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News, 05-09/03/03 (2) LAST CHANCE SALOON * 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 LAST CHANCE SALOON http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48629-2003Mar5.html * FAILED DIPLOMACY, RENEWED CLARITY 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 staggering. [.....] 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. http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=S320KHW3PPNGYCRBAEZSFE Y?type=worldNews&storyID=2333556 * U.S. EXPELS TWO IRAQI DIPLOMATS 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 "attache." 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 Reuters. "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. http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=AG5MTPX4CPOKWCRBAE0CFE Y?type=worldNews&storyID=2341028 * BLIX DISPUTES IRAQ'S ANTHRAX CLAIMS 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 anthrax. 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. demands. 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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-wh/2003/mar/06/030600697.html * EXCERPTS FROM BUSH'S NEWS CONFERENCE 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 Saddam." "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." http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2341501 * IRAQI BORDER FENCE CUT DOWN 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 work". 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. http://www.iht.com/articles/88779.html * DIPLOMATIC LINES HARDEN 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 pass. 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 week. [.....] 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. [.....] http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2341423 * BUSH WANTS U.N. VOTE WITHIN DAYS 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 permission." 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 China. 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 added. 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. [.....] http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=277822003 * THOUSANDS TAKE ANT-WAR PROTEST TO SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT 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 days. An anti-war protest in Glasgow last month attracted about 80,000 people. http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB104700878957030300,00.html * LET US INSPECT 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 program. 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. http://www.iht.com/articles/89100.html * BITTER SPLIT DEEPENS AT UN 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 disarmament. "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 completed. 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 cooperating." 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 said. 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." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59403-2003Mar7.html * SOME EVIDENCE ON IRAQ CALLED FAKE 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 said. "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 plants. 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 evidence. 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 production." 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. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/08/international/middleeast/08IRAQ.html * U.N. SPLIT WIDENS AS ALLIES DISMISS DEADLINE ON IRAQ 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 months." 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 toothpicks." 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 applause. 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 tasks." 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 more." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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