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[casi] News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (4)

News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (4)


*  UN Adjusts Goods Review List for Iraq under 'Oil-for-food' Program
*  Annan says no justification for Iraq war
*  UN Security Council Takes on Five New Members


*  UN Experts Talk to Iraq Scientist on Aluminum Tubes
*  Iraq's germ weaponry upgraded
*  Bush is pressed not to use land mines in any invasion of Iraq
*  UN experts accused of 'fabrication'
*  Iraq opposition says it is ignored
*  Iraq reveals names of weapons scientists
*  Short-circuit causes fire in UN inspection HQ in Iraq
*  Tips to Kurds about Iraqi weapons seem too good to be true
*  Repeat inspections get sour reception
*  Ex-Iraqi tells of fooling inspectors


Peoples Daily, 31st December

The UN Security Council on Monday approved changes to a list of goods that
are subject to review and approval under the world body's humanitarian aid
program for Iraq.

The UN Security Council on Monday approved changes to a list of goods that
are subject to review and approval under the world body's humanitarian aid
program for Iraq.

By a vote of 13 in favor, with the Russian Federation and Syriaabstaining,
the 15-member council adopted a resolution making adjustments to the
so-called Goods Review List, which is central to a system now being used to
expedite the delivery of humanitarian goods to Iraq.

Under that system, import contracts on all goods not directly subject to the
sanctions can be approved more quickly. Instead of being reviewed by a
council committee set up to monitor the sanctions against Baghdad, these
contracts are processed directly through the UN Office of the Iraq Program.

The resolution called for the council to conduct a thorough review of the
list and the procedures for its implementation 90 days after its start and
prior to the end of the current 180-day phase of the oil-for-food program.

It also decided to conduct regular, thorough reviews of the list by the
committee overseeing the sanctions against Iraq.

The council appealed to all countries to continue to cooperate in timely
submission of technically complete applications and expeditious issuing of
export licenses.

Syrian Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe told reporters after the vote that he
abstained for fear that the resolution could harm ordinaryIraqis.

He also complained that Syria had not had time to properly study the
proposed additions to the 300-page list which itemizes restricted goods that
Iraq is barred from importing without first obtaining council approval on a
case-by-case basis.

An annex to the resolution added about 60 items to the list, falling into
four categories: conventional weapons, missiles, chemical weapons and
biological weapons.

by David Usborne and Marie Woolf
New Zealand Herald, 2nd January

NEW YORK - The United Nations Secretary-General said yesterday that he saw
no justification for attacking Iraq - at least until UN inspections chief
Hans Blix submits a first full report to the Security Council at the end of
this month.

Kofi Annan's remarks were a blunt warning to Britain and the United States
that they will need clear evidence of clandestine weapons programmes in Iraq
to win wider support from other nations for a military campaign against
President Saddam Hussein.

Annan also stated that weapons inspectors in Iraq were working without

His remarks stood in stark contrast to a far more bellicose end-of-year
statement from the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, serving notice that
Britain should be ready for possible conflict in the Gulf. He said he was
ready to take "tough decisions" on dealing with Saddam, "regardless of
short-term popularity".

Blix has until January 27 to give the Security Council a first comprehensive
report on the progress of inspections in Iraq.

In the next four weeks inspections in Iraq are likely to intensify, with
additional manpower as well as eight newly delivered helicopters to ferry

But alarm is growing in London and Washington as it becomes clear that the
work already done by inspectors has failed to pick up a scent of any
prohibited weapons activity. Unless that picture changes, the political task
of justifying an armed invasion to the UN will be immeasurably harder.

The absence of incriminating evidence was highlighted yesterday by an
inspector speaking anonymously to the Los Angeles Times: "We haven't found
one iota of concealed material yet."

The inspector agreed that the failure to find anything may signify only the
Iraqis' concealment skills.

But if Blix returns to the Security Council with nothing to show from the
inspections, London and Washington will face a quandary. Convincing others
to support a war will be all the harder if Iraq has given the impression of
fully co-operating.

Annan emphasised that nothing has so far emerged to justify any decision to
launch a war before the January 27 report. Speaking to Israel's Army Radio,
he said: "I really do not see any basis for an action until then,
particularly as [the inspectors] are able to carry out their work in an
unimpeded manner."

Making matters worse for Blair and President George W. Bush is the changing
membership of the Security Council. Germany is among five countries that
have just taken non-permanent seats on the council for a two-year term.
Under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Germany has made clear its misgivings
about military action.

The prospect of an empty report from Blix is certain to increase the
pressure on Britain and the US to supply him with any intelligence they have
about hidden weapons. For his part, Blix will be further pressed to seek out
Iraqi scientists who may help lift the veil from any concealed weapons.

*  UN Security Council Takes on Five New Members
Tehran Times, 2nd January

UNITED NATIONS -- With the start of 2003, the powerful and prestigious UN
Security Council takes on five new members on Wednesday and bids adieu to
another five who are wrapping up two-year terms on the 15-nation body.

With disarmament of Iraq at the top of the council's agenda, Germany, Spain,
Pakistan, Chile and Angola take rotating two-year seats on the council just
after midnight on Tuesday.

They join the council's five permanent members -- the United States, France,
Russia, Britain and China -- and five other nations with one year remaining
of their two-year terms -- Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Syria.

The five newest members were elected by a vote of the 191-nation UN General
Assembly in September. They fill seats vacated at midnight by Colombia,
Ireland, Mauritius, Norway and Singapore.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for
maintaining international peace and security.

Its resolutions can be binding under international law, and it has the power
to decide war and peace issues and impose sanctions such as arms embargoes
and economic restraints.

Representatives of each of the council's 15 member-nations are required to
be constantly on standby at UN headquarters in New York in case of a crisis
somewhere in the world.

The five new members elected each year are initially nominated by regional
groups. The General Assembly rarely challenges the slate if there are no
rival candidates, as was the case this year.

France takes presidency in January.

The council is run from day to day by a presidency which rotates monthly.
France assumes the post for January, to be followed by Germany in February
and Guinea in March.


The council decided earlier this month to name Germany to chair its
sanctions panel on Iraq in 2003-04 after the White House dropped its
opposition to the move.

The United States had initially opposed Germany's bid to chair the panel
because it feared Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government, which
campaigned against an attack on Iraq, might challenge U.S. policy. The
committee monitors enforcement and compliance of sanctions imposed on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait.

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

Spain was given the chairmanship of the council's counter-terrorism
committee, also a high profile post, when British UN Ambassador Jeremy
Greenstock retires in mid-2003.

This panel, set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United
States, monitors reports from all UN members on what they are doing to
combat terrorism.


by Nadim Ladki
Yahoo, 27th December

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.N. arms experts interviewed a key scientist with
expertise in using aluminum tubes and inspected three sites in Iraq on
Friday in the hunt for any banned weapons programs.

U.N. spokesman Hiro Ueki said inspectors from the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iraq interviewed a metallurgist from a high-profile
state company.

"He provided technical details of a military program," Ueki said in a
statement in Baghdad. "This program has attracted considerable attention as
a possible prelude to a clandestine nuclear program."

Ueki did not identify the scientist, his company or where the interview took
place but said his answers "will be of great use in completing the IAEA
assessment" of Iraq's nuclear program.

An Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement identified the scientist as Dr Kathim
Jamil and described him as a specialist in the use of aluminum tubes
deployed in the production of 81 mm missiles with a range of six miles.

It said the interview, conducted at Baghdad's al-Rasheed Hotel, was attended
by an Iraqi monitoring official and lasted one hour.

The United States and Britain have raised the alarm in recent months over
alleged attempts by Iraq to buy aluminum tubes that could be used to process
uranium. Iraq denied the charges and said it had had the tubes since the

Iraq admits it did have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in
the past but says it has abandoned all banned programs and now has no
doomsday weapons.

The inspectors began this week interviewing scientists who could shed light
on Iraq's previous and any current programs. Friday's interview was the
second formal one-on-one, but no Iraqi scientists have yet been interviewed
outside the country.

A missile team from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission (UNMOVIC) inspected al-Nassir al-Atheem State Company, formerly
known as the Heavy Engineering State Company, in al Doura area.

A chemical team inspected another factory run by the same company in the
same area. Ueki said it carried out a wide range of metalworking for both
civilian and military purposes.

A biological team spent one hour in the Za'faraniya area at the Modern
Chemical Industries Company, which produces arak, gin and whisky. It had
been monitored by previous inspection teams because of the presence of
dual-use equipment.

Jinan Roger Laso, marketing director at the company, told reporters the
inspectors asked questions and checked and photographed tagged equipment at
the site.

"They asked us about empty tankers and we told them it is because of the
Christmas holidays as the company stops production at the end of the year,"
Laso said.

Iraqi officials said an administrative group left for Mosul, nearly 400 km
(250 miles) north of Baghdad, to set up a headquarters for arms inspectors

More than 100 inspectors are now in Iraq trying to uncover any evidence of
weapons developed since their predecessors left before U.S.-British air
raids in 1998.

A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last month gave Iraq a last
chance to come clean on its weapons programs or face possible war.

Hussam Mohammad Amin, chief of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate in
charge of working with the U.N. experts, said on Thursday the experts had
found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction during a month of
inspections across the country.

He said Iraq would submit a list of hundreds of scientists who had worked on
its previous weapons programs in the next two or three days.

The inspectors' next report to the Security Council is due on January 9.
Their final report is due by January 27, two months to the day after they
resumed their search.

Washington Times, from AP, 28th December

Biological weapons are among the few capabilities Iraq has improved since
being defeated by a U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Persian Gulf war,
government officials say.

Working under the noses of U.N. inspectors from 1991 to 1998, President
Saddam Hussein's government probably developed mobile germ-warfare labs and
processes to create dried bacteria for deadlier and longer-lasting weapons,
U.S. officials and former weapons inspectors say.

Pentagon officials say Iraq's biological arsenal could do the most damage,
physical and psychological, if it were used to retaliate immediately against
a U.S. invasion rather than in later stages of battle.

Although U.S. troops are being vaccinated against anthrax and smallpox and
have protective gear, a biological attack cannot be detected until after
exposure. Even if a biological attack did not kill U.S. troops, it could
kill many civilians and create a logistical mess that would slow an American
advance and strain the military's medical capabilities.

"The most frightening thing is Iraq's biological program," said David Kay, a
former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations. "Even in my
inspection days, it was the program we knew the least about."

What inspectors eventually learned was disturbing. After the 1995 defection
of Saddam's son-in-law, who ran the germ-weapons program, Iraq acknowledged
brewing thousands of gallons of deadly germs and toxins and loading some of
them in bombs, missile warheads and rockets.

The weapons included anthrax, the germ that killed seven persons in last
year's U.S. mail attacks; botulinum toxin, nature's most deadly poison;
Clostridium perfringens, a flesh eating bacterium that causes gas gangrene;
and aflatoxin, a fungal poison that causes liver cancer.

In late 1998, frustrated by Iraq's refusal to cooperate, the inspectors
withdrew shortly before the United States and Britain began "Operation
Desert Fox," a bombing campaign to compel compliance by Iraq. Saddam refused
to let the inspectors return.

Iraq claimed it destroyed all its biological weapons. U.N. inspectors
concluded in 1999 that probably was a lie, because Saddam's scientists could
have made thousands of gallons of biological weapons without declaring them.
U.S. officials say Iraq's latest weapons declaration does not clear up

"Before the inspectors were forced to leave Iraq, they concluded that Iraq
could have produced 26,000 liters of anthrax. That is three times the amount
Iraq had declared," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said recently. "Yet
the Iraqi declaration is silent on this stockpile, which alone would be
enough to kill several million people."

The omissions, U.S. officials and former inspectors say, are strong evidence
that Iraq has retained at least some of its biological arsenal.

Iraq's development of anthrax-drying technology makes that arsenal even more
dangerous than it was during the Gulf war. Its earlier biological-weapons
efforts relied on a liquid slurry of anthrax, which let the spores clump
together and made it difficult to get the fine aerosol needed to get the
germs into people's lungs.

U.N. inspectors in the late 1990s found Iraq had drying machines that could
be used to make a powdered form of anthrax.

The Iraqis claimed they were making a biological pesticide from a
worm-killing bacteria known as BT, said former inspector Jonathan Tucker.
But they were making particles so small they would float through the air,
not settle onto crops like a biopesticide should, Mr. Tucker said.

by Peter Slevin and Vernon Loeb
International Herald Tribune, from Washington Post, 28th December

WASHINGTON: Humanitarian organizations are petitioning President George W.
Bush not to use anti-personnel land mines or deadly cluster bombs in a
military campaign against Iraq, arguing that the danger to civilians and
allied soldiers during and after a war outweighs the benefits.

The use of land mines designed to kill individuals - in contrast to mines
intended to destroy vehicles - could endanger U.S. personnel and Iraqi
citizens, as well as slow the rehabilitation of Iraq, wrote Kenneth Bacon,
president of Refugees International, in a letter to Bush.

"Unexploded land mines are hidden killers that inflict damage long after the
fighting stops," wrote Bacon and the organization's chairman, James Kimsey,
a Virginia businessman. They said U.S. attempts to eliminate dangerous Iraqi
weapons would be undermined "by the use of weapons of indiscriminate

Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch said organizations had been lobbying U.S.
allies, both in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and outside the
alliance, to urge the Bush administration not to use anti-personnel mines if
it attacks Iraq. "The United States is isolated on this," Goose said.

The Bush administration's policy on the military's use of land mines is
under review, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council,
said Thursday. Pentagon officials offered no comment, but military planners
have not publicly forsworn their use. They considered them effective in
limiting enemy movements in the 1991 Gulf War.

Pentagon officials point out that modern land mines are equipped with timing
devices designed to defuse them at varied intervals from a few hours to 15

A separate hazard is posed by cluster bombs, which scatter about 200
bomblets designed to explode on impact. Typically, 5 percent of the bomblets
fail to detonate as intended. In that case, they effectively become
anti-personnel mines.

Attempts to pressure the United States into avoiding the use of
anti-personnel mines in Iraq are part of a wider effort to limit the
destructiveness of a war if it occurs. Humanitarian groups have been meeting
with the Pentagon and the United Nations to plan relief efforts, while the
U.S. military has been urging Iraqi officers not to fight back if Iraq is

In its letter to Bush, Refugees International noted a warning by the General
Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, that the
self-destruction mechanism on land mines had failed to work in an
unexpectedly large number of cases. The mines "often explode after the
battle is over," the letter said.

"In Iraq, this could pose risks to U.S. troops, Iraqi civilians - including
returning refugees - and humanitarian workers," wrote Bacon, who was the
chief Pentagon spokesman during the administration of President Bill

"Malfunctioning land mines could also endanger road-building and
reconstruction crews working to rehabilitate the country after a war," Bacon

The U.S. military has not used anti-personnel mines since the Gulf War, when
U.S. forces deployed about 118,000 self-destructing land mines in Iraq and
Kuwait, according to the General Accounting Office.

They were typically scattered across battlefields by aircraft and artillery

Exploding land mines wounded 81 members of the U.S. military during the 1991
conflict, the congressional office said, although none of the casualties was
caused by U.S. mines.

The Pentagon maintains a stockpile of about 18 million land mines, including
15 million of the newer, self-destructing mines designed to kill individuals
or destroy vehicles.

The U.S. government has not endorsed a 1997 treaty signed by 146 countries
that bans the production, use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel

The United States believes that the convention "does not adequately address
U.S. security requirements and international responsibilities," a State
Department spokeswoman said.,1113,2-10_1302070,00.html

News 24 (South Africa), 28th December

An Iraqi scientist said on Saturday UN arms experts had exaggerated the
outcome of an interview with him as part of a hunt for alleged banned

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors interviewed on Friday
Kathim Mijbil, a metallurgist from the al-Rayah Company which is an arm of
Iraq's Military Industrialisation Commission.

The Iraqi foreign ministry had given his name as Kathim Jamil, but he gave
his family name as Mijbil.

Mijbil told a news conference in Baghdad that he had been involved in
restoring aluminium tubes for possible use in short-range missiles but
denied he had any links to past banned weapons programmes or any current
such activity. He said Iraq had imported the tubes in 1987 for use in the
production of 81-mm missiles with a range of 10km. He said the tubes had
corroded because of poor storage.

A UN spokesperson said on Friday the scientist had provided technical
details of a military programme.

"This programme has attracted considerable attention as a possible prelude
to a clandestine nuclear programme," he said.

The spokesperson said the interview "will be of great use in completing the
IAEA assessment" of Iraq's nuclear programme.

"I strongly deny this," Mijbil said. "Frankly I'm very disturbed...over
these statements because they don't relate to reality. Does cleaning an
aluminium tube from corrosion with basic chemicals...lead to a secret

He said the UN statement bordered on fabrication and was grossly

"There may be some political agenda or to escalate the situation," Mijbil

He said he turned down the inspectors' request to hold the interview at
their headquarters and later agreed to meet them at al-Rasheed Hotel with an
Iraqi monitoring official present.

Asked why he refused to go to the headquarters, he said: "I look at this
place Guantanamo Bay and I am not a prisoner, I am a free Iraqi man."

The United States holds scores of mainly Arab prisoners in Guantanamo Bay in
Cuba in its "war against terrorism".

Mijbil, the second scientist to be formally interviewed by the inspectors
who resumed on November 27 a hunt for nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons in Iraq after a four-year break, urged other scientists to turn down
any offer to take them abroad for interviews.

"My interview was in my country with the presence of the (Iraqi)
representative...and you saw what happened in the press so what will the
situation be when interviewed abroad?" the British-educated
scientist said.

"There will be lots of misunderstandings, fabrications and lies."

The United States and Britain have raised the alarm in recent months over
alleged attempts by Iraq to buy aluminium tubes that could be used to
process uranium. Iraq denied the charges and said it had had the tubes since
the 1980s.

Iraq admits it did have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes
in the past, but says it has abandoned all banned programmes and has no
weapons of mass destruction.

by Jim Muir
BBC, 28th December

A leading Iraqi opposition group says it has been unsuccessful in trying to
pass information on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to the
United Nations.

The Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)
says it is regrettable the UN is only dealing with the Baghdad government
and ignoring the opposition.

The military leader of the Supreme Council - which claims to represent the
bulk of Iraq's majority Shia population - said his movement has information
that Saddam Hussein is still trying to develop chemical and biological

Abdulaziz al-Hakim said it has specific details on some of the sites
involved and the government's plans to hide the weapons.

Mr Hakim said his movement wants to share this information with the UN, but
was unable to do so since it was dealing only with the Baghdad government
and does not recognise or talk to the opposition.

The SCIRI commander, who attended the recent opposition meeting in London,
said there was a big chance the Iraqi government would resort to weapons of
mass destruction in the event of a US attack.

He feared there would be heavy casualties among civilians if they were
caught between the two, being used as a human shield by the regime.

Mr Hakim said the Iraqi opposition wanted regime change to be brought about
by the Iraqi people with international support.

It rejected both the entry of US troops and their remaining on Iraqi soil,
though he admitted there was nothing they could do to prevent it.

Mr Hakim made it clear that Iraqi opposition forces would not simply be used
as ground troops for an American operation.

They had their own plans, he said, and he doubted that the Americans would
be able to succeed on their own.

A dialogue was currently underway with the Americans though, but nothing had
yet been agreed in terms of cooperation or joint action.

by Christopher Claire
The Scotsman, 29th December

IRAQ last night named 500 scientists who had worked on its banned weapons
programmes, identifying personnel who the United States says could pinpoint
any illicit arsenal Baghdad may possess.

One Iraqi scientist already interviewed spoke out publicly, however, to
reject UN inspectors' suggestions his work may have been related to secret
efforts to develop nuclear missiles.

A United Nations spokesman announced Iraq's handover of the list of names to
the arms inspectors as US President George Bush said Iraq could avoid war by
destroying illegal arms.

Baghdad warned it would fight any invaders through the streets and teach
them a lesson they would never forget.

UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said the list of Iraqi scientists, demanded by chief
weapons inspector Hans Blix on December 12, included experts in chemical,
biological and nuclear programmes and in the development of long-range

"Today we have received from the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate a
list of names of personnel associated with Iraq's chemical, biological,
nuclear and ballistic programmes," Ueki told a news briefing in Baghdad.



BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- An electrical short circuit caused a fire
Sunday morning at the headquarters of the UN weapons inspectors in Baghdad.

Three Iraqi fire engines and a police car raced to the UN weapons
inspectors' headquarters at the Canal Hotel to put out the blaze apparently
sparked by a short-circuit, an Iraqi civil defense official said.

The fire started in a ground floor room and damaged an Internet server used
by UN employees, UN officials said, adding no one was reported hurt.

The inspectors left for their daily inspections as usual after the fire
trucks arrived, it was reported.

The three-story Canal Hotel in the eastern sector of Baghdad also houses
other UN organizations.

by C.J. Chivers
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 30th December

SULAIMANIYA, IraqThe Kurdish security official sat at his desk, handling
letters from his informants. Each contained a tip that might change the
future of Iraq. Or maybe he was being played for a dope.

He held a sheet of paper aloft.

"This one says the Iraqis built a mosque in Tuz Khormatu, but under the
ground is a hollow place," he said. "The mosque has no guards, people go
there and pray, but underneath them chemical weapons are stored."

He picked up another.

"This one is about a shoe and plastics factory in Baghdad where all of the
workers were removed before the weapons inspectors returned, and new workers
replaced them," he said. "It is in a neighborhood called Hay Jameela. It is
very strange."

While UN inspectors search Iraq for prohibited weapons, a parallel operation
is taking place in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Kurdish officials here
are evaluating a stream of tips about where Saddam Hussein's chemical
weapons and illegal missiles are said to be hidden, and pondering how to
handle them.

Throughout the region there is a lively internal debate about whether the
tips are authentic or part of a deliberate counterintelligence campaign by
Saddam's security services.

Kurds wonder: Have we uncovered definitive evidence against the Iraqi
government, or are we ensnared in a circular game of spy versus spy?

"One way that Saddam has always worked is that he has sent information into
an area through his agents, and it is the wrong information," said a
security official in the Kurdish capital of Erbil. "Believe me, the
information we have received about all of the places he has hidden weapons
is enough for the whole world to be busy searching. He leaks this

Back in Sulaimaniya, the official with the hand-scrawled tips said he
believed them, because they had been delivered by informants who had been
reliable in the past.

"I am not new at this business," he said. "I know whom I work with."

Barham Salih, the prime minister of the eastern zone of northern Iraq,
leaves open the possibility that both views are right.

"We know that the Iraqi government has chemical weapons and is involved in a
very elaborate concealment effort," he said. "And we know that Saddam
Hussein is capable of such decoy operations and misinformation campaigns."

Whether true or false, the tips have found the perfect audience.

Fear of chemical attack is part of the Kurdish collective psyche.

These are people whom Saddam's forces attacked in the 1980s with nerve and
mustard gas. Kurds are certain that the Iraqi leader retains prohibited
weapons, and that he intends to use them again. The leaks carry great
emotional power.

But emotional power and intelligence value are not the same thing, and
officials say they worry about the damage that planted information might
cause, including damage to their own credibility, since some of the tips
that Kurdish officials deem reliable have been shared with U.S. intelligence
teams working in northern Iraq.

"Saddam wants us to leak his misinformation to the UN, so the UN will go
there once, twice, three times, and waste their time, and lose respect for
the credibility of the Kurds," the official in Erbil said.

Kurds also worry that the meager intelligence at their disposal - they have
no satellites and their ability to exchange information with other nations
is limited - means they cannot fully evaluate or corroborate the material at

They claim to have networks of informants but acknowledge that this "human
intelligence," as it is called, has limits.

"Kurdish intelligence is not that clever or smart to determine if these are
lies or true things," said Faraidoon Abdulkader, interior minister in the
Kurdish eastern zone.

All the while, leaks keep surfacing, coming through informants, circulating
in villages along the militarized border between northern and southern Iraq,
and being passed to journalists from here and abroad.

Karim Agha, chief of the Hammond tribe, whose people straddle the border
region at nearby Chamchamal, said that earlier this fall a smuggler who
often passes through the lines saw Iraqi soldiers with heavy equipment
digging holes at night in remote gullies, and burying metal containers.

Abdulkader, the interior minister, said that two weeks ago he received two
separate tips about people burying materials at night under a military
guard, and has been given descriptions of four trucks that are thought to be
mobile biological labs.

The official with the reports on his desk said that the sheer volume of the
tips, and the debate about what to do with them, meant that information was
allowed to go stale.

He said his informant on the supposed storage site at Tuz Khormatu
complained. "He asked me: 'Why are you not coming to this mosque? We give
you this information, why are you not coming here?'"

The tension and frustration are high enough in the region that at least one
tipster has approached outsiders, although he seemed motivated more by
opportunism than by public service.

An unshaven man in a suit visited an ABC News producer in his hotel room
here in late November, seeking $50,000 to arrange the smuggling of what he
called suspicious bottles out of a weapons factory in Baghdad.

The man said that the region was overrun with spies and that he did not want
to notify the Kurdish government, because he might be interrogated. He also
hinted at fears that he might be killed by the Iraqis.

The producer, Kevin McKiernan, declined the offer and notified his office.
He wrote in his journal that the visitor "seemed angry when I told him that
news reporters don't buy materials."

by Sergei L. Loiko and Maggie Farley
Houston Chronicle, from Los Angeles Times, 30th December

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In their search for hidden Iraqi arms, U.N. inspectors so
far have faced little conflict, have found little evidence and have received
little outside intelligence to guide them, said one inspector. The teams
have discovered two technical violations but have yet to find a smoking gun,
a trace of radiation or a single germ spore.

"If our goal is to catch them with their pants down, we are definitely
losing," the inspector said, on condition he would not be named. "We haven't
found an iota of concealed material yet."

In one of the first glimpses of the inspection process from inside Iraq, the
inspector described a team of experts who have been thwarted by Iraqi
authorities who have better preparation, equipment and intelligence than the

The list of Iraq's violations is short. During the four years that
inspectors have not been allowed in the country, the Iraqis tried to procure
missile parts and altered others without notifying the United Nations, the
inspector said -- two incidents that could be considered a breach of U.N.
resolutions but perhaps not enough to justify military action.

But their roster of frustrations is long. There are currently 110 weapons
experts in Iraq, 100 searching for chemical and biological weapons and 10
looking for evidence of a nuclear program. Their mission is nearly
impossible -- trying to locate suspected caches of material or documents in
a country the size of California.

Their work is relentless -- sometimes the teams conduct seven inspections a
day. Monday was that kind of day, as inspectors made seven visits, including
one to a water purification plant and a revisit of a missile factory.

In order to keep their plans secret from wiretaps, moles or eavesdropping
devices, inspectors operate like spies, passing notes about the day's plans
rather than speaking aloud, and driving their U.N. jeeps in circles to
confound those trying to guess their destination.

But often, inspectors say, by the time the U.N. convoys arrive at a site,
the factory gates are open, and the workers are waiting. The Iraqis have
been obliging, even eager to please, allowing the inspectors to wander
through the bedrooms of a once off-limits Presidential Palace "like idle
museum-goers," he said.

"Even private facilities which are not part of their state-run military
industrial complex open up for us -- like magic," the inspector said. "But
even if they open all the doors in Iraq for us and keep them open 24 hours a
day, we won't be able to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if it
is not there. We need help. We need information. We need intelligence
reports if they exist."

The inspector said that he and his colleagues feel acute pressure from the
Bush administration to uncover something soon -- but if the United States
has provided its long promised intelligence, they haven't seen it yet.

"We can't look for something which we don't know about. If the United States
wants us to find something, they should open their intelligence file and
share it with us so that we know where to go for it."

A senior Bush administration official said Monday that the United States has
passed on "high quality" information regarding suspected chemical or
biological sites but that the inspectors hadn't acted on it yet.

"They have gotten some intelligence, and they will get more," the official
said. "But what the U.S. intelligence community is concerned about is
whether they can use the intelligence fruitfully and not have it compromised
to the Iraqis in a way it loses its value."

The demands for secrecy are intense.

"We are not allowed to say a word about what we are doing," said the
inspector."By being silent, we may create the false illusion that we did
uncover something. But I must say that if we were to publish a report now,
we would have zilch to put in it."

by Daniel Williams
Detroit News, from Washington Post, 31st December

LONDON -- Ahmed found it odd that he was constructing a giant vat for
production of specialized proteins in an unmarked complex of buildings far
off the main road south of Baghdad. But he knew enough not to ask too many

In long years of service to the military-industrial ministries of President
Saddam Hussein's government, Ahmed had learned not to inquire about the
ultimate uses of the projects he worked on, first as a nuclear construction
engineer during the 1980s and then on this seemingly innocuous pot.

"This was a regime that got used to hiding things. We didn't need to know,
until it became obvious what it was about," he said.

In the case of the vat, Ahmed had his suspicions. He thought it was meant to
create biological weapons material. He was apparently right. U.N. inspectors
dismantled the equipment in the late 1990s, after a high-level defector
tipped them off to its uses. "That's what the inspectors looking around Iraq
now will need," he said, "a defector."

The Bush administration is pressing the current U.N. inspection team to
ferry scientists out of Iraq for interrogation. Only then, administration
officials say, will they get useful information on suspected Iraqi nuclear,
chemical and biological arms programs. Failure of Saddam to permit
scientists and their families to leave would, in the administration's view,
constitute a breach of the latest U.N. resolution demanding open access to
weapons sites.

Ahmed left Iraq in 1999 and lives in an Arab country. On a visit to London,
he discussed his experiences in fooling earlier weapons inspectors, but
asked to keep his real name out of print, because of fears for relatives
still living in the country.

"Even if you take out their wives and kids, they have other relatives in
Iraq -- brothers, cousins, mothers, fathers. Saddam can have them all
killed," he said. "You would have to be able to provide the scientist and
everyone else full security. They would have to believe that Saddam could
not get his hands on them.

"Also, the scientists may not have anything to say. There is no new science
in Iraq. The programs, if any, are in the hands of security people. Take me.
I could say what I worked on, but I could not tell you the state of any
program that went on after I stopped working. Only a few people have that
kind of information, and they are well hidden."

Ahmed believes that the Iraqi government is continuing to develop biological
and chemical weapons and has become more adept at hiding the programs. "They
have had lots of practice," he said.

Ahmed is no repentant defector. He proudly recounted his career in building
nuclear facilities for Iraq's efforts to produce an atom bomb. "I felt that
as an Arab, it was right that an Arab country have the bomb," he said.
"Israel has one. So should we." He felt this way even though he said two of
his cousins were executed by Saddam's security forces during the early 1980s
for anti-government activities.

For all his pride, Ahmed wasn't fully trusted by his Iraqi overseers. No one
was, he said. At first, he was told that his work was leading the way for
nuclear-generated electric power. But eventually his bosses revealed the
real goal.

In any case, after the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the nuclear arms project
stopped, he said. U.N. inspectors came. Hiding the large infrastructure
necessary to produce weapons-grade material was impossible.

Nonetheless, his supervisors warned Ahmed and his colleagues to "say little
and answer only as narrowly as possible -- the specifics of our particular
job, not what we knew about the whole program," he said. "We also had to
sign a paper swearing that we had no documents in our private possession. If
someone found out otherwise, they said we would be killed."

Ahmed said that he and other nuclear workers were given other jobs
throughout Iraq, and eventually he landed at the Military Industrial
Commission, which is responsible for constructing weapons factories and
military installations. In 1995, he said he was ordered to help construct
laboratories and vats at a place called Al Hakam, southwest of Baghdad.

U.N. inspectors were still looking for weapons programs, and they
interviewed Ahmed three times, he said. "Each worker simply gave a narrow
account of his job. In my case, I was just building a vat."

Colleagues at other places told him they were ordered to bury equipment or
to move it around on large trucks, sometimes for days at a time. "It was a
giant chess game in which sometimes the pieces went underground," he said.

At Al Hakam, Ahmed said he asked his supervisor what the vats would be used
for. Fermentation, he was told. When he asked what ingredient would be
converted into what product, he was met with "aggressive silence." The Al
Hakam facility was discovered only because of information provided by
Hussein Kamel Hassan Majeed, a son-in-law of Saddam who defected to Jordan
in the mid-1990s and conveyed information about the Iraqi biological weapons

He left in 1997 and applied to emigrate. The government, fearful of
defectors, forced him to stay in Iraq for two more years. In that time,
officials surmised, he would lose contact with the programs he worked on and
have nothing to offer investigators abroad. "I was very careful to cut off
all ties with my former work," he said. "I wanted to leave. I stayed
completely isolated. I didn't want to know anything."

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