The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 20-27/12/02 (1) WEAPONS INSPECTIONS * Quizzing scientists will be tricky * 6,000 gas bombs could be missing * U.S. to Give U.N. Inspectors Better Iraqi Site Intelligence * U.S. Is Preparing to Share Intelligence With U.N. Team * U.N.: Give Iraqis who talk asylum * Iraq hits back with CIA offer * Iraq 'ready' for questions on dossier * UN arms experts search Iraqi space site for banned weapons * U.S. to give Iraq inspectors photos of 'sanitation activities' * Christmas Cause: American Weapons Inspector Doing Job in Iraq, Away From Family * Iraqi nuclear scientists quizzed * US can't withdraw inspectors from Iraq: UN * U.S. courted top Iraqi scientist * Iraq to Let Scientists Leave for Interviews IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * British Bishops To Deliver Anti-war Christmas Sermons * Church leaders attack war plans * British people reject action against Iraq * Blair's priest denounces PM over war on Iraq WEAPONS INSPECTIONS http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1039523894607&p=1012571727172 * QUIZZING SCIENTISTS WILL BE TRICKY by Roula Khalaf Financial Times, 20th December This week's preliminary assessments of Iraq's weapons declaration shift the spotlight to ways of exposing suspected Iraqi lies. Judging from public US statements, the US expects the case for war to be bolstered by a crisis over the extraction of Iraqi scientists from Iraq, a move that Baghdad might resist. This is a new right granted to inspectors by UN resolution 1441 and a power that the US wants the inspectors to use. "This is one of those neat ideas but how do you actually make it work? It seems extraordinarily difficult," says Garth Whitty, a former senior UN inspector. "How do you extract scientists in a country that has coerced its population for so long?" Determining the most useful expert testimony will be tricky. Iraq, heeding a request from Unmovic, the UN inspection agency, is now compiling a list of scientists. Unmovic has some idea of the key experts it might want to interview. Diplomats say the inspectors' job would be facilitated if the US shared with inspectors the names of people it believes are the most valuable sources of information. "There are thousands of scientists and the best way to waste your energy is to start interviewing people left and right," notes a western diplomat. "And the US has not even said that it is willing to provide asylum for these people, so how can they even begin to be pulled out if they don't know where they're going?" The mechanism by which people are taken out is still being discussed by Unmovic and US officials. "The issue is still being looked at. . . there are some practical things to be worked out," says Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for Unmovic. "How many people, how do you take them and do you send them back if they don't give you useful information?" The inspectors are likely to be approached by Iraqis seeking to use them as a defection agency. Information promised might prove less valuable once the Iraqis' objective - to leave the country - is achieved. Information gathered from defectors in the past has often been of questionable value. On the other hand, some of the most important scientists inspectors will want to spirit away might resist the offer. The heads of the nuclear, chemical, biological and missiles programmes, for example, are closely tied to the regime and likely to remain loyal to it. "The question is whether one will be able to credibly determine that the Iraqi government refuses to accept that scientists go or that the scientists themselves don't want to go," says John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "There is a formal obligation on Iraq to let people go but the question is whether that obligation applies to individuals." Some scientists may simply not wish to leave the country. Others will be afraid to leave relatives behind and risk exposing them to Iraqi retaliation. Although the UN resolution says the Iraqi experts may take their families along, it is unclear whether this extends beyond spouses and children. "It's not clear what family means. Do the inspectors bring out 50 people or an entire village and what if a brother doesn't want to come along?" says a western diplomat who closely follows the inspection process. "Hans Blix [the UN chief inspector] has said that he will mot take anyone without their consent." Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for Iraq's nuclear file, says three issues must be addressed before attempts are made to extract researchers and technicians. "First, we need to have good information that there's someone who has information and can't give it to us inside the country," he says. "Second, we have to know that the person is willing to leave, and third, that there's a country willing to provide him with protection and asylum." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-520319,00.html * 6,000 GAS BOMBS COULD BE MISSING by James Bone in New York The Times, 21st December THE United Nations is in possession of a document, once snatched from the hands of a weapons inspector, that suggests Iraq might be hiding 6,000 poison gas bombs, The Times has learnt. Iraq turned over the six-page document to UN weapons inspectors on November 30, but failed to account for the damaging information it contains in its 12,000-page arms declaration it submitted on December 7. The so-called "Air Force document" is, therefore, emerging as a key piece of evidence in the detailed assessment of Iraq's declaration that Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, is due to give to the UN Security Council on January 9. "In their 'currently accurate declaration' they do not address unresolved issues from the past," one source said. "If they gave an explanation for that document, they would have to give an explanation for the biological questions and the chemical questions and they do not want to do that at this point." The so-called "Air Force document" was seized by an Iraqi official from a UN inspector who found it at the Iraqi Air Force headquarters on July 18, 1998. The team, led by a female biological weapons expert attached to the UN from the German Ministry of Defence, found the file in a safe in an operations room at the heart of the building. After consulting a superior, an Iraqi minder refused to allow the German inspector to copy the Arabic document, but not before she was able to jot down notes on what it disclosed. The document lists the number of four types of "special" aerial bombs dropped by the Iraqi Air Force during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The UN inspectors told the Security Council at the time that the inspector's jotted notes "revealed serious discrepancies between Iraq's declarations on the consumption of chemical bombs and the data copied from the document on the expenditure of these weapons". Of some 150,000 munitions that it had admitted filling with chemical weapons, Iraq claims that about 100,000 were "consumed" in the Iran-Iraq war. But a UN official told The Times yesterday that the Air Force document shows that 6,000 fewer 250kg and 500kg chemical bombs were used in the Iran-Iraq war than Baghdad claimed. "It purports to show that Iraq dropped about 6,000 bombs less on the poor Iranians and, therefore, raises the question of what happened to these shells and do they still exist?" one UN official said. For the past four years, the document had been kept in a safe at Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate under UN seal until the two sides were able to agree to terms for inspectors to view it. But Iraq voluntarily surrendered it on November 30 in the knowledge that UN inspectors would demand to see it under their tough new mandate. Dr Blix has so far refused to use the document. But UN sources say that he is likely to cite it next month when he points out the omissions in the Iraqi declaration. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,73660,00.html * U.S. TO GIVE U.N. INSPECTORS BETTER IRAQI SITE INTELLIGENCE Fox News, 21st December WASHINGTON ‹ The United States is increasing the quality of intelligence given to U.N. weapons experts in Iraq as the United Nations bolsters its inspection team to act more quickly on the information, American officials said Saturday. The arrival of 15 additional inspectors last week brought their total to 113. President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, wants 250 to 300 on the ground in Iraq, though the United States has not specified a time frame, a senior administration official said. In the next two weeks, as the inspectors grow in number, the United States will provide more detailed intelligence reports, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two administration officials said the United States has been continuously providing the United Nations with intelligence on Iraqi weapons sites. The United Nations has pressed for more. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix urged the United States and Britain to hand over any additional evidence they have about Iraq's secret weapons programs. He said the inspectors need intelligence because Iraq's declaration on the state of its weapons programs leaves so many unanswered questions that it is impossible to say confidently that its claim to have no weapons of mass destruction is accurate. The United States and Britain have given briefings to inspectors on what they think the Iraqis have, but what inspectors really want to know is where weapons-related material is stored, Blix told the BBC. One U.S. official said the administration was reluctant to provide information as detailed as the United Nations seeks for fear that inspectors would not be able to act immediately on it. U.S. intelligence officials are also concerned that information could leak, jeopardizing information-gathering sources and other methods. The Pentagon fears that handing over such intelligence could tip off Iraq on likely bombing targets. Blix said he planned to give the United States and Britain assurances that intelligence material would be protected. He said his inspectors, who are searching for chemical, biological and long-range missile programs, have between 500 and 1,000 sites to visit. The administration's current strategy is to increase pressure on inspectors to seek interviews with Iraqi weapons scientists outside of Iraq to gain new intelligence and provide evidence that could be used against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20021-2002Dec20.html * U.S. IS PREPARING TO SHARE INTELLIGENCE WITH U.N. TEAM by Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung Washington Post, 21st December [.....] Former U.N. inspector David Kay said on Wednesday at an American Foreign Policy Council meeting: "Do you give your targeting cells to inspectors or husband the intelligence data . . . to protect lives of American military men?" Now with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Kay said that rather than giving out data on where the United States thinks Iraq's missiles are located, the inspectors should be pushed into questioning "the cadre of [Iraqi] military officers who are experienced in scooting and shooting these missiles." Security for intelligence provided by the United States to U.N. weapons inspectors has been an ongoing problem for Washington since Blix decided that he would not have a senior American deputy. During the 1990s inspections, the American who served as the deputy chief of the U.N. inspectors also served as the entry point for U.S. intelligence. Blix has tried to assure U.S. and British officials that he has established a tight security system under his chief of intelligence James Corcoran, former deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency, who has clearances for receiving U.S. intelligence and the confidence of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. In a statement earlier this year, Blix said that all intelligence passed to UNMOVIC goes to "only two people," himself and his intelligence chief, and "is tightly controlled and withheld from other organizations or governments." To avoid charges that the inspectors are spies for the United States or other countries, Blix has also said that the findings based on intelligence supplied to him would be provided to all Security Council members, and not solely to the nation providing the data. U.S. officials want to have some feedback on the data they supply as a means of checking the credibility of sources. Blix has said he took that step "to protect the information and integrity of the inspection team." Corcoran has been meeting with the State Department's John Wolf to work out the system for handling the intelligence. The sharing will begin shortly, one senior administration official said yesterday, involving a small number of target sites to see how the system works. Although Corcoran will know all the site data, he will give the locations only to UNMOVIC's chief inspector in Baghdad. The inspectors themselves will not be told where they will be going until they get their orders, one U.N. official said yesterday. To supplement his own collection assets, Blix has begun discussions with the Pentagon about delivering satellite information on Iraq directly to UNMOVIC. During the 1990s inspections, some U-2 photo reconnaissance planes were assigned to the U.N. team. Blix also will soon have his own U.N. fixed-wing aircraft and eight helicopters that can carry out photo missions as well as provide transportation services for the inspectors. In addition, he is exploring the purchase or rental of unmanned drones from Germany for similar purposes. http://www.detnews.com/2002/nation/0212/23/a04-43088.htm * U.N.: GIVE IRAQIS WHO TALK ASYLUM by Colum Lynch Detroit News, from Washington Post, 23rd December UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N.'s chief weapons inspectors are pressing the United States to guarantee that any Iraqi scientist or government official they interview outside of Iraq will be granted political asylum for themselves as well as their entire families if they want it, according to U.S. and U.N. officials. The Bush administration, which has been urging the inspectors to conduct such interviews, has so far declined to offer blanket assurances of asylum to all Iraqis questioned by the inspectors, the officials said. Senior U.S. officials have been engaged in intensive discussions with U.N. inspectors this month to try to reach a compromise that would ensure a select number of key Iraqi scientists and their families would receive safe haven if they cooperate. John S. Wolf, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, and John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, have met several times with Hans Blix, Mohammed ElBaradei and other U.N. officials over the past two weeks to work out procedures for the interviews. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that the U.N. inspectors "should give high priority to conducting interviews with scientists and other witnesses outside of Iraq, where they can speak freely." Blix, who has resisted U.S. pressure to spirit Iraqi officials out of the country, saying he did not want to run a "defection" agency, told the Security Council that such interviews with willing Iraqi specialists are "an option." ElBaradei went further, confirming that "we will do it" if there are arrangements in place to guarantee the protection of the Iraqis and their families. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,864780,00.html * IRAQ HITS BACK WITH CIA OFFER by Ewen MacAskill, Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, 23rd December Baghdad fought back in the highly charged propaganda battle with the US and Britain yesterday by inviting its arch-enemy, the CIA, to enter Iraq and track down the country's elusive weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi offer of unhindered access to US intelligence agents came after intensive pressure from Washington that made war early in the new year appear almost inevitable. After four days of diplomatic pounding, Iraq hit back yesterday, accusing the Bush administration of rehashing old lies. "We have told the world we are not producing these kind of weapons, but it seems that the world is drugged, absent or in a weak position," President Saddam Hussein said. At a press conference in Baghdad yesterday, General Amir al-Sadi, scientific adviser to the president, issued a challenge to the US and British intelligence to offer up hard evidence that Iraq has any biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. "We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the inspectors to show them the suspected sites," Gen Sadi said. This marks a major turnaround. Until yesterday, Iraq had objected to the possibility of US or other Western spies infiltrating the UN weapons teams. Baghdad said, rightly, that the inspections team that left Iraq in 1998 had been infiltrated by intelligence agents and, in the intervening four years, repeatedly cited this as a reason why it objected to the return of the UN inspectors. A CIA spokesman said yesterday that he did not want to comment on Baghdad's offer. Both the US and Britain claim, against Iraqi denials, that they have evidence that Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction. The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said at the end of last week that if the US and Britain had such evidence, they should hand it over. US officials said at the weekend that they have been handing over intelligence and will provide more specific information to the inspectors over the next fortnight. The Foreign Office made a similar promise yesterday: "The weapons inspectors will get all the help they need to carry out their job in Iraq." But it emerged that British intelligence is reluctant to hand over everything it claims to have, insisting there is a danger that sources could be compromised. British government officials have already privately admitted that they do not have any "killer evidence" about weapons of mass destruction. If they had, they would have already passed it to the inspectors. Babil, the Iraqi government newspaper run by president Saddam's son, Uday, said in a front-page editorial yesterday: "Everybody knows that if they had concrete information, they would have put it on television all around the world before giving it to the inspection teams." Gen Sadi accused the US and Britain of rushing to judge Iraq's weapons programmes. He claimed that objections raised by the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, to Iraq's declaration on weapons of mass destruction, were a rehash of old information that had already been dealt with. But US officials said yesterday the accusation made by Washington last week that Iraq was in material breach of a UN resolution on disarmament had come from specific information it has obtained and not from the declaration. This new information, they said, was based on satellite pictures that showed construction at sites that had previously been bombed by US-led forces. They also claimed to have fresh information based on records of suspicious dual-use material - that which has both a civilian and military function - procured by Iraq as part of a UN deal to relieve the suffering of Iraqis from sanctions. British military chiefs are drawing up detailed plans in which thousands of Royal Marines would take part in a huge amphibious assault to seize the Iraqi port of Basra to control key strategic areas in south of the country. The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that HMS Ocean, Britain's biggest helicopter and marine commando carrier, will be available to join a flotilla heading towards the Gulf next month after a major refit. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/23_12_02/art15.asp * IRAQ 'READY' FOR QUESTIONS ON DOSSIER Daily Star, Lebanon, 23rd December BAGHDAD: Iraq said Sunday it was ready to answer any questions raised by the United States and Britain on its arms declaration, and would not object to CIA personnel identifying suspect sites alongside inspectors. "We are ready to deal with each of those questions if you ask us," said President Saddam Hussein's chief scientific adviser, Amir al-Saadi. "We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the inspectors to show them the suspected sites," he told a news conference in Baghdad. He said chief weapons inspector Hans Blix had sent Iraq a "formal request to provide a list of certain scientists and we are going to provide that list before the end of this year." Saadi addressed specific questions raised by Washington and London, and said American and British officials were rushing to judgment in saying that Baghdad's declaration fell short of meeting the UN resolution to disarm Iraq. Saadi said US questions over whether Iraq had disclosed its efforts to obtain uranium from South Africa or Niger had already been discussed in talks with Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed al-Baradei. Saadi said he told the two inspectors last month Iraq had tried to obtain uranium oxide, not uranium, from Niger in the mid-1980s but had never tried to obtain any such material from South Africa. "There were no new procurements or attempts to procure," he said. "That was a question formally asked across the table and formally answered by us." On Washington's question of whether Iraq had tried to produce the deadly nerve agent VX, Saadi said US concerns were based on information from an earlier UN inspection team in the early 1990's, which Iraq said manipulated evidence. Saadi said Iraq made an unsuccessful attempt in April 1990 to produce a quantity of VX but the material degraded rapidly and attempts to produce it were abandoned. "No production was achieved, no VX was produced," he said. The adviser said samples purported to be VX taken from Iraqi sites by members of UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission), headed by Richard Butler, were sent to the United States for analysis. "They were sealed Š but we found later they had been opened," Saadi said. [.....] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-12/23/content_667000.htm * UN ARMS EXPERTS SEARCH IRAQI SPACE SITE FOR BANNED WEAPONS BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- UN arms inspectors on Sunday visited a space research and development center in their searches for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, their spokesman Hiro Ueki said in a statement. A team of missile experts from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) paid their unannounced visit to the Al Battanee Center in Baghdad, which "provides the telemetry systems for the Al Samoud missile system." This center is a scientific group engaged in "space technology, space optics, atmospheric studies and remote sensing," Ueki said. Another missile team inspected the Taji Technical Battalion, some 40 km north of Baghdad. The site, belonging to the Iraqi military, is "a missile storage area and a former Scud dump site." A UNMOVIC chemical team went to the Al Nahrawan site, which is part of the Al Basil Company. This facility consists of several pilot plants involved in the production of some chemicals and "was previously declared to be using dual-use equipment and chemicals." Some UN biological experts inspected the Al Kindi Company for the Production of Veterinary Vaccines in Abu Ghraib, 43 km northwest of Baghdad, Ueki said. The facility is a multi-sector company, partially owned by the Ministry of Agriculture and partially privately owned, and "produces a variety of viral and bacterial veterinary vaccines, using basic glassware and techniques." Also on Sunday, nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited an electronics factory, a computer center and a teaching institute of welding technology, all of whichwere suspected of developing prohibited nuclear weapons. Currently there are 115 inspectors in Iraq, 94 of whom are from the UNMOVIC and 19 from the IAEA. By Jan. 27, the inspectors must give their first report to the UN Security Council about Iraq's weapons programs. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/usatoday/20021223/ts_usatoday /4722637 * U.S. TO GIVE IRAQ INSPECTORS PHOTOS OF 'SANITATION ACTIVITIES' by John Diamond Yahoo, from USA TODAY, 23rd December WASHINGTON ---- U.S. intelligence has photographic evidence of Iraq hastily clearing and cleaning suspected weapons sites, raising suspicion the activity is intended to avoid detection of prohibited arms by United Nations inspectors. The satellite imagery is part of what the United States will present to U.N. inspectors this week in an effort to help them track down banned weapons. U.S. officials acknowledge the intelligence is circumstantial but not irrefutable proof that Iraq continues to develop weapons in defiance of U.N. resolutions. ''We have good evidence of sanitation activities at various sites: carting away scrap, cleaning up and so forth,'' said a U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sharing of satellite imagery with the United Nations marks the latest round of jousting between the administration and the inspection team. The administration wants a faster, more aggressive pace to the inspections. U.N. officials counter that they need help from U.S. and other intelligence agencies to determine where to go to look for prohibited weapons. The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and other branches of U.S. intelligence are pooling information that could be shared with the weapons inspectors. While there is no proof the cleanup activity was sinister, the officials said some of the sites were later visited by U.N. inspectors, or are on the list of sites likely to be visited. This is the type of circumstantial evidence that U.S. officials expect to compile over time as they build a case that Iraq has been developing banned chemical and biological weapons. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said he wants detailed information. U.S. and British intelligence officials briefed inspectors on what they suspect the Iraqis are hiding. But Blix told the BBC that the inspectors need information on specific locations. He told CNN the Bush administration should ''put the evidence on the table.'' The Pentagon and CIA say they can't put all their information on the table for fear of compromising intelligence-gathering methods or tipping off the Iraqis to locations that might be the focus of a U.S. military campaign. U.S. intelligence is most concerned about protecting human sources in Iraq who are providing information on Iraqi weapons programs. But the imagery alone may be of limited value. A second intelligence official said the spy satellite photos don't show whether the substances being cleared are related to prohibited Iraqi weapons programs. The scarcity of proof of suspected Iraqi weapons programs is generating some political pressure on the Bush administration. ''I would like to at least have the president, who I think is an honest person, look us in the eye and say, 'We have evidence, here it is.' We've never heard the president of the United States say that,'' Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, said on ABC's This Week. ''There is nothing but innuendo, and I want to see some hard facts,'' Dean said. A front-page editorial in Babil, a newspaper run by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's son Odai, voiced similar skepticism. ''Everybody knows that if they had concrete information, they would have put it on television all around the world before giving it to the inspection teams,'' the editorial said. [.....] http://abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/GoodMorningAmerica/GMA021224Weapons_inspe ctor.html * CHRISTMAS CAUSE: AMERICAN WEAPONS INSPECTOR DOING JOB IN IRAQ, AWAY FROM FAMILY by Dan Harris ABC News, 24th December B A G H D A D, Iraq, Dec. 24 ‹ On the job, U.N. weapons inspector Kay Mareish comes off as brisk, focused and tough. While conducting inspections, she is often the only woman ‹ and she is unquestionably in charge. Her demeanor changes completely, however, when you ask about her 7-year-old daughter. "Sarah is a beautiful princess," Mareish gushes, "with the greatest eyes that God created and the greatest smile that I ever saw in my life." Mareish hasn't seen her daughter or her husband since Dec. 5, when she left her home in Leesburg, Va., to come to Iraq. She admits to missing her family so much that, some days, she cries. But as the United Nation's chief biological inspector ‹ whose job it is to find secret Iraq bioweapons programs ‹ Mareish doesn't get that much time for reflection. At work by 7 a.m., Mareish leads inspections at factories, hospitals and laboratories across the country. After a quick dinner at the U.N. compound in Baghdad, Mareish and the 23 members of her team get back to work ‹ writing reports and planning for the next day's inspections. She usually doesn't head back to her hotel until 10 p.m. Thus far, she says she's developed a good working relationship with the Iraqis, who have not obstructed her work. "I get to see every room that I want," she said. "Every closet, every refrigerator, every freezer. I talk to every person I could meet in that building, from the directors to the head of departments to the technicians running equipment in the laboratory." Mereish was raised overseas, and moved to the United States for college. She became an American citizen, and went to work as a scientist for the U.S. Army and the State Department. As someone with experience in Iraq ‹ she was one of the original weapons inspectors in the 1990s ‹ she casts some doubt on the plan, popular in Washington, to take Iraqi scientists out of the country for questioning. While many U.S. officials say removing scientists and their families is the best way to expose Iraq's weapons secrets, Mareish isn't so sure the scientists themselves will go along. "It is a very difficult thing for me to comprehend that somebody would be willing to do it," she said. "It's very risky." Those out-of-country interviews may not start for a few weeks. In the meantime, Mareish will work straight through Christmas. Though there's a little plastic Christmas tree in her hotel lobby, she is not feeling very festive. "It's completely not Christmas. I don't feel it. I don't have that spirit anymore." Mareish said. She says that's because she's not with Sarah. When she speaks to her on the phone, her daughter often asks her to come home. But Sarah seems to understand that her mother is doing something important. "My husband says she keeps telling her friends, 'Mommy's going to stop the war,'" Mareish said. Mareish dismisses the doubters who say the inspectors have no hope of achieving anything. She says if she didn't think this job was worthwhile, there's no way she'd be so far away from her daughter on Christmas. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/12/24/sproject.irq.inspect/index.html * IRAQI NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS QUIZZED CNN, 24th December BAGHDAD, Iraq: U.N. weapons inspectors have stepped up their search in Iraq and have begun interviewing Iraqi nuclear scientists, the International Atomic Energy Agency says. "We are moving from an information-gathering phase to a more probing, investigative phase," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said on Tuesday. Gwozdecky, speaking in Vienna, Austria, said the scientists would be interviewed in Iraq. He did not reveal "when or how many or with whom" the interviews would take place. He indicated the interviews and questions would be more targeted, based on information the inspectors had already gathered, enabling "one-on-one interviews in a more strategic way." Scientists would be interviewed outside Iraq as well but "the Agency has not moved to exercise its authority under Security Council mandate to conduct (those) interviews," Gwozdecky said. There are other considerations for interviews conducted outside of Iraq as well such as individual consent and protection for the Iraqi scientists including possible asylum in other countries. On Tuesday, the inspectors visited Baghdad University of Technology where they questioned Dr. Sabah Abdul Noor, a scientist who worked in Iraq's nuclear program. Noor said the inspectors asked that they be allowed to interview him alone, but he said he refused and asked that members of his team be present. The inspectors, he said, wanted to know "all the progress that has been made after 1998 until now. I explained to them all that I know." Noor described the atmosphere as "very friendly, actually." He said he was not asked to leave the country. Noor said: "I was a member of the nuclear program." He told reporters he headed a "powder technology center" which did research and development of materials. He said the inspectors wanted to know about the university's programs and "equipment that can be used or misused." University officials said inspectors had been to at least three universities. "They know exactly what we have been doing in the past," said Noor. "They have the details." He said the main interest of the inspectors was "any progress since 1998." Meanwhile, inspectors visited eight other sites Tuesday, with plans to maintain a heavy schedule on Christmas Day. A baby milk factory was among the sites inspectors visited Monday. In 1991, the factory was bombed by the United States amid U.S. claims it was a dual use facility which also produced chemical weapons. Officials on both sides of the Iraqi inspection process said Monday they want to see evidence of weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. says it has. (Story) On Sunday, Iraq's top government scientist said his country would welcome "someone from American intelligence" to show U.N. weapons inspectors where President Bush believes Iraq is hiding its weapons programs. http://independent-bangladesh.com/news/dec/26/26122002ap.htm * US CAN'T WITHDRAW INSPECTORS FROM IRAQ: UN Bangladeshi Independent, 26th December AFP, Cairo, Dec 24: A UN official said here Tuesday that Washington would not have the right to withdraw UN weapons inspectors if it goes it alone and attacks Iraq without the approval of the world body. "The United States does not have the right to withdraw the teams without a Security Council resolution because the inspectors went into Iraq in accordance with a Security Council resolution," Jayantha Dhanapala, the UN undersecretary for disarmament affairs, told reporters. "The work of the inspection teams is going well and the teams have not encountered any problems" which would require them to be withdrawn by the United Nations, he said after meeting here with Arab League chief Amr Mussa. The UN disarmament teams sent in under UN Resolution 1441 are working straight through the Christmas period, visiting suspected sites in the hunt for Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. At least nine teams were in the field Tuesday, the 25th day of inspections since the United Nations experts resumed work in Iraq after a four-year break. http://www.msnbc.com/news/852095.asp?0si=- * U.S. COURTED TOP IRAQI SCIENTIST by Colum Lynch (MS)NBC, from The Washington Post, 26th December UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 26 ‹ When a senior Iraqi delegation arrived in New York on May 1 to finish plans for the resumption of U.N. inspections in Iraq, a key member of the team was missing. Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, widely regarded as the father of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program, had been held up by American officials at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan, and questioned for several hours before he was given a visa. The British-trained physicist had been "singled out for interrogation" by U.S. officials in Jordan and would not be arriving until the following day, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in the opening meeting with a U.N. delegation. Iraqi diplomats subsequently told U.N. officials that U.S. officials also offered money to Jaffar and other Iraqi officials in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to defect, according to Iraqi and Western diplomats. The disclosure suggests that Washington may have already begun an aggressive campaign to identify key Iraqi officials for defection several months before U.N. inspectors arrived in Iraq to question Iraq's weapons experts. In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up efforts to encourage new defections, demanding that weapons inspectors invite Iraqi scientists for interviews abroad, where they will be provided with an opportunity to request political asylum. Information about the alleged defection effort in May came originally from Iraqi officials, who have a stake in portraying the United States as a disruptive force in the inspections process. Still, the Iraqis complained about it at the time ‹ before the issue became so highly charged ‹ and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan took the claims seriously enough to change the venue of the next round of talks to Vienna. While the Iraqi claims that the United States had targeted several officials for defection have been generally known, until now their names were unpublicized. In addition to Jaffar, the diplomatic sources said, the Americans also targeted Gen. Amir Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who was also instrumental in developing Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. The third individual was Mehdi Labidi, a midlevel technical expert, according to a report Tuesday by the London-based Arab language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. The newspaper, citing Iraqi officials as sources, reported that U.S. intelligence agents had repeatedly phoned Iraqi officials at their hotels in New York and sought to lure them into defecting with a case filled with cash. A Bush administration official declined to comment, saying, "We don't comment on intelligence matters." A CIA spokesman declined comment. The Bush administration, which succeeded in persuading two Iraqi diplomats at Baghdad's U.N. mission to defect in the summer of 2001, has argued that well-placed defectors are the key to unearthing fresh insights into Iraq's secret weapons program. The CIA has a program aimed at encouraging such defections. But Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, has expressed concern about the United Nations running a defector program. He has said that the United States has yet to come up with ideas for how the international organization can select Iraqi scientists and their families, and take them out of the country for interviews. The defection of Jaffar would have constituted the most significant intelligence coup on Iraq's weapons program since Hussein Kamel Hassan Majeed, who headed Iraq's secret weapons program, fled Iraq in 1995, prompting the government to hand over millions of pages of secret documents related to its banned weapons program. A former deputy to Hussein Kamel, Jaffar had been at the center of Iraq's secret effort to develop nuclear weapons for more than 20 years. A trusted member of Hussein's inner circle, Jaffar would have likely been a pivotal figure in any recent efforts to restart the program. "He's extremely significant. He knows more than anybody else, because he is trusted by the top level and he was very involved in all the different programs" in the nuclear field, said David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear weapons inspector who heads the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). "He also should have known about all the chemical, biological and missile programs." The May episode led to an appeal from the Iraqi government to Annan to hold future meetings on weapons inspections in Geneva or Vienna. But the Iraqi government did not go public with the outlines of the story until June, after Washington ordered the expulsion of an Iraqi diplomat in New York ‹ Abdul Rahman Saad ‹ on the grounds that he was recruiting U.S. citizens to spy for Iraq. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Douri, told reporters that Washington was simply retaliating because Baghdad had lodged a complaint with the United Nations over U.S. "harassment" of three members of the Iraqi delegation, whom he declined to identify. "This is vengeance," Douri told the Associated Press in June. "They have been asked to stay in the United States ‹ to defect." Albright said that Jaffar would have been a natural target for U.S. intelligence agents. A member of Iraq's former royal ruling class, Jaffar was imprisoned and tortured by Hussein until he agreed in the early 1980s to help build the Arab world's first nuclear bomb. But Jaffar also prospered under the regime, increasing his wealth and rising to the post of minister without a portfolio. "Here's a guy who they tortured to force him to work in the program. I don't see him having a tremendous loyalty to them if he had a choice," Albright said. But "it may be that he is so intertwined financially with the regime, so he has in a sense no way out." Khidhir Hamza, a former aide to Jaffar who defected to the United States, said that the United States and the United Nations are potentially endangering the lives of Iraqi scientists. Jaffar's flight would have placed his family in peril. The Iraqi regime had responded to previous acts of betrayal mercilessly. After luring Hussein Kamel back to Baghdad, he was gunned down outside his home along with other family members. Hamza said the IAEA's efforts to conduct an initial round of interviews with Iraqi scientists in Iraq before narrowing a list of key figures for questioning abroad is particularly dangerous. "Talking to scientists with minders is meaningless; without minders it is an endangerment," he said. "The mere fact that [an individual] is interviewed and chosen will tell the Iraqi government that he is ready to cooperate, and that could endanger him and his family." That fear has already had a chilling effect on the interviews. One Iraqi scientist, Sabah Abdel-Nour, who participated in Iraq's previous nuclear energy program, told the French press agency that he declined to be interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi official. "The inspectors asked me for a personal interview and proposed that it be in private," he said. "I apologized and asked for the presence of a member of the National Monitoring Directorate." If Jaffar had any intention of betraying the Iraqi regime, it was anything but evident when he finally arrived in New York for an afternoon meeting with U.N. nuclear experts on May 2. Jaffar complained that his luggage was missing and that he was wearing the same outfit as when he left Baghdad. "He said the [U.S. intelligence] agencies are probably going through every single piece of clothing," according to a U.N. official. Jaffar then launched into a tirade, saying the United Nations falsified its reports on Iraq's efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons. "He went ballistic," the official said. "Some people in the meeting thought that he was probably being aggressive with us to show his own government that he had no intention of defecting." At one point, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, threatened to stop the discussions when Jaffar insulted ElBaradei's chief aide, Jacques Baute, the French head of the IAEA's Iraq action team, criticizing his command of English. One U.N. official said Jaffar said, "'My English is much better than yours, Baute, so don't come play with words in English. Though I must admit that since you married a British national, your English is improving.'" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41897-2002Dec26.html * IRAQ TO LET SCIENTISTS LEAVE FOR INTERVIEWS by Peter Baker Washington Post, 27th December BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 26 -- Iraq agreed today to allow its weapons scientists to leave the country for interviews with a U.N. inspection team, but despite calling it their "personal decision," the government seemed to signal that they should refuse to go, saying "it's not necessary" to leave Iraq to conduct the interviews. The government promised to deliver to the United Nations by Sunday a list of scientists and technicians who have worked in fields related to ballistic missiles or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. A senior Iraqi official said the list, requested by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, would include hundreds of names. The issue of interviewing weapons scientists has become particularly sensitive in the confrontation between Iraq and the United States, and tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops are reportedly ready to move to the region for possible military action to destroy President Saddam Hussein's rule. U.S. officials have said an Iraqi refusal to allow the scientists to leave would violate the Nov. 8 Security Council resolution requiring full cooperation with weapons inspectors -- and thus could be construed as a reason for war. The Bush administration has pressured U.N. inspectors to take key scientists and their families out of Iraq, saying they would offer more candid disclosures without the fear of retaliation. For weeks, Iraq declined to commit to the idea, citing concerns about human rights and international law and pushing for interviews to be conducted here, even if government witnesses were not permitted. At a news conference today, the chief Iraqi liaison to the inspectors said the government would not block scientists from traveling abroad for interviews. But he left little doubt that he thought they should decline to go. "It's up to them. You can ask the scientists one by one," said Gen. Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of the National Monitoring Directorate and a weapons specialist. "I'm one of them. I can answer you on my case only. I will not go." Asked why, he said, "Because I don't like to leave my country. If there is any important question to be addressed to me, let them address it to me here in Iraq. Why this complicated procedure? I don't believe in this complicated procedure." Amin added, "It's not necessary to meet scientists outside Iraq. The issue of meeting is a personal one, and the National Monitoring Directorate cannot force anyone to do this because everyone is free to do what he wants and we as the National Monitoring Directorate are not supporting or refusing this." [.....] IRAQI/UK RELATIONS http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=2002122222231074 * BRITISH BISHOPS TO DELIVER ANTI-WAR CHRISTMAS SERMONS Palestine Chronicle, 22nd December LONDON - The anti-war movement in Britain will move to the churches as leading bishops plan to preach against a war in Iraq this Christmas, openly defying British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, a U.K. newspaper reported Sunday. The Independent said Christmas sermons will echo the "widespread concerns about the seemingly inevitable push towards war." The paper quoted Right Reverend Peter Price, the bishop of Bath and Wells, as saying that he will tell worshippers on Christmas Eve that: "The sanctity of life precludes all war and violence. We must be guided by a vision of the world in which nations stop seeking to resolve their problems through violence." Right Reverend Richard Lewis, the bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich , is expected to warn, in his Christmas message, "against the desire for revenge in the wake of 11 September," the paper said. "The question for all of us is whether we give in to that knee-jerk need for revenge and respond in that sort of way, or whether we address the essential questions of justice and peace that underlie that need. "We must not let a desire for revenge affect our relations," the Independent quoted him as saying. The paper said it conducted a survey among all 44 senior bishops in the Church of England and the 34 who responded to the survey all said that they "were unconditionally opposed to war." "A further 25 were against war unless military action was sanctioned by the United Nations and even then only as a last resort," said the paper. It added that several bishops will also warn in their Christmas sermons that racial tensions in the multicultural communities will also be fueled if hostility against Iraq continues. However, on November 11, the Telegraph reported that the Church of England decided that "British and American plans to attack Iraq if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein breaches could be justified even without the further backing of the U.N." The move was described by the paper as an "unexpected rebuff to a number of senior bishops" and added that a move to insist that only the United Nations could permit war was rejected by the Church's General Synod by 141 to 110 votes. Despite saying that unilateral military action risked the credibility of the U.N., some speakers at the Synod argued that "the Church would display a lack of understanding of international politics if it tried to tie the hands of Western governments," reported the Telegraph. However, most Christian leaders in the U.K. remained against a war on Iraq . Just a week before the Church of England made that statement, the coming Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq could "rapidly and uncontrollably spiral down into chaos." In an article which Williams sent to the Telegraph on November 5, he said that to ignore the fears of people in the area would leave the West open to the criticism that it was behaving like a colonial power. U.K. officials have been irritated at the "anti-war rhetoric" of the Church of England, the paper said. Elsewhere in the world, Christian leaders have been outright opposed to a strike against Iraq . Earlier in November, patriarchs of the eastern Catholic churches came out against a war on Iraq . "Nothing justifies a war against Iraq , whatever the pretexts and reasons invoked," said the heads of the Maronite, Melchite, Coptic, Chaldean, Latin, Syriac and Armenian churches after a five-day conclave at Raboueh, near Beirut . "There can be no just war because men have the choice: negotiating and arriving at peaceful solutions or unleashing wholesale destruction," they said in a statement. On September 18, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed strong opposition to unilateral U.S. military offensive against Iraq in a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the head of Italy 's Catholic bishops, said on September 16 that a U.S.-led war against Iraq would have "unacceptable" human consequences and would destabilize the Middle East . On September 12, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, said he was totally opposed to any attack by the U.S. on Iraq , warning of a "bloodbath" if war went ahead. Britain 's Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said on September 5 that war against Iraq could set the Arab world against the West and undermine efforts to secure peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The London Times also reported that George Carey, the since retired archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, had raised his concerns about Iraq in a private letter to Blair. In September, the World Council of Churches expressed "concern and alarm" over U.S. threats to strike Iraq in the name of overthrowing the present Iraqi government, and called on the United States to cease military threats against Baghdad . The Geneva-based WCC also urged U.S. allies "to resist pressures to join in pre-emptive military strikes against a sovereign state under the pretext of the 'war on terrorism'." -IslamOnline (islamonline.net). http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2604829.stm * CHURCH LEADERS ATTACK WAR PLANS BBC, 25th December The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is continuing his criticism of politicians over the possibility of a war against Iraq. In a Christmas message he will use the analogy of the Three Wise Men to mock strategists who, in spite of their sophistication, end up killing innocent people and causing more suffering. His remarks come as the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales said war against Iraq must not be seen as inevitable, despite growing momentum towards military action. Celebrating Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said that peace on earth was a "permanent commitment" and that efforts to avoid conflict should never end. On Christmas Eve seven Iraqi children delivered giant Christmas cards signed by thousands of people to Prime Minister Tony Blair, urging him not to go to war. And in Baghdad Saddam Hussein delivered a rallying Christmas message on Iraqi television, warning that "the forces of evil and darkness" wanted to create instability and chaos in many parts of the world. In his message, to be broadcast shortly after midnight on 26 December on Radio 4, Dr Williams recalls the bible story of the Three Wise Men. On their way to Bethlehem they tell King Herod of the birth of Jesus, prompting a massacre of children. Dr Williams says it is as if the wise and resourceful cannot help making the most immense mistakes of all. He has robustly opposed war in Iraq and his Christmas broadcast seems to be intended to build on that theme. Dr Williams likens the Wise Men to strategists who, despite intimate knowledge of politics, miss obvious things and create more suffering and havoc. We are, he says, still tangled in the same net, with better communications, intelligence and surveillance, but stepping ever deeper into tragedy. During his traditional Christmas service Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor told worshippers: "We must never give up and assume that war is inevitable. "Let us pray today, therefore, that each one of us, particularly those involved in international diplomacy and politics, will maintain our permanent commitment to building and maintaining peace in our world." The Archbishop of Westminster's remarks followed calls by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in November for both sides to "step back from the brink" of war. They said that Britain had a moral responsibility to avoid war and called for sanctions against Iraq to be lifted as an incentive for Saddam Hussein's regime to improve. Delivering the anti-war cards to Downing Street on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition the seven Iraqi children were joined by a brother and sister from Egypt and a Palestinian boy. The cards contained thousands of messages and signatures of British people opposed to the government's backing of President Bush's firm stance against Iraq. The campaign group argued that Britain and the US are more interested in Iraq's oil reserves than they are in its reputed weapons of mass destruction. Spokesman Andrew Burgin said: "People are talking about war so blithely at the moment, as if there is no human cost." Standing on the doorstep of Number 10, Egyptian-born Fatima Mahmoud, 17, from London, warned: "A lot of very innocent children, the same age as those here, will die." In his Christmas message Saddam Hussein warned that an "American-Zionist campaign against Iraq is being launched". He said: "The tone of a threatened, large-scale military aggression against our peace-loving people is growing louder, in addition to the aggression already inflicted and the unjust blockade still in place." The Iraqi leader said his government was committed to working with the United Nations and the Security Council. http://www.dawn.com/2002/12/27/nat19.htm * BRITISH PEOPLE REJECT ACTION AGAINST IRAQ Dawn, 27th December Toba Tek Singh, Dec 26: The British people have rejected unilateral action against Iraq. British House of Commons member Chaudhry Sarwar told newsmen on Thursday that all opinion polls conducted by various organizations and institutes in UK recently showed that a majority of people were against their government on Iraq issue. He said he had also participated in an anti-war rally which was held in UK. It was the biggest rally in the history of the country which was attended by more than 400,000 people. He said white voters of his constituency often visited him and favoured attack on Israel instead of Iraq. They said though Israel violated UN resolutions, Bush administration patronized it, he added. He said Israeli forces had been killing innocent Palestinian people, including children, daily since long. Israel did not pay any heed to the UN which ordered it to give autonomy to Palestine and withdraw its troops from there. Mr Sarwar said US President Bush had his eyes on two of the five biggest oil producing countries, Iraq and Iran, while other three - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Arab Emirates - were already under his control. He criticized Bush for getting secret documents through unfair pressure on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan which were given to him (Annan) by Iraq regarding its weapons. He said he had recently met Tony Blair who assured him that both the US and the UK had the only aim of disarming Iraq and not to attack it. He said Bush himself was a threat to the world peace and not Saddam Husain. He said two MPs of Pakistan and two of India origin planned to hold joint seminars in both the countries with the cooperation of a British organization to ease tension between them. They have the support of premier Tony Blair too. He welcomed the restoration of democracy in Pakistan and urged politicians not to create a situation which could lead to the return of army. Chaudhry Sarwar will leave for UK on January 1. http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=1433742002 * BLAIR'S PRIEST DENOUNCES PM OVER WAR ON IRAQ by Fraser Nelson The Scotsman, 27th December THE Prime Minister faced a fresh wave of religious criticism for his stance over Iraq after the priest who said mass for the Blair family on Christmas Day accused him of "moral surrender". Father Timothy Russ, priest of the Roman Catholic church near Chequers, Mr Blair's official country home, suggested the Prime Minister had betrayed his Christian background in preparing to wage war to depose Saddam Hussein. "Man must live the will to integrity rather than the will to power. The Prime Minister is caught up in the will to power game - and that is his problem," Fr Russ said after saying mass. "He has had a moral surrender from his past ... He may not like me very much for telling you, but it is my job to try to speak the truth from God and apply it to a very fallen world." The Anglican Bishop of Oxford added his voice to the warnings yesterday in an interview with BBC Radio. "Personally I take the view that on the evidence available to us at the moment, the traditional just war criteria are not met," he said. [.....] _______________________________________________ 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