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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12808-2003Feb27.html U.N. Finds No Long-Range Iraqi Missiles By CHARLES J. HANLEY The Associated Press Thursday, February 27, 2003; 6:00 PM The U.N. inspectors swarming over Iraq's missile industry found an infraction last week: The short-range Al Samoud 2 sometimes flies a few miles farther than allowed. But the experts have reported no sign of any longer-range missiles that could strike Israel or neighboring oil nations as Washington fears. In fact, after three months' intensive work, the U.N. teams are looking ahead to ending their current investigative phase, and moving on to long-term monitoring via electronic "eyes and ears." Such a system could rein in missile development for years, experts say. Chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix gave Iraq until Saturday to begin destroying the Al Samouds, and Baghdad was reported Thursday to have agreed in principle to go ahead with their elimination - via explosives, crushing, cutting or other means. Blix called it an important test of Iraq's cooperation with U.N. disarmament efforts. The Iraqis must also eliminate the design data and equipment to build the weapons - a damaging blow to their young missile industry. Under the U.N. arms control regime that followed the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was forbidden to have missiles that could travel beyond a 150-kilometer range - 93 miles. That's considered the outer limit of short-range or "battlefield" missiles. Blix reported the newly developed Al Samoud 2 exceeded that limit on 13 test flights, by no more than 20 miles. On 27 of 40 flights, the missile tested short of the permitted threshold, Blix told U.N. diplomats behind closed doors. The Al Samouds' technical violation "isn't particularly worrisome ... isn't dramatic," said Victor Mizin, a former missile inspector in Iraq. He said he saw Blix's ban, announced last week, "more as a political move" - to assert U.N. control in Baghdad at a time when the Bush administration, threatening war against Iraq, contends U.N. inspections are ineffective. The Iraqis protested the ban, contending the flights would come up shorter when missiles were fully loaded with warheads and guidance systems. "They have a point," said Aaron Karp, a missile proliferation expert at Virginia's Old Dominion University. "I'm sure there's a heavy version and a light version." "All missile experts will tell you it's very difficult to precisely find the range," said Mizin, a Russian former arms negotiations adviser who served three tours as an Iraq inspector. "It depends on how it's launched, the flight profile. There are all kinds of trade-offs between payload and actual range." The slender white Al Samoud is not part of some hidden Iraqi arms program. It was under U.N. scrutiny from its first rollout, in 1997, when inspectors probed and tested it with gauges and scales to check its capabilities. When the U.N. teams returned last November after a four-year absence, they again descended on the Al Samoud factories, copied design files, observed engine tests and held long meetings, day after day, with Al Samoud production team leaders behind the 9-foot-high walls of their Karama Company compound in north Baghdad. It was the Iraqis, however, not the inspectors, who declared the technical violations of the range limit - violations the U.N. experts then confirmed via computer modeling. At the same time, inspectors were making dozens of other unannounced visits to design, production and test sites to check for more serious violations. Reports by the U.S. and British governments, based on satellite photos showing expansion of missile industry sites, said the Iraqis might be developing missiles with ranges over 600 miles. But after the on-the-ground inspectors looked under the roofs in those photos, they reported no violations. Similarly, after three months of unfettered U.N. access in Iraq, no signs have been reported of "up to a few dozen" longer-range Scud missiles the U.S. and British intelligence reports speculated were illegally hidden by the Baghdad regime. Those reports contended, without offering evidence, that the Iraqis saved some of the imported, Soviet-made missiles from U.N. destruction in the 1990s. Both Mizin and Karp believe inspectors should focus suspicions on the possibility Iraq will upgrade missile guidance by incorporating technology that uses Global Positioning System satellites. This could make primitive "cruise missiles" - airplanes converted to bomb-laden unmanned drones - much more accurate. Along those lines, in February alone the U.N. inspectors have paid at least a half-dozen surprise visits to installations making guidance-and-control systems. They're also inspecting sites where unmanned aircraft are developed. In February, the missile inspectors began unspecified preparatory work for the long-term monitoring system envisioned under U.N. resolutions. That system will include around-the-clock cameras and other monitoring devices inside and outside plants, along with regular oversight visits to missile-industry sites. Missiles, with their test facilities, test flights and large pieces of gear, are especially susceptible to monitoring, the experts agreed. "There are things you ultimately can't hide," Karp said. In any U.S. war, the Al Samoud missiles might threaten advancing American forces, although they might also be knocked out in pre-emptive U.S. airstrikes. Now Iraq faces the painful order to destroy its 50 or more Al Samouds, along with stocks of engines, liquid fuel, production and launch equipment, design and production software and documents. In the 1970s and 1980s, Iraq was believed to have wasted $10 billion of its oil money in a failed bid to build missiles. It finally succeeded with the Al Samoud in the 1990s, and went on to build a second line of short-range missile, the solid-fuel al-Fatah. Losing the Al Samoud program now would be a major setback to its military-industrial complex. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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