY DOWN BARRAGE OF CRITICISM by Lucy Ward and Nicholas Watt The Guardian, 26th November Tony Blair last night faced a barrage of criticism from Labour MPs opposed to war with Iraq at the start of a commons debate in which 32 backbenchers defied a three line whip to vote against the government. Ministers were urged not to bow to US pressure to launch a military attack without explicit United Nations authority in the debate which lasted more than five hours. After the debate 32 Labour backbenchers supported a Liberal Democrat amendment which would have blocked military action without the authorisation of the United Nations. Although a larger number of Labour MPs - 53 - rebelled against the government in September, last night's vote was seen as a greater challenge because it followed the unanimous passage of the recent UN security council resolution. The rebels included the former defence minister, Peter Kilfoyle, who did not vote against the government in September. He said after the vote: "This is the only time we can log a protest against what I fear is a fait accompli." A vote was not taken on the government motion after no MPs shouted "No" when it was called. The rebels decided not to take action on the motion because it asked them to support the UN. But the rebels said that they were uneasy about the government motion because it had left unclear whether they were ultimately prepared to back a US-led strike even without a UN mandate. Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard, who was one of the rebels, said that moves towards a peaceful settlement should require the authority of both the UN and the British parliament. The government's motion called for support for the UN yet left the way open to override it if a future resolution calling for military action was vetoed in the security council, he told MPs. "We can't have it both ways," he said. "You can't say you must support the UN and at the same time say we reserve the right to do whatever we want if we don't like what the UN is deciding. "Even if action was taken legally, that did not make it sensible. I have real fears about the political consequences of any war with Iraq. It could have devastating consequences for the whole Middle East region." Labour dissidents echoed calls from opposition parties for greater government clarity over possible action against Iraq. Critics demanded to know whether the government was prepared to act without an explicit UN security council mandate, and whether the Commons would be given a chance to debate a substantive motion on military action before any strike. The Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, Michael Moore, said that his party opposed and would continue to oppose any unilateral action against Baghdad. He said: "There must be no question that the senior inspectors will be the ones who determine that a breach has occurred, not the intelligence agencies of the US or other countries. "When they report it must be the whole council that determines whether the breach is a material one and what action is to be taken." He rejected accusations that his party's call for a debate before an assault would offer President Saddam Hussein "breathing space". In opening the debate, the foreign secretary Jack Straw called on the Lib Dems to withdraw their "ill-thought-through, ill-considered" amendment, arguing that in some circumstances a debate before an attack would be impossible in order to avoid compromising the security of British troops. Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown had backed military intervention in Kosovo despite the vetoing of moves to secure a UN security council resolution sanctioning the move, he said. The criticism was balanced by support for the government from both sides of the house. Gerald Kaufman, the former Labour shadow foreign secretary, hailed the successful negotiations at the UN , which had allayed his fears about the possibility of unilateral American action. But the veteran MP lambasted the "hawkish" members of the Bush administration - vice president Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and foreign policy adviser Condoleeza Rice - as "the three witches". He added: "Certainly toil and trouble is what they are looking for." George Osborne, the Tory MP for Tatton, voiced strong support for the government. "I am proud that a British government, albeit one that I do not support, has put its head above the parapet and supported the US," he said. The shadow foreign secretary, Michael Ancram, promised that his party would back the government's motion, but urged Mr Straw to "clear up confusion" over what would trigger military action against Iraq. It would be "unthinkable" for Iraq to escape the consequences of breaching the resolution on weapons inspectors if a subsequent security council resolution permitting a military strike were vetoed by one of the permanent members, he said. "We need to be totally honest and clear on what we are voting on. This is no time for fudged positions. This is a time for clarity." He reiterated Mr Straw's comments that this was the "final opportunity for [Saddam] to comply" with the will of the United Nations, but said parliament ought to be sending a stronger message about consequences of such failure. Mr Straw sought to reassure backbench critics that the government would seek a second security council resolution to authorise any military action, though he said the first UN resolution did not stipulate such a requirement. "The preference of the British government in the event of a material breach, is that there should be a second security council resolution authorising military action," he told MPs. The rebels The 32 Labour MPs backing the Liberal Democrat amendment were: Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington), Harold Best (Leeds North West), Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central), Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow), David Drew (Stroud), Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Paul Flynn (Newport West), Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow), Ian Gibson (Norwich North), Patrick Hall (Bedford), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate), Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak), Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton), David Lepper (Brighton Pavilion), Terry Lewis (Worsley), Christine McCafferty (Calder Valley), John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington), Alice Mahon (Halifax), Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway), Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton North East), Mohammad Sarwar (Glasgow Govan), Brian Sedgemore (Hackney South and Shoreditch), Alan Simpson (Nottingham South), Marsha Singh (Bradford West), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent), Desmond Turner (Brighton Kemptown), Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby), Mike Wood (Batley and Spen) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2514289.stm * LOOPHOLE 'FORCES KURDS INTO DESTITUTION' BBC, 26th November Kurdish refugees who fled persecution by Saddam Hussein are being forced into destitution in Britain, a campaign group has claimed. The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) said Kurds were victims of a legal loophole which meant they could not go home to northern Iraq nor claim UK benefits either. The government has rejected many Kurds' asylum applications, declaring that their homeland is safe. But to return home they must fly to Baghdad where the Home Office accepts they could be liable to torture or execution. The NCADC said the situation affected more than 100 Kurds living in the North West region alone. Many, such as 32-year-old Abdul Lukman, living in Greater Manchester, fear for their lives if they return to Iraq. His friend Faisal Jermal said: "He came here because he had trouble in the old country and has political associations. "He didn't ask the government for property or for support such as money when he came. "But if the government return him back to the old country he will be killed by the Iraqi system." Tony Openshaw, a solicitor with the NCADC, said Mr Lukman's situation exposed a legal loophole. Mr Openshaw said: "Because their status becomes that of a failed asylum seeker automatically the accommodation they've been provided with will stop, with just seven days notice." He added: "They haven't got the ability to work, they're not entitled to the benefit system, or to the housing system. "Within seven days they are made homeless and they're made destitute." Kurds fled northern Iraq in the early 1990s after Saddam Hussein launched a series of attacks against them, including chemical weapons. The Kurds have been among the fiercest opponents of his Baath party regime. The Home Office has accepted that they cannot go back via Baghdad and is not deporting any of the refugees, saying the situation is under review. But Asylum and Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes believes refugees should make their own way back. She told BBC GMR: "Some people are returning voluntarily and finding their own route back in the same way they found their route here. "There's been a significant increase in the number of people returning voluntarily. "We do feel very strongly that we can't go further in this situation because the level of support we can give to people does provide something of a pull factor, of an attraction, for other people to come in illegally. "That's something that we have to guard against." http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=1323122002 * Experts doubt Brown's £1bn war chest is enough for attack on Iraq by Jason Beattie The Scotsman, 28th November DEFENCE experts yesterday questioned whether the £1 billion set aside by the Chancellor to cover the cost of possible military action against Iraq would be sufficient. Although Mr Brown made the offer sound generous, the evidence of previous military operations such Desert Storm and the NATO bombing of Serbia three years ago, suggests £1 billion would amount to a fraction of the total bill. In his pre-Budget Report Mr Brown did not mention Iraq by name, but there was little doubt about why the money was being set aside. "We can ... amidst global uncertainty do more to meet our international obligations. "So it is right in the new figures presented today... to set aside to meet our international defence responsibilities a provision of £1 billion to be drawn on if necessary," said the Chancellor. Mr Brown's comments were designed in part to reassure a jittery City that the rest of his ecomonic statement would not be blown off course if he had to raid contigency funds to fight a drawn-out conflict. Having just spent millions on war in Afghanistan, the Treasury would be cautious about the impact should Britain be involved in another military operation. The cost of the 11-week bombing campaign against Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 is estimated to have cost the UK Treasury at least £40 million a day, while Desert Storm, the code name for the 1991 Gulf War, cost the allied forces an estimated £300m a day. American economists have already priced a second war against Saddam Hussein as costing anything between $100 billion (£62.5 bn) and $200 billion (£120 bn). Defence experts said that additional calls on the money in the case of a war would include the hire of ships and planes to transport troops and refits for Challenger tanks which were knocked out by sand and dust on their last desert exercise in Oman. Dr Paul Moorcraft, the editor of Defence Review, said: "There is also concern about Saddam using chemical and biological weapons in theatre, and the massive cost contingency they may be thinking of is decontamination, which is enormously expensive and time-consuming. "Britain may also need a contingency for longer-term 'nation-building' if Iraq is occupied for some months after a short war, though I would presume the Americans would be paying for most of that." [.....] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2522199.stm * FRIGATE INTERCEPTS IRAQI CONTRABAND BBC, 28th November HMS Argyll arrives back in Plymouth from the Gulf A South West-based frigate discovered more than 10,000 tonnes of smuggled oil during deployment in the Gulf. HMS Argyll returned to Devonport on Thursday after spending six months as part of an international task force. She sailed alongside ships from America, Australia, Canada and Japan enforcing United Nations trade sanctions on Iraq. Her crew boarded 113 vessels and discovered tonnes of oil and other goods heading for Saddam Hussein's regime. HMS Argyll captain John Kingwell Before leaving Devonport, the ship was fitted with a new command and control system that allowed it to track ships more accurately and board them. The ship's commanding officer, Captain John Kingwell, said it had been a hugely successful trip. "We intercepted a huge amount of illegal goods trying to come into Iraq as part of the UN regulations in the area," he said. "We also challenged, boarded and searched every commercial vessel that left Iraq and discovered a huge amount of illegal contraband. "I am very proud of the 186 men and women in my crew." During her time away, the ship visited eight countries, including Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The ship will not return to duty again until the end of January. _______________________________________________ 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