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[casi] News, 10-15/01/03 (1)

News, 10-15/01/03 (1)


*  Agency Challenges Evidence Against Iraq Cited by Bush
*  Iraq illegally imported missile engines
*   Iraq has no N-weapons, claims expatriate scientist
*  Q&A with the Top Sleuth
*  Germans on trial over Iraq cannon
*  Transcript: Hans Blix interview
*  Smuggled parts may be the missing clue


*  Britain urges US to delay war until autumn
*  Anti-war train drivers [in Scotland] refuse to move arms freight
*  British Muslims fear conflict for generations
*  Brown backs Blair over Iraq
*  Iraqi counting on UK to avert war


*  Movie star leads thousands in anti-war rally
*  Naked supporters for Saddam


by Michael R. Gordon
New York Times, 10th January

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 ‹ The key piece of evidence that President Bush has cited
as proof that Saddam Hussein has sought to revive his program to make
nuclear weapons was challenged today by the International Atomic Energy

In his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in September,
President Bush cited Iraq's attempts to buy special aluminum tubes as proof
that Baghdad was seeking to construct a centrifuge network system to enrich
uranium for nuclear bombs.

"Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to
enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon," Mr. Bush said.

But Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the I.A.E.A., offered a
sharply different assessment in a report to the United Nations Security
Council today.

Dr. ElBaradei said Iraqi officials had claimed that they sought the tubes to
make 81 millimeter rockets. Dr. ElBaradei indicated that he thought the
Iraqi claim was credible.

"While the matter is still under investigation and further verification is
foreseen, the I.A.E.A.'s analysis to date indicates that the specifications
of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq in 2001 and 2002 appear to be
consistent with reverse engineering of rockets," the agency said in its
report. "While it would be possible to modify such tubes for the manufacture
of centrifuges, they are not directly suitable for it."

While the discussion of Iraq's procurement efforts is highly technical, it
is politically very significant. The primary rational for going to war with
Iraq rests on fears that Baghdad is striving to develop a nuclear weapon.
The argument for military intervention, in effect, is that Iraq was much
closer to a nuclear weapon before the 1991 Persian Gulf war than most
experts thought and might be again.

United States officials have long been concerned that Iraq would try to
revive its nuclear weapons program and have cited several pieces of

First, after the 1991 gulf war United Nations inspectors learned that Iraq
had planned to build a centrifuge plant of 1,000 machines. Second, British
intelligence has reported that Iraq wanted to produce a special magnet that
would be suitable for a gas centrifuge system.

Another important indicator, officials said, was Iraq's efforts to procure
special aluminum tubes. In a report titled "A Decade of Deception and
Defiance," the White House asserted that Iraq had sought to buy thousands of
tubes over a 14-month period to make centrifuges for enriching uranium.
Though the shipments were blocked, officials said, the White House said they
demonstrated that Iraq was striving to become a nuclear power.

Still, American intelligence was never of a single mind on the question of
aluminum tubes. While there have been varying assessments, the dominant view
among American intelligence analysts ‹ one backed by the Central
Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National
Security Agency ‹ is that the precise dimensions and specifications of the
tubes indicated that they were intended for use in making centrifuges. But
some officials in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research
and the Energy Department have questioned this analysis, saying that the
tubes might be intended to make rockets.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have taken the position that
the C.I.A.'s case is compelling. Senior officials said that some of the
tubes sought were of a type used to make centrifuges and carried technical
specifications that made it difficult to think they could be used for
anything else.

Asked about the new assessment, a senior Bush Administration official said:
"I think the Iraqis are spinning the I.A.E.A. The majority of the
intelligence community has the same view as before."

The agency, however, is not alone in questioning the United States view. In
its report on Iraq's efforts to make weapons of mass destruction, Britain
concluded that Iraq was "almost certainly" seeking the means to enrich
uranium to make a nuclear weapon. But referring to Iraq's attempts to buy
aluminum tubes Britain also concluded that "there is no definitive
intelligence that it is destined for a nuclear program."

Today's assessment also raises new questions. The I.A.E.A. said that Iraq
had offered only limited cooperation and that there were still important
questions about its suspected effort to develop a nuclear program. But the
agency also noted that the presence of its inspectors would make it hard for
Iraq to resume its nuclear program.

To investigate the case of the aluminum tubes, Dr. ElBaradei said,
inspectors visited Iraqi rocket factories, interviewed Iraqi officials, took
samples of aluminum tubes that Iraq managed to buy, and reviewed Iraqi
documents on purchases they had sought to carry out.

Iraq's attempts to buy aluminum tubes "was the key piece of evidence to
support the assessment that Iraq was pursuing or trying to revive its gas
centrifuge program," said Gary Samore, director of studies for the
International Institute of Strategic Studies and the senior proliferation
official on President Clinton's National Security Council. As a result of
the agency's report, he added, "this particular piece of evidence is now
much more ambiguous."

NewScientist, 10th January
Iraq has illegally acquired engines and other missile components, weapons
inspectors reported to the UN Security Council on Thursday, but they do not
believe Iraq used these parts to try to develop nuclear weapons.

Hans Blix, head of the UN Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission,
said inspectors had found no "smoking guns" to indicate that Iraq has been
developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

But he added: "Inspections have confirmed the presence of a relatively large
number of missile engines, some imported as recently as 2002. This import
has taken place in violation of the relevant resolutions." He noted that raw
materials intended for use in the production of solid rocket fuel were also
found during inspections, which began in November 2002.

UN council resolutions imposed after the Gulf War in 1990 ban the sale of
any military weapons to Iraq. They also restrict the development of
ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres, as well as
nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

However inspectors ruled out a link between aluminium tubing imported by
Iraq and nuclear weapons. Iraq has admitted to buying high-strength
aluminium tubing in 2001 and 2002 but claims this was destined for the
production of 81-milimetre missiles.

The US has argued that these tubes were meant for use as centrifuges crucial
to the refinement of uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons.

Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), which is carrying out the nuclear inspections in Iraq, said: "The
question is still open, but we believe at this stage that these aluminium
tubes were intended for manufacturing rockets."

Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems, a defence
industry publication, says 81 millimetre missiles typically have a range of
a few kilometres and are fitted to helicopters. He says the missile's motors
are contained within aluminium tubing.

"Without knowing precisely what type of aluminium, I couldn't give
definitive answer," Lennox told New Scientist. "But it wouldn't surprise me
if they were used for 81 millimetre rockets."

The types of engines imported by Iraq might provide clues as to the
country's rocket programs. But the UN inspectors' office in Iraq told New
Scientist that this information could not be disclosed.

A dossier issued by the UK government in October 2002 suggested that Iraq
has tested missiles with a range of 200 kilometres. However, this has not
been independently confirmed.

NO URL (sent to list)

Interview with Dr Imad Khadduri, by Michael Jansen
Irish Times, 6th January

Iraq has no nuclear weapons and no means to deliver nuclear weapons. This is
the assessment of a former senior Iraqi nuclear scientist, Dr Imad Khadduri.

"Iraq is in no position today to produce a nuclear device or deliver it and
has not been able to engage in nuclear research since the end of the 1991
war," he told The Irish Times.

He said accusations that Iraq might manufacture a large, "dirty" bomb
deliverable by aircraft or missile were in the realm of science fiction.
Iraq had neither the reactors nor the neutron generators needed to produce
such a weapon," he said.

Dr Khadduri, who obtained an MSc in physics from the University of Michigan
and a PhD in nuclear reaction technology from Birmingham University, was
involved in Iraq's nuclear programme from 1968 until the end of 1998, when
he and his family left for Canada.

During three decades of service he prospected for uranium ore in Iraq,
helped to develop its nuclear facilities, served as procurement officer for
the programme and maintained its records.

He dismissed allegations that Baghdad could, in the foreseeable future,
produce a nuclear device.

"Its nuclear weapons programme was derailed in 1991, and the whole cadre of
nuclear scientists and engineers was diverted to the reconstruction of
damaged electricity power stations, oil refineries and telephone exchanges,"
he said.

As information specialist he visited each scientist who was engaged in the
rehabilitation effort. "None of these enterprises engaged in projects or
work related to the continuation of the nuclear weapons programme," he said.

Dr Khadduri decided to speak out to counter the "misinformation campaign"
mounted by the US and British governments which, he said, had relied on
sources with little credibility.

One such source is the sole Iraqi nuclear expert to defect to the US, Dr
Khidhir Hamza, author of a book entitled Saddam's Bombmaker who has
testified before Congress and made high-profile appearances on television.

Dr Khadduri said that while Dr Hamza was involved in theoretical work at the
nuclear research centre during the 1970s and 1980s, he had "an aversion" to
scientific experimentation and shunned any responsibilities which would have
made him, in any sense, a bombmaker.

Historically, he said, the US had initiated Iraq's nuclear programme in 1956
by dispatching to Baghdad the "Atom for Peace library" which, during the
Eisenhower administration, was supplied to many world governments and used
by at least two, India and Pakistan, as the starting point for bomb-making.

Following the July 1958 removal of the Iraqi monarchy, "the small reactor,
which was part of the package and on its way to Iraq, was diverted to Iran,"
Dr Khadduri said.

While still pursuing the Atoms for Peace vision without military intent,
Baghdad had turned to the Soviet Union and bought a two-megawatt research
reactor which went critical in 1966-67.

Dr Khadduri joined the Iraqi Atomic Energy Centre a year later. The IAEA
[International Atomic Energy Agency] sent many consultants and researchers
to assist in early work at the centre. During 1975 France provided Iraq with
a light-water reactor, Osirak, which was specifically designed to be
unsuitable for the production of plutonium for a bomb, he said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi scientists were, said Dr Khadduri, "dabbling with
rudimentary research on fission bombs." In 1976 he prospected for uranium
ore "using a novel technique" which came up with positive results. The
bombing by Israel of Osirak in June 1981 prompted Iraq to take the decision
to go ahead with weaponisation.

During 1987, the last year of the Iraq-Iran war, Baghdad stepped up its
efforts in a crash programme under the president's son-in-law, Hussein

By 1991, Dr Khadduri, said Iraq had many complexes supporting the nuclear
weaponisation programme: the original research centre at Tawaitha near
Baghdad, a fertiliser-cum-uranium ore extracting plant at Akashat in the
west, a uranium ore processing plant near Mosul in the north, facilities at
Tarmiah and Sharqat which housed separators similar to those used to develop
the first US bomb, and the new centre for the design and assembly of bombs
at al-Atheer.

There were also major electrical and mechanical installations near Baghdad.
Had Iraq had enough enriched uranium al-Atheer would have been the key
installation, but the separators were a long way from delivering, Dr
Khadduri said.

His assessment is supported by the IAEA which reported that "there were no
indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce
nuclear weapons" or that "it had produced more than a few grams of
weapons-grade nuclear material" or "otherwise clandestinely acquired
weapons-usable material."

Dr Khadduri said: "Most, but not all, of these complexes were destroyed by
US bombers during the 1991 war. In particular, al-Atheer survived and was
discovered and dismantled by the first UN inspectorate. Subsequent
allegations that Iraq had set up a clandestine programme were untrue, he

The careers of Iraq's scientists and engineers came to an end after 1991
when they fell victim to the inflation and gradual economic degradation
created by the punitive sanctions regime.

During the waning years of the 1990s, Iraq's nuclear scientists did their
utmost to produce a comprehensive report for the IAEA, their final task, Dr
Khadduri said.

Today Iraq's scientists were "gripped by poverty . . . Their former
determination and drive have been crushed by economic realities . . . Their
skills atrophy from lack of activity in their fields," Dr Khadduri said.

Most remain in Iraq. "The number of senior scientists who managed to leave,
by hook or by crook, number no more than the fingers of your two hands." He
was one of the lucky ones. He decided to leave by 1998. He did not defect,
he insisted, he emigrated.,9171,1101030120-407286,00.html

by Marge Michaels
Time, 12th January

Q.The Bush Administration has repeatedly said Iraq is very close to owning a
nuclear bomb.
A. I hope the U.S. does not know anything we do not know. If they do, they
should tell us. If they are talking about indigenous capability, Iraq is far
away from that. If Iraq has imported material hidden, then you're talking
about six months or a year. But that's a big if.

Q.Is Iraq still hiding parts of a nuclear program?
A. I don't want to come to a definitive conclusion yet. I think it's
difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be
hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These
are not enough to make weapons. There were reports from different member
states that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for enrichment, that they were
importing uranium from Africa. Our provisional conclusion is that these
tubes were for rockets and not for centrifuges. They deny they have imported
any uranium since 1991. (From) the U.S., the U.K. and others‹ we need to get
specifics of when and where. We need actionable information.

Q.Powell has said the U.S. is now giving "significant" information to the
inspection teams.
A. Not yet. We hope soon to get actionable information.

Q.What about chemical and biological weapons?
A. The chemical and biological files are very much open. There is almost a
consensus among intelligence agencies that there are still chemical- and
biological-weapons programs going on in Iraq. UNMOVIC (U.N. Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission) expected to get records of
production, destruction, physical evidence of where remnants of some of the
stuff has been destroyed. The declaration (and inspections so far) shed no
new light on any of these issues. So that's why (unmovic chief Hans) Blix
keeps saying, "I don't have any evidence, but I cannot exclude the
possibility." In light of the Iraqi past record of concealment and deceit,
that's obviously not good enough for the Security Council. The uncertainty
is too wide for the council to accept.

Q.How crucial are private interviews with scientists?
A. There is almost an obsession with interviews. That is just one aspect of
doing inspections‹ at least in the nuclear area It shouldn't be the center
or the key.

Q.Is Iraq capable of hiding these programs forever?
A. Unless we stumble on something‹ either through information from
defections or through random inspection. If we continue on and on without
making progress on some of these issues, I don't think the Security Council‹
the U.S. in particular‹ is ready to wait forever.

Q.If you arrive at this same "no evidence they have weapons, no proof they
don't" conclusion on Jan. 27, will that satisfy anybody?
A. I think it's very clear that Saddam Hussein will not get off the hook. It
is not that Iraq is clean just by saying, Here, look everywhere.

Q.Could this point be made on Jan. 27?
A. No, there is still a lot of work to be done on both sides. Jan. 27 is
just an update, not a cutoff date. The inspection process should continue.
It's good the Americans are putting the heat on the Iraqis, and that has
yielded results. And I think that pressure should continue. But anybody who
understands inspections understands that it takes time. The Security Council
understands that this should take something like a year.

Q.Surely the Bush Administration is not going to wait a year.
A. I hope the U.S. mobilization is only about adding to the pressure.

Q.Has the U.S. given you an idea of how long it would wait?
A. No. It depends on how much progress. We are making progress in nuclear.
In chemical and biological, the inspectors are not yet making progress.

Q.Are there specific questions you are taking to Baghdad at the end of this
A. Yes. What we want to impress on the Iraqis is that cooperation on process
but not on substance is not enough. Given Iraq's past record of 12 years of
patchy cooperation, given the fact that everyone is getting sick and tired
of this Iraq file, nothing less will be sufficient. We will say we don't
think they are going to be attacked if they come clean and produce what they
have. But Iraq has to understand: if they cooperate in process and not
substance, then the end is near.

Q.The Americans have set it up this way. Go ahead, say no.
A. (Laughter.)

CNN, 14th January

MANNHEIM, Germany (AP) -- Two men accused of equipping Iraq with technology
to make long-range cannon in 1999 go on trial on Tuesday for violating
German arms-export laws.

The role of foreign companies selling equipment to Iraq was thrown into
sharp relief last month when the names of firms that sold weapons and
equipment to Baghdad for its military programs were released by the United

Although most of the transactions took place before the 1991 U.N. sanctions
against Iraq were in place, the lists indicated that German companies were
deeply involved. More than half of the firms listed were German.

The defendants called before the Mannheim state court, however, conducted
their business in 1999, long after the U.N. embargoes against Iraq were in

Identified only as Bernd S., 59, and Willi Heinz R., 53, the defendants have
been accused by prosecutors of setting up front companies in Jordan and
using an Iraqi middleman to "deliver drills capable of and made to build
artillery cannon and worth a total of 200,000 euros (US$210,000) to Iraq."

If found guilty, the defendants could be sentenced to up to 15 years in

S., an engineer from the southwestern town of Pforzheim, was arrested in
October 2001 on suspicion of acting as the go-between in the 1999
procurement of technology for the long range cannon.

Prosecutors say the engineer helped purchase machinery from two German
companies suitable for drilling the barrel of the guns. They believe the
equipment was sent to Iraq in 1999 by the trading firm Alriwo GmbH in
Mannheim via Jordan to conceal the shipments' true destination.

Iraq has dismissed the allegations as part of a plot inspired by Israel and
the United States.

S. is further suspected of having organized the sale of parts, including
braking parachutes, from Russian-built MiG fighter jets from Ukraine worth
US$80,000 to Iraq in 1997 and 1998, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors are investigating five other people in connection with the case,
said Hubert Jobski, a spokesman for prosecutors in Mannheim. One of the men,
Sahib Abd al-Amir al Haddad, 59, a U.S. citizen of Iraqi origin, was
arrested Nov. 25 after arriving at the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria, from
Turkey. Germany has requested his extradition.

While the amount of sales of arms and arms-related material from Germany and
other countries in the West has decreased considerably in the past 10 years,
thanks to harsher export laws, trials such as the one in Mannheim show how
much work remains to be done to improve enforcement, according to nuclear
watchdog groups.

"It is easier to go to an old client than to find a new one," said Kelly
Motz of the Washington-based Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

Several dozen German companies, including big-name firms such as MAN,
Degussa and Siemens, were listed by Iraq has having contributed know-how and
equipment to Baghdad's weapons programs. Some have been prosecuted in German
courts; Many of the companies, however, no longer exist.

Germany has tightened its export laws since the early 1990s, but the trial
in Mannheim is expected to show how individuals and companies in advanced
countries such as Germany have continued to work around the laws and the

Much of the equipment sold to Iraq since the embargo is so-called
"dual-use," meaning it can be used for civilian and military purposes.
Strict laws govern the sale of such technologies, and purchasing companies
must be able to prove what they need the parts for before they can be
exported. Still, many such sales have landed in the courts.

BBC, 14th January

The BBC's Lyse Doucet interviewed the United Nations chief weapons
inspector, Hans Blix, starting with a question about whether he felt under
pressure from the world community, especially the United States and Britain.
Here is a transcript of the interview.

Hans Blix: The resolution that was adopted last autumn in November did not
set any particular end of the work. But we are governed by an earlier
resolution that was adopted at the end of '99, and under that we report
every quarter to the (UN) Security Council and we will also anticipate to
submit to the council towards the end of March a list of what we regard as
key remaining disarmament tasks.

So we are still intent to do that, unless of course the council want to take
a decision that would change the situation completely.

Lyse Doucet: You're giving a very calm assessment of your calendar, but the
reality is that you are under considerable pressure from the world community
and in particular the US and Britain to come up with the goods, are you not?

HB: Well, the US actually (holds) the view that it is the Iraqis who have to
come up with the goods - with a smoking gun. They say - and I think rightly
- that we are there to verify and Iraq is to declare, and they are to
provide verifiable evidence. We're not supposed to chase around the country
in search of hidden material.

LD: But that's what you're doing, are you not? You are chasing around the
country looking for hidden material.

HB: We do monitor all over the country, and at the same time we look for
anything that may (be) hidden - that is true. This has a great value in
itself because, as we found out, over the whole country that transparency

Of course, we cannot guarantee that we may... find underground or mobile
installations, unless we have very good intelligence. But there is a great
value in being sure that big Iraqi industries - whether in armament or
petro-chemicals, or whether they have a research capacity in biology - that
this is being monitored, and that one is assured that these big
installations are not used for weapons production.

LD: But do you deny that all this political pressure is getting in the way
of your work? You're not a politician or a military general.

HB: I'm actually a lawyer originally. But we have all these scientists and
people in biology, chemistry and missiles working for us, while the pressure
is building up around the American mobilisation of troops around Iraq and
the statement that they are determined to come to the bottom of the barrel
one way or the other.


LD: You've made hundreds of visits - or your inspectors have. You've said to
the Security Council there's no smoking gun. But have you found even a whiff
of smoke - anything suspicious?

HB: We have found several cases... (where) it is clear that Iraq has
imported weapons related material in violation of the prohibitions of the
Security Council. Whether these discoveries or these items are related to
weapons of mass destruction is a matter that we still need to determine.

But there have been a considerable amount of imports in the weapons sector
which clearly is smuggling and in violation, and we have found large

LD: (US Secretary of State) Colin Powell has said they have vital
intelligence - have they given it to you?

HB: We had fairly good co-operation, both with the Americans and British and
other sources of intelligence, and we are beginning to make more use of it.

LD: How can you say you have good relations if they haven't given you all
the intelligence so far?

HB: Well they have given me... shall we say, information about how they
calculate their programmes - what size they are and so forth. But we need...
actionable evidence. That's indications of where we can go, what places that
we can inspect. That will also be coming.


HB: I've felt in the past at some time that they were a bit like librarians
who had books that they didn't want to lend to the customer. But I think
that is changing.


LD: When you were head of the International Atomic Energy Agency during the
last rounds of inspections, were you convinced that all fissile material had
been taken out of Iraq, and all the equipment?

HB: Yes, we were convinced that all the fissile material that could be used
for any weapons purposes had been taken out of Iraq, and we knew that we had
eliminated and destroyed the whole infrastructure that Iraq had built up for
the enrichment of uranium.

But real questions were still needed to be cleared up - not so many, but
there were some, and the Iraqis were very annoyed that the IAEA would not
close the dossier as they requested.

However, I think... we are agreed that you won't be able to come to the very
last layer of emptying the barrel, as it were, there will always be a
residue of uncertainty. What I can do with some hope of great success is
that the infrastructure, larger installations all over the place - that is
gone. But the last little residue - you may never be able to find.


by Michael Evans, Defence Editor
The Times, 15th January

SMUGGLED missile engine parts discovered by UN inspectors in Iraq may be
linked to a long-range missile programme that could provide the ³smoking
gun² proof of Baghdadıs suspected weapons of mass destruction programme,
British officials said yesterday.

Hans Blix, head of the United Nationsı Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (Unmovic), said in a BBC radio interview yesterday
that ³large quantities² of smuggled goods had been found. In the text of his
interim report to the UN Security Council, he said that his inspectors had
come across missile engines that had been imported illegally.

That discovery did not appear particularly significant at the time because
the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, is permitted to have battlefield
missiles with a range of no more than 150km (93 miles) as weapons of
self-defence. It now appears that the engines may be intended for illegal
long-range missiles.

The British intelligence dossier on Saddam published last September claimed
that Iraq was secretly developing such ballistic missiles with a range of
more than 1,000km (621 miles). The Unmovic inspectors have been searching
for evidence to back the British allegation.

A spokesman for Unmovic in New York said that it was not yet clear whether
the uncovered missile engine parts were for long-range systems that would
violate the UN Security Councilıs Resolution 1441 on Iraqıs weapons of mass

In his press conference on Monday, Tony Blair hinted that there would be
crucial evidence revealed in a week or so which proved that Saddam was
continuing with his weapons of mass destruction programme.

The Unmovic inspectors in Iraq are now benefiting from significant amounts
of intelligence from the United States and Britain. It is not clear whether
the discovery of the missile engine parts arose from a specific intelligence

British officials said that the inspectors were having to work under ³Cold
War-style² conditions in an attempt to keep their planned visits and methods
a secret from Saddamıs security officials.

The US and Britain had been reluctant to pass on too much intelligence
material to Unmovic because of the intensive surveillance operation mounted
by the Iraqis.

However, special arrangements have now been agreed with Dr Blix, under which
sensitive Intelligence can be handed over without the risk of tipping off
the Iraqis.

Officials said that the Iraqis had managed to acquire prior knowledge of
Unmovic visit schedules and were suspected of moving incriminating material
before the inspectors arrived at a selected facility.

Underlining the Governmentıs apparent growing conviction that Unmovic would
find the ³smoking gun², the Ministry of Defence took further steps yesterday
to prepare for a ground war against Iraq. About 130 military vehicles, all
camouflaged for desert warfare, are being loaded on to ships, bound for the

The MoD said that they included Swedish-made BV tracked vehicles for the
Royal Marines. Land Rovers and ambulances were also included. The vehicles
were being loaded yesterday on to auxiliary vessels at Marchwood military
port near Southampton.



by Anton La Guardia and George Jones
Daily Telegraph, 9th January

Britain is pressing for war against Iraq to be delayed for several months,
possibly until the autumn, to give weapons inspectors more time to provide
clear evidence of new violations by Saddam Hussein.

British officials know that the real decision will be taken by Bush
Ministers and senior officials believe that there is no clear legal case for
military action despite the build-up of American and British forces in the

Senior diplomats have told the Government that there is a good chance of
securing United Nations Security Council approval for military action later
in the year if Saddam can be shown unambiguously to be defying the
disarmament conditions set out in resolution 1441.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that, unless there is a smoking gun,
the inspectors have to be given time to keep searching," a senior Whitehall
source said.

The uncertainty at the heart of the Government has resulted in ministers
blowing hot and cold over the prospects for early military action.

The tensions were highlighted on Tuesday when Geoff Hoon, the Defence
Secretary, publicly rebuked Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, for playing
down the chances of war.

In the Commons yesterday Tony Blair denied that the Cabinet was split or
that he was engaging in "dangerous brinkmanship" with Saddam over Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction.

But he was left in no doubt of growing opposition among Labour MPs to
joining an American-led attack without convincing proof that Saddam had
defied UN demands to dismantle his nuclear, chemical and biological

The exchanges showed that the Prime Minister could face a major revolt if he
went to war without UN backing.

As the tempo of military preparations accelerates, British diplomats say
they can win UN support for war only if the inspectors can corner Saddam,
either by finding banned weapons and components or by forcing him to deny
access to sites or to officials.

"Nobody familiar with the inspections process expects them to come up with
the goods in a matter of weeks," a senior British official said.

"There is an assumption that there will be a campaign before the summer
because of the heat. The autumn would be just as sensible a time and in the
meanwhile Saddam would be thoroughly constrained by the inspectors."


by Kevin Maguire
The Guardian, 9th January

Train drivers yesterday refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition
believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf.

Railway managers cancelled the Ministry of Defence service after the
crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they
opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

The anti-war revolt is the first such industrial action by workers for

The two Motherwell-based drivers declined to operate the train between the
Glasgow area and the Glen Douglas base on Scotland's west coast, Europe's
largest Nato weapons store.

English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS), which transports munitions for the
MoD as well as commercial goods, yesterday attempted to persuade the drivers
to move the disputed load by tomorrow.

Leaders of the Aslef rail union were pressed at a meeting with EWS
executives to ask the drivers to relent. But the officials of a union
opposed to any attack on Iraq are unlikely to comply.

The two drivers are understood to be the only pair at the Motherwell freight
depot trained on the route of the West Highland Line.

An EWS spokesman declined to confirm the train had been halted, although he
insisted no drivers had refused to take out the trains.

"We don't discuss commercial issues," he said.

"The point about the two drivers is untrue and we don't discuss issues about
meetings we have."

Yet his claim was flatly contradicted by a well-placed rail industry source
who supplied the Guardian with the train's reference number.

The MoD later said it had been informed by EWS that mechanical problems,
caused by the cold winter weather, had resulted in the train's cancellation.

One solution under discussion yesterday between the MoD and EWS was to
transport the shipment by road to avoid what rail managers hoped would be an
isolated confrontation.

Dockers went on strike rather than load British-made arms on to ships
destined for Chile after the assassination of leftwing leader Salvador
Allende in 1973.

In 1920 stevedores on London's East India Docks refused to move guns on to
the Jolly George, a ship chartered to take weapons to anti-Bolsheviks after
the Russian revolution.

Trade unions supporting workers who refuse to handle weapons could risk
legal action and possible fines for contempt of court.

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We fully
support the action that has been taken to impede an unjust and aggressive
war. We hope that other people around the country will be able to do

The anti-war group is organising a second national demonstration in central
London on Saturday February 15. Organisers claimed more than 400,000 people
attended a protest in September.,3604,874221,00.html

by Jeevan Vasagar
The Guardian, 14th January

Britain's biggest Muslim organisation yesterday warned Tony Blair that war
with Iraq would cause community relations to deteriorate and breed
"bitterness and conflict for generations to come".

Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, urged
the prime minister to use his influence to "avert the destruction of an
important Muslim country" and warned of deep cynicism among British Muslims
about the motives for the war on terror.

In a letter to No 10, Mr Sacranie described the plans for war as a "colonial

"It is generally believed the real American objective behind such an
invasion is to change the political map of the Middle East, appropriate its
oil wealth and appoint Israel as a regional superpower exercising total
hegemony over the entire Middle East and beyond," he wrote.

A war would worsen relations between communities and faiths in Britain as
well as causing "lasting damage" to relations between the Muslim world and
the west, Mr Sacranie added.

The opposition of the MCB, a moderate organisation linked to dozens of
community groups, highlights the failure of the US and Britain to convince
Muslims in the west of the validity of the war on terrorism.

Seven out of 10 British Muslims believe the war on terror is a war on Islam,
according to an ICM poll published last month.

In the letter, Mr Sacranie expressed support for the anti-terrorist
campaign, but wrote: "The war on terror should and can be won, but it has to
be fought collectively not selectively, openly not secretively."

He told the Guardian that when he referred to fighting terrorism
"collectively" he meant "in all areas, whether it is states - like Israel -
or organisations."

Mr Sacranie said he did not believe there should be war even if Iraq was
found to possess weapons of mass destruction.

"If WMD are being got rid of, all countries have to get rid of them, and war
is not the way to go about this.

"If we are talking about the region, Israel has chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons."

He also criticised the chief rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, who has expressed
conditional support for military action against Saddam Hussein.

"We are very saddened by the remarks made by the chief rabbi," Mr Sacranie

The MCB's letter praised Mr Blair's attempt to revive the Middle East peace
process, but added: "A war on Iraq would certainly unravel whatever little
has been achieved so far.

"The humiliation ... that would attend a military conquest is likely to
provide a natural ground for the growth of bitterness and conflict for
generations to come."

Both President George Bush and Mr Blair have stated that the prospective
campaign against Iraq is directed at Saddam Hussein's regime and is not a
conflict with the wider Muslim world.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The prime minister has made clear that
this is not about a war against Islam.

"The government has done lots of work with the Muslim community here and
with the Arab world and will continue to do so.",,1-542712,00.html

The Times, 14th January

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, today backed Tony Blair over Iraq, saying that
if Saddam Hussein refused to disarm then he should not be left "unpunished".

Mr Brown said he believed that there could be circumstances in which it was
necessary to fight a war against the Iraqi dictator without the backing of
the United Nations.

"There may be circumstances where that is necessary, but we still want to go
through the United Nations," he told GMTV.

Asked about a poll on GMTV showing 80 per cent of people were against the
war, Mr Brown said: "Nobody wants to go to war - it would only be if
absolutely necessary and we must wait for the weapons inspectors.

"We do not believe Saddam Hussein has told us the truth, we must also wait
for the United Nations and what they say about the matter.

"But I think people would agree that if the whole of the international
community says disarm and a country and a dictator refuses to do so, you
cannot just leave that dictator unpunished."

Mr Brown's remarks came as the UN announced it is to send more weapons
inspectors to Iraq.

Hans Blix the UN chief inspector, said in an interview in The Washington
Post that the teams would stay at least until March.

Some 60 new inspectors, mostly Arab and Americans, began training yesterday
and would soon bring the total team members in Iraq to nearly 200, Mr Blix

They will continue working in Iraq, Mr Blix added, at least until he
presents a major report to the UN Security Council in March that will
include a list of "key remaining disarmament tasks" for the inspectors and a
work program.

Mr Blix said the upcoming report to the council on January 27 will mark "the
beginning of the inspection and monitoring process, not the end of it."

The UN diplomat was referring to President Bush's recent comment that the
January 27 report would be the start of "the final phase" that would lead to
a US decision on whether to use military might to force Iraq to give up its
weapons of mass destruction.

by Tim Cornwell
The Scotsman, 15th January

WASHINGTON will not go to war without Britainıs support, Iraqıs
representative in London said yesterday, saying it was the "moral
obligation" of British people to get actively involved against it.

Dr Mudhafar Amin, the head of the Iraqi interest section, believes the
decision on whether the United States will finally invade Iraq will be
settled in London. The debate now taking place within the Labour Party and
the country could be the last best hope for avoiding a war, he said.

"The Americans would never go to war unless they get the British support,"
he said. "They would never go to war alone. They canıt. They canıt even
convince their own people."

Iraq was ready to "reach a peaceful settlement to avoid a war", said Dr
Amin, a student in Britain before he became a diplomat.

For the Bush administration, he said, Downing Streetıs support has been
vital in persuading the home audience that they have friends and supporters
in the world.

"All this talk about allies," he said. "Who do they have as allies in the
whole world? Only the British. If the British pull away, change course, then
they have nobody."

Dr Amin recently returned from a monthıs visit to Baghdad when he was
interviewed by The Scotsman. He came back to find the political support for
the war appearing a good deal shakier than it was when he left.

"Look at this picture," he said, pointing to a photograph on the cover of a
London newspaper that day, showing the anti-war protesters who made their
mark at the weekend by lying down naked in a field.

"These people braving the cold weather. These courageous and manful people
taking off their clothes and lying down on the ground in these sub-zero
temperatures, in order to bring the message. It is so fantastic, so great,
its effect on everybody."

He also found the international scene encouraging, with European Union
foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, urging that inspections be given more

>From his run-down offices on Kensingtonıs embassy row on Queenıs Gate, his
staff dispense visas to journalists, peace activists or aid workers en route
to Baghdad, and minister to the needs of Britainıs reduced Iraqi community.

Dr Amin was clearly reflecting the views (and hopes) of the government of
Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. He hammers home the government line that UN
inspectors have free range inside Iraq, that a war would achieve nothing in
an already impoverished country, that it would "open the gates of Hell".

On his trip to Baghdad, he said, he found people listening to the news of
the ships, troops and bombers dispatched to the Persian Gulf - including the
Ark Royal - but failing to believe war will actually come.

He is no stranger to Britain, having collected his own PhD from Durham
University. In those now distant days before the Gulf war, Saddam was
courted as a Western ally against Iran and there were 6,000 Iraqi students
in the UK.

Dr Amin also did research work in London. He has since served with the Iraqi
foreign service in Brussels, Germany and at the UN in New York. He has
worked in London for four years.

His observations of the United States and British political scene may be
slanted, but they do not come from thin air. Polls do indeed show that
American public support for the war drops sharply if the US is acting alone.

The latest, published yesterday in USA Today, showed George Bushıs public
approval rating at 60 per cent, its lowest level since 11 September, 2001.
The perception that Mr Bush was moving too fast to war with Iraq, but too
slowly on the US economy, were blamed.

Dr Amin believes that while Tony Blair set out to change British public
doubts about the war, including with his "dossier" on Iraq, the doubters
have begun to shift the government. And yesterday, even as the Chancellor,
Gordon Brown, backed Mr Blair on Iraq, one GMTV poll showed 80 per cent of
those questioned said the prime minister had not convinced them of the need
for war.

Neither side apparently believes having an Iraqi government official on hand
would help the cause. But Dr Amin, although absent from peace rallies, urged
people to "call MPs, demonstrate, go on TV, go on radio, write letters to
the prime minister [and] swarm 10 Downing Street."


Sydney Morning Herald, from AFP, 12th January
[Martin Sheen, with Jackson Browne and Ron Kovic]

US movie star Martin Sheen has led thousands of people in a rowdy protest
march in Los Angeles against US President George Bush's plans for a possible
war with Iraq.

Sheen, who plays a fictional US president on the hit television show The
West Wing, called for Americans to fight for a peaceful approach to the
Washington administration's crisis centring on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"A lot of people have been silenced for a long time but that is ending," he

"We are telling the world that we are patriotic Americans but we do not
support going to war with Iraq.

"From this time forth, may all our thoughts and deeds be a non-violent
response to violence," he told the cheering crowd.

Police sources said that up to 5000 demonstrators chanting "no blood for
oil" and "stop Bush now", took part in a protest march and a rally in front
of government buildings in the west coast city's centre.

Sheen, a veteran anti-nuclear campaigner who was the main speaker at the
rally, has been one of the most vociferous opponents in Hollywood to
Washington's policy toward Iraq.

Sheen pushed the wheelchair of celebrated Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic,
whose story was featured in the movie Born on the Fourth of July, and who
also spoke to the crowd.

"The government is leading us into a situation that can only hurt us as a
nation," Kovic said.

The protest was noisy but peaceful with performances by musicians including
Jackson Browne and Slash from the heavy rock group Guns 'N' Roses. No
arrests were reported.

The protest, which had been billed as the largest anti-war protest in Los
Angeles since the Vietnam War, is to be followed by a demonstration in San
Francisco next weekend.

The demonstration came as the Bush Administration steps up its military
build-up in the Middle East in response to what officials said are Iraq's
alleged efforts to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had ordered about 62,000 US troops to
head for the Persian Gulf region in coming days, doubling the size of the
force now arrayed on the periphery of Iraq, a senior US official said.

United Nations inspectors have said they have not found a "smoking gun"
pointing to any outlawed Iraqi weapons programmes, but charge that Baghdad
has not co-operated fully with weapons inspectors.

Last month, a group of Hollywood stars including Kim Basinger, Matt Damon,
Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen were among scores of celebrities who called
on the administration not to go to war with Iraq.

That followed a string of star-studded protests and petitions against a
possible war signed by some of Hollywood's brightest stars.,00050003.htm

Hindustani Times, 13th January

This was perhaps not the kind of support Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is
looking for in Britain.

In protest against a probable US strike against Iraq, scores of men and
women ran out naked on to a frost-bitten ground in East Sussex in the south
of England on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon.

They lay down on the field arranging themselves into the word 'Peace'. The
protesters lay there a long time while crowds gathered in all their woollens
to witness the message - and more.

A group of photographers rushed to the park to take pictures before the
letters turned too cold and left.

The protesters said later that they did not mind the photographs because
close-up pictures could not be taken if the photographers wanted to fit the
whole word into their frame.

Many of the protesters are regulars at a local pub and firmed up their plan
at the pub Saturday night.

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