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News, 15-22/01/03 (3) IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Chretien Wants U.N. Campaign Against Iraq * Czech News Agency: Iraq may use smallpox - press * Czech Republic OKs Iraq Troop Deployment * German on trial says equipment was bound for Iraq * Dalai Lama against 'thrusting war' on Iraq * US seeks aid from Nato as rift grows * Poland to Contribute Troops to Operation in Iraq * Poland Needs US Missile Defense System: Defense Minister * Allies start to squabble over arms report * Iraq still in firing line if weapons not found * Russia has reasons to worry * Israeli Astronaut Bombed Iraqi Nuclear Reactor in 1981 * Voting 'yes' to war on Iraq inconceivable: Germany * France may block U.S. war march * Nato backs US on Iraq * Germany, France Line Up Against Iraq War NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Iraqi opposition postpones Kurd-hosted congress * Kurdestan Ready to Exchange Tourists with North Iraq * U.S. Building Secret Military Airport in Northern Iraq NO FLY ZONES * US, UK attack Iraqi radar * U.S., British Planes Hit Iraqi 'No-Fly' Sites * Unmanned U.S. craft shot down, Iraq says IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-canada-un iraq0116jan15,0,2373187.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dworld%2Dheadlines * CHRETIEN WANTS U.N. CAMPAIGN AGAINST IRAQ by Tom Cohen Newsday, from Associated Press, 15th January TORONTO -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Wednesday he wants U.N. backing for any military campaign against Iraq, but he refused to rule out Canada's participation in a U.S. led strike without Security Council approval. Speaking at a rare formal news conference to lay out his agenda for the year, Chretien said Canada's policy on the Iraq situation was based on a multilateral approach through the United Nations and other international bodies. Defense Minister John McCallum said in Washington last week that Canada could decide to join the United States if it attacks Iraq without U.N. authorization. Chretien called McCallum's comment speculation and refused to answer when asked if Canada would take part in a unilateral U.S. campaign. "You come to see me and ask me that question on the day that happens, then I'll answer that question," he said at the Ottawa news conference. "I don't know. I'm not speculating." He reiterated Canada's support for the U.N. Security Council resolution that brought international weapons inspectors back to Iraq. While President Bush has sent troops to the region and expressed impatience with the inspections process, Chretien echoed comments by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the inspectors need time to complete their work. "We can't wait an eternity of course, but we will see," he said. "We will take decisions as we go along." Nobody wants war, Chretien said, "not the president of the United States, not the prime minister of England, not myself." The issue is sensitive for Chretien, who must balance the need to support his most crucial ally south of the border with a public desire in Canada for U.N. approval for any attack on Iraq. Some members of Parliament from Chretien's Liberal Party said this week they opposed a unilateral attack on Iraq. Chretien, who has said he will step down in February 2004, already faces problems controlling his Parliament caucus due to support for his likely successor, former Finance Minister Paul Martin. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20030116670.4 _d645000d8bc6bfc2 * CZECH NEWS AGENCY: IRAQ MAY USE SMALLPOX - PRESS Hoover's (Financial Times), 15th January PRAGUE, Jan 15 (CTK) - Military experts fear that in the event of an allied attack on Iraq, Saddam Hussein could retaliate with biological weapons, in particular with special versions of the smallpox virus, dailies Mlada fronta Dnes and Pravo write today. According to the head of military health services, Jan Petras, it is very likely that Iraq acquired from the former USSR a very dangerous smallpox strain - Aralsk 1970 - and also modified a strain of camel smallpox. Petras also expressed unease at the fact that doctors today have no experience with smallpox, and thus would not recognise its initial symptoms. As cited in Pravo, the USA has already asked Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik as to whether Czech soldiers would prefer to be vaccinated against smallpox. "In terms of our capabilities, it is not immediately necessary to undertake vaccinations, because the protective measures at the Czech Army's disposal are sufficient even after a possible use or confirmation of the substance," Tvrdik told the daily. If Hussein were to use smallpox as a weapon, experts predict it would have consequences far beyond the borders of Iraq or even surrounding states. The likelihood of this danger is also confirmed by the extensive vaccination programme begun several months previously in the USA and Israel, both papers note. It is hard to state exactly what damage the "smallpox weapon" is capable of causing. One model study by American scientists claims that if the virus were released in a U.S. city of three-and-a-half million inhabitants at a gathering of around one thousand people, in two months the disease would have appeared in 150,000 cases across 20 American states and four European countries. Such a massive epidemic would lead to the political and economic isolation of the USA, experts maintain. According to the head of Czech intelligence services, Josef Proks, Iraq does not have atomic weapons. The greatest military threat for the allies is the Al-Hussein rocket, of which Hussein has 83, states Pravo. With a range of 600 kilometers, they can strike at 50 percent of the territory of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and limited targets in Egypt, Kuwait, and parts of Iran. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=17989894&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * CZECH REPUBLIC OKS IRAQ TROOP DEPLOYMENT The Associated Press, 16th January PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) ‹ The upper chamber of the Czech Parliament agreed overwhelmingly Thursday to deploy chemical weapons troops to Iraq in the event of war. The vote in the Czech Senate was 70-3, with three abstentions and five absent. The decision still needs the approval of the lower chamber of the parliament. Under the measure, the unit could be sent to treat soldiers injured by chemical or biological weapons attacks ‹ with or without a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for their deployment. http://newsobserver.com/24hour/world/story/720798p-5284993c.html * GERMAN ON TRIAL SAYS EQUIPMENT WAS BOUND FOR IRAQ by Melissa Eddy News & Observer, 16th January MANNHEIM, Germany (AP) - A German businessman accused of helping Baghdad acquire drills to make artillery indicated Thursday that he assumed the equipment was headed for Iraq, contradicting earlier testimony. Prosecutors say Willi Heinz Ribbeck and another German broke arms export rules and United Nations sanctions by selling the equipment to Iraq for military use. Ribbeck had testified when the trial began Tuesday that he thought the drills would stay in Germany. Also on trial is engineer Bernd Schompeter, 59, accused of using a front company in Jordan and an Iraqi middleman to deliver drills to Baghdad. Letters presented as evidence Thursday implicated Schompeter and his alleged middleman, an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen, Sahib Abd al-Amir al-Haddad. One letter, written by Schompeter on al-Haddad's behalf to a tool company, said: "We have an excellent relationship with the Iraqi government and feel your products would be good for the Iraqi market." Another letter signed by Schompeter listed ways to do business with Iraq under the U.N. embargo, including going "via a third country to bypass the regulations of the embargo." Under persistent questioning by prosecutor, Ribbeck conceded that after meeting al-Haddad in Germany in 1999 he understood that the equipment headed for Jordan would likely be shipped further. "That is what one had to assume," he said. Prosecutors say the drills could be used to make a 209mm cannon capable of firing biological and chemical weapons. Ribbeck, 53, is accused of helping Schompeter acquire the equipment. The men could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. Prosecutors believe the equipment was sent from the Mannheim, Germany-based Alriwo GmbH company to Jordan in 1999, and from there to Iraq. Such sales are prohibited under German export laws and United Nations sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=2008 * DALAI LAMA AGAINST 'THRUSTING WAR' ON IRAQ Asian Tribune, 16th January Bodh Gaya (Bihar), (PTI), Jan 16: Describing war as an organised and legalised form of violence, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, today disfavoured "thrusting" war on Iraq as it would only lead to destruction. The Dalai Lama, who is here for the ongoing Kalchakra puja, called war an organised and legalised form of violence which would create more problems than it would solve. "War will lead to a trail of destruction...and it will definitely have its impact on other countries", he said replying to a question on the continuing stand-off between the US and Iraq. The Dalai Lama also said he wanted China to grant meaningful autonomy to Tibet. "I had sent a delegation to China recently following a positive change in its attitude towards Tibet", he said adding efforts aimed at getting autonomy would continue. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-544566,00.html * US SEEKS AID FROM NATO AS RIFT GROWS The Times, 16th January THE United States piled pressure on its reluctant allies last night, formally asking Nato members for military assistance in a possible war against Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, confirmed that America had tabled a proposal for six forms of support, including access to airspace, bases, ports and refuelling facilities, and was seeking permission to deploy missiles on Turkish soil. The request came as the head of Nato's parliamentary assembly gave warning of a widening rift between the US and some of the other 18 members of the alliance. "There is a growing gap in attitudes and perceptions between the Europeans and the United States," Douglas Bereuter, who is also a US congressman, said. "This will endanger the consensus in Nato and this is just the sort of time when we can least afford a growing gap." Nato sources said that the allies had been asked to deploy Awacs early warning and surveillance aircraft and Patriot air defence missiles to protect Turkey, a Nato member and a likely base for US-led airstrikes on Iraq. The request also included using standing naval forces and minesweepers. The timing of the proposals was sensitive, with political leaders and public opinion in many European countries opposed to a war with Iraq, at least in the absence of specific UN authorisation, and urging more time for UN arms inspections. Several allies, notably France and Germany, say that the US and Britain would need a fresh UN Security Council mandate to use force against Baghdad. Germany has ruled out participation in any attack on Iraq, but has opened its airspace to US military aircraft. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200301/16/eng20030116_110243.shtml * POLAND TO CONTRIBUTE TROOPS TO OPERATION IN IRAQ Peoples Daily, 16th January Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Wednesday his country supports the United States' military attacks against Iraq and has promised to contribute troops to a possible war with Baghdad. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Wednesday his country supports the United States' military attacks against Iraq and has promised to contribute troops to a possible war with Baghdad. Kwasniewski made the remarks as he returned from the United States from a two-day working visit where he discussed with his US counterpart George W. Bush and other US officials on the bilateral relations and the situation in Iraq. He said his visit has helped the development of the relationship between the two countries. During the visit, Kwasniewski demanded the United States exempt the entry visas for Polish citizens as it treated other European Union countries when Poland enters the EU in 2004. Responding to the rumor that he could succeed George Robertson as the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), Kwasniewski said he will not seek the position before his tenure concludes at the end of next year. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200208/04/eng20020804_100876.shtml * POLAND NEEDS US MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM: DEFENSE MINISTER Peoples Daily, 16th January Poland needs the US missile defense system and military cooperation tops all its cooperation with the United States, Polish Minister of National Defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Saturday. Szmajdzinski was responding to questions from the press concerning Poland's bid to join the US missile defense system. Szmajdzinski said the initial aim of the United States to develop the missile defense system is to protect itself and it has now proposed to develop a missile defense system that can also protect all NATO nations, a move welcomed by Europe. According to reports reaching here, Poland has asked to join the US missile defense system by setting up on its soil a long-range radar headquarters in Central Europe. A delegation from the US State Department visited Poland late in July when the two sides agreed to further discuss Poland's bid to join the US missile defense system. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/16/1042520724680.html * ALLIES START TO SQUABBLE OVER ARMS REPORT by Colum Lynch The Age, from Washington Post, 17th January The Bush administration is seeking to derail plans by the United Nations' chief weapons inspector to issue another report on Iraqi disarmament to the Security Council in late March. The US fears this could delay its timetable for forcing an early confrontation over Iraq's banned weapons programs. In a move that diplomats believe could touch off a divisive battle in the Security Council, the US plans to press it to suspend plans for the March 27 report by Hans Blix. Dr Blix's report was expected to include a list of specific disarmament obligations for Iraq before UN sanctions could be suspended. He told the council on Tuesday that the March meeting was required under a 1999 resolution that created his weapons inspection agency. But his plans have complicated America's diplomatic strategy at the UN in which it has pointed to late this month as the start of an end-game in the six-week-old weapons inspections program in Iraq. The administration wants a decision on whether to go to war shortly after Dr Blix's scheduled presentation to the council on January 27. US officials said they would ask the council to effectively disregard the 1999 resolution requiring a later report. President George Bush is expected to make a strong case for action against Iraq in his State of the Union address on January 28. Three days later he has scheduled a meeting at Camp David with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his closest ally on Iraq. Dr Blix, by announcing he was operating under the assumption that he would produce an additional report two months later, underscored that he was progressing along a much more deliberate timetable. His plan risks undermining the administration's strategy to intensify the pressure for a decision on whether to go to war later this month. It has also raised the prospect that Security Council members, including some US allies, would use it as an excuse for putting off a decision until March at the earliest. An administration official said: "How can you talk about suspending sanctions or outlining key remaining disarmament tasks when the Iraqis have not complied (with a complete declaration on its weapons program)? "They have to first comply. We don't want to reward Iraq," the official said. The issue is pitting the US and Britain against Russia, France and Syria, who maintain that there are no grounds for rewriting the terms of the 1999 resolution. A diplomat who shares their position said Washington's initiative would remove the council's main incentive for Iraq to cooperate and keep the council in a constant state of crisis. "The council's resolutions shouldn't be flouted, they should be respected," said Syria's deputy UN ambassador Fayssal Mekdad. China's UN ambassador Wang Yingfan said the standoff could drive a wedge between the council's key members. "We have to work within the Security Council to find a way out of this dispute," he said. "It's no good for everyone if we have confrontation." Dr Blix is scheduled to pay a final visit to Baghdad on Sunday before presenting his January 27 report. He said on Wednesday that he would urge the Iraqi leadership to provide more evidence of its efforts to develop banned chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "There is still time, I think, for Iraqis to get themselves out of a very dangerous situation," he said. I don't think we should ever talk about last chances in the world. "They have provided prompt access, been very cooperative in terms of logistics," he said. "But they need to do a good deal more to provide evidence if we are to avoid any worse development." Mr Bush said on Tuesday he was sick and tired of Iraqi games and deception. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/16/1042520724137.html * IRAQ STILL IN FIRING LINE IF WEAPONS NOT FOUND by Tom Allard and Robin Wright in Washington Sydney Morning Herald, 17th January The Australian Government agrees with the United States that finding no evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction may still provide the grounds for military action because the onus is on Saddam Hussein to show he has destroyed his banned stockpile. Bush Administration officials say the US is mapping out a back-up strategy that would justify possible military intervention in Iraq if intelligence tips, United Nations inspections and Iraqi scientists all fail to produce solid evidence of a forbidden arsenal. "The chances that the UN will find something are slim," said a senior Administration official who requested anonymity. "The chances that the Iraqis will tell us anything are slim. So it's quite possible after three or four months of no real progress in inspections that President Bush will simply say, 'That's it. We're not satisfied, and the UN shouldn't be satisfied either'." This stance was echoed yesterday by the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, who said of Saddam: "He has chemical and biological weapons that we know existed [that] he says he's destroyed but won't say where or when or who did it or provide access to those who are supposed to have destroyed them. "On that basis, unfortunately, the inspectors won't be able to say that in fact Saddam Hussein is complying with the obligation of the international community ... the Security Council might say, you know, he's never going to change." That debate, he said, could be triggered by the report to the UN by its chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, on January 27. Senator Hill said he was confident that the Security Council would back President Bush and insisted he did not expect the US to launch a unilateral strike without UN approval. Also, the Federal Government was determined to follow the UN route on Iraq. One scenario where the Government may opt out was if one of the UN's permanent members vetoed action, as happened with Kosovo. Senator Hill's position is similar to that outlined by Labor's leader, Simon Crean, on Wednesday. [.....] http://www.iht.com/articles/83626.html * RUSSIA HAS REASONS TO WORRY by Mark Brzezinski and Lee Wolosky International Herald Tribune, 17th January WASHINGTON: Iraq has 112 billion barrels of proven reserves, or roughly 11 percent of the world's proven supply. That is more oil than the reserves of Europe and South America put together, and more than Africa and the Asia-Pacific region combined. That oil has global strategic, political and economic significance, particularly for Russia. This past November, President George W. Bush visited St. Petersburg to further a dialogue that he hopes will lead to Russian support for a U.S.-$ led campaign to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The Russians have substantial stakes in the future of Iraq's oil. Russian firms do brisk business with Iraq and are counting on additional riches after removal of UN sanctions. The UN oil-for-food program has been a particular boon for Russia. Since the inauguration of this program allowing limited Iraqi oil sales in 1996, Russian businesses have been by far the largest beneficiaries, earning more than $4.3 billion. Russian firms have been awarded significant long-term contracts with the current regime. Also, Moscow is depending on future Iraqi oil receipts to enable Baghdad to repay $8 billion in sovereign obligations owed to it. Russia's oil-dependent economy cannot afford a decline in world oil prices due to a glut of Iraqi oil on world markets. Analysts estimate that a $6 fall in the price of a barrel could reduce Russian economic growth by half. The Russians remember the Saudi oil glut of 1985, when Saudi Arabia allowed its excess capacity to flood the market and drive oil prices down to $12 a barrel, ruining any hopes of a Soviet economic revival. The Russians are concerned that their profitable commercial contracts could be altered or abrogated by a new American-installed Iraqi government. Officials of the opposition Iraqi National Congress have said they would look at who helped to free Iraq and who took Saddam's side. Russian concern over a future INC-inspired carve-up of Iraqi oil has become so intense that Moscow recently sent a senior diplomat to hold talks with INC officials. The deputy chairman of the Russian Duma has urged Moscow to dispatch troops to Iraq once hostilities end to protect Russian oil interests there. But last month's abrupt Iraqi cancellation of rights belonging to Lukoil, the largest Russian oil company, to develop the giant West Qurna field - a $3.5 billion project - should open Russian eyes to the realities of dealing with Saddam. He cannot be trusted, as he has demonstrated again and again. His abrogation of the Lukoil contract should make the Russians more willing to cooperate with Washington. To secure Moscow's participation in a military campaign against Baghdad, Washington should take limited steps to assuage Russian concerns. The Bush administration should commit, for example, to maintaining stability in world oil prices. Soft oil prices can devastate Russia, and a weak and dispirited Russia is not in the interests of either Russians or Americans. Likewise, Washington can affirm the sanctity of Iraq's sovereign obligation to Moscow, to be repaid from revenue generated by a revitalized oil sector. But Washington should not go too far in making concessions. Bush should urge the Russians to support the war on terrorism, not exploit it. And while advance planning is worthwhile, it is important to keep possibilities relating to Iraqi oil in perspective. The suggestion that Iraq represents an enormous opportunity, a Klondike on the Shatt Al Arab, is overstated. War may still be avoided, and even if it isn't, lasting stability could be years away. At a minimum, funds and time will be needed to repair the ravages of 20 years of sanctions and neglect. Brzezinski, a Washington lawyer, served as director for Russia/Eurasia on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. Wolosky, a New York lawyer, served as director for transnational threats on the National Security Council in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1181436.html * ISRAELI ASTRONAUT BOMBED IRAQI NUCLEAR REACTOR IN 1981 by Julie Stahl Crosswalk, 17th January Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israel's first astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, is a former Israeli fighter pilot who bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 - a feat that has some people praising him as a "hero." The bombing of the primarily French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor near Baghdad brought world outrage and censure on Israel in 1981. But 10 years later in 1991, when a U.S.-allied coalition faced Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - who had no nuclear weapons - the West was forced to admit that Israel had done them a great favor. "They built the reactor with French and Italian help. They were about to start the radioactive process there," said Col. Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a member of the Israel Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics and former Chief of Planning and Operational Requirements in the Israel Air Force. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200301/18/n3011813.htm * VOTING 'YES' TO WAR ON IRAQ INCONCEIVABLE: GERMANY Daily Star, Bangladesh, 18th January AFP, Ludwiggshafen: It is not conceivable for Germany to vote in favour of military action against Iraq at the UN Security Council, Germany Defence Minister Peter Struck said in an interview published on Friday. A yes vote is "fundamentally no longer conceivable", Struck told the regional daily Rheinpfalz. Germany, which became a non-permanent member of the Security Council on January 1 and takes over from France as its president on February 1, has so far studiously refused to say how it would vote on any possible resolution authorising a strike against Baghdad. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Tuesday spoke out publicly for the first time in favour of a second UN resolution being adopted before any military action can be launched against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In November the Security Council adopted resolution 1441, which sent UN inspectors back into Iraq to verify whether Baghdad has given up its programmes to acquire weapons of mass destruction. That resolution did not specify whether another Security Council vote was needed to authorise military action. Schroeder's centre-left government has had a difficult time balancing German public opinion -- the latest poll showed that 81 percent of Germans believe the possible war on Iraq is unjustified -- and being a strong NATO ally of Washington. Thousands of people took part in a demonstration on Thursday evening in the eastern city of Dresden against a possible war on Iraq, police said. The German government has ruled out the participation of German troops in any Iraqi conflict but has given the United States permission to move its troops and aircraft from bases in Germany to the Gulf. Struck downplayed the importance of any Security Council vote, saying the ultimate decision about a war against Iraq rested with US President George W. Bush. The defence minister acknowledged that Germany's relations with the United States were currently strained. "We cannot deny that at the moment it's difficult," he said. But he said the German-US relationship was sufficiently strong to overcome the difficulties. "If we tell them: 'We're not going to follow you on this one', then that doesn't please them, but they'd like it even less if we beat around the bush," he said regarding the German-US disagreements over Iraq. Only the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- have the power to veto any decisions. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/01/20/003.html * RUSSIAN FIRMS CLINCH 3 OIL DEALS IN IRAQ by Catherine Belton Moscow Times, 20th January Iraq awarded two new contracts to Russian oil companies Friday and gave preliminary approval to another deal in what appeared to be a last-ditch attempt to get Russia on its side as the threat of a U.S.-led military attack mounts. But the fate of Iraq's biggest deal with Russia, a LUKoil contract to develop the vast West Qurna field, remained undecided following talks between Russian officials and Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan. Iraq announced late last year it was tearing up the five year-old deal in a surprise move that threatened to undermine Russia's long-standing ties with Iraq. At a signing ceremony Friday attended by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Hussein Suleiman al Hadithi and First Deputy Energy Minister Ivan Matlashov, Gazprom's construction arm Stroitransgaz was awarded a contract to develop block 4 of the Western Desert oil field. Soyuzneftegaz, an obscure oil firm owned by former Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Shafranik, won the rights to develop the Rafidayn oil field in southern Iraq. Another deal was signed that outlines future projects for Russian oil companies in Iraq, but no further details were given. Iraq also started negotiations with state-owned holding Zarubezhneft on the giant Bin Umar oil field, Reuters reported. Al-Hadithi said the agreements "reflect the will of the Russian and Iraqi governments to pursue good relations," news agencies reported. News of the contracts came as Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov made his strongest statement yet against a U.S. strike on Iraq. In an interview with Al-Jazeera television on Friday, he said that war against Iraq would be a "terrible and fatal mistake" and that Russia considers any U.S. unilateral action "completely inadmissible." Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Thursday lashed out at the United States, saying it was putting "mounting pressure" on international arms inspectors that "disagrees with the letter and spirit of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1441." Analysts said the new contracts signed Friday were puny in comparison to the deal for the West Qurna field, which is one of the biggest in the world, and were unlikely to impact Russia's stance on Iraq. Russia, however, has so far offered little support for a U.S. strike, juggling warming ties with Washington against fears of U.S. dominance in oil-rich Iraq and a possible drop in crude prices as a result of war. Kremlin-connected analyst Sergei Markov said Sunday that Russia could still try to veto any U.S. proposal for war against Iraq forwarded to the UN Security Council if it coordinated that move with fellow council member France. LUKoil attempted to put a positive spin on the outcome of talks over West Qurna on Friday. Russia and Iraq have agreed "to drop all claims against each other," the company said in a statement. LUKoil stressed it still considered the agreement valid. Matlashov, however, said that differences still remained. "We must continue a discussion of the rules and plans [of this contract]," Matlashov said, according to Russian news agencies. "It is not a question of taking LUKoil and replacing it with someone else. ... We have differences here, but the door is open for further discussions." Russian oil majors have had close ties with the Iraqi oil industry since Soviet days and are worried about losing out to richer Western oil giants should the United States move in. Even though the new contracts signed Friday cannot be implemented under UN sanctions, analysts said Russia would still try to use them as an additional bargaining chip in a future carve-up of Iraq's oil patch, which contains the second-largest reserves in the world. "One of the very few ways Russia can try to have input over the future of Iraq is to have these contracts signed," said Paul Collison, oil and gas analyst at Brunswick UBS Warburg. "But the really critical thing will be what happens with the West Qurna field and LUKoil," he said. "This is one of the biggest oil fields in the world and is longstanding. What happened on Friday was just noise. These contracts are not going to move ahead unless there is a regime change. But anything that Saddam signs is going to have limited value in a new regime. "The only thing Iraq has to offer is oil. It is trying to get Russia signed up to help stem any attack against the regime." Markov said Russia's position on Iraq would not be decided by contracts but by concerns such as the precedent that would be set if the United States were allowed to oust Saddam Hussein. "It is impermissible to allow the U.S. to do whatever it wants, but it would be senseless for Russia to vote against this on its own," he said. "We will try to coordinate our actions with France." http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035776905948&call_pageid=968256289824&col=9687058990 37 * FRANCE MAY BLOCK U.S. WAR MARCH Toronto Star, 21st January UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ France has told the Security Council there is no reason yet for military action against Iraq, hinting it may veto any UN resolution for military action. The United States and Britain lined up against France, China and Germany in a confrontation over the Iraq issue during a gathering of 13 foreign ministers at the Security Council on Monday. France had called the session to give new momentum to the global war on terrorism. During the meeting, the 15-member council unanimously demanded that all 191 UN member states take urgent action to prevent and halt all support for terrorism. But members split over the U.S. push for a quick decision on disarming Iraq, and to a lesser extent over the nuclear crisis with North Korea. Those divisions are certain to resurface when UN weapons inspectors report to the council on the first 60 days of inspections in Iraq on Jan. 27 ‹ and if North Korea gets on the council's agenda as the United States wants. On Iraq, the United States and Britain, who have embarked on major military mobilizations in the Persian Gulf, warned that time was running out for the government of President Saddam Hussein. But France and Germany, backed by China, opposed military action and demanded that the inspectors be given the time they need. Russia has supported the same position. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that nothing today justifies military action, and didn't rule out the possibility of a French veto if the United States sought a second Security Council resolution authorizing military action. "In the event of second resolution ... we will not associate ourselves with military intervention that is not supported by the international community," he said. "Using force like that would only be a last resort assuming all other possibilities are exhausted." "As long as you can make progress with the inspections and get co-operation, there's no point in choosing the worst possible solution ‹ military intervention," de Villepin added. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, keeping up Washington's tough line, challenged members not to be "shocked into impotence" and shrink from their responsibilities when the inspectors report next week and the council considers what comes next. Powell dismissed Iraq's 10-point agreement with inspectors Monday to make inspections more effective and possibly help answer questions about what happened to thousands of chemical and biological weapons. "It's just more of the same," he argued. "If Iraq is disarming, then there may be a solution to this crisis without conflict," Powell said. "But if Iraq is not disarming, the United Nations cannot simply turn its head away and ignore this lack of respect that Iraq has for the United Nations and the international community. And we must not be afraid to meet the challenges that are ahead." His only support came from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who warned that "the moment of choice for Saddam is close." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country joined the council on Jan. 1 as a non-permanent member, reiterated his country's strong opposition to an attack against Iraq. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has opposed an Iraq war and ruled out a German combat role, angering Washington. "We are greatly concerned that a military strike against the regime in Baghdad would involve considerable and unpredictable risks for the global fight against terrorism," Fischer said. He also warned that there could be "disastrous consequences for long-term regional stability." China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also called for inspectors to be given more time, saying the Jan. 27 report "is not a full stop of the inspectors work but a new beginning." Both Powell and de Villepin noted that the Security Council had unanimously adopted Resolution 1441 on Nov. 8, giving Iraq a final opportunity to get rid of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the long-range missiles to deliver them or face "serious consequences" ‹ including possible military action. The council could also see a division over the handling of North Korea's withdrawal from the global treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and its reactivation of a nuclear reactor. Powell said the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency has "a responsibility" to refer the issue to the council ‹ a step that could lead to UN punitive sanctions against Pyongyang. But Tang said "we have to go mainly though direct dialogue between North Korea and the United States." http://www.itv.com/news/609264.html * NATO BACKS US ON IRAQ ITV, 22nd January Nato has a "moral obligation" to support a United States-led war on Iraq, the organisation's Secretary General Lord Robertson has said. Lord Robertson rejected the suggestion that US President George Bush would act unilaterally because the US depended on its allies for airspace and bases in the Middle East. He said the 19 Nato countries would stick to the United Nations' process under Security Council resolution 1441, which orders Saddam Hussein to disarm. "Nato is very, very supportive of the United Nations' process and if that breaks down then clearly there is a moral obligation by Nato to give whatever support is required," he said. "Up to now the United States has kept very rigidly to the United Nations route. They still do, the inspectors are still there. "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 on it. "The decision won't be taken by America, the decision will be taken by Saddam Hussein. "Either he complies with the will of the United Nations 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 place, and 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. "But the decision to go ahead with it will be triggered by Saddam Hussein and not by any other country." Lord Robertson said there was nothing the United States could do on its own without allies, "whether it's airspace or basing in remote parts of the world, and all of the characteristics of the Bush administration have been to involve allies". http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-eur/2003/jan/22/012200003.html * GERMANY, FRANCE LINE UP AGAINST IRAQ WAR by Tony Czuczka Las Vegas Sun, 22nd January BERLIN (AP): Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has made plain that Germany will refuse to back an Iraq war resolution in the U.N. Security Council, ending weeks of hedging and aligning himself more closely with his main European partner, France. Schroeder's clearest position yet is likely to further displease President Bush, who this week scolded countries - like Germany - that are seeking more time for U.N. weapons inspectors to search in Iraq. "Don't expect Germany to approve a resolution legitimizing war, don't expect it," Schroeder told a rally of his Social Democratic party Tuesday night in Lower Saxony. That followed similar statements by France, which said this week that it sees no justification for a war for now and left open the possibility of a French veto if the United States sought a new Security Council resolution authorizing military action. Schroeder has already ruled out a German combat role in any Iraq war. He has maintained an uneasy balance for months between his country's alliance with the United States and strong anti-war sentiment in Germany, which helped him win re-election last year. His platform built on defiance of Washington has left U.S.-German ties strained. Though it wields no veto, Germany is set to assume a central role in Iraq war diplomacy when it takes over the council chairmanship in February, just after U.N. inspectors are due to submit a progress report on Jan. 27. German and French leaders, who have agreed to consult closely on Iraq, reinforced their stance in newspaper articles published Wednesday in Germany's Berliner Zeitung and France's Liberation. "In the crises involving terrorism, Iraq and North Korea, our peoples can count on the governments of Germany and France to join forces to preserve peace, avoid war and ensure people's security," Schroeder wrote. "Our aim is to put the power of Europe at the service of peace," said French President Jacques Chirac. "That underlines our actions in Afghanistan and in the Iraq crisis." Schroeder previously said that Germany would decide how it would vote in the Security Council only when a second Iraq resolution takes shape. But Defense Minister Peter Struck said already last week that a vote in favor was "basically not imaginable anymore." Schroeder did not specify whether Germany would vote against a resolution or abstain, but he said Berlin's position was increasingly being "understood by the European partners and in the world." While seeking partnership with France, Germany has gone even further than Paris in its anti war stance. The French have left open the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein as a last resort, but Schroeder has not. Still, British Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane said Wednesday he was confident the United Nations would approve action against Iraq. "The U.N. will accept its responsibilities in this matter and make sure that Saddam Hussein does not get away with what he has been getting away with for years," MacShane told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://biz.yahoo.com/rm/030115/iraq_opposition_congress_2.html * IRAQI OPPOSITION POSTPONES KURD-HOSTED CONGRESS by Jonathan Wright Yahoo, 15th January WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The Iraqi opposition postponed on Wednesday what would have been its first congress on Iraqi soil for 10 years because the United States could not guarantee security for the meeting, opposition sources said. A 65-member grouping of opponents of President Saddam Hussein had been due to meet in the Kurdish-controlled town of Salaheddin, northern Iraq, on Jan. 22. Now the congress will not take place before early February, the sources said. In a preparatory meeting in the White House on Wednesday, U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told opposition leaders that the United States could not give the meeting any protection beyond routine air patrols by U.S. and British planes, the opposition sources said. Khalilzad told them extra protection might be possible in early February and the Kurdish representatives accepted what amounted to a U.S. request for a postponement, they added. A senior Bush administration official declined to discuss the security dispute and said the postponement was at the Iraqis' request. "We're willing to talk with them about any variety of their concerns," he told Reuters. Kurdish forces face Iraqi troops along a long frontier and the Kurds have bitter memories of betrayal by Britain and the United States, dating back to the early 20th century. They fear antagonizing the Baghdad government unless they have watertight assurances that Washington will protect them. "The Kurds want to know what the hell is going on (with U.S. war plans). Massoud Barzani isn't going to get into anything that's halfway," said one opposition source said. Barzani is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls Salaheddin and which is especially cautious about cooperation with the United States against Saddam. One Iraqi opposition source, who asked not to be named, said the United States appeared to be nervous about the congress, anyway, because meeting inside Iraq would add some credibility to the opposition in exile. "Khalilzad is not as interested in the Salaheddin meeting as he was because ... the congress will not be under their control. The Americans want to do things regardless of what the Iraqi opposition wants," another opposition source said. The United States is pressing to set up a 12-member preparatory committee, diluting the representation of the groups which dominated a major conference of Iraqi opposition groups in London in December, he added. Some parts of the U.S. government have serious reservations about the viability of the Iraqi opposition and would prefer to recruit their own local politicians if and when the United States invades and occupies the country, one source said. The United States may also be holding out hopes of a coup in Baghdad as U.S. troops close in on the country, he added. A coup could push the Iraqi opposition to the sidelines. In London Sadiq al-Mousawi, spokesman for the Constitutional Monarchist Movement, said: "We need more consultations among the delegates, as well as time to organize logistics." The Constitutional Monarchist Movement is one faction in the overall opposition grouping. The overall grouping, formed at the London conference to act as a government-in-waiting if Saddam were overthrown, is dominated by six parties recognized by the United States. These are the Iraqi National Congress -- the most pro-U.S. wing led by former banker Ahmad Chalabi -- the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, two Kurdish parties controlling northern Iraq, the Iraqi National Accord and the Constitutional Monarchist Movement. Washington has threatened to take military action against Iraq if Saddam fails to disarm and cooperate fully with arms inspectors searching for alleged weapons of mass destruction. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=1/16/03&Cat=10&Num=5 * KURDESTAN READY TO EXCHANGE TOURISTS WITH NORTH IRAQ Tehran Times, 16th January TEHRAN -- The Kurdestan governor general said that the province is ready to exchange tourists with Kurd regions of north Iraq. Assadollah Razani added that the Governor General's Office of Kurdestan is ready to issue license to tourists as well as applicants from other regions of Iran. On issuance of visas to tourist groups, which is of priority, he said that the project aims to familiarize Iranian tourists with Kurd regions of Iraq and eliminate prejudices that exist among the people. "Kurdestan Province enjoys many beautiful tourism sites to attract tourists from different regions," he said, adding that the province needs more precise planning. Referring to allocation of over 10b rials to the tourism industry of the province, he added that long-term projects to develop the industry are also planned. "Better economic conditions in the region will depend upon the development of the tourism industry. The cities are preparing to host the tourists during Norouz holidays." he noted. "The province can easily attract many tourists even without any need for long term projects," he concluded. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=1/20/03&Cat=2&Num=9 * U.S. BUILDING SECRET MILITARY AIRPORT IN NORTHERN IRAQ Tehran Times, 20th January TEHRAN -- The United States is building a secret military airport in northern Iraq and will make it operational next month, the Central News Bureau quoted an informed local source in Iraqi Kurdistan as saying on Sunday. The source said that the airport is located in a remote area in the Ben Harir heights in Arbil Province of Iraq, adding that it would have the capacity to accommodate up to 250 fighter jets once completed. Furthermore, military experts of the region believe that the Ben Harir base, with its unique geographical features, is meant to be a staging area for special operations, particularly considering the proximity of Turkey's Incirlik airbase to northern Iraq, where U.S. troops have already been deployed. In another development, it has been reported that a group of U.S. and Turkish troops entered northern Iraq on Sunday. The group consists of 37 U.S. officers and military experts and 67 Turkish troops, according to the report. In a related story, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported on Sunday that several U.S. warships had docked in ports in southern Turkey. The Milliyet report said that ships transporting military equipment had been dispatched to the region three weeks ago and are waiting for Ankara's authorization to off-load their cargo. NO FLY ZONES http://www.news24.com/News24/World/0,6119,2-10_1302279,00.html * US, UK ATTACK IRAQI RADAR News 24 (South Africa), 17th January Washington - US and British planes on Sunday attacked two Iraqi military radar bases, the US military said. The US Central Command said in a statement the latest attack in the no-fly zone in southern Iraq came "in response to Iraqi acts against coalition aircraft" policing the zone. It said the sites were near Ad Diwaniyah, about 120km south of Baghdad and the attacks were carried out about 12:40 GMT. "The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the system into the southern no-fly zone. Its presence was a threat to coalition aircraft," said the command statement. "Target battle damage assessment is ongoing," it added. The last US-British attack in the no-fly zone was on Friday when US and British jets struck an Iraqi military air defence command and control system, "which supported highly mobile surface-to-air missile systems" near Al Kut, 150km south-east of Baghdad. Attacks in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq have increased as the United States has stepped up pressure on Iraq over its weapons programmes and built up a military force around Iraq. - Sapa-AFP http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030119/ts_nm/iraq_usa_st rike_dc_1 * U.S., BRITISH PLANES HIT IRAQI 'NO-FLY' SITES Yahoo, 19th January WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Warplanes participating in a U.S.-British patrol over a "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq on Sunday attacked eight sites after Iraqi air defenses opened fire, the U.S. military said. The targets were cable repeater sites that were part of the command and control system for Iraq's air defense, U.S. Central Command said in a statement from its headquarters in Tampa, Fla.. The strikes were "in response to Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft," the statement said. "The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi air defense forces fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles at coalition aircraft patrolling the Southern No-Fly zone," Central Command said. The strikes took place at about 7:10 a.m. EST (1210 GMT) and were aimed at sites located between Al Kut, about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, and An Nasiriyah, around 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, according to the Pentagon (news - web sites). It said it was still assessing the damage. The United States and Britain created no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) to protect Kurds in the north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from Iraqi government forces. Iraq does not recognize the zones. A major escalation of attacks in the no-fly zones has coincided with a U.S. military build-up in the Gulf region to prepare for a possible war with Iraq. On Friday, U.S. and British patrols struck cable repeaters also located between Al Kut and An Nasiriyah. http://newsobserver.com/24hour/world/story/729623p-5329185c.html * UNMANNED U.S. CRAFT SHOT DOWN, IRAQ SAYS News & Observer, 22nd January BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq shot down an unmanned U.S. aircraft that entered its airspace from Kuwait, the state news agency reported Wednesday. It would be the second time in a month that Iraqi defenses had brought down one of the American reconnaissance drones. There was no immediate confirmation from the Pentagon of the report. An unnamed spokesman for the air defense command, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency, said the downed aircraft was a Predator but did not say where or when it was downed. "The spy plane that breached the sanctity of Iraq's international airspace is used by the American enemy to spy on our civilian military installations," the spokesman said. After Iraq brought down a Predator on Dec. 23, U.S. officials called it a "lucky shot" and did not treat it as a significant hostile act. In that encounter, Iraqi warplanes penetrated the southern no-fly zone and fired at the $3.7 million Predator, the Pentagon reported. American warplanes have been patrolling the skies of southern and northern "no-fly zones" in Iraq since 1991, keeping Iraqi aircraft from flying in those areas. The camera-equipped Predator drones presumably have been overflying Iraqi territory to reconnoiter for troop movements and other intelligence that would be useful for any U.S. attack resulting from the current international crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. They may also be looking for information useful in the ongoing U.N. weapons inspectors' hunt for such arms programs. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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