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[casi] News, 09-14/03/03 (1)

News, 09-14/03/03 (1)

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY (its death and possible resurrection)

*  Battle to rebuild the old alliances
*  Urgent Diplomacy Fails to Gain U.S. 9 Votes in the U.N.
*  U.S. Asks Over 60 Nations to Expel Iraqi Envoys
*  Belgium Refuses U.S. Request to Expel Iraq Diplomat
*  France and Russia campaign for mass abstentions at United Nations
*  Global court opens despite US fears
*  US ready for war without Britain
*  For France, the war is between Europe and the United States
*  Prime Minister's six tests for Saddam
*  UN border monitors withdrawn
*  Last-Chance War Summit
*  UN trims Iraq staff amid war fears
*  The forgotten power of the General Assembly
*  The gall of France: Point the finger of blame elsewhere

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY (its death and possible resurrection)

by Tim Cornwell
The Scotsman, 10th March


The older George Bush spoke recently about the importance of keeping good
relations with old allies. "We have differences with European countries, and
they've got differences with us," he said in a rare public speech late last
month, interpreted as a helpful hint to his son.

He emphasised that in his own White House tenure, "I worked on those
relationships, and I feel confident when all this calms down, when Iraq
lives within the international law, you will see the United States back
together as allies and friends with both Germany and France".

Mr Bush noted how after the first Persian Gulf war, US anger with Jordan -
which sided with Saddam Hussein - was mixed with understanding over the Arab
country's delicate position.

"I think there's a message in that for those who today say, 'How can we ever
put things together? How can we ever get talking when you have such acrimony
and such bad feeling?'" The answer, he said, is: "You've got to reach out to
the other person."


by Steven R. Weisman with Felicity Barringer
New York Times, 10th March

WASHINGTON, March 9 ‹ After a weekend of urgent diplomacy, the Bush
administration has so far fallen short of lining up nine votes on the United
Nations Security Council in favor of a resolution that would threaten Saddam
Hussein with war if Iraq did not disarm, administration officials said

The officials said they remained hopeful that at least 9 of the 15 Council
members would eventually back the resolution, introduced by Britain on
Friday and setting a March 17 deadline for Iraqi compliance. Also on Friday,
the United States put others on notice to be ready for a vote on Tuesday,
but one official said the vote could slip until later in the week as efforts
continued to widen American support.

Chile and Guinea, two crucial swing votes, indicated over the weekend that
they were not yet ready to say yes.

"We don't have it in the bank," an administration official said, adding that
the United States would nonetheless press for a vote this week.

As part of the effort to persuade wavering Council members, an
administration official said the United States would "likely" agree to
define the benchmarks Iraq would have to meet before the deadline, although
those would almost certainly be specified outside the resolution.

Iraq, meanwhile, said it was doing all it could to cooperate already. Any
remaining questions about its disarmament, it said, were "technical aspects"
being exploited by the United States and Britain as a "pretext" for war.

The statement seemed intended to deepen divisions between Washington and its
allies. Even the staunchest of these, Prime Minister Tony Blair, faced
widening dissent as a leading cabinet secretary threatened to quit if
Britain supported war without a resolution.

With other major European allies in open opposition to war, the Bush
administration has for several weeks pursued a strategy of trying to get
nine Security Council votes committed in support of a resolution, and then
hope that France and Russia would at least abstain and not wield a veto in
the face of a majority.

Both France and Russia, along with China, the United States and Britain,
have the power to kill a measure on the Security Council if they vote no.
France has said it would not "allow" a war measure to pass, which has been
interpreted to mean that it will indeed use its veto.

But some American officials say they believe that the French may be bluffing
and would not want to be seen as blocking a measure with broad backing.
Administration officials also hope that Russia might abstain rather than
veto, isolating France as the only negative among the five veto-bearing

Administration officials say that even with a veto, a measure that has
received nine votes might command moral legitimacy in the eyes of much of
the world.

As the diplomatic efforts unfolded, administration officials said on
television today that there could be no delay past March 17. Privately,
however, some officials said it might be possible for that deadline to slip
slightly if that would help secure nine votes on the Council.

"If somebody comes to us and says, `Give us a few more days, and we'll vote
for you,' it's something we would have to consider," an administration
official said. But he ruled out any delay longer than that, on the grounds
that it would seem only to weaken Western resolve.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the national
security adviser, appearing on television today, stuck firmly with the March
17 deadline.

"If there is a resolution passed and he hasn't done what is required by the
17th, then he's lost his last chance," Mr. Powell said, referring to Mr.
Hussein. "At that point, I think there's a high likelihood that military
force is what's going to disarm Saddam Hussein by changing his regime."

In recent days, there appeared to be divisions in the administration and
between the United States and its closest ally, Britain, over the setting of
deadlines. It was Britain that persuaded a reluctant President Bush to agree
last week to include a new deadline in the next resolution.

British diplomats argued that extending the deadline to March 17 was
necessary to get the votes, especially of Chile and Guinea, two of six
wavering members of the Council. Of the nine votes needed, four are
committed ‹ the United States, Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. So the United
States needs five of the six uncommitted nations.

Over the weekend, the press in Chile printed statements from President
Ricardo Lagos that Chile wanted the deadline extended a bit further than
March 17. Similar comments were made by a Guinean diplomat on Friday.

At a closed session of the Security Council on Friday afternoon, the Chilean
envoy, Gabriel Valdes, pushed for adding some benchmarks to the resolution
to measure Iraqi compliance, according to two people present.

Without them, he asked in frustration, how could anyone know if Iraq had
complied, the two observers said. They said Mr. Valdes had questioned how
anyone could recognize a change of heart by Mr. Hussein. "Is it like a
religious conversion?" he asked.

In the last two weeks, Chilean diplomats have suggested a compromise
framework resembling one put forward last month by Canada. The Canadian plan
envisions a short term deadline, possibly of March 31, with interim reports
from United Nations weapons inspectors on how Iraq is complying.

Speaking today on the ABC News program "This Week," Canada's prime minister,
Jean Chrétien, said: "I thought that there is a way to bridge, probably it's
too late, but the Americans and the Brits and the Spaniards moved yesterday.
But they need probably to move more. That is the impression I have."

He added, "Perhaps a couple of more weeks could help ‹ I don't know."

Appearing on Fox television today, Mr. Powell was asked whether it was true,
as former President Jimmy Carter had asserted, that the United States' world
stature had plunged and that most countries in the world no longer trusted

Denying the charge, Mr. Powell listed Spain, Britain, Bulgaria, Portugal,
Australia and several nations once in the orbit of the Soviet Union as

"We need to knock down this idea that nobody is on our side," he said. "So
many nations recognize this danger. And they do it in the face of public

But once again over the weekend, the United States was facing tough
questions by the nations it was courting, principally in their citations of
statements in reports by Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief United
Nations weapons inspectors, that their inspection program was disclosing
weapons and succeeding in getting many of them destroyed.

In an interview on Saturday, Dr. ElBaradei, the director general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, said: "We do not have any evidence that
Iraq has a nuclear weapons program or has revived its defunct nuclear
weapons program. We still have work to do. This is still an interim
assessment. I have said that I need at least two to three months." He was
referring to the time before a more complete judgment could be made.

Even with the extra time, he said, "I can never give absolute guarantees,"
adding: "We minimize the risks to the extent possible. But because there is
always a certain degree of risk in any inspection process, I'd like to be
there acting as a deterrence, acting as a powerful verification to make sure
if we have missed something, if Iraq has changed its mind, we are there.

"That's really the function of an inspection," he said. "We are not gods. We
do not provide any certification."

American diplomats acknowledged that their biggest challenge was in
persuading the world, particularly the other Council members, that Mr. Blix
and Dr. ElBaradei were incorrect when they suggested that the inspections
were working so well that they needed more time to carry them out.

With more than a quarter of a million troops massing in the Persian Gulf, an
atmosphere of "it's now or never" is pervading American officials' comments,
even though much of the world does not see it that way.

The diplomatic wrangling aside, military analysts have suggested that if it
does come to war, the United States might want to begin military action
before April, when temperatures start to soar in the gulf.

Mr. Powell said that Mr. Blix was "a decent, honest man" but that it was
difficult to go along with French demands for more inspections when it was
the French, he said, who opposed further inspections in the late 1990's.

He warned that if France did veto the resolution, the United States and
France would remain friends but that such an action "will have a serious
effect on bilateral relations at least in the short term."

Ms. Rice, asked on ABC television if the United States would be willing to
give Iraq another week or two after March 17, declined to answer. "We're
talking to our allies; we're talking to people on the Security Council," she
said. "But we really believe that the time has come for the Security Council
to stand up and be counted here."

by David E. Sanger
New York Times, 10th March

WASHINGTON, March 9 ‹ The Bush administration has asked more than 60
countries to find and expel several hundred Iraqi diplomats that the C.I.A.
and others have identified as suspected intelligence agents, saying they
"pose a threat to our personnel and installations overseas," senior
administration officials said today.

The administration has begun discussing its request in more detail in recent
days as countries have begun to act on the warning. Australia announced
today that it was expelling a single Iraqi diplomat, Helal Ibrahim Aaref,
after accusing him of spying. He was given four days to leave the country.
Australia has been among the strongest supporters of Iraqi disarmament by
force, if necessary, and the United States runs a large
intelligence-collection site in the center of Australia.

The same intense review of the actions of Iraqi agents around the world
resulted in the expulsion last week of two low-level attachés at the Iraqi
Mission to the United Nations.

A senior American official said today that the United Nations expulsions
were part of the same process of ferreting out suspected Iraqi agents, which
he said "is based on threat information that the U.S. has received." He
added that it "has no bearing on the timing of possible military action."

But officials from several other countries dispute that, saying they had
been told by the United States that the administration ‹ on the advice of
American intelligence agencies ‹ wanted to disrupt the Iraqi intelligence
network in the days before any military action.

The United States has set no deadlines, and it is unclear how many of the
countries will comply with the request.

By expelling the agents this close to an expected confrontation with Iraq,
one official said, Saddam Hussein's government may not have time to replace
the agents with others who could help to carry out any attacks that were
planned as a response to military action.

"It's a bad time," said one American official, "to be flying around the
world with an official Iraqi passport." American officials would not name
most of the countries involved.

So far there is little evidence of recent terrorist activities linked to
Iraqi agents abroad. The Philippines is one recent exception. A cellphone
used by a member of the Abu Sayyaf militant Islamic group to call an Iraqi
diplomat was later identified as the same telephone used in a failed attempt
to set off a bomb in the southern city of Zamboanga.

The diplomat involved was an Iraqi consul, Husham Husain, who was expelled
in mid February after evidence was found that he was called by a member of
Abu Sayyaf, a group loosely linked to Al Qaeda, the day after a bomb killed
three people last year, including an American soldier.

Six days later, the cellphone of the person who called Mr. Husain was used
in the failed attempt to set off a bomb.

President Bush has often praised the Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo, for help in tracking down terrorists, and she is to be invited for
an official visit to Washington in early April that the White House has not
yet announced.

There is nothing new about the American pursuit of Iraqi agents: the United
States tracked many, and sought the expulsion of some, during the Persian
Gulf war in 1991.

But the list put together this time seems far more extensive, involving more
than 300 diplomats that the United States believes are working undercover.
In this case, the likelihood that the Iraqi regime would be overthrown has
made it more important, officials say, to find agents who could attack
undefended American targets around the world while the action was focused on
Iraq itself.

But there is also another motive: by seizing these Iraqi agents, officials
say, there is a likelihood that several of them may choose to defect, rather
than return to Iraq in time for a likely war and a possible overthrow of the
government. "It's a superb moment to try to turn some of them," said one
official, "and see what they know."

It is unclear what proof, if any, the United States is providing to back up
its claims that the diplomats are in fact Iraqi intelligence agents. Nor is
it clear whether countries are demanding any more evidence.

If the administration can uncover some active plots, however, then it could
back up Mr. Bush's repeated contention during his news conference here on
Thursday night that Iraq poses a major, immediate threat to the United

Australia usually conducts some of the highest-level intelligence exchanges
with the United States of any ally, but many other countries do not
routinely receive such sensitive data.

The Iraqi ordered to leave Australia was one of fewer than half a dozen in
the country.

The head of Iraq's diplomatic mission to Australia, Saad al-Samarai, said
Mr. Aaref was not a spy, and he told Reuters today that "It's a new thing on
the international scene when a superpower asks other countries to expel
diplomats and they do."

In Berlin, German officials said on Friday that they had received a request
for similar expulsions.

NO URL (sent to list)

Reuters, 11th March

BRUSSELS: Belgium said on Tuesday it had turned down a U.S. request to expel
an Iraqi diplomat, one of many recent requests from Washington for countries
to throw out Iraqis suspected of intelligence activities.

"We feel there were no elements which would justify an expulsion," a
spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters.

The request was based on U.S. allegations that the diplomat was engaged in
activities which were not compatible with the person's diplomatic status, he
said, declining to elaborate on the allegations or identify the diplomat.

Iraqi embassy officials in Brussels were not available for comment.

Iraq has accused Washington of inventing pretexts to expel its diplomats and
convince other nations to do the same as a war to rid Iraq of suspected
weapons of mass destruction looms.

Australia, a close U.S. ally, expelled an Iraqi diplomat on Tuesday and
Romania sent five Iraqi diplomats back home for alleged "incompatible"
activities the previous day.

Germany has also received a U.S. request, which Berlin said it was


by Robin Gedye, Foreign Affairs Writer, and Ben Aris in Moscow
Daily Telegraph, 12th March

Despite French and Russian undertakings to veto any United Nations
resolution authorising war against Iraq, it appeared yesterday that they are
actually counting on not having to vote at all by leading a mass abstention.

The complex web of cajolery, blackmail and bribes that French politicians
and officials have sought to construct around the Security Council
"waverers" to capture their support is ultimately aimed at freeing Paris of
the need to use its veto, diplomats said.

In order for a Security Council resolution to be passed, it needs the active
support of at least nine members, with no vetoes. If a resolution fails to
get the necessary support because too many countries abstain, it fails.

Russia has made it clear that it is counting on the proposed resolution
simply falling through due to lack of support rather than having to block it
with a veto after a majority of the 15 council members vote in favour of it.

That way, Russia would not have to go up against America publicly and
jeopardise the hard-won rapprochement between Moscow and Washington that has
been forged under President Putin.

Yuri Fedotov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said yesterday his country's
position was clear: "No new resolutions on Iraq are needed."

Under such circumstances France and Russia could step back from the brink
and wait to see how a war with Iraq worked out. If it began to go wrong they
could point the finger and say: "I told you so."

If successful, they would point to their own abstention as proof that they
never actually opposed it.

If Britain and America gain the necessary nine "yes" votes and force Russia
and France to decide whether to veto the resolution, President Bush will be
able to suggest that it is not America, but France, that is acting
unilaterally, diplomats said.

"By coming out publicly with their veto promise, France and Russia have also
shown their desperation. They have had to say to the 'wavering' countries -
whatever you decide will be a waste of time because we will veto, so you
might as well abstain or vote no and keep in step with your electorate," the
diplomats said.

"Then, when they abstain, France and Russia can pull out of their veto
threat as unnecessary, declaring, 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la
guerre', " said a diplomat, quoting Gen Pierre Bosquet watching the charge
of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

United States officials have said Washington is prepared to lead a war
against Iraq with or without the support of the Security Council, though it
would prefer to have the moral backing that a new UN resolution would

It has been assumed in diplomatic circles that Russia would not move against
Washington on its own. "It is very much riding on France's coat tails on
this one," said a British official.

"Russia would never have suggested it would lodge a veto without an
undertaking from France to do the same. The very fact that Russia was the
first to announce its proposed veto on Monday, just hours ahead of the
French announcement, was part of a deal under which Moscow could pretend to
be acting independently of Paris."

Mr Putin has held back from openly supporting a veto, leaving it to his
foreign minister to make the statement and thus allowing himself an
opportunity to wriggle if necessary.

Russia and France have substantial trade ties with Iraq and respectively
hold concessions on the largest and second largest Iraqi oil fields.

by Joshua Rozenberg
Daily Telegraph, 12th March

The world's first permanent international criminal court opened at The Hague
yesterday when its 18 judges took their seats on the bench of global

"Without justice, there can be no lasting peace," the court was told by Kofi
Annan, the United Nations secretary general.

"Persons who are tempted or pressured to commit unspeakable crimes must be
deterred by the knowledge that one day they will be individually called to
But the inauguration of the court comes as a bitter dispute wages between
its 89 member states, including Britain and America. The United States fears
that its citizens could become targets for politically motivated

The US has already signed agreements with 24 nations ensuring immunity for
its civilians or soldiers to ICC prosecution for complaints lodged in those
countries, while Congress has empowered President Bush to use "all means
necessary" to free Americans taken into the court's custody.

Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, Jordan's UN ambassador and the president of the
assembly of states that created the new court, sought to reassure its

"The International Criminal Court will not be the world's crucible for
vengeance," he said. "It will be the inseparable and necessary companion to
a more peaceful world and our permanent conscience."

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was in the Hall of Knights to hear her
prime minister proudly declare The Hague "the judicial capital of the

After undertaking to perform their duties "honourably, faithfully,
impartially and conscientiously," the judges elected Philippe Kirsch, a
French-Canadian lawyer and diplomat, as their president.

Judge Kirsch, who committed the judges to "conducting a court of scrupulous
independence, impartiality and respect for the rule of law", chaired the
Rome conference in 1998 that drew up its ruling statute.

Before the judges took their seats, there was a moment of unexpected
poignancy. Prince Zeid interrupted his speech of welcome to honour those for
whom this court has come too late.

In memory of the victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
- offences the new court will now try to punish - four musicians played the
Nocturne from Borodin's second String Quartet.

The 89 member states will not choose a prosecutor until next month. It will
be some months before the judges are required to make even preliminary

The British judge, Sir Adrian Fulford, has a nine-year term and will
continue to sit for the time being as a High Court judge in England and

Among guests at the opening ceremony were two lawyers who took part in the
post-war Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, precursor of the new court.

"What we are witnessing today is another significant step forward in
humankind's crawling towards civilisation," said Prof Benjamin Ferencz,
America's chief prosecutor at Nuremberg.

"We are closing the gap in the international legal order which condemns
genocide and crimes against humanity but never created a court to punish the
criminals regardless of their rank or station."

The court has jurisdiction over crimes committed since last July, when its
founding treaty came into force. More than 200 complaints have already been
lodged on behalf of alleged victims, although officials would give no

Countries that are not parties to the court were invited to send their
ambassadors to the opening ceremony. The United States declined to do so.

But Britain's representative, the Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell,
hoped that America would drop its opposition.

"We are strong allies of the US but we don't just jump in line with
everything they say. Although we understand their concerns about the ICC we
don't share them," he said.

by Marcus Warren, David Rennie and George Jones
Daily Telegraph, 12th March

The United States indicated last night that it was prepared to go to war
with Iraq without Britain because of Tony Blair's domestic political

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said Britain's role was "unclear"
and added that America would go ahead regardless.

He made his surprise comments after speaking by telephone to Geoff Hoon, the
Defence Secretary, and as negotiations at the United Nations became
increasingly bogged down.

When asked about Mr Blair's precarious domestic situation, Mr Rumsfeld,
speaking off the cuff at a Pentagon press conference, said: "What will
ultimately be decided is unclear, as to [the British] role. That is to say
their role in the event a decision is made to use force.

"Until we know what the resolution is, we won't know the answer as to what
their role will be. To the extent they are able to participate - in the
event that the president decides to use force - that would obviously be
welcomed. To the extent they are not, there are work arounds, and they would
not be involved, at least in that phase of it."

Asked specifically whether the US would go to war without its "closest
ally", he added: "That is an issue that the president will be addressing in
the days ahead, one would assume."

Mr Rumsfeld's remarks confirmed that the White House had been briefed on the
growing hostility to Mr Blair's policy among Labour MPs - and was
sympathetic to the political risks he had taken by backing President Bush so

Indications that America would be prepared to conduct the first phase of the
conflict alone could be very helpful to Mr Blair if the UN failed to
authorise the use of force, although Downing Street refused to be drawn on
Mr Rumsfeld's comments.

"We are not in a conflict situation at the moment. There has been total
co-operation on military planning between Britain and America - and that
continues," Mr Blair's official spokesman said.

Officials said Mr Blair's focus was still on securing a fresh UN resolution.
Britain was leading the search for a new formula that would maintain
pressure on the Iraqi dictator but avoid a disastrous rebuff at the Security

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, indicated that the
proposed deadline of March 17 for Saddam to disarm could be extended. "We
have gone for the exemplary date of March 17 to indicate to the Security
Council that time is short," he told CNN.

"It's up to leaders to decide on the precise date they're prepared to do one
thing or the other, but the United Kingdom is in the negotiation, and is
prepared to look at timelines and tests together.

"But I'm pretty sure we're talking about action in March. Don't look beyond
March." The six "waverers" on the council who would make or break the
diplomatic initiative against Baghdad earlier hinted that they could be
persuaded to back a resolution but only with tough new conditions.

Against the threat of a French and Russian veto, only the backing of five of
the six undecided countries can deliver the US and Britain a moral victory
when their resolution is put to the vote.

The six were bidding informally for an extension beyond a March 17 deadline
- up to a month or 45 days - for Iraq to comply with UN demands that it
disarm. However, the figure was open to negotiation.

Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said: "The President thinks that
there is a little room for a little more diplomacy, but not much time. Any
suggestion of 30 days, 45 days is a non-starter."

Privately, White House officials said the deadline might be extended for
three or four days or perhaps up to a week.

The "waverers" - Pakistan, Chile, Mexico, Angola, Cameroon and Guinea - were
said by one senior diplomat to be asking Britain "when we see this strange
beast, compliance by Iraq, how will we recognise it?"

British officials are working on a more detailed list of tasks Iraq would
have to complete to prove that it was co-operating and free of weapons of
mass destruction.

Among the demands would be the granting of interviews with Iraqi scientists
outside the country, providing full information on its unaccounted stores of
biological and chemical agents and destroying its remaining arsenals.

The military stakes were raised by Iraq yesterday when Iraqi fighter jets
threatened two American U2 surveillance planes, forcing them to abort their
mission "in the interest of safety".

by Philip Delves Broughton in Paris
Daily Telegraph, 13th March

France last night played down the hostility it has generated in Washington
and London, saying it was acting on principle not out of bloody-mindedness.

Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, said "We are not
opposing the United States. We are defending a conviction, principles." His
more conciliatory line followed brusque rejection of Britain's efforts
yesterday to reach a compromise on Iraq.

Within hours of receiving Britain's proposals to make six specific demands
of Saddam Hussein, M de Villepin, rejected them out of hand. "It is not a
question of giving Iraq a few extra days before resorting to force, but
advancing resolutely down the peaceful route laid out by inspections, which
are a credible alternative to war."

By the evening, however, after a day of furious reaction from Britain, M de
Villepin was more emollient, saying France was ready "to advance in the
search for a solution".

France has little sympathy for Tony Blair's domestic difficulties and now
sees the disagreement on Iraq as a straight fight between itself,
representing Europe, and America.

President Chirac laid out the French position in a television interview on
Monday night, saying that if pushed France would veto military action at the
Security Council. But he believed that America would not even have the nine
out of 15 votes to make a French veto necessary.

France feels that neither America nor Britain did enough in the early stages
of the Iraq crisis to merit sympathy now. Rather, it feels its discomfort
with military action against Iraq was never taken seriously enough in

It also resented Mr Blair's self-appointed role as the bridge between Europe
and America, the bridge it is now relishing exploding.

Following his re-election last year, M Chirac ordered M de Villepin to
cultivate Franco American relations, which had soured during the five years
of Socialist government.

M de Villepin, who speaks perfect English and spent several years in
Washington as a diplomat, set to work. Both he and M Chirac feel that their
efforts were ignored by President Bush's administration.

These feelings of rejection coalesced with M Chirac's hardening belief that
France could benefit from opposing America.

Such opposition would hurry along his plans to turn Europe into a credible
military and political counterweight to the US. It would also reassert the
French voice in Europe and expand its influence in Third World countries
that resent American power.

In his interview on Monday, M Chirac said he envisaged Europe emerging from
the Iraq crisis "in a unique position, as a new force".

France has bristled at the argument made constantly in Washington and London
that it is merely playing games and that in the end it will capitulate to
America's will, as it did just before the last Gulf war.

When M de Villepin outraged the Americans at a press conference in New York
in February by saying France was ready to use its veto, they thought he was

Instead, he was making a firm prediction. America's disdain, not to mention
all the 'surrender monkey' jokes, has merely hardened French resolve.

Such sentiments will have hardened when the US defence department adviser
Richard Perle told French radio yesterday that France had "aligned itself
with Saddam" by opposing America at the United Nations.

He went on to say that President Chirac was influenced by his "personal
relations with Saddam Hussein" which date back to the 1970s and that Iraq's
weaponry came "half from Russia, half from France".

The last time Anglo-French relations turned so sour was in 1962, when
General de Gaulle, President Chirac's political idol, announced in an
unexpected press conference one January morning that France was vetoing
Britain's application to join the European Common Market.

Not long before, at a meeting with the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, de
Gaulle had made no mention of his plan.

Snubbed by de Gaulle, Mr Macmillan irked him by agreeing to buy nuclear
weapons from America, demonstrating to de Gaulle that Britain saw itself as
part of a trans-Atlantic rather than a European alliance.

by Anton La Guardia
Daily Telegraph, 13th March

Britain yesterday laid out six tests that will determine whether Saddam
Hussein has taken the "strategic decision" to disarm. They are:

1. A statement by Saddam Hussein admitting that he has concealed weapons of
mass destruction, but will no longer produce or retain weapons of mass

Saddam is fond of making long flowery speeches on Iraqi television. But he
will find it difficult to make an outright admission, in Arabic, that he has
lied to the world for years.

The phrase "has concealed" deliberately leaves Saddam room to say he has
concealed weapons in the past, but to insist that he no longer has them.
This appears to be a concession to those who say the tests must be

2. Deliver at least 30 scientists for interview outside Iraq, with their

This is an attempt to break Saddam's grip of fear, the dictator's most
powerful tool to conceal his weapons programmes. Only a handful of Iraqi
scientists and officials have so far agreed to be interviewed privately.

Most have either refused outright, or demanded the presence of a government
minder or a tape recorder. By being brought out of the country with their
families, scientists may feel safer from Saddam's henchmen.

But Iraqi clans are large. Even if Saddam cannot harm wives and children, he
can threaten uncles and cousins.

3. Surrender all anthrax, or credible evidence of destruction

Biological weapons are the least understood aspect of Iraq's weapons
programme. Iraq has admitted producing anthrax, as well as several other
biological agents, in the past.

UN inspectors have cast serious doubt on the quantity of anthrax Iraq says
it has produced, and the claim that Baghdad has destroyed all stocks.

A UN report says Iraq's hidden biological weapons may include between 6,000
and 16,000 litres of anthrax, as well as other agents. Britain has in the
past demanded similar action on Iraq's VX gas, but it was not included in
the tests.

4. Complete the destruction of all al-Samoud missiles

This is perhaps the easiest condition. Baghdad has already started
destroying the al Samoud missile, which UN inspectors say exceed the 93-mile
legal limit.

The weapon could be used against advancing US and British forces, or to
threaten Kuwait. As of March 7, 34 al-Samoud missiles had been destroyed,
but there are disputes over how many Iraq has produced.

5. Account for all unmanned aerial vehicles, including details of any
testing of spraying devices for chemical and biological weapons

UN inspectors have found new evidence that Iraq developed new drones with
spray tanks and cluster bombs to deliver chemical and biological weapons.

A row broke out earlier this week amid American claims that the UN
inspectors buried the key discoveries from their last report to the UN
Security Council.

6. Surrender all mobile chemical and biological production facilities

American and British intelligence sources say that Iraq has placed
biological laboratories and production facilities on to lorries that can be
driven around the country to avoid discovery.

Inspectors have tried to verify the claims, and are trying to improve the
monitoring of suspect vehicles. But so far, they say they have found only
"food testing mobile laboratories and mobile workshops" as well as "large
containers with seed processing equipment".

NO URL, DATE OR PROVENANCE (sent to list 14th March)


The United Nations has withdrawn its observers from the Iraqi side of a
demilitarised zone that US forces would cross in any ground assault on Iraq.
A spokesman for the UN observer mission Unikom said the move was a
"precautionary step".

"Everyone has been removed from the Iraqi side" of the zone along the border
with Kuwait, the spokesman, Daljeet Bagga, said.

The international observer force of some 1,100 soldiers and 230 support
staff has patrolled the area since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

A UN spokesman in New York said on Wednesday the observers would continue to
carry out their mission "to the extent that they can along the border while
relocating non-essential staff".

The US and UK have deployed tens of thousands of troops to Kuwait in
anticipation of a possible invasion of Iraq.

The UN established the 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) demilitarised zone between
Iraq and Kuwait in 1991.

The zone is off limits to all but UN observers and lightly armed Iraqi and
Kuwaiti border guards, each of whom must stay on their own side of the

CBS, 14th March

President Bush will meet his two closest allies this weekend in a
last-minute attempt to head off what looks to be an embarrassing defeat at
the United Nations for the resolution backed by the U.S., Britain and Spain
which would authorize war on Iraq.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters that Mr. Bush will
leave Sunday to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime
Minister Jose Maria Aznar in the Azores Islands, 900 miles off the coast of
Portugal, in an effort to try "every last bit of diplomacy."

The U.N. resolution is expected to be voted on ­ or withdrawn ­ by Tuesday.
CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports that unless there is a new
extension of the deadline, Mr. Bush will then tell the nation and the world
that he is issuing an ultimatum to Iraq: disarmament or war.

In another closely related diplomatic development, the president announced
Friday that he could release his new "road map" for Middle East peace soon ‹
if the Palestinian Authority appoints a prime minister with adequate powers.

Arab anger at the United States' perceived pro-Israeli bias is one reason
some countries won't join the coalition against Iraq, but Fleischer denied
any overt connection.

At the summit, officials said, the leaders will not discuss battlefield
tactics and detailed military strategies, but possible tactics for the final
round of diplomacy. The three also are likely to discuss plans for Iraq in
any scenario in which President Saddam Hussein is deposed.

The meeting could also serve as a signal to Saddam that his days are

"If the Security Council is able to pass a resolution Š it is still possible
for Saddam Hussein to see the writing on the wall and to get out of Iraq and
therefore preserve peace," said Fleischer.

"To the degree that other nations erase the writing on the wall, it makes it
less likely for Saddam Hussein to leave and that this can be settled
peacefully," he said.

But it is not clear that the war resolution that the U.S., Britain and Spain
authored has any chance of passage. A majority of Security Council members
have openly acknowledged they won't support the measure despite weeks of
intense negotiations.

A British proposal to offer Iraq a set of six disarmament tasks was also
looking doomed.

A U.N.-based diplomat told CBS News Reporter Charles Wolfson that the
British proposal is dead. The only decision now, the official said, is
whether to take a vote or to pull the pending resolution off the table.

Last week, Mr. Bush said in a televised news conference that he could call a
vote no matter what the count was. Since the appearance, U.S. officials have
claimed they were picking up the nine necessary council votes needed for the
resolution, which threatens war unless Iraq disarms by Monday.

France, China, Russia, Germany and several other council members oppose the
resolution because it would automatically authorize force. Their support was
never a realistic possibility.

But the U.S. seemed to be making progress with the six undecided nations
Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan. Washington had been
counting on the support of Mexico, Pakistan and at least two of the African

However, at a tense council session late Thursday, it appeared that the
United States didn't have more than six of the 15 council members on its
side and that nothing had swayed France, and possibly Russia, from vetoing
the resolution.

On Friday, a senior administration official told The Associated Press the
United States was now waiting for Mexico and Chile to decide. In a
constantly shifting lineup, the two Latin American countries could ensure
the nine votes required for council approval

But Fleischer rejected a Chilean proposal to extend the deadline by up to
four weeks, calling it "a non-starter."


Hindustani Times, 14th March

Baghdad, March 14 (AFP): The United Nations has further reduced its foreign
staff in Iraq due to fears of the outbreak of a US-led war, a spokeswoman
said on Thursday, while denying there were orders for evacuation.

"There are now about 200 foreign staff" in various parts of Iraq, including
the Kurdish-held north, Veronique Taveau, spokeswoman for the UN office of
the humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said.

"There were initially over 900 foreign staff," she said.

In mid-February, the foreign staff had been reduced to 460 people.

"There is a reduction of staff because of the current situation, but we are
not evacuating our staff," said Taveau.

"And if there was an evacuation, it would be decided by UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan and it would be announced," she added.

The figures to which Taveau referred do not include UN disarmament

Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the inspectors in Iraq, told said, "all in all we
now have roughly 80 inspectors and 100 support staff."

"There is no evacuation," he added.

The UN disarmament teams comprised more than 250 people, including more than
100 inspectors, earlier this month.

by Robert Fisk
The Independent, 14th March

For 30 years, America's veto policy in the United Nations has been central
to its foreign policy. More than 70 times the United States has shamelessly
used its veto in the UN, most recently to crush a Security Council
resolution condemning the Israeli killing of the British UN worker Iain Hook
in Jenin last December.

Most of America's vetoes have been in support of its ally Israel. It has
vetoed a resolution calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan
Heights (January, 1982), a resolution condemning the killing of 11 Muslims
by Israeli soldiers near the al-Aqsa mosque (April, 1982), and a resolution
condemning Israelis slaughter of 106 Lebanese refugees at the UN camp at
Qana (April, 1986).

The full list would fill more than a page of this newspaper. And now we are
told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant
if France, Germany and Russia use their veto? I often wonder how much
further the sanctimoniousness of the Bush administration can go. Much
further, I fear.

So here's a little idea that might just make the American administration
even angrier and even more aware of its obligations to the rest of the
world. It's a forgotten UN General Assembly resolution that could stop an
invasion of Iraq, a relic of the Cold War. It was, ironically, pushed
through by the US to prevent a Soviet veto at the time of the Korean
conflict, and actually used at the time of Suez.

For UN resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective
action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the
permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the
maintenance of international peace and security".

This arcane but intriguing piece of UN legislation ­ passed in 1950 and
originally known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution ­ might just be used
to prevent Messrs Bush and Blair going to war if their plans are vetoed in
the Security Council by France or Russia. Fundamentally, it makes clear that
the UN General Assembly can step in ­ as it has 10 times in the past ­ if
the Security Council is not unanimous.

Of course, the General Assembly of 1950 was a different creature from what
it is today. The post-war world was divided and the West saw America as its
protector rather than a potential imperial power. The UN's first purpose was
­ and is still supposed to be ­ to "maintain international peace and

Duncan Currie, a lawyer working for Greenpeace, has set out a legal opinion,
which points out that the phrase in 377 providing that in "any case where
there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of
aggression", the General Assembly "shall consider the matter immediately"
means that ­ since "threat" and "breach" are mentioned separately ­ the
Assembly can be called into session before hostilities start.

These "breaches", of course, could already be alleged, starting with the
American air attack on Iraqi anti-ship gun batteries near Basra on 13
January this year.

The White House ­ and readers of The Independent, and perhaps a few UN
officials ­ can look up the 377 resolution at

If Mr Bush takes a look, he probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry.
But today the General Assembly ­ dead dog as we have all come to regard it ­
might just be the place for the world to cry: Stop. Enough.,11538,914693,00.html

The Guardian (Leader), 15th March

The latest spate of British government and media vilification of France over
Iraq is unjustified and distasteful. It is damaging to Britain's own wider
interests. It is also less than totally honest. One remark by President
Jacques Chirac is at the centre of this storm - his apparent vow, in a
television interview last Monday, to veto a second UN resolution "whatever
the circumstances". Downing Street said Mr Chirac had "poisoned" the
diplomatic process. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told this newspaper
yesterday that this "extraordinary" intervention has made war more likely.

This is a very serious charge. The unmistakable implication is that if the
UN refuses to back military action at this time and Britain goes to war
regardless, France will somehow be to blame. Without bothering to inquire
further, British and American media, notably the Murdoch-owned press, have
gleefully taken the government's cue. Yet as a matter of fact, as opposed to
a matter of political and chauvinist expediency, the charge levelled at Mr
Chirac is unfounded. What he actually said, according to the transcript, is
as follows: "My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France
will vote 'no' because she considers this evening that there are no grounds
for waging war in order to achieve the goal we have set ourselves, that is
to say, to disarm Iraq."

The key words here are "this evening". What Mr Chirac clearly meant was
that, in circumstances pertaining at that moment in time, France would use
its veto. He did not say that would be the case at all times; and indeed,
since he spoke, several official statements have made it plain that France
is anxious to preserve UN unity and will explore "all opportunities" for
compromise. That was the import, too, of his telephone conversation
yesterday with Tony Blair. To the extent that Mr Chirac's meaning could have
been misinterpreted, he made a tactical mistake. But the overall French
position, that war may be supportable but only as a last resort, is not
objectively in doubt.

Why Mr Straw and others appear deliberately and provocatively to
misunderstand it is a more important question. So what is the answer?
Britain and the US seem determined to portray France's policy as
unreasonable to support Tony Blair's face-saving definition of an
"unreasonable veto". Fearing the loss of the war-enabling second resolution
for many reasons, but mainly because the vast majority of UN member states
regards it as premature and unnecessary, they conspire to pin the blame for
their own chronic miscalculations on France. It is fair to suspect Mr
Chirac's deeper motives. But it is dishonest to try to scapegoat France's
present, logical and in many ways admirable stance on continued inspections
for an avoidable crisis that is essentially one made in America.

This blame-game is self-defeating. It jeopardises Britain's wider, constant
interest in a creative partnership with France, especially in key areas like
defence, terrorism, immigration and EU enlargement and reform. It obscures
the crucial issue of future US-Europe relations. If the government really
feels a need to point the finger, it should look across the Atlantic - or in
the mirror.

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