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[casi] News, 20-27/12/02 (4)

News, 20-27/12/02 (4)


*  U.S. Asks Germans to Guard Bases End of Jan-Source
*  French Defense Minister backs Mubarak's warnings against striking Iraq
*  Japan said to begin drafting bill permitting troops in Iraq
*  Oilman to lead MPs on tour of Iraq
*  Germany wins key U.N. role
*  Niger Denies Uranium Sale to Iraq, Accuses U.S. of 'Libel'
*  Iraq is 'dead meat'
*  Germany Says No Money for Iraq War This Time
*  Russia rallies round Iraq
*  Germany to pressure the EU against possible war in Iraq
*  Iraq to buy 50,000 tons wheat from Pakistan
*  Three UN Council members unconvinced of need to attack
*  Saddam secretly funded Pakistan A-bomb
*  Intelligence Predicts Hussein's Reaction to Attack
*  Iraq showing unusual interest in Ukraine nuclear laboratory
*  Nato would back attack if inspectors find arms
*  Niger Says Iraq Sought But Failed to Buy Uranium


*  Saddam's foes skewed by sectarianism


by Markus Krah
Yahoo, 20th December

BERLIN (Reuters) - Washington has asked Germany to provide 2,000 troops to
guard U.S. bases in the country at the end of January, a government source
said on Friday, as speculation mounted of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq early
next year.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials declined to discuss numbers, but told
Reuters the United States would welcome any offer from Berlin both to
provide base security and not to interfere with potential movement of
Americans troops in Germany.

A senior German government source told Reuters an informal request had been
made for German forces to help guard barracks and other military
installations as well as transport routes for U.S. troops. A parliamentary
source also confirmed the request.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said only that Germany had agreed to a U.S.
request for help guarding bases in case of war but was still examining when
and how much support would be needed.

"A decision can be expected at the beginning of the new year," the spokesman

The United States has 71,000 troops, mostly army and air force, stationed at
various bases around Germany.

Despite German government opposition to a war with Iraq that has strained
relations with Washington, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder assured President
Bush last month that Germany will grant fly-over and transit rights for U.S.

However, any troop movements are likely to attract protests from Germany's
large pacifist movement and any war would raise the level of security alert
for U.S. installations in Germany.

A war and any German support for it is also likely to provoke tension in the
ruling coalition of Schroeder's Social Democrats and Greens partners, some
of whom have said U.S. fly-over rights should only be granted if there is a
U.N. mandate for an attack on Iraq.

A U.S. defense official in Washington told Reuters Rumsfeld had met with
German Defense Minister Peter Struck and that the United States would leave
any announcement on German help to that government.


Arabic News, 20th December

French Minister of Defense Michele Alliot-Mariot Wednesday expressed support
to warnings made by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak against dealing a
military strike to Iraq.

The French Minister said she agreed to all what President Mubarak had said
on risks of war.

In a Press Conference she gave before leaving the Qatari capital, the French
Minister said that her country was opposed to any military action against
Iraq without the approval of the United Nations. She said the United Nations
was the only party entitled to decide whether there was a need for a
military intervention following examination of the Iraqi weapons report.

Asked about military cooperation between Qatar and France, the French
minister said that their relations were strong, pointing out that a number
of agreements was signed between the two countries in the military and
economic domains.

The two sides signed during the visit a contract to modernize Qatari
equipment as part of the military cooperation.;jsessionid=LTRZ5E2EI1GAGCRBAEZSFF

Reuters, 21st December

TOKYO: Japan may send troops to Iraq to help scrap any chemical and
biological weapons following a possible attack on that country, Japanese
media said on Saturday.

The report came a day after U.S. President George W. Bush said a recent
Iraqi arms declaration was "not encouraging" for finding a peaceful solution
to a standoff over disarming and amid speculation Washington may be eyeing
military action early in 2003.

Japanese government sources said the government has begun drafting a bill
that would allow Japan's Ground Self Defence Forces to help dispose of
chemical and biological weapons once any military action was over, the
Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.

It added that the United States had informed Japan that Iraq may have huge
amounts of chemical weapons and chemical substances and had unofficially
sought its help to dispose of them.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Japan is barred from dispatching troops overseas for peacekeeping operations
unless a ceasefire is in place and countries concerned consent to the

Officials have previously said Tokyo is considering what it could do in the
event of an Iraqi war, given the limits of its pacifist constitution, with
media reporting the government has drafted plans centring on refugee relief
and logistical support.

Japan, keen to avoid a rerun of its diplomatic humiliation when it failed to
send even token troops for the 1991 Gulf War, last year passed a law
enabling the country to deploy naval ships to support the U.S.-led war in
Afghanistan -- its first military dispatch into a conflict since World War

On Monday, a Japanese warship equipped with a high-tech Aegis air defence
system left for the Indian Ocean, a controversial move some analysts say
signals support for a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

Japanese voters, however, have been lukewarm to providing backing for a
possible U.S.-led military operation against Iraq.

A survey by the liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper published on Monday showed
57 percent of respondents said Japan should not provide any backing for such
an operation.{5E2F1F19-63A9-4557-A248

by Michael Friscolanti
National Post, Canada, 21st December

A peace activist and the president of an Alberta oil company are planning to
lead a small group of Canadian MPs on a tour of Iraq, but they are anxiously
waiting to hear back from Lloyd Axworthy, the former minister of Foreign
Affairs, before booking any plane tickets.

One member of parliament has already agreed to participate in the Baghdad
expedition, scheduled for early next year, but organizers, who have invited
numerous other MPs, want to make sure the trip coincides with Mr. Axworthy's

"He's well-seasoned and he's well-respected in the international community,"
said Colleen Beaumier, a Liberal MP who will accompany with the group. "He
would be a great asset to have."

Mr. Axworthy, who is now the director and CEO of the University of British
Columbia's Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues, was travelling outside
the country yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

But Donn Lovett, one of the organizers, said the former Cabinet minister has
already committed to being part of the excursion, which will embark sometime
during the week of Jan. 20. The only question now, he said, is what day of
the week the group will leave.

The previously unannounced trip has been in the planning stages for weeks,
but MPs and organizers have been hesitant to discuss details because of
concerns that some Canadians would be wary of an oil executive leading the

Arthur Millholland, the president of Calgary-based Oilexco Inc., brushed
aside those concerns yesterday, saying if war broke out in Iraq, his biggest
worry would be that thousands of innocent people would die -- not that he
would lose business. In fact, Mr. Millholland, who imports oil from Iraq as
part of the United Nations Oil for Food program, said he would probably
profit from a war because oil prices would soar.

But the executive said he does not want to see further damage to a country
already struggling with starving children and decrepit hospitals. And with
Washington preparing to oust Iraqi president Saddam Hussein -- a strategy
that could involve Canadian troops -- Mr. Millholland believes it is time
Canadian MPs get a first-hand glimpse of what the US appears so eager to

"We need to be told the truth," he said yesterday. "And the only way to find
the truth is to go there and see it for yourself."

Mr. Millholland has extensive contacts within the Iraqi regime, including a
close relationship with Tariq Aziz, the country's Foreign Minister. He has
offered those contacts to Canadian dignitaries.

The decision to send a group of MPs overseas comes as United Nations weapons
inspectors continue to scour Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. This
week, in a sign that the United States is one step closer to war, the
American government rejected a 12,000-page declaration that claims Iraq is
free of such weapons.

Ms. Beaumier said she is "absolutely disgusted" with the U.S. response,
adding that the trip will give her the "moral authority" to better comment
on the state of affairs in Iraq.

She stressed yesterday that any MPs who go to Baghdad will have to pay their
own way, quashing any suggestions of a conflict of interest. And while their
tour guides may hold strong views, Ms. Beaumier said their only job is to
show them around.

"It's up to them where they want to go," said Mr. Lovett, the former
vice-president of the United Nations Association of Canada. "They tell us
where they want to go and we'll help them set it up."

Organizers have tried to recruit numerous other MPs, but as of yesterday,
only Ms. Beaumier had committed. Francine Lalonde of the Bloc Québécois and
Keith Martin of the Canadian Alliance are still deciding whether to accept
the invitation.

"In any trip that I take, I want to make sure that one is going to get the
most objective view of what is going to take place," Mr. Martin said

"That is critically important. There is no point in going anywhere that is
skewed or partisan or subjective in any way."

CNN, 21st December

UNITED NATIONS -- Germany is to be chairman of the U.N. Security Council's
Iraqi sanctions panel despite opposition from the United States.

Washington was against the deal because it feared anti-war Germany might
challenge U.S. policy on Iraq.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election this year after pledging
that German troops would not take part in a Gulf War II.

But key security council countries, including permanent members France and
Russia, backed the German appointment, Reuters reported.

The appointments come into effect in January when Germany, Chile, Spain,
Angola and Pakistan join the 15-member council, replacing Norway, Colombia,
Ireland, Mauritius and Singapore.

Norway currently heads the Iraq committee, which takes decisions Iraq's oil
prices and supplies Baghdad imports.

Usually the high-profile post is given to a Western European nation and
Germany, which chaired the committee in 1995-96, was considered the most
able to do the job again.

Chile, Washington's original choice for the Iraq panel, will take over the
Afghanistan sanctions committee that compiles lists of people and groups
suspected of association with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and
remnants of the country's former Taliban rulers.

Spain, with strong U.S. backing, was given the chairmanship of the Security
Council's counter terrorism committee, a high-profile post which becomes
vacant when Britain's U.N. ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, retires in

This panel, set up after the September 11 attacks against the United States,
monitors reports from all 191 U.N. members on what they have done to stop

The Security Council has five permanent members ­ the United States, France,
Britain, Russia and China -- and 10 member-nations who are elected by
regional groups for two-year terms, five each year.

Tehran Times, 22nd December

NIAMEY -- Niger has never sold uranium to Iraq, Mining Minister Hassane Yari
said Saturday, adding that U.S. allegations that Baghdad tried to procure
the mineral from the West African country amounted to "libel."

"There has never been any question of selling uranium to Iraq and there has
been no contract whatsoever," the minister said over radio. "Niger reserves
the right to file charges against this libel," he said, challenging
Washington to release proof of Niger's involvement "if they have any."

He also slammed the United States for "not contacting Niger officially" over
alleged moves by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger to make nuclear weapons.

Niger is the world's second poorest country, according to the World Bank,
but is the third largest producer of uranium along with Russia after Canada
and Australia.

Meanwhile, a senior retired official stressed that Niger could not sell its
uranium to any country without the consent of its partners -- France, Japan
and Spain.

"I took part in negotiations in Paris between Niger and its three partners
(France, Japan and Spain) regarding uranium and I state that Niger does not
control its uranium output," Sanoussi Jackou, a former head of the National
Minerals Office told AFP. "Therefore it would surprise me that Niger could
ever sell part of its production, which is entirely controlled by its

Jackou, however, stressed that U.S. allegations that Iraq had tried to
procure uranium from Niger could be true but underlined that such moves had
not borne fruit.

Niger sells 64 percent of its uranium to France, 29 percent to Japan and
seven percent to Spain.

The UN's nuclear body Saturday criticized Iraq and the United States, saying
neither had produced evidence to prove or disprove that Iraq made moves to
procure uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman
for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told AFP that Iraq had
not addressed the accusations in its weapons declaration, handed to the
United Nations on December At the same time, he rapped Washington for
failing to "substantiate its claim."

President Mamadou Tandja of Niger said Friday he had no knowledge of Iraq's
alleged moves to procure uranium. "For the time being, nothing like this has
come to my knowledge," he told AFP. "Niger sells its uranium to France and
Japan, that's all we know."

Pakistan News, 22nd December

'Pakistan News Service is a non-partisan, non-political independent news and
information service' (its logo shows hands emerging out of Pak and US flags
shaking - PB)

The damning American critique of Iraq's weapons declaration to the United
Nations this week has set in motion the chain of events for an American
attack on Iraq. New policy on containing Iraq is based upon 'pre-emptive
strike' policy developed by United States after September 11, 2001 terrorist
attack on its mainland.

United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has said that Iraq fell
short on meeting the requirements of declaration. Consequently, the American
military might is already in motion and war plans laid out for complete
annihilation of Iraq via conventional weapons, if needed, via nuclear

Gravity of the situation is perhaps misunderstood by Iraq. It is hoping to
gather support by again playing the 'Islam' or 'Muslim brotherhood' card.
Iraq is expected to openly align itself with Muslims under oppression to
show the 'sincerity' of its appeal. A careful examination reveals the exact
opposite. Iraq has never been a 'Muslim brother' or really supported any
'Muslim causes.'

The chemical and biological weapons that America wants Iraq to give up were
used by Iraq on its Muslim neighbor Iran in its 1980 ten years long war.

Iraq used its conventional military strength to harass and eventually invade
its defenseless small Muslim neighbor Kuwait in 1990. Iraq paid no head to
any advice to leave Kuwait unless American lead coalition forced Iraq's
surrender in the Gulf War.

Iraq does more damage by claiming mutual support of Palestinians. Although
Palestinians are happy to take even token support from Iraq but they do not
realizing that support from a rogue country actually hurts their own cause.
Iraq's support from Palestinians has been nothing more than lip service.

When it comes to cruel & genocidal occupation of Kashmir by India and the
suffering of Kashmiris, most of who are Muslims, Iraqi's stance is either of
'silence' or it supports Indian brutalities and murders of Kashmiris.

Just like India, Iraq openly defies United Nations resolutions, showing its
contempt by promising to act but never really implementing the resolutions.
Deceit of such actions is obvious to everyone.

An attack on Iraq will inevitably cause grave loss of civilian life,
directly or indirectly, like Gulf-War did. Rather than letting Iraq play the
religion card, maybe Arab League should consider disarming Iraq, taking
administrative and executive control from Saddam Hussein, the current Iraqi

Yahoo, 23rd December

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Hans Eichel said on Sunday the
country would not contribute any financial support whatsoever to a war
launched against Iraq.

Germany, a vocal opponent of any military strike against Iraq, had
contributed some $5.5 billion to U.S.-led efforts to drive Iraq from Kuwait
in 1991 because it said at the time its constitution forbade sending troops

Those restrictions, in place since World War II, have since been lifted and
some 9,500 German soldiers are now on foreign peacekeeping missions as well
as on anti-terror Enduring Freedom military operations in Afghanistan and in
the Horn of Africa.

"It is quite clear that we will not contribute any financial support for a
war against Iraq," Eichel told Bild newspaper's Monday edition.

Eichel said a war could lead to higher security costs for the German
government and might also have a negative impact on economic growth,
especially if oil prices rise.

"It is in any event a big risk," Eichel said, referring to the possible war
that could tear new holes in his budget.

Relations between Germany and the United States have been strained since
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election in September on a campaign
sharply attacking the United States government over its policies on Iraq and
the war threat.

U.S. President George Bush has ignored Schroeder since the pacifist eruption
and even broke diplomatic custom by not congratulating the German leader on
his re-election. Bush officials said German-U.S. relations were "poisoned."

Since then, however, both sides have acknowledged frosty relations have at
least partially thawed.

Schroeder assured Bush last month that Germany would grant fly-over and
transit rights for U.S. forces, and was considering a request from
Washington to guard U.S. bases in Germany in the event of war.

Daily Star, Bangladesh, 23rd December

AFP, Moscow: Russia yesterday stood up firmly for Iraq by declaring that a
military campaign there ran counter to Moscow's national interests and
urging Washington to strictly abide by the United Nations resolutions on the

"The most important thing is making sure that Iraq has no weapons of mass
destruction," Foreign Minister Ivanov said in an interview with Channel One,
broadcast first in Russia's far-eastern regions, and picked up by news

"All other goals run counter to our interests," Ivanov said in reference to
the military campaign.

Ivanov called on Washington to abide by the rules of UN Security Council
resolution 1441 - which sets strict conditions for Iraqi compliance with
weapons inspection - that he stressed was the best method for assuring that
Saddam Hussein's regime disarmed.

"Russia and the United States have developed a joint groundwork - the most
important goal is that Iraq complies with the UN resolution," Ivanov said.

He added that Russia would take no part in any campaign if it went ahead.

Edging still closer to Saddam, Ivanov further brushed aside a recent
conflict between Russia and Iraq over Baghdad's decision to rip a lucrative
oil contract held in Iraq by Russia's state run oil company LUKoil.

Reports said that Saddam's regime nullified the deal after learning that
LUKoil executives had contacted the Iraqi opposition and US officials in a
bid to make sure that the contract would still be valid should the current
Iraqi regime fall.

The problems between LUKoil and Iraq "arose two or three years ago, and are
not directly linked to the current situation," Ivanov said in his first
public comments on the dispute.

His comments are the firmest to date in support of the pace of Iraq's
cooperation with weapons inspections.

Russia had previously offered only a vague response to the 12,000-page
weapons report delivered to the United Nations by Iraq this month.

Although as a Security Council permanent member it is in possession of the
full Iraqi declaration, it has refused to comment on the text directly,
saying that UN inspectors' report delivered to the UN on Thursday did not
prove that Baghdad was at fault.

Analysts had suggested that Moscow's cautious approach betrayed an implicit
support for a joint US-British campaign to topple Saddam's regime - as long
as such a strike was first approved by the United Nations, where Moscow
wields veto power.

International Herald Tribune, from The Associated Press, 24th December

BERLIN: Germany intends to work for more diplomatic pressure by European
nations against a war in Iraq, a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's
cabinet said in an interview published Monday.

"Bush's priorities are baffling to me," Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the
minister of development, said in an interview that portrayed President
George W. Bush as misguided.

"War must not be the extension of politics or the economy by other means,"
she was quoted as telling the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

She said it was "depressing that the U.S. administration is preparing for
war apparently regardless of the result of weapons inspections."

Members of Schroeder's Social Democratic party have stepped up their
anti-war warnings in recent days since the Bush administration declared that
Iraq's report on its weapons programs was flawed and in breach of a UN

"We are working on still preventing a war. That is the most important
thing," Wieczorek-Zeul said.

She did not provide further details.

"We hope that more European states will join in and together send a strong
signal to the American government," she said.


Dawn, 24th December

KARACHI, Dec 23 (Reuters): Iraq has agreed to buy at least 50,000 tons of
milling wheat from private Pakistani exporters at 218 euros per ton, traders
and government officials said on Monday.

They said the deal might eventually be much bigger, with exporters saying
Iraq had expressed interest in buying 150,000 tons and a Pakistani official
saying tenders for the export of 200,000 tons of wheat for Iraq would be
issued next month.

Exporters had quoted a higher price to Iraq but eventually accepted a
counter offer, they said.

"Iraq made a counter offer of 218 euro per ton last week," Hamid Gharib, an
exporter approached by the Iraqi grain authority, told Reuters. "We have
accepted their offer."

Baghdad plans to import around 500,000 tons of wheat under the 13th phase of
the UN oil for-food-programme.

Iraqi authorities had contacted three Pakistani private exporters and the
state-run Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) for the wheat, which will be
shipped from January, traders said.

Gharib said the three Pakistani exporters were likely to sell around 50,000
tons of wheat to Iraq, but a TCP official said the state-run agency would
not take part in this sale because it received the offer very late.

"They have showed interest in buying 150,000 tons, but we have firm orders
for 50,000 tons of wheat supply," Gharib said.

Pakistan exported 100,000 tons of wheat to Baghdad in fiscal 2001-02
(July-June) in a government-to-government deal. Another wheat exporter said
local traders had already started negotiations with the commerce ministry in
Islamabad to buy wheat stocks from the government to meet the order.

"The commerce and agriculture ministries will meet next month to review the
stock availability," the exporter said. "The government has promised to
supply us wheat for exports."

A commerce ministry official said wheat would be made available for the deal
and a sale tender issued in January.

"We will arrange supplies for them but the price will only be determined
though open bidding," he said.

The official said the government planned to issue a tender for at least
200,000 tons of wheat for Iraq next month.

Pakistan began to export wheat for the first time last year. It found a big
market for its wheat in the Middle East and Africa. Pakistan also exported
wheat to European and Southeast Asian countries.

by John Daniszewski and Sebastian Rotella
Gulf News, from Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 25th

Three key members of the UN Security Council ­ Russia, France and China ­
say they are not yet convinced that an Iraqi declaration this month failed
to fully disclose any weapons of mass destruction, an indication that the
United States might face an uphill battle building the case for war against

The wait-and-see positions taken by the countries, all veto-holding
permanent members of the Security Council, contrast sharply with President
Bush's assertion last week that the 12,000-page weapons declaration from
Iraq was "a long way" from meeting the Iraqi regime's obligations.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister
Ivan Ivanov seemed to rule out any attack based on the Iraqi regime's
behaviour so far.

"Any action outside the framework of Resolution 1441 ... can do nothing but
complicate the regional security situation," Ivanov said.

Replying to a journalist's question about "hysteria" regarding Iraq in the
United States, Ivanov said: "Hysteria is not the best way to resolve a
problem, and therefore we will continue to work calmly" within the UN
process. Indications are that the Bush administration faces an uphill battle
persuading the three Security Council members, who often have been at odds
with the United States over Iraq.

In Paris, experts continue to go over Iraq's declaration while diplomats
have stuck to a carefully calibrated Iraq policy. They acknowledge the Iraqi
declaration suffers from serious omissions and shortcomings, but say they
want the United States and its allies to be focused on aggressive UN
inspections, not preparations for a military invasion.

Diplomats have denied reports that the French government has decided that
military action is the answer.

A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday that if Iraq is found to
have not fully disclosed its weapons programmes, the inspectors must be able
to force Iraq to disarm.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxun has warned against jumping
to conclusions on the Iraqi report, saying China needs more time to study it
and that no judgements should be made until the inspectors have been at work
longer in Iraq.,0005.htm

by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Hindustani Times, 25th December

Saddam Hussein was an active partner in Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme
not just once, but twice. Iraq funded Pakistan's clandestine nuclear weapons
project in the early 1980s in return for uranium-enrichment technology. A
decade later, the two were back in bed. This time they were busy trading
money for an A-bomb design.

Pakistani nuclear spy, Abdul Qadeer Khan, stole the blueprints for a simple
uranium enrichment centrifuge made of aluminium from a Netherlands firm
where he was working in the 1970s and 1980s. India became suspicious when
the same technology then popped up in Iraq and was used by Baghdad from 1987
to 1989.
Citing Dutch media, the Indian embassy in the Netherlands sent a report to
New Delhi in September 1991 quoting Khan's Dutch assistant, Frits Veerman,
as saying: "Those lethal ultra-centrifuges in Iraq are purely Dutch. Khan
first saw to it that Pakistan could grab them. Later his institute supplied
blueprints to Baghdad."

In the late 1980s an investigation by Indian intelligence concluded Iraq had
helped fund Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme in return for the
centrifuge technology. Besides cold cash, the report said, the two Sunni
Muslim countries' shared an interest in containing revolutionary Shia Iran.
Teheran was covertly funding Shia militants in both countries.  

K. Santhanam, head of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses and a
person who tracked Iraqi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation in the 1980s,
suspects Pakistan turned to Iraq because it needed outside money as its atom
bomb project carried a $ 6 to 8 billion off budget price tag. Islamabad, he
points out, had earlier turned to Libya and the United Arab Emirates for

Analysts believe Iraq probably channelled money to Pakistan through the Bank
of Credit and Commerce International, a now-defunct Pakistani bank later
beset by scandals over its illegal money transfers. Indian sources say it is
likely part of the payment was also in the form of petroleum shipments.

Iraq and Pakistan eventually abandoned aluminium centrifuges as unreliable.
Both were later to acquire maraging steel centrifuges from a renegade German

The Iran-Iraq war, says Santhanam, forced Baghdad to put its nuclear weapons
programme on a "maintenance budget" for much of the late 1980s.

By 1990 Iraq was back in the black market for bombs. But this time it wanted
the blueprint for a functioning nuclear warhead.

Iraq already had a cumbersome, Hiroshima-type atomic bomb design. Saddam
Hussein wanted a smaller bomb that could fit on the top of a Scud missile.

The man who offered to sell Iraq one was A.Q. Khan.

According to a report written in 1998 by West Asian expert Yossef Bodansky:
"One of the Iraqi documents retrieved after the [1991] war includes a
scrawled footnote describing an offer made to Iraqi intelligence by an
unidentified Pakistani offering to establish contacts with 'senior figures
in Pakistan's nuclear programme who were willing to help President Saddam
Hussein's regime to manufacture a bomb."

A memo found by UN inspectors from Section B15 of Iraqi intelligence to
Section S15 of Iraq's nuclear weapons directorate was explicit. It said
Baghdad has received a proposal from "Pakistani scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer
Khan" to help Iraq "manufacture a nuclear weapon."
Iraq admitted to the UN inspection regime that Khan made the offer, but
insists it turned it down for fear it was a US sting operation. Pakistan,
for its part, insists Khan never made the offer. Not many believe either

Khan publicly denied he had ever "set foot on Iraqi soil." But B. Raman,
ex-head of RAW's Pakistan desk, says one "reliable" source had informed
Indian intelligence that Khan had gone to Baghdad at least once.

Western intelligence believes one of Khan's deputies acted as the primary
middleman between the two countries. Santhanam says India had evidence that
there was much "too-ing and fro-ing" between Baghdad and Islamabad on the
nuclear front at this point. US proliferation expert Gary Milholin, who
spoke with UN inspectors, says they were also certain that Baghdad accepted
Khan's offer.

A UN probe failed because Pakistan refused to cooperate. The UN was not
allowed to meet Khan. Islamabad announced that it had held its own
investigation and cleared Khan of any wrongdoing. No surprise, say Indian
officials, as Khan has never been a nuclear freelancer. He has always acted
as a nuclear courier at Islamabad's behest, they say.
In September this year Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy wrote that Western intelligence sources had told him that they
were certain "Pakistani nuclear scientists visited Iraq, and Iraqis visited
Pakistan's safeguarded enrichment plant at Kahuta."

What it is certain is that Iraq did get a smaller bomb design. Tellingly,
say experts like Milholin, the new Iraqi design is one with a "flying
tamper" - a device that helps compact a nuclear explosion. Such a tamper
exists in Pakistan's most-recent bomb design.

Indian and Western sources believe Pakistan hastily severed its nuclear
trade with Iraq once the US went to war with Iraq over Kuwait.

Baghdad did not benefit as much as it wanted to from its atomic alliance
with Pakistan. It received a faulty centrifuge technology in the 1980s. And
though the Pakistani nuclear design was functional, the UN inspections of
the 1990s had destroyed Iraq's uranium-enrichment machines and its stock of
enriched uranium. The bulk of the centrifuges the UN destroyed were made of
maraging steel. Interestingly, the US accused Iraq in September this year of
spending the last 14 months trying to buy thousands of aluminium tubes.
Washington said the tubes were for centrifuges. This seems to indicate that
Iraq, realizing buying maraging steel tubes would immediately arouse
suspicion, tried to get some nuclear fodder using the older centrifuge
technology it had bought from Pakistan in the 1980s. Baghdad may have hoped
that the more innocuous aluminium tubes would slip through UN sanctions.

Evidence of a double nuclear trail from Baghdad to Kahuta is clear but not
clinching. But many in New Delhi believe Pakistan has reason to be worried
at what dirty secrets will be found amid the rubble of a post-Saddam Iraq.

by Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 26th December


The intelligence community is also following Hussein's rare public
appearances. Last Sunday, he received a delegation from Belarus headed by
Nikolai Ivanchenko, the deputy head of President Alexander Lukashenko's
administration. Belarus is one of the few countries accused by the United
States of selling prohibited weapons to Baghdad, and Michael Kozak, the U.S.
ambassador to Belarus, made the charge openly last month at a conference in
Washington sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. He described
Lukashenko as someone who has sold illegal arms to Iraq and, thus, chosen
the wrong side in the war on terrorism.

Last spring, the State Department accused Belarus of training Iraqi forces
to use antiaircraft systems, but at last month's meeting, Kozak said U.S.
details on Lukashenko's arms transfers to Baghdad must remain secret to
protect sources and methods of collection.

Previous U.N. inspections found that in the mid-1990s Belarus sold Baghdad
machine tools capable of turning out components for missiles and high-speed
centrifuges that Iraq could use to process highly enriched uranium used in
bombs. In 1998, U.N. inspectors saw similar machines in Iraq, although they
were said to have been used to make lenses for artillery shells.

At last Sunday's meeting, according to Belarus radio, Hussein told the
Belarus delegation that he was getting little help from other countries in
his efforts to lift the embargo on this type of machinery because of
accusations that he was still making weapons of mass destruction. "We
already told the world that we don't produce these kinds of ammunition, but
the world doesn't seem to care," Hussein was quoted as saying.

Iraq's news service reported that Hussein then promised Ivanchenko "huge
reciprocal cooperation" with Belarus in the future.


by Mark MacKinnon
Globe and Mail, 26th December

Kiev ‹ It sits now, almost forgotten, in a downtrodden nuclear research
institute in Eastern Ukraine: 75 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium. Enough
material to construct three nuclear bombs.

Not far from where the uranium is stored at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics
and Technology is a fourth-floor office in a Soviet-style office block on
Kharkiv's Leninsky Prospekt that happens to sport Iraqi flags on either side
of the door. Western diplomats call it one of the clearest suggestions that
Iraq wishes to build a nuclear weapon.

According to officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Ukraine,
the office of Yuri Orshansky, a Ukrainian businessman who was named Iraq's
honorary consul to Kharkiv two years ago, is one case of smoke definitely
betraying a fire. It's not by chance, they believe, that Iraq set up
diplomatic representation in a city that was once a centre for the Soviet
Union's nuclear-weapons research.

Iraq has sent three trade delegations to Kharkiv in the past four years. One
of them was given an official tour of the Institute of Physics and

"It looks blatant, and it is blatant," a NATO official said. "There's all
sorts of military interest by Iraq in Kharkiv."

According to a report released this year by British intelligence, if Iraq
could acquire even one third of the uranium known to be stored at the
institute, it could have nuclear weapons within 12 months.

The apparent Iraqi interest in Kharkiv brings back a nightmare scenario that
has worried the West since the collapse of the Soviet Union 11 years ago.
When Ukraine achieved independence, it immediately became the world's
third-largest nuclear power, trailing only Russia and the United States, and
at the same time lost much of its financial ability either to ensure the
security of its nuclear installations or to pay the scientists there

Fifty thousand weapons scientists once worked in the city of Kharkiv alone,
and many of them now are paid just $6 or $7 a day. Their laboratories are no
longer world-class; in some cases, they are not even even properly heated.
The city is also home to Khartron, one of the world's largest
missile-technology plants.

"Most of the scientists in Ukraine are in very difficult financial
situations," said Yves Carmel, a Canadian who heads the Science and
Technology Centre in Ukraine, an institute funded by Canada, the United
States and the European Union that works to employ Ukrainian weapons
scientists in other, peaceful, scientific fields.

Although Ukraine eventually agreed to give up its functioning nuclear
arsenal in exchange for Western aid money, there remains in the country a
potentially dangerous mix of loosely guarded nuclear materials and
underemployed scientists who might be tempted by a big money offer to defect
to a rogue state.

Mr. Orshansky, many here believe, did just that. An engineer by trade, he
now proudly displays the emblem of Iraq's ruling Baath party above the door
of his Kharkiv office. When a team of U.S. and British weapons experts
travelled to Ukraine last month and asked to interview him about
weapons-sale allegations, they were told he was in Baghdad celebrating
Saddam Hussein's victory in a recent national referendum on his leadership.

In an interview last year with a Ukrainian defence-industry publication, Mr.
Orshansky said he had made more than 40 trips to Baghdad since 1993 and
suggested that he would, if asked, work to buy nuclear material on Iraq's

"On some issues, we have begun to work with Iraq in order to create
conditions so that orders are placed with Ukraine," he was quoted as saying.
"Even if they want to create a nuclear bomb, we will study this."

Whether he has ever actually bought any weapons material on Iraq's behalf is
unclear. Western experts say tracing Iraq's dealings in the arms market is
difficult, since Mr. Hussein's regime often uses middlemen and circuitous
delivery routes. A Western diplomat here said "there's plenty of evidence"
that Mr. Orshansky shipped weapons to Baghdad, but refused to share any of
the alleged proof.

The Kharkiv Institute says it has never sold ‹ and would never sell ‹
nuclear material to Iraq or anyone else. Director Oleksiy Yehorov says the
uranium is to be used domestically for energy production. He says the lab's
security has been upgraded, and that the uranium in Kharkiv is as secure as
that at top sites in Western Europe and North America.

"The uranium cannot be sold to anybody, no matter who offers to buy it and
what their reasons are," Mr. Yehorov told the Ukrainian news agency, UNIAN.

But to the chagrin of the U.S. State Department, the Ukrainian government
has refused to give up the uranium, a step Yugoslavia took earlier this year
in a high-profile deal that saw 45 kilograms of enriched uranium from the
Vinca Institute near Belgrade taken to Russia to be processed.

Recent revelations have made the U.S. administration even more suspicious of
Ukrainian intentions, especially a sensational audio recording allegedly
made by a former bodyguard of President Leonid Kuchma that appears to catch
Mr. Kuchma personally authorizing the $100-million (U.S.) sale of the
Kolchuga advanced radar system to Iraq two years ago, in direct
contravention of United Nations sanctions.

Kolchuga is a passive radar system that tracks aircraft without giving off
the telltale "ping" that tells pilots they've been spotted. If Iraq were to
acquire the system, the British and U.S. governments say, the danger to the
allies' pilots patrolling the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq
would greatly increase.

The alleged sale has called into question whether Ukraine, which the United
States initially saw as a partner and perhaps future member of NATO, is a
reliable ally in the war on terrorism.

Though Mr. Orshansky's name has turned up on documents that UN weapons
inspectors found in Baghdad during the last round of weapons inspections in
the late 1990s, Ukraine accredited him as Iraq's representative in Kharkiv
in 2000. That accreditation was revoked only this year after the Kolchuga
scandal broke and the international spotlight was suddenly turned on
Ukrainian-Iraqi dealings.

"The Iraqis are trying hard now to get as much military equipment from
whoever will sell it," a Western diplomat said. "Ukraine is one of those who
will sell."

by Nigel Morris, Political Correspondent
The Independent, 27th December

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the Secretary General of Nato, said yesterday
the alliance's full weight would be thrown behind US-led attacks on Iraq if
Saddam Hussein is deemed to have breached United Nations resolutions on
weapons of mass destruction.

He made clear that George Bush would not need to act unilaterally under
those circumstances because Nato would face a "moral obligation" to provide

The weapons inspections process has continued without a break over
Christmas, with the United Nations team interviewing an Iraqi scientist at
Baghdad's Technology University yesterday. But Iraq said the inspectors had
found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in one month of checks
across the country.

The Iraqi military also accused US and British warplanes of killing three
people and wounding 16 when they bombed civilian targets, including a
mosque, in southern Iraq. In Washington, the US military said the planes
attacked Iraqi military command and control facilities after Iraqi aircraft
violated the southern no-fly zone.

Lord Robertson stressed that any action by the 19 Nato members - including
the US - would be governed by UN Security Council resolution 1441, which
requires Saddam Hussein to abandon chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

"Up to now the US has kept very rigidly to the UN route. They still do - the
inspectors are still there," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "What
the Americans have done in Nato is to suggest a number of options where Nato
could help in a military action and countries have been invited to consider
that, but no decisions have yet been taken. The decision won't be taken by
America. The decision will be taken by Saddam Hussein.

"Either he complies with the will of the UN, in which case no military
action will be required, or he fails to comply, in which case the
international community, united in resolution 1441, is going to have to do
something about it. So there is certainly a military capability being put in

The Secretary General added: "Frankly, the history of dealing with Saddam
means that unless he knows that there are going to be severe consequences,
he just simply ignores the will of the international community."

Lord Robertson, a former secretary of state for defence, said the US could
not act on its own because it depended on its allies for airspace and bases
in the Middle East.

"All of the characteristics of the Bush administration have been to involve
allies," he said. "There is a certain amount of rhetoric but President Bush
has strongly placed his country in the fold of Nato and also within
international, multilateral institutions."

The year ahead was likely to be filled with "risks and new threats", the
Secretary General said. "On one hand the terrorists, and indeed rogue states
with these weapons of mass destruction, can conceivably inflict terrible

"But I think the world is now putting in place mechanisms that will deal
with terrorism and also seek to prevent some of these catastrophes. Although
I remain worried about these new risks, I am also optimistic that we can,
and we are, putting in place mechanisms that will give us some insurance for
the future."

Lord Robertson's intervention was aimed at bolstering world opinion ahead of
the attacks on Iraq, expected to take place in late January or early
February. The Government will also hope that his comments will reassure the
Labour MPs who fear that Britain is being dragged into war by the US.

Voice of America, 27th December

Officials of the central African country of Niger say two decades ago Iraq
tried to buy uranium but the request was rebuffed.

Niger's Prime Minister Hama Hamadou says in the 1980s, Baghdad did not get a
favorable response from the then president of Niger, Seyni Kountche.

Last week, the United States accused Iraq of trying to buy uranium from
Niger to produce nuclear weapon. Niger is the third leading supplier of
mined uranium in the world. It says it sells the mineral mainly to just
three countries - France, Japan and Spain.

Enriched uranium is the key element of nuclear weapons.

Two other African countries, Namibia and South Africa, are also among the
world's 16 nations with rich uranium supplies.

The World Nuclear Association lists Canada, Australia, Niger, Namibia,
Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, United States, South Africa, China, Ukraine,
Czech Republic, India, France, Romania and Spain as countries that supply


by Khairallah Khairallah
Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th December

The most ominous term in the "political statement" that came out of the
just-concluded Iraqi opposition conference in London was perhaps that which
referred to the "Shiite majority," in the context of the practices of the
Iraqi regime over the last 30 years.

While it is certainly true that the content of the paragraph relating to the
Shiites was watered down before the statement was issued in its final form,
the mere mention of this sect by name does a disservice to the Iraqi cause.
In fact, it creates sensitivities that Iraq can certainly do without at this
particular point in time. Such sensitivities benefit no side other than the
Baghdad regime, which is trying hard to gain the support of at least some of
the Iraqi people in order to survive - especially after it confirmed its
total ignorance in reading regional and global correlations.

This same strategy served the regime well in 1991, when, faced with a
critical revolt, it succeeded in convincing Iraqis that what was happening
was a Shiite insurrection against the Sunnis.

If the Iraqi opposition was thoroughly interested in learning the lessons of
1991, the first thing it should have done was avoid all references to
sectarianism for the simple reason that the Iraqi regime itself never
discriminated between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds. It oppressed all
Iraqis of all persuasions in order to keep itself in power. In fact, the
Saddam Hussein regime began by murdering Sunnis even before it started
killing Shiites.

Saddam's thugs murdered Hardan al-Takreeti and jailed Abdulkhaleq al-Samarai
(both prominent Baathist leaders; the latter was subsequently murdered).
After director of internal security Nadhem Kzar tried to assassinate
President Ahmed Hassan al-Baqr and his then deputy Saddam Hussein, the
regime showed mercy to no one.

When Saddam assumed the presidency in 1979, most of the victims of the
bloodbath that followed were Sunnis.

This does not mean that Shiites got off lightly; far from it. The brutal
torture and murder in April 1980 of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Sadr should
never be forgotten.

Yet it must always be kept in mind that sectarianism serves the regime more
than harming it.

The language used to refer to the oppression the Shiites and their religious
leaders were subjected to was unfortunate, despite the fact that the
statement made a point of "the need to eradicate all sectarian policies, and
uphold the legitimate rights of the Shiites," and despite the fact that the
reference to the Shiites was in the context of announcing that "the new
Iraqi constitution must guarantee that such acts are not repeated, and that
the rights of all the constituents of the Iraqi people must be respected."

Yet at the end of the day, the only impression that remains is that the
Shiites suffered at the hands of the Sunnis - even though the regime
responsible for that oppression was not Sunni at all; it was a tribal regime
that did not spare even its closest relatives.

Fortunately, the London meeting counted among its participants a man named
Masoud Barzani, who spoke as a statesman should. Barzani, leader of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), rejected assertions by other delegates
that they were oppressed more than others. Perhaps that was because he was
independent enough not to need anyone or to be at the mercy of any side.
That is why Barzani was able to say: "None of us should give himself the
right to usurp the rights of others; none of us should throw accusations at
those who are not here (at the meeting)."

Statesmanlike, Barzani spoke of "building a pluralistic, democratic, and
free federal Iraq." Yet he stressed the need for "tolerance, and for genuine
national reconciliation. If we go down the route of revenge, that route
would lead us into an abyss."

Barzani, who lost 37 close relatives and 8,000 members of his clan to the
regime, said: "The law must reign supreme," and, "No one must be allowed to
seek revenge." The Kurdish leader added: "The interests of the country must
take precedence over all others."

Opposition leaders had better realize before it is too late that only by
avoiding sectarianism can they hope to build a better future for their
country. For the most important question was and will continue to be whether
a new regime would really be civilized enough to fulfill Barzani's dream of
a "democratic, pluralist, free, and federal Iraq" - or whether unbridled
ambition would take Iraq back to where Iran was at the time of its Islamic
revolution in 1979.

Iraq should not allow itself to sink even further than it has sunk already.
If the United States has deliberately encouraged the opposition to adopt a
certain tone in order to warn Iraq's Arab neighbors against remaining
impassive toward the momentous developments about to take place in Iraq, it
is not necessary for the opposition to fall into the American trap and agree
to be used to threaten Iraq's Arab neighbors.

On the contrary, the opposition must avoid raising tensions with its Arab
neighbors. It must realize that sooner or later such policies will
boomerang. At the end of the day, does the opposition want to build a modern
Iraq that would become an example for its neighbors, or does it want to sow
the seeds of a civil war without end?

The choice is clear. The opposition can either adopt an inclusive rhetoric
stressing that Saddam's oppression affected all Iraqis equally, or it can
adopt a sectarian message that concentrates only on the oppression suffered
by a certain group and calls for revenge.

The latter message is unsuitable for modern nation-building. The Iraqi
opposition meeting should have recognized these differences and tried to
find a mechanism to settle them, rather than allowing them to fester
unattended only to come back with a vengeance in future.

Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese London-based political analyst. He wrote
this commentary for The Daily Star

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