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[casi] News, 05-09/03/03 (2)

News, 05-09/03/03 (2)


*  Failed Diplomacy, Renewed Clarity
*   U.S. expels two Iraqi diplomats
*   Blix disputes Iraq's anthrax claims
*  Excerpts From Bush's News Conference
*   Iraqi border fence cut down
*  Diplomatic lines harden
*   Bush wants U.N. vote within days
*  Thousands take ant-war protest to Scottish Parliament
*  Let Us Inspect
*  Bitter split deepens at UN
*  Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake
*  U.N. Split Widens as Allies Dismiss Deadline on Iraq


by Jim Hoagland
Washington Post, 6th March


The scale of the failure of U.S. diplomacy to give Bush workable
alternatives to the situation in which he finds himself -- going to war over
the concerted opposition of allies and world public opinion -- is


This is not a movie that can be ended on an uplifting final frozen frame of
smiling troops climbing on air transports as the story ends. Saddam Hussein
still standing in the wake of an American retreat is a Saddam Hussein
implicitly blessed as a non-threat to world peace.

If this happens, economic sanctions will evaporate. No-fly zones now
enforced at the cost of $1 billion a year will no longer be tenable. And the
Shiites of the south and Kurds of the north who have once again put
themselves on the line because of American promises will be without
protection against one of history's greatest mass murderers. There will be
nothing abstract about the price they will pay.

Republican administrations abandoned the Kurds to Baghdad's atrocities three
times in three decades: in 1975 at the end of the Kurdish rebellion, in 1987
when Hussein used chemical weapons against them, and in 1991 at the end of
the Gulf War.

Some Bush critics try to saddle him with responsibility for those past
betrayals as a way of immobilizing him.

But Turkey's opting out clears the way for the binding, clear and moral U.S.
commitment to real autonomy in Iraq that the Kurds seek and deserve. They
should be honored guests at a victory banquet rather than items on the menu
for Arab dictators or Turkish generals.;jsessionid=S320KHW3PPNGYCRBAEZSFE

Reuters, 5th March

UNITED NATIONS: The United States has expelled two members of Iraq's U.N.
mission for activities considered "harmful" to U.S. security and has asked
several other countries to take similar action.

The two were described as diplomats but Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed
Aldouri, said they were security guards, although they had the title of

The men were identified as Nazih Abdullatif Rahman and Yehia Naeem Suaoud
and were asked to leave by midnight on Friday for conducting activities
outside of their official duties, a term that usually but not always
indicates spying.

"They (U.S. officials) are always talking about their activities being in
contradiction of their diplomatic duties, but they are inside the mission
all of the time and how do they have the time to do this?" Aldouri told

"We cannot say they are diplomats. They are security guards at the mission,
but they have a title of attache," Aldouri said.

A statement from the State Department in Washington said: "The two attaches
were engaged in activities outside the scope of their official functions.
Federal law enforcement authorities deemed the activities to be harmful to
our national security."

It said that the United Nations was advised of the U.S. request on March 4.

State Department spokeswoman Tara Rigler said Washington had asked other
countries to kick out alleged Iraqi spies.

"The United States has asked host governments in a number of countries to
expel Iraqi intelligence agents from operating under diplomatic cover who we
believe pose a threat to our personnel in installations overseas," she said,
declining to name the countries.

This had no bearing on the timing of possible military action against Iraq,
Rigler said.

Expulsions of Iraqis have picked up in the past month as the Bush
administration gears up for a possible invasion to disarm Iraq of its
suspected weapons of mass destruction.

In mid-February, the United States expelled the U.N. correspondent of the
official Iraqi News Agency, Mohammad Hassan Allawi. Last June U.S. officials
expelled a first secretary at Iraq's U.N. mission.

Allawi, 38, had been the INA correspondent at the United Nations for two
years. He lived in Manhattan with his wife and five children, aged 8 to 16,
who attend New York public schools. The U.N. Correspondents Association
protested his expulsion to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and asked
for an explanation, which it did not receive.;jsessionid=AG5MTPX4CPOKWCRBAE0CFE

by Evelyn Leopold
Reuters, 6th March

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations disputes Iraq's claim to have destroyed
21,000 litres of biological warfare agents, including anthrax, according to
a draft of a report obtained by Reuters.

Iraq had declared 8,445 litres (2,230 gallons) anthrax but the report
estimates that 21,000 litres (5,447 gallons) of germ agents stored in bulk
during the 1991 Gulf War included about 10,000 litres (2,641 gallons) of

The report, a draft of which was obtained by Reuters, gives 29 "clusters" or
groups of weapons programs and a "to do" list for Iraq in order to satisfy
U.N. Security Council demands that Baghdad account for its weapons of mass
destruction programs.

The 167-page report was drawn up by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission, headed by Hans Blix and will be distributed to
ministers at a key meeting on Friday. It is separate from an oral report he
will present.

It compiles every weapons program, past and present, and says what Iraq has
done and what it needs to do, thereby giving ammunition to those Security
Council members who say inspection are getting somewhere and need to
continue and those who say the report shows how Iraq is not fulfilling U.N.

Blix questioned Iraqi statements that it had stored all bulk biological
warfare agents during the 1991 Gulf War at the Al Hakam plant and destroyed
those unused after the war.

"There is credible information available to UNMOVIC that indicates that the
bulk agent, including anthrax, was in fact deployed during the 1991 Gulf
War," the report said. "The question then arises as to what happened to it
after the war."

"Based on this information, UNMOVIC estimates that about 21,000 litres
(5,547 gallons) of biological warfare agent was stored in bulk at locations
remote from Al Hakam. About half of this, about 10,000 litres (2,641
gallons) was anthrax," Blix wrote in the report.

"It therefore seems highly probable that the destruction of the bulk agent,
including anthrax, stated by Iraq to be at Al Hakam in July-August 1991 did
not occur," the report said."

Blix said Iraq needed to provide documentation or other evidence to support
its account.

The new report also said Iraq may be producing more banned missiles in
addition to the Al Samoud 2 rockets it is now destroying and had declared
last year to inspectors.

"Other missiles systems with ranges in excess of 150 km (93 miles) may
possibly be under development or planned," the report said.

"Indications of this come from solid propellant casting chambers Iraq has
acquired, through recent import, indigenous production or from the repair or
old chambers," said the report.

Blix had ordered the Al Samouds destroyed.

The report had been eagerly awaited by nations opposed to war, who believe
inspectors are working and should continue for months. Canada, on the other
hand, has proposed the "outstanding issues" be turned into "benchmarks" with
deadlines for Iraq to meet by March 28.

But for the United States and Britain, however, the report shows how many
weapons issues Iraq has not yet clarified, despite Blix's comments to
reporters on Wednesday that Iraq was beginning to actively cooperate with
his inspectors.

He told a news conference on Wednesday that the destruction of the al
Samouds "is the most spectacular and the most important and tangible"
evidence of real disarmament.

Associated Press, 6th March

Excerpts from President Bush's prime-time news conference Thursday night:

"The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes
his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow inaction will make
the world safer, is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people."

"I'm convinced that a liberated Iraq will be important for that troubled
part of the world. The Iraqi people are plenty capable of governing
themselves. Iraq's a sophisticated society. Iraq's got money. Iraq will
provide a place where people can see that the Shia and the Sunni and the
Kurds can get along in a federation. Iraq will serve as a catalyst for
change - positive change."

"I hope we don't have to go to war. But if we go to war we will disarm Iraq.
And if we go to war there will be a regime change. And replacing this cancer
inside of Iraq will be a government that represents the rights of all the
people, a government which represents the voices of the Shia and the Sunni
and the Kurds."

"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to
see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and
the utility of the United Nations Security Council. ... It's time for people
to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to

"I'm confident the American people understand that when it comes to our
security, if we need to act, we will act. And we really don't need United
Nations approval to do so."

"One thing that's really great about our country is that there are thousands
of people who pray for me who I'll never see and be able to thank."

by William Maclean
Reuters, 6th March

KUWAIT: Unidentified people have cut down part of a fence marking the border
between Iraq and Kuwait -- a move analysts have describe as a preparation
for war with Iraq.

"This began on the 5th and continued yesterday and now it has stopped," said
Daljeet Bagga, a spokesman for the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission
(UNIKOM), adding that UNIKOM was investigating.

Western officials in Kuwait have previously said the Demilitarised Zone
(DMZ) fence will be dismantled in several places to allow tanks and armoured
vehicles to push north across the DMZ in the event that U.S. President
George W. Bush decides to go to war with Iraq.

Bagga said large gaps in the fence on the Kuwaiti side of the border had
been created in about seven places by unidentified people. The fence runs
the length of the 200 km (130 mile) land border, marking the start of the
Kuwaiti potion of the zone.

The zone runs five km (three miles) into Kuwait and 10 km into Iraq.

Tens of thousands of U.S. and British troops are in Kuwait preparing for a
possible air and ground attacks on Iraq to dismantle alleged Iraqi weapons
of mass destruction. Iraq denies it has any such weapons.

The DMZ was set up in April 1991 to allow the United Nations to monitor the
border after a U.S.-led coalition ejected Iraqi occupation troops from
Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.

U.S. military spokesmen in Kuwait had no immediate comment on the UNIKOM
report. Kuwaiti officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Some Kuwaiti newspaper reports have said the fence would be partially
dismantled this week as a preparation for a ground assault.

Bagga said UNIKOM was investigating reports from some Kuwaiti officials that
the partial lowering of the fence was to do with unspecified "maintenance

U.S. and British officials have dismissed suggestions that any military push
across the DMZ would be a violation of its demilitarised status, noting that
the DMZ was created as part of the ceasefire accords that ended the 1991
Gulf war.

They say the justification for any armed action against Iraq is provided by
lack of Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament resolutions, meaning, they
say, that Baghdad is in breach of the 1991 ceasefire.

Diplomats have said UNIKOM's several dozen Russian, U.S., French, Chinese
and British military observers and several hundred Bangladeshi U.N. troops
are expected to be withdrawn in the event of hostilities. For the moment,
they remain in place.

by Joel Brinkley
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 6th March

WASHINGTON: In their bluntest statement to date, France, Russia and Germany
issued a joint declaration Wednesday affirming that they "will not allow"
the passage of a Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force
against Iraq.

All three countries have made their disapproval of war patently clear for
many weeks. But now, without saying so directly, both France and Russia are
clearly indicating that they are prepared to use their Security Council veto
power to kill the resolution, which was proposed for discussion last month
by the United States and Britain.

The joint declaration was released two days before a crucial Security
Council meeting to discuss Iraqi compliance with disarmament requirements.

The statement, published after a rushed meeting of the three foreign
ministers in Paris on Wednesday, said, "Russia and France, as permanent
members of the Security Council, will assume all of their responsibilities
on this point."

Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, said that China, another Security
Council member with veto power, "shares our approach."

Even though the resolution's prospects look increasingly dim, the United
States and Britain say they will begin pushing for a vote after United
Nations weapons inspectors deliver the latest update on their work Friday.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Hans Blix, the chief weapons
inspector, presaging his presentation Friday, said that although "question
marks remain," particularly about unaccounted for chemical and biological
weapons, Iraq is now involved in "real" and "very fine disarmament." He
added that Iraq has allowed unimpeded interviews with seven Iraqi scientists
in recent days.

None of this seemed to deter the Bush administration from its war plans.
White House officials disparage Blix in private. And President George W.
Bush held a war-planning meeting at the White House on Wednesday morning
with his senior generals as well as the secretaries of State and Defense and
the Central Intelligence director.

If Bush authorizes an attack, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said after
the meeting, "the Iraqi regime will be gone." And General Tommy Franks, head
of the Central Command that controls American forces in the Gulf region,
said his troops were ready to fight.

"Our troops are trained, they're ready, they're capable," Franks said during
a news conference at the Pentagon. "There is no doubt we will prevail."

The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, indicated that the administration
was not overly concerned about the Paris declaration.

"Don't leap to conclusions about the final vote" in the Security Council, he
said. "You will continue to hear various statements by various people around
the world." He said that Bush "remains confident" that the resolution would

And Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking on French television
Wednesday, said: "I am increasingly optimistic that if it comes to a vote,
we will be able to make a case that will persuade most members of the
Security Council."

Speaking in Washington later in the day, he said: "Nothing we have seen" in
recent days shows that "Saddam Hussein has taken a strategic and political
decision to disarm."

More than 250,000 American troops and support personnel are now stationed in
the Gulf, and 60,000 more are on the way, including 30,000 dispatched this


While the French, Russian and German foreign ministers worked hard to avoid
actually using the word "veto," the Germany's UN ambassador, Guenter
Pleuger, pressed on that point, reread the statement saying the three
countries "will not allow" a resolution to pass. Then he said: "For
everybody who can read or understand, isn't that clear?"

Nonetheless, Powell continued to press the case in his speech Wednesday
afternoon at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington. Referring to intelligence that Powell said he could not
describe, he asserted that "the Iraqi regime is still moving weapons of mass
destruction around the country to avoid detection" and "hiding machinery it
can use to make more engines to power" the prohibited Al Samoud-2 missiles
that are now being destroyed under UN supervision.


by Steve Holland and Alan Elsner
Reuters, 7th March

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS: U.S. President George W. Bush has said he will
force a vote within days seeking U.N. authorisation to invade Iraq, a
decision that ratchets up pressure on major powers opposing his push for
Security Council backing.

Dismissing Iraq's destruction of banned missiles in recent days as a
charade, Bush reiterated he could launch a war without U.N. approval because
U.S. security was paramount.

"If we need to act, we will act and we really don't need the U.N.'s approval
to do so," Bush said in only the second prime-time news conference of his
presidency. "When it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's

Asked if he was close to a war decision, Bush said he was still in the final
stages of diplomacy. He said he would spend only a matter of days trying to
persuade nations to support a new U.N. resolution before bringing the issue
to a vote regardless of its chances of passage.

Britain, the strongest U.S. ally on Iraq, said it was searching for a
formula that could command a majority in the Security Council, where Bush
faces increasingly stiff opposition from veto-holders France, Russia and

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also discussed possible changes in the
proposed text of the new resolution with foreign ministers of key European
nations in an effort to win wider support.

"We're days away from resolving this issue at the Security Council," Bush
said. "It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where
they stand when it comes to (Iraqi President) Saddam (Hussein)."

Bush accused Iraq of hiding materials for weapons of mass destruction and
ordering continued production of banned missiles while making a "public
show" of destroying some arms.

"These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the
actions of a regime engaged in a wilful charade ... If the world fails to
confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force even as
a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks," he

Bush argued for force on a day when he ran into more opposition at home and
abroad over how to disarm Iraq.

China joined an anti-war coalition while Senator Tom Daschle, the top Senate
Democrat, broke ranks with Bush over Iraq, accusing him of "rushing to war."

With about 300,000 troops poised to attack Iraq as soon as Bush gives the
order, the United States has been trying to round up the nine votes needed
in the Security Council.

So far the United States only has four certain votes -- its own and those of
Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. Britain, which has been Washington's closest
ally, said it was ready to amend the resolution as a way of winning over a
majority in the 15-member council but not to change it substantively.

"There's certainly a possibility of an amendment and that's something we're
looking at," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a news conference.

Diplomats said Britain was floating a proposal that would give Iraq a
deadline of less than a week to show it had no nuclear, biological or
chemical weapons programs after a resolution authorising war was adopted.

Iraq denies it has such weapons and says it is complying with U.N. demands
over disarmament.

China on Thursday joined France, Russia and Germany in vowing to block the
draft resolution authorising war. "China endorses and supports their joint
statement," Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said.

Other nations on the council remain uncommitted and Washington has made no
public progress in recent days in shifting any of them off the fence.


Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said on Thursday an invasion of Iraq now
would be premature, and accused the administration of failing to build
international support for war to oust Saddam.


The Scotsman, 7th March

THOUSANDS of demonstrators surged up the Mound to converge outside the
Scottish Parliament yesterday afternoon to protest against a war with Iraq.

Police estimated there were about 3,000 present, but march organisers put
the numbers at twice that amount.

Speakers including Tommy Sheridan MSP and George Galloway MP addressed the
crowds, who represented a host of nationalities, age groups and viewpoints.

The veteran journalist turned politician Dorothy-Grace Elder said she had
not seen such a surge of popular activism since the 1970s. "This is the
biggest demonstration I have seen in Edinburgh since the days of the
protests against apartheid," she added.

The former bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, was also in the crowd. "I
think it is extraordinary and very moving," he said.

"It has become a matter of principle for Tony Blair not to take notice, but
I think he has to take notice. This could destroy the Labour Party."

Demonstrators carried banners, as well as flags which represented socialist
and green groups. A huge model of a gagged and bound UN weapons inspector
was carried along Princes Street. Large puppets of Tony Blair and George
Bush danced below the Scottish parliament to a samba band.

There were hundreds of schoolchildren on the protest, many carrying placards
which read "Spare the Innocents and Don't Bomb Babies."

A 12-year-old Boroughmuir High School pupil said: "If lots of people show
they disagree with the war I think they will have to take notice and stop
the war."

Danny Krause, an industrial technician, said she had not been on a demo for
20 years, "I don't want people murdered in my name," she said.

Abdul Saadi, an Iraqi Kurd, said he was there to represent the interests of
his people in Northern Iraq.

"We don't like Saddam Hussein, but our people have been given a safe haven
for ten years. We are very worried."

Mr Sheridan, the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, said a conflict
would be a "massacre", in which the World Health Organisation predicted
there could be between 100,000 and 500,000 casualties in the first five

An anti-war protest in Glasgow last month attracted about 80,000 people.,,SB104700878957030300,00.html

by Mohamed ElBaradei
Wall Street Journal, 7th March

For the past three months, a cadre of highly trained inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Agency has been on a focused mission: to verify,
through intrusive inspection, the existence or absence of a nuclear-weapons
program in Iraq.

These inspections have recently been characterized by some as a "mission
impossible" -- a task too challenging to warrant continued pursuit. This, in
my view, is a mischaracterization. I cannot speak for UNMOVIC -- the United
Nations organization tasked with chemical, biological and missile
inspections in Iraq. However, the facts on the nuclear side speak for
themselves: After three months back in Baghdad, nuclear-weapons inspections
are making marked progress.

The inspector's role is not that of a cloak-and-dagger detective, but
neither are inspectors the passive "observers" that some have suggested. The
IAEA's nuclear-weapons inspectors are physicists, chemists and engineers
with decades of experience in nuclear-weapons research and development,
nuclear-material safeguards and intrusive international inspection.

A high percentage of the current IAEA team had experience in Iraq during
1991-98. This was a period when the IAEA successfully seized nuclear-related
documents based on information provided by defectors, convinced Iraq to
provide volumes of additional information describing its existing
nuclear-weapons program, destroyed or neutralized Iraqi facilities and
equipment related to nuclear-weapons production and confiscated and removed
from Iraq its nuclear weapons-usable material.

In the past three months, they have conducted over 200 inspections at more
than 140 locations, entering without prior notice into Iraqi industrial
facilities, munitions factories, military establishments, private residences
and presidential palaces. They have followed up inspection leads provided by
other states, confiscated nuclear-related Iraqi documents for further
scrutiny, interviewed scientists and engineers known to have played a key
role in Iraq's past nuclear-weapons program and lowered themselves by rope
into abandoned underground-reactor chambers.

Taking advantage of the "signature" of radioactive materials, they have
conducted radiation surveys over thousands of kilometers of Iraqi roads and
collected samples of soil, air, water and vegetation and particulate matter
from key locations in Iraq for laboratory analysis.

In short, the nuclear inspectors in Iraq have been far from idle, and their
efforts far from futile. The IAEA's inspectors have systematically examined
the contents and operations of all Iraqi buildings and facilities that were
identified through satellite surveillance as having been modified or newly
constructed since December 1998, when inspections were brought to a halt.
They have determined the whereabouts and functionality of Iraq's known
"dual-use" equipment -- that is, equipment that has legitimate industrial
uses, such as precision machining, but that could also be used for the
high-precision manufacture of components relevant to a nuclear-weapons

While the task is by no means complete, the inspection results achieved to
date are worthy of careful consideration. In my update to the U.N. Security
Council today, I will present the latest inspection results in detail. These
will cover issues such as whether Iraq has used aluminum tubes and
high-strength magnets as part of efforts to enrich uranium, Iraq's
indigenous capability for flow-forming aluminum cylinders and the reported
attempts by Iraq to import uranium from Niger.

A key facet of these inspections has been the degree of cooperation on the
part of Iraq. Throughout the past three months, Iraqi authorities have
provided access to all facilities without conditions and without delay and
have made documents available in response to inspectors' requests.

However, the level of cooperation was initially "passive." Thus in our
reports to the Security Council and meetings with Iraqi officials, we
emphasized the need for a shift to more "proactive" support on the part of
Iraq -- that is, making every effort to assist inspectors by voluntarily
making available documentation, people and physical evidence that could help
to fill in the remaining gaps in our understanding.

This urging, backed by the threat of the use of force, ultimately led to
improvement. In recent weeks, Iraq has agreed to the use of overhead
surveillance flights by American, French, Russian and German aircraft in
support of the inspecting organizations and, as requested, committed to
encouraging its citizens to accept interviews in private in Iraq. It has
also provided lists of additional Iraqi personnel who might be relevant to
verification issues. This kind of cooperation should speed up the
verification process and generate additional credibility for the assurances
that result.

Nuclear-weapons inspections in Iraq are making marked progress. To date, we
have found no substantiated evidence of the revival in Iraq of a
nuclear-weapons program -- the most lethal of the weapons of mass
destruction. No verification program can provide absolute guarantees that
every facility or piece of equipment has been seen. There is always some
degree of risk -- and for that reason we need to continue to maintain a
monitoring and verification presence in Iraq well into the future.

For the present, we intend to continue our program of intrusive inspection,
making use of all the authority granted to us by the Security Council and
all the information provided by other states. Barring any unforeseen
circumstances, and provided that the level of cooperation by Iraq
accelerates and support by other states continues, the IAEA should be able
in the near future to provide the Security Council with credible assurances
regarding the presence or absence of a nuclear-weapons program in Iraq.

Mr. ElBaradei is the director general of the International Atomic Energy
Agency and head of nuclear inspections in Iraq.

by Timothy L. O'Brien
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 8th March

UNITED NATIONS, New York: Bitter divisions on the Security Council over the
disarmament of Saddam Hussein's regime deepened Friday as UN weapons
inspectors gave accounts of progress and hindrance that provided ammunition
to both sides in the fractious debate.

With the threat of military action hanging over the region, Secretary of
State Colin Powell dismissed Baghdad's disarmament efforts as nothing more
than "a catalogue" of "noncooperation."

The UN's chief inspector for chemical and biological weapons, Hans Blix,
said that Iraq's cooperation has been "proactive" and its destruction of a
hotly disputed missile system offered a "substantial measure" of

"We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks," he said. "Lethal
weapons are being destroyed."

Blix added, however, that Iraq was still not free of weapons of mass
destruction and, in a reference to about 250,000 U.S. and British military
forces that have amassed in the region, that Baghdad's heightened
cooperation may have resulted from "outside pressure."

Blix added that Iraq's cooperation has not been "immediate" and that "it
will not take years, nor weeks, but months," for his inspections to be

Inspectors briefed a Security Council that is considering a draft resolution
submitted by the United States, Britain, and Spain that would declare that
Iraq "has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it" to disarm. If
the resolution passes it would set the stage for a possible military
confrontation. France, Germany and Russia have circulated a less formal
memorandum that calls for continued inspections.

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, drew applause on the floor of the
council when he proposed amending the language of the draft resolution to
allow more time for Iraq to comply if and when the resolution passes.
Diplomats here said that Washington and London would seek a deadline of
March 17 for Iraq to fully disarm after the draft resolution passes. A vote
is expected sometime next week, possibly on Thursday.

Powell's second visit to the UN during the current Iraqi crisis came as part
of what President George W. Bush characterized at a White House press
conference Thursday evening as "the last phase of diplomacy."

Powell took pointed swipes at the efficacy of some of the weapons
inspectors' efforts and said that the credibility of the Security Council
was in play.

"If Iraq genuinely wanted to disarm, we would not have to be worrying about
setting up means of looking for mobile biological units or any units of that
they kind," Powell said. "They would be presented to us."

"We would not need an extensive program to search for and look for
underground facilities that we know exist," he said. "The very fact that we
must make these requests seems to me to show that Iraq is still not

France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, in a now familiar
counterpoint to Powell's stance, said that weapons inspections in Iraq had
made "substantial progress" and that his country would oppose any UN
resolution authorizing the use of force against Baghdad. He also said that
France would oppose any deadline imposed on Iraq to comply with inspections,
saying that such a deadline would be "a pretext for war."

"Why should we now engage in war with Iraq?" de Villepin asked. "Why choose
division when our unity and our resolve are leading Iraq to get rid of its
weapons of mass destruction?"

"War is always an acknowledgment of failure," de Villepin said.

The Russian, German and Chinese representatives to the UN voiced similar
concerns about military action, with Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov,
noting that war would be "fraught with unpredictable consequences."

"We are certain that the United Nations Security Council must emerge from
the Iraq crisis not weakened and divided but united and strong," Ivanov

France, China and Russia - three of the Security Council's five permanent
members, who have veto power - have objected to the use of force against
Iraq, in opposition to the United States and Britain, the other two
permanent members. Washington has been fighting an uphill battle to get the
necessary votes to insure passage of the resolution. Mexico and Chile, two
key swing votes on the council, said Friday that they preferred to seek a
peaceful outcome to the crisis rather than a military strike.

Nonetheless, the odds against securing UN support appear to be of little
concern to the White House. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain
have said that they are prepared to go to war with Iraq without the UN's
backing and the diplomatic legitimacy that support would confer.

"We're days away from resolving this issue in the Security Council," Bush
said in his press conference Thursday. "No matter what the whip count is,
we're calling for the vote. It's time for people to show their cards, let
the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."

At the UN on Friday, Powell and Straw both relied heavily in their
presentations on a 167 page report that Blix has prepared that lists the
outstanding disarmament issues facing Iraq. Straw, who nodded repeatedly in
agreement with Powell during the U.S. diplomat's speech, said the report was
a "chilling read" that demonstrates Iraq is not cooperating.

Straw described the report, which was expected to be made public later
Friday, as "a shocking indictment of the record of Saddam Hussein's
deception and deceit, but above all, of the danger which he poses to the
region and to the world." Powell called the report a "damning record of 12
years of lies" by Iraq.

In a quiet, almost bland tone of voice, Blix told the Security Council that
his team has been able to perform professional, no-notice inspections
throughout Iraq and that air reconnaissance efforts have been fruitful.

He said Iraq had provided names of key personnel involved in earlier weapons
destruction programs, but he has not seen a comparable list of Iraq's past
and current stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He said more
interviews with Iraqi scientists have occurred, but that they rarely
proceeded unimpeded or away from Iraqi observers and would be more useful if
they took place outside of Iraq.

Blix's counterpart, Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the UN's nuclear weapons
inspection team, said that Iraq's industrial capacity had withered so
completely that it was unable to produce nuclear weapons. He said that
intelligence reports about uranium transfers between Iraq and Niger were
inaccurate and, in a thinly veiled criticism of intelligence information
cited by Powell in his earlier visit to the UN, said that reports of resumed
nuclear activities at sites within Iraq were also inaccurate.

ElBaradei also disputed U.S. intelligence reports that claimed that suspect
aluminum tubes were part of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "Extensive
field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any
evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81 millimeter tubes for any project
other than the reverse engineering of rockets," he said.

For his part, Powell questioned the credibility of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, the UN agency that ElBaradei oversees. "As we all know, in
1991 the IAEA was just days away from determining that Iraq did not have a
nuclear program," Powell said. "We soon found out otherwise. IAEA is now
reaching a similar conclusion, but we have to be very cautious."

And Powell concluded his remarks on an ominous note.

"Now is the time for the council to tell Saddam that the clock has not been
stopped by his stratagems and his machinations," he said. "The clock
continues to tick. And the consequences of Saddam Hussein's continued
refusal to disarm will be very, very real."

by Joby Warrick
Washington Post, 7th March

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to
have been fabricated, the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said
yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims
about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in
Africa two years ago were deemed "not authentic" after careful scrutiny by
U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim -- made twice by the
president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell yesterday -- that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum
tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported
finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive
sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

"There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities," ElBaradei said.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the
faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in
the central African nation of Niger. The documents had been given to the
U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence.
The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away
-- including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who
held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials

"We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the
United States for the forgery. The documents "were shared with us in good
faith," he said.

The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince
reluctant U.N. Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed
by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Powell, in his statement to the
Security Council Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei's findings but also cited
"new information" suggesting that Iraq continues to try to get nuclear
weapons components.

"It is not time to close the book on these tubes," a senior State Department
official said, adding that Iraq was prohibited from importing sensitive
parts, such as tubes, regardless of their planned use.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein pursued an ambitious nuclear agenda
throughout the 1970s and 1980s and launched a crash program to build a bomb
in 1990 following his invasion of neighboring Kuwait. But Iraq's nuclear
infrastructure was heavily damaged by allied bombing in 1991, and the
country's known stocks of nuclear fuel and equipment were removed or
destroyed during the U.N. inspections after the war.

However, Iraq never surrendered the blueprints for nuclear weapons, and kept
key teams of nuclear scientists intact after U.N. inspectors were forced to
leave in 1998. Despite international sanctions intended to block Iraq from
obtaining weapons components, Western intelligence agencies and former
weapons inspectors were convinced the Iraqi president had resumed his quest
for the bomb in the late 1990s, citing defectors' stories and satellite
images that showed new construction at facilities that were once part of
Iraq's nuclear machinery.

Last September, the United States and Britain issued reports accusing Iraq
of renewing its quest for nuclear weapons. In Britain's assessment, Iraq
reportedly had "sought significant amounts of uranium from Africa, despite
having no active civil nuclear program that could require it."

Separately, President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on
Sept. 12, said Iraq had made "several attempts to buy-high-strength aluminum
tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors
returned to Iraq last November. In early December, the IAEA began an
intensive investigation of the aluminum tubes, which Iraq had tried for two
years to purchase by the tens of thousands from China and at least one other
country. Certain types of high-strength aluminum tubes can be used to build
centrifuges, which enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial power

By early January, the IAEA had reached a preliminary conclusion: The 81mm
tubes sought by Iraq were "not directly suitable" for centrifuges, but
appeared intended for use as conventional artillery rockets, as Iraq had
claimed. The Bush administration, meanwhile, stuck to its original position
while acknowledging disagreement among U.S. officials who had reviewed the

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Bush said Iraq had "attempted
to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons

Last month, Powell likewise dismissed the IAEA's conclusions, telling U.N.
leaders that Iraq would not have ordered tubes at such high prices and with
such exacting performance ratings if intended for use as ordinary rockets.
Powell specifically noted that Iraq had sought tubes that had been
"anodized," or coated with a thin outer film -- a procedure that Powell said
was required if the tubes were to be used in centrifuges.

ElBaradei's report yesterday all but ruled out the use of the tubes in a
nuclear program. The IAEA chief said investigators had unearthed extensive
records that backed up Iraq's explanation. The documents, which included
blueprints, invoices and notes from meetings, detailed a 14-year struggle by
Iraq to make 81mm conventional rockets that would perform well and resist
corrosion. Successive failures led Iraqi officials to revise their standards
and request increasingly higher and more expensive metals, ElBaradei said.

Moreover, further work by the IAEA's team of centrifuge experts -- two
Americans, two Britons and a French citizen -- has reinforced the IAEA's
conclusion that the tubes were ill suited for centrifuges. "It was highly
unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable redesign needed to
use them in a revived centrifuge program," ElBaradei said.

 A number of independent experts on uranium enrichment have sided with
IAEA's conclusion that the tubes were at best ill suited for centrifuges.
Several have said that the "anodized" features mentioned by Powell are
actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges, contrary to
the administration's statement.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based
research organization that specializes in nuclear issues, reported yesterday
that Powell's staff had been briefed about the implications of the anodized
coatings before Powell's address to the Security Council last month.
"Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the
administration persists in making misleading arguments about the
significance of the tubes," the institute's president, David Albright, wrote
in the report.

Powell's spokesman said the secretary of state had consulted numerous
experts and stood by his U.N. statement.

by Felicity Barringer
New York Times, 8th March

UNITED NATIONS, March 7  With an American-led war on Iraq appearing ever
more likely, the United States and Britain said today that they would urge
the Security Council to vote next week on a new resolution that would give
Iraq until March 17 to disarm. But France, Russia and China, which hold veto
power, swiftly dismissed the new proposal.

The new move to unite the world's deeply divided powers came after the chief
United Nations weapons inspectors bluntly if quietly contradicted some
American and British assertions about Iraqi violations and drew sharp
rebuttals from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the British foreign
minister, Jack Straw.

Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said
that a report  which had earlier been identified as coming from British
intelligence  that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from Niger was based
on fake documents.

Both Dr. ElBaradei and Hans Blix said that under the threat of force, Iraqi
cooperation was increasing, though belatedly. Mr. Blix noted, "One can
hardly avoid the impression that after a period of somewhat reluctant
cooperation, there has been an acceleration of initiatives from the Iraqi
side since the end of January." To complete inspections properly "even with
a proactive Iraqi attitude," he said, "would not take years, nor weeks, but

With foreign ministers and the weapons inspectors converging in emotional
debate on Iraq for the third time in the past month, none of the six
undecided countries on the 15-nation Security Council tipped their hand as
to how they might vote. They pleaded instead for the five powers that
dominate the body to find some way to find common ground.

Ambassador John D. Negroponte of the United States said last night that a
vote could come "as early as Tuesday." Even if the resolution fails to pass,
he said, the United States believes it has ample legal authority to go to
war under the previous resolutions.

The United States and Britain remained unsure of collecting the nine votes
they need for passage even of the amended resolution, said another Council
diplomat who supports it. This evening, one dejected diplomat left the
meeting shaking his head and saying, "we are headed for a disaster,"
although he added he could not be sure which way the vote would go.

The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, scornfully rejected the
new resolution. "By imposing a deadline of only a few days, would we merely
be seeking a pretext for war?" he asked. "As a permanent member of the
Security Council, I will say it again: France will not allow a resolution to
pass that authorizes the automatic use of force." The Russian and Chinese
foreign ministers followed suit.

The assessment from the weapons inspectors took account of Iraq's
cooperation since Nov. 27, when inspections in Iraq resumed for the first
time since 1998, after the Security Council passed a unanimous resolution.
In addition to casting severe doubt on the reported Iraqi attempt to buy
uranium in Niger, Dr. ElBaradei said that "there is no indication that Iraq
has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment" of
uranium into weapons-grade material. For months, American officials have
cited Iraq's importation of these tubes as evidence that Mr. Hussein's
scientists have been seeking to develop a nuclear capability.

Mr. Blix reiterated that the destruction of 34 Al Samoud 2 missiles in the
past week "constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament indeed, the
first since the middle of the 1990's. We are not watching the breaking of

In response, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a pointed reference to
Dr. ElBaradei's agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying, "as
we all know, in 1991 the I.A.E.A. was just days away from determining that
Iraq did not have a nuclear program. We soon found out otherwise."

Turning to Mr. Blix's assessment of Iraq's recent moves, Mr. Powell said, "I
don't know if we should call these things 'initiatives.' Whatever they are,
Iraq's small steps are certainly not initiatives." He added, "I know these
are not toothpicks, but real missiles, but the problem is, we don't know how
many missiles there are, how many toothpicks there are."


At the Council today, both Mr. Powell and Mr. Straw refused to be put on the
defensive, as they were during the last public face-off of foreign ministers
on Feb. 14. Mr. Straw, in particular, made a frontal assault on his French
colleague, saying: "Dominique also said the choice before us was disarmament
by peace or disarmament by war. Dominique, that is a false choice."

He also said that the only route to disarmament is "by backing our diplomacy
with the credible threat of force." When Mr. Straw finished, he was greeted
with applause, a turnaround from the last meeting of ministers in the
Council chamber, when it was Mr. de Villepin's oration against war that drew

Mr. Straw's amendment was described by one admiring Council diplomat as
having "intricate wording" that tries to turn the current war-versus-peace
debate into a debate over Iraq's failure to comply with Council demands,
most recently in its resolution 1441, which passed unanimously in November.

The original resolution was submitted by the United States, Britain and
Spain on Feb. 24. President Bush said on Thursday night that the United
States would call for a vote even if it was not clear that the measure could
garner enough votes. This weekend, Mr. de Villepin is flying to the capitals
of Angola and Cameroon, two uncommitted Council members.

Late today, as the council continued its meeting behind closed doors, Amr
Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, told reporters here that a
delegation of Arab League members would travel to Baghdad soon to talk with
Mr. Hussein about the worsening crisis.

Late yesterday, a new draft proposal began to circulate that called for Iraq
to "fulfill the key outstanding disarmament tasks" that weapons inspectors
would set for it. It also provided for extended inspections as the tool for
disarmament once Iraq complies with the initial request.

Most tellingly, it declares "a full amnesty" for government officials who
cooperate with the United Nations, and calls for protection and security for
them and their families.

In rejecting the new British and American proposal that would give Iraq, in
essence, the next 10 days to disarm, the Russian foreign minister, Igor S.
Ivanov, said: "We need no new Security Council resolutions. We have enough
of those. We need now active support of the inspectors in carrying out their

Asked about the British ultimatum, the Iraqi envoy, Mohammed Aldouri, said
scornfully, "So they will give us only 10 days to give up all we have?" He
added: "Really, this is nonsense. We are doing our utmost. We can't do

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