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[casi] News, 09-14/03/03 (6)

News, 09-14/03/03 (6)


*  U.S. 'no-fly' patrols hit air defences hard
*  Third day of no-fly zone strikes
*   Western jets attack Iraqi sites
*  US warplanes bomb radar in western Iraq
*  Danger multiplying in no-fly zone
*   Western jets attack Iraqi radar
*  U.S. beefs up Iraq airstrikes by employing B-1 bombers

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (Iraq's possible possession of)

*  A Hazy Target: Before going to war over weapons of mass destruction,
shouldn't we be sure Iraq has them?
*  U.S. Says Iraq Retools Rockets for Illicit Uses
*  UN critical of ministers' 'unfounded' allegations over Iraq
*  U.N. cancels U-2 flights over Iraq
*  A quick invasion unlikely as Iraq prepares its defences
*  ElBaradei Calls for U.N. to Compromise
*  FBI Probes Fake Evidence of Iraqi Nuclear Plans

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (USUK's definite possession of)

*  The allies don't need to take Baghdad to defeat Saddam


by Bradley Graham
Gulf News, from Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 10th March

Washington: The commander of U.S. air forces in the Gulf said Saturday that
several months of intensified U.S. airstrikes had hit all fixed air defences
in southern Iraq known to American officials. But he added that mobile
anti-aircraft guns and missiles remained a threat to U.S. pilots.

"We've killed what we know is there," Air Force Lt. Gen. T. Michael "Buzz"
Moseley said. "But they have a lot of depth in mobile systems that they can
continue to roll into the south. The mobile systems are the ones I worry
about the most."

The arrival of hundreds of additional Air Force and Navy carrier-based
aircraft in the region in the past two months has enabled the United States
to more than double the number of sorties over southern Iraq. This in turn
has led to wider and more frequent coverage of the southern "no-fly" zone,
Moseley said.

More than 400 U.S. planes are now operating from about 30 locations in the
Gulf and elsewhere, according to other officials. In the past month, U.S.
pilots have struck from seven to 14 targets in Iraq a week.

But Moseley said patrols are still not being flown 24 hours a day, and Iraqi
forces continue to shoot at U.S. aircraft. Since passage of UN Security
Council resolution 1441 in early November, which gave Iraq one more chance
to disarm, Iraqi forces have fired more than 200 anti-aircraft artillery
shells and more than 100 missiles at U.S. and British warplanes patrolling
the southern zone, Moseley said.

"They're moving stuff around, they're enhancing the no-fly zone and they're
a continual threat to my pilots and crews," the general said. "Sometimes
they shoot at us 10 or 11 or 12 times during an operation."

As commander of the 9th Air Force and the air component commander for the
U.S. Central Command, Moseley would direct the air campaign in a war against

His remarks in a telephone interview were intended to portray the
intensification of U.S. airstrikes against Iraq as still essentially an
enforcement action prompted by a rise in Iraqi attacks in violation of UN

But the increasingly aggressive U.S. targeting in the southern and northern
no-fly zones established a decade ago has been widely seen as reflecting an
American plan for the systematic destruction of Iraqi air defences and, more
recently, surface-to-surface missiles in a fashion that will ease the way
for an invasion.

The surge in sorties, which now number in the hundreds daily  and reached a
record 1,000 one day last week  has transformed what was once a limited
patrolling operation into a broader, more intense prelude to possible
full-scale war.

The first sign of the widened campaign came last September when Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disclosed that he had directed commanders to focus
retaliatory strikes not just on Iraqi radar and missile systems but also on
air defence communications centres, command posts and cable relay sites to
eliminate all elements of Iraq's air defence network in the no fly zones.

Lately, the strikes have also included surface-to-surface missiles, which
Iraq has moved into the southern zone within range of Kuwait, the key
staging area for the bulk of U.S. ground forces massing in the region.

Such weapons, which include Ababil-100 missiles, Frog-7 rockets and Astros-2
multiple rocket launchers, have also been shifted north of Baghdad
presumably to attack American or Kurdish forces coming from that direction,
according to defence officials.

CNN, 9th March

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, United States: Coalition aircraft have again bombed
military sites in southern and western Iraq, the third straight day allied
jets have struck targets between Baghdad and Iraq's border with Jordan,
according to the U.S. Central Command.

Allied warplanes enforcing the southern "no-fly" zone over Iraq hit four
military communication sites about 10:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. GMT) Saturday after
Iraqi troops fired at them, a Central Command statement said.

The sites were related to Iraqi forces' ability to control air defenses.

The sites were located near Qalat Sukkar, approximately 200 kilometers (125
miles) southeast of Baghdad.

Earlier, coalition jets hit a mobile missile guidance system about 370
kilometers (230 miles) west of Baghdad at about 8:20 a.m. (4:10 a.m. GMT),
according to a statement from the Florida-based Central Command. The
military said the strike was ordered "in response to Iraqi threats."

Warplanes monitoring the southern "no-fly" zone over Iraq targeted sites
west of Baghdad on Thursday and Friday as well. Iraq's official news agency
said the allied forces had targeted civilian infrastructure, but Central
Command denied that charge.

U.S. and British forces have been monitoring no-fly zones in the northern
and southern sections of Iraq since the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Iraq considers the zones, and the patrols monitoring them, a violation of
its sovereignty.

Reuters, 10th March

WASHINGTON: Warplanes taking part in U.S.-British patrols over southern Iraq
have attacked Iraqi communications sites in response to hostile actions, the
U.S. military said.

The aircraft used precision-guided weapons to target five, unmanned,
underground military communications sites about 60 miles southeast of
Baghdad that helped guide Iraqi air defenses posing a threat to Western
jets, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

"The coalition struck the communications sites after Iraqi forces fired a
surface-to-air missile earlier in the day at coalition aircraft," the
statement said. The raid occurred at about 8 pm British Time.

With more than 200,000 U.S. and British troops committed to the Gulf region,
defense officials said last week that warplanes from the two countries had
more than doubled patrols to at least 500 a day in no-fly zones of northern
and southern Iraq.

In recent weeks the warplanes also have extended the targets being attacked
in no-fly zones to include weapons that could hinder a ground invasion.

The no-fly zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurds in
northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south from Baghdad's forces. Iraq
does not recognise the zones.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Central Command said planes on Sunday also
dropped 180,000 informational leaflets over several locations south of

Millions of such leaflets have been dropped in recent months encouraging
Iraqi troops not to fight if there is a war, warning against the destruction
of oil wells and giving civilians the frequencies of western military radio
broadcast critical of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12th March

Washington: US warplanes bombed a mobile radar for a surface-to-air missile
system in Iraq's western desert today in the latest air strikes against
Iraqi air defences, the US military said.

The US Central Command said the mobile radar was located south of Ar Rutbah,
the site of an Iraqi airfield that protects the western approaches to

The area was used to launch Scud missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia
during the Gulf War, and was expected to be a major focus of activity by
Scud-hunting US and British special operations forces in the event of war.

"The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the
highly-mobile radar system, which is associated with a surface-to-air
missile system ... into the southern no-fly zone where it was a threat to
coalition aircraft supporting Operation Southern Watch," the command said.

The strike came a day after a coalition warplane struck five underground
military communications sites near An Numinayah, about 95km east of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, coalition aircraft dropped leaflets in northern Iraq for only the
second time ever, warning Iraqi gunners not to track or fire on US and
British air patrols, the US European Command said.

"Any hostile action by Iraqi air defences toward coalition aircraft will be
answered by immediate retaliation," the leaflets said.

"Iraqi air defence positions which fire on coalition aircraft or activate
air defence radar will be attacked and destroyed."

About 240,000 leaflets were dropped in two locations - south of Tall Afar
and southwest of Saddam lake, the command said.

by Harvey Rice
Houston Chronicle, 13th March

DOHA, Qatar -- U.S. fighter pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone over
Iraq are facing increasing attacks from Iraqi antiaircraft weapons as well
as traffic hazards in skies filled with mounting numbers of coalition

"It's a very much increased hostile environment," said Air Force Capt. Dan
King, an F-15E pilot with the 336th Fighter Squadron, based in a Persian
Gulf country that will not allow the location of the base to be revealed.

King, who flies daily missions over southern Iraq, said in an interview this
week that most of the increased ground fire comes from antiaircraft guns
that hurl clouds of shrapnel into the sky. The fire is known in fighter
pilot jargon as "Triple A."

"It's generally Triple A and every once in a while a SAM missile," he said.

King said antiaircraft fire has posed the most danger. "It can reach up and
grab you and is the most lethal, because it is the most difficult to
detect," he said.

But Iraqi gunners have been unable to down a single U.S. or British manned
aircraft since separate no-fly zones were created in Iraq in 1992. The zones
were set up to prevent Iraqi aircraft from flying over Kurdish areas in
northern Iraq and over Shiite areas in southern Iraq.

King said that the increased air traffic in the zones presents dangers of
another nature, requiring pilots to be more alert and to adhere strictly to
navigation rules.

A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, Marine 1st Lt. Josh Rushing, said
that aircraft of all types flew 1,000 sorties one day last week, marking a
large increase in air activity.

The sorties flown daily are targeting Iraqi radar, antiaircraft units firing
on U.S. and British air patrols, and armaments that could threaten American
forces, Rushing said.

Many observers, however, believe that the increased pace of airstrikes in
the no-fly zone reflects a U.S. attempt to disable Iraq's air defenses as a
prelude to an invasion by American forces massing in Kuwait. Some believe
that war planners are putting up a large number of aircraft daily so that
the Iraqi military will not know on any given day whether an air assault is

Rushing attributed the larger number of flights to increased levels of
training as well as threats to U.S. forces.

"Not only is there more ground fire, but we are finding more violations of
U.N. Security Council Resolution 949," he said.

The U.N. resolution, which does not specifically refer to the no-fly zone,
requires Iraq to keep military units out of the southern part of the
"The increased activity is a direct result of our enforcement of violations
in that region," Rushing said.

Iraq, for instance, recently moved new surface-to-surface missiles into the
southern zone to threaten Kuwait, he said.

Lt. Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, the U.S. Air Force commander in the
Persian Gulf region, said in a statement published Sunday that all known
Iraqi antiaircraft positions in the no-fly zone have been hit. Still, he
said, Iraq has a large number of mobile antiaircraft guns that it could move
into the region.

Reuters, 14th March

WASHINGTON: Warplanes taking part in U.S.-British patrols over southern Iraq
have attacked an Iraqi radar southwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military says.

With more than 250,000 American and British troops in the Gulf poised for a
possible U.S. led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military's Central Command said
the planes used precision guided weapons to target a mobile radar system
about 265 miles (426 km) southwest of the Iraqi capital on Thursday.

In recent weeks, Western aircraft have stepped up attacks in the "no-fly
zones" over southern and northern Iraq while extending the targets to
include battlefield missiles and rockets that could hinder a ground

The last strike came on Monday when Western warplanes attacked a mobile
radar system about 230 miles (370 km) west of Baghdad.

The no-fly zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurds in
northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south from Baghdad's forces. Iraq
does not recognise the zones.

by Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post, 14th March

WASHINGTON  In a notable escalation of the small-scale U.S. air war in
Iraq, two Air Force B-1 bombers yesterday hit military sites in western
Iraq, the first time in more than four years that a heavy bomber has been
used, Pentagon officials said.

The bombers hit two radar sites, officials said. One was a truck-mounted
mobile anti aircraft-radar system near a military air base, a defense
official said. The other target was a surveillance radar system near the
Jordanian border.

Knocking out border radar systems would be a key step in clearing the way
for a U.S. offensive into Iraq.

One priority early in any U.S. attack would be to shut down the ability of
the Iraqi military to launch Scud missiles or to send a drone aircraft laden
with chemical or biological weapons against Israel from the western desert.

Thus, Pentagon insiders say, one of the first moves in the campaign likely
would be Special Operations troops into western Iraq, where they could
observe suspected launch sites and call in airstrikes against them.

The B-1 flights marked the first time the Air Force has used that supersonic
heavy bomber against Iraq since "Operation Desert Fox"  four days of
punitive bombings and missile strikes conducted in December 1998.

Since then, the main aircraft used to patrol the two "no-fly zones" have
been lighter fighter bombers  Air Force F-15s and F-16s, and Navy F-14s and
F/A-18s. The two no-fly zones over Iraq were imposed by the United States,
Britain and France after the Gulf War, in what was described as a
humanitarian effort to protect Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north.

The introduction of heavy bombers follows earlier escalation of operations
in the no-fly zones.

In recent years the United States typically sent no more than 25 aircraft a
day into each of the two no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq. Now the
Air Force and Navy have intensified the patrols, and one recent day flew
1,000 sorties  that is, one mission by one plane  into Iraqi airspace.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (Iraq's possible possession of),0,4564058.story

by William M. Arkin
Los Angeles Times, 9th March

SOUTH POMFRET, Vt -- For all their differences, proponents and opponents of
war with Iraq agree on one thing: The paramount threat posed by Saddam
Hussein is his possession of chemical and biological weapons.

"The one respect that we think most about and worry most about is an enemy
with weapons of mass destruction," Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D.
Wolfowitz said last month. Opponents of war with Iraq have much the same

Administration leaders argue that only war can smoke out Hussein's hidden
biochemical capabilities. Doves argue that we must rely on inspections
because attacking Hussein could provoke him to use chemical or biological
weapons; if Israel were hit, they warn, the result could be nuclear war. By
different routes, the two sides arrive at an almost obsessive focus on
Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.

Each side has practical as well as principled reasons for doing so. For the
administration, equating chemical and biological weapons with nuclear
weapons -- and warning that, sooner or later, Iraq's weapons will find their
way into terrorists' hands -- has become a way of making the case that war
with Iraq is essential to protecting American lives at home.

For those who oppose the U.S. position, treating chemical and biological
weapons as weapons of mass destruction akin to nuclear weapons justifies
diplomacy and brinkmanship because of the seeming horrendous consequences of

The question is whether these weapons in fact form a foundation sufficient
to support all the weight being placed on it.

Instructively, the one place where policy is not being driven by the focus
on chemical and biological weapons is inside the American armed forces.

For one thing, while not dismissing the seriousness of chemical and
biological warfare, most field commanders are reasonably confident they can
handle any such attacks Hussein can mount. For another, they understand all
too well the mass destruction a full-scale war might inflict.

Moreover, most know that, after nearly four months of renewed weapons
inspections by the United Nations and the most intensive effort in the
history of the U.S. intelligence community, American analysts and war
planners are far from certain that chemical and biological weapons even
exist in Iraq's arsenal today.

Incredible as it may seem, given all the talk by the administration --
including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's discourse last week about
continuing Iraqi deception -- there is simply no hard intelligence of any
such Iraqi weapons.

There is not a single confirmed biological or chemical target on their
lists, Air Force officers working on the war plan say.

No one doubts that Iraq has consistently lied and cheated about its
proscribed arms capabilities. This is a country that has used chemical
weapons against Iran and against its own population, a country that fired
missiles at Israel and its Arab neighbors in 1991.

And the rundown of Iraqi weapons that remain incompletely accounted for
since the 1991 Gulf War is daunting: 6,500 bombs filled with chemical
agents, 400 bombs filled with biological agents, 31,500 chemical munitions,
550 artillery shells loaded with mustard gas, 8,500 liters of anthrax.

Moreover, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency analysts believe that
Hussein's forces could launch two types of short-range missiles, rockets or
artillery that are capable of carrying chemical agents. The analysts say
Iraqi aircraft or unmanned drones could mount sprayers to disperse chemicals
or biological agents.

Analysts also think it possible for Iraqi commandos to penetrate coalition
lines with small quantities of these weapons.

And U.S. intelligence has received reports that Special Republican Guard
units, as well as secret police and security services charged with defending
the regime, have been given bio chem protective gear. President Bush, in his
Feb. 8 radio address, said the administration had intelligence "that Saddam
Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons."

"We cannot rule out of course that Saddam might try in some kind of
desperation to use chemical or biological weapons," National Security
Advisor Condoleezza Rice said, echoing the administration line.

Yet, in fact, there is as much uncertainty as certainty about Iraq's
capabilities, as well as about the military effectiveness of any 11th-hour
resort to chemical and biological weapons. So much of what the U.S. believes
is based upon Iraq's history, not knowledge of current conditions.

Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said
as much when he told Congress last month that U.S. beliefs were "based on
... past patterns and availability ... that he will in fact employ them."

But the thinking that lies behind such statements when made by military
professionals is quite different from that underlying the pronouncements of
Rice and Wolfowitz.

When Maj. Gen. John Doesburg, the Army's top biological and chemical defense
commander, says the United States must assume Hussein thinks "it's OK to use
chemical agents, because he's done it," the general is simply engaging in
the kind of worst-case thinking that professional soldiers are trained to

"What does he plan to do? I have no idea," Brig. Gen. Stephen Reeves, Army
program officer for chemical and biological defense, said at a Pentagon news
conference last month.

Military leaders like Doesburg and Reeves do not mean to suggest that
chemical and biological weapons are the battlefield equivalent of nuclear
weapons. And they certainly do not mean to suggest such weapons are so
uniquely horrific that they should drive the nation's policy decisions --
either toward or away from war.

Among other things, using chemical and biological weapons effectively is so
difficult that this alone has always been considered a major impediment for
Iraq. The weapons are unpredictable. Weather conditions are a major factor.
Chemical and biological agents also have to avoid exposure to heat, light or
severe cold.

When U.N. weapons inspectors were in Iraq during the 1990s, they found it
had turned toward unmanned ground vehicles and sprayers as platforms for
delivering chemical and biological weapons because Iraqi engineers could not
master the technology for delivering such weapons in missiles or artillery
shells; loaded into the warheads, the chemical and biological material was
usually incinerated when the warhead exploded.

Moreover, "it takes a lot of chemicals to have a significant effect on the
battlefield," Doesburg told Bloomberg News. "We don't suspect he has the

According to war planners, three aspects of U.S. military strategy are
specifically related to preventing the use of such weapons once open
hostilities begin.

First, initiating the use of force across all fronts, with simultaneous air
and ground operations, will communicate what Wolfowitz calls "the
inevitability" of Hussein's demise. "No one wants to be the last one to die
for Saddam Hussein," he said.

Second, the war plan itself favors smaller and more highly dispersed
formations to limit exposure to the kinds of brute-force chemical attacks
that occurred in Iraq's war with Iran.

Third, early air and special operations assaults, particularly in western
Iraq, will seek to disrupt any potential attacks on Israel.

Despite so little hard evidence of Iraq's capabilities, U.S. troops have
been vaccinated, trained, equipped and dressed to prepare for chemical and
biological war. For military units, all this is no more than prudent

For the rest of us, we must take care that apprehension about weapons of
mass destruction -- whether generated from hawks or from doves -- does not
become a substitute for thinking through the justification to go to war, a
decision that could have consequences for years to come.

There have been recent reports that U.S. Marines in Kuwait were literally
using "sentinel" chickens to aid in the early detection of chemical and
biological weapons.

"I just have to tell you from personal experience," said Reeves, "having had
a great-uncle with a chicken farm, chickens are spectacularly nervous
animals. They will literally worry themselves to death."

by John H. Cushman Jr. with Steven R. Weisman
New York Times, 10th March

WASHINGTON, March 9  United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq recently
discovered a new variety of rocket seemingly configured to strew bomblets
filled with chemical or biological agents over large areas, United States
officials say.

The reconfigured rocket warheads appear to be cobbled together from Iraq's
stockpiles of imported or home-built weapons, some which Iraq had used with
both conventional and chemical warheads. Iraq contends that it has destroyed
all its old chemical warheads, a claim that the inspectors have not

An American official who described the weapon said it was discovered in the
last few months, since the United Nations inspectors returned to Iraq in
November. At first, he said, Iraq told the inspectors that it was designed
as a conventional cluster bomb, which would scatter explosive submunitions
over its target, and not as a chemical weapon. A few days later, he said,
the Iraqis conceded that some might have been configured as chemical

The distinctive appearance of the rockets' cluster munitions, heavy metal
balls with holes in them, suggested their use as a way to disperse chemical
or biological weapons, said the official. "If you take the kinds of fuses we
know they have, and you screw them in there, when these things come out from
the main frame and they explode inward, chemical agents come out," he said.

"These can be used for biological weapons, too," he said.

American officials said the discovery showed that Iraq could not be trusted
to cooperate with the inspectors. They provided the information to reinforce
the administrtion's point of view that weapons inspectors found
incriminating evidence in Iraq.

The discovery is buttressed by information contained in a detailed, 173-page
report by the inspection team, cataloging the history of Iraqi weapons
programs and the United Nation's attempts to enforce compliance with its
disarmament resolutions over the last 12 years.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said today that the chief inspector for
chemical and biological weapons, Hans Blix, should have made more of the
evidence in that report when he appeared before the Security Council last
week. "When you look at page after page of what the Iraqis have done over
the years to hide, to deceive, to cheat, to keep information away from the
inspectors, to change facts to fit the latest issue, and once they put that
set of facts before you, when you find you those facts are false, they come
up with a new set of facts  it's a constant pattern," he said on "Fox News

Mr. Powell did not mention the rocket, but cited development of drone
aircraft capable of dispensing chemical weapons as another example, and
hinted that the United States would release more information about
prohibited weapons as the Council debates a resolution this week. "That's
the kind of thing we're going to be making some news about in the course of
the week and point this out," he said. "And there are other things that have
been found that I think more can be made of."

According to the detailed report by the inspection team, which was
circulated at the United Nations during the Security Council's debate on a
new resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq, Baghdad has a
long history of exploring novel approaches for chemical and biological
weapons. It remains unclear whether the Iraqi cluster warhead is a newly
developed one, devised during the absence of inspectors over the last four
years, or whether its existence was kept secret before 1998, when the
inspectors left.

The report, a copy of which has been provided to The New York Times,
mentions that Iraq was known since 1996 to have been working on new chemical
warheads at a facility known as Haidar Farm, where inspectors had discovered
caches of documents and other evidence of prohibited programs with which to
confront the Iraqi government.

Videotapes from Haidar, the report said, showed "personnel conducting tests
of a cluster bomb that appears to utilize submunitions based, in part, on
122-millimeter warhead components."

As early as 1988, Iraq subsequently admitted to the United Nations, it had
experimented on converting short-range "Frog" rockets with a cluster warhead
using aluminum shells and some components from another rocket, the Ababil
50. However, Iraq said that it had done nothing but produce drawings and
that no prototypes were built.

When the evidence of those programs from Haidar Farm was analyzed in 1997,
intelligence agencies supporting the United Nations weapons inspectors said
materials found there included "all the necessary files and specifications
to build" an unconventional, probably chemical, warhead for the Frogs.

Photographs, used by an American official to buttress the administration's
position on Iraq, were said by the official to depict the newly discovered

They show a large, cylindrical body of roughly the same size as a
conventional Frog missile, with a series of round cluster munitions, about
the size of soccer balls or basketballs, set into cavities in the rocket.
The official did not say how the photographs were obtained.

The new United Nations report, noting that Iraq had been found able to make
chemical warheads for longer-range Scud missiles, said inspectors "assumed"
that Iraq could do so for shorter range missiles as well.

Iraq is thought to have produced at least 50 to 75 chemical warheads for
ballistic missiles, and inspectors have not confirmed that they were all
destroyed. But cluster warheads of this new kind have not been described in
a number of documents made public recently by the inspectors or by British
and American intelligence agencies.

The report also noted that Iraq still has "significant stocks" of smaller,
122-millimeter warheads similar to those previously used as chemical weapons
before the first gulf war. "Iraq's industries appear fully capable of
modifying these conventional munitions for use with chemical agents as well
as the indigenous production of most or all of their components," the new
report from the inspectors said.

The suspect cluster munitions look strikingly different than the photos of
18 empty chemical warheads for 122-millimeter rockets found by inspectors in
January of this year at a storage depot southwest of Baghdad and at another
depot. Iraq explained that the existence of those warheads had simply been
overlooked for many years. This time, the American official said, the
inspectors found just one rocket at first.

"Then they found a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth," the official

"These are imported," he added. "Then they found Iraq could manufacture
these indigenously, so who knows how many they have?"

The new United Nations report describes in considerable detail the
inspectors' continuing uncertainty about how much chemical and biological
agents Iraq may have retained. Sections of the report suggest that Iraq had
tried repeatedly, and sometimes succeeded, in developing agents especially
suited for cluster munitions.

by Andrew Grice and Ben Russell
Independent, 11th March

Ministers were criticised yesterday for failing to withdraw allegations that
Iraq secretly attempted to buy uranium for nuclear weapons after the claims
were dismissed as "unfounded" by United Nations weapons inspectors.

On Friday, Mohamed el- Baradei, director general of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), rejected British and American claims that Saddam
Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Niger, saying the allegations were
based on fake documents.

But yesterday the British Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction was still available on the Downing Street and Foreign Office
websites, with the claim that President Saddam "sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear
power programme that could require it".

The Number 10 website also included Tony Blair's statement on 24 September,
when the Prime Minister said "we know Saddam has been trying to buy
significant quantities of uranium from Africa, though we do not know whether
he has been successful".

Yesterday, Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman,
said: "Dr El Baradei's careful analysis of the aluminium tubes, magnets and
the alleged efforts to obtain uranium from Niger would appear to have
undermined the belief that Iraq was still actively seeking a nuclear

"Indeed, he went further when he said there was no evidence of a renewal of
a nuclear programme in Iraq. In the face of such an unequivocal assertion on
the part of the IAEA, one would have thought the British Government would
have made some kind of response."

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, said: "Dr El-Baradei said that based
on thorough analysis, the IAEA had concluded with the concurrence of outside
experts that these documents which form the basis of reports of recent
uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic. What
does the Foreign Office know about not authentic documents?"

Mr Straw replied: "The idea of putting in inspectors is to put faith in
inspectors. There were perfectly legitimate reasons for there to be the
greatest suspicion of the possibility of Iraq having a continuing nuclear

by Murad Sezer
Seattle Times, 12th March

UNITED NATIONS (AP): U.N. arms inspectors yesterday canceled U-2
reconnaissance flights over Iraq for what it called safety reasons after
Iraq complained that two of the aircraft flying simultaneously constituted a
hostile action.

In Baghdad, a senior Iraqi official said the United Nations had admitted
that having the second aircraft in the air was a "mistake" and denied that
Iraq had threatened the planes.

But Bush administration officials said Iraq scrambled MiG-23 fighters to
intercept the surveillance planes, prompting the U.S. Central Command to
quickly order the U-2s to leave Iraqi airspace. U.S. crews fly the planes
for the U.N. inspectors.

Baghdad's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, said Iraqi aircraft had
"escorted" one of the U-2s, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said there
was no direct confrontation although suspension of the surveillance flights
showed Iraq was not being cooperative.

Should Iraq be found to have interfered with the flights, chief U.N.
inspector Hans Blix is required to report the incident immediately to the
U.N. Security Council.

The Age, 12th March
by Paul McGeough

Iraq's war planning has none of the "shock and awe" promised by the United
States as it marshals a quarter of a million men and machines on Iraq's

But enough of Saddam Hussein's defence strategy is known now for analysts
and diplomats to caution against any US presumption that a war will be fast,
easy or casualty-free.

President Saddam has promised a hard-fought battle for Baghdad - an ugly,
urban-combat last stand. But while his best forces are encircling the
capital and Tikrit, his hometown to the north of Baghdad, he is leaving
sufficient troops in the north and south, hoping to slow any US-led

So he confronts the US with twin bogymen.

The first is that the invading forces will be desperate not to fall for his
strategy of luring them into Baghdad's civilian quarters. But if the
alternative is a siege of the capital, it could go badly for the allied
forces. Daily pictures of terrified, cowering civilians would not play well
in the court of world opinion.

And if the only way for the US to smash the morale of Mr Saddam's forces is
to barge into Baghdad, the damage could make it hard for the invaders to win
acceptance as a liberation army.

The middle course between a siege and a full-frontal assault also might have
to be a potentially dangerous and slow ground and air campaign. But if that
takes too long it also might test domestic support for governments that have
joined the US-led war.

The American plans for such a conquest of Baghdad call for government
centres to be the focus of the attack. If, as the US has warned, Mr Saddam
were to spread his forces among civilians and around mosques and hospitals,
he would be making cannon-fodder of his own people. The results would be
devastating; the casualties might be unbearable.

The second bogyman is chemical and biological weapons. Mr Saddam says he
does not have them, and to use them would destroy every argument he has put
to the world to stop the the noose tightening around his neck. But if he
does have them and he was to be cornered, he might use them.

The President has put the Special Republican Guard inside Baghdad and he has
three Republican Guard divisions surrounding it, a force that Western
analysts expect will fight capably, hoping to drag the US into
street-by-street fighting.

In the past few weeks Mr Saddam has pulled the 15,000-strong Adnan
Republican Guard division south towards Tikrit, which late last year was
bristling with anti-aircraft and missile systems.

The division was near the northern city of Mosul, as part of a 100,000-man
force that glowers into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
This also suggests that Mr Saddam wants to fight in the north.

Much of the detail of Mr Saddam's defence plan is a mystery. The Age has
seen extensive earthworks along major highways and around major cities and
installations, most of them oriented in the direction from which a US-led
attack might come.

With the exception of the defences around Tikrit, a dozen fighter aircraft
at a desert air base near the Syrian border and four mobile Scud missile
launchers headed for the western border region, there has been little
evidence of Mr Saddam's half-million-man army or of its known stock of
weapons: hundreds of missiles, almost 300 combat aircraft, thousands of
tanks and armoured cars, nearly 2000 howitzers and about 300 combat

US intelligence has warned of a "scorched earth" campaign - blowing up dams
and bridges or burning Iraqi oil fields. Mr Saddam denied this in a
television interview last week.

Kurdish fighters have recently reported the Iraqi military has been laying
minefields and building trenches which are to be filled with crude oil - to
be set ablaze in the face of an American push from the north. Explosives
also have been dumped at roadsides - to be detonated as US convoys pass.

Expecting that the US will destroy its command and control centres, Iraq has
ordered its forces to fight on independently - but this is a point at which
the US hopes their resolve will have broken, causing big numbers to desert
or surrender.

Lastly, there is the propaganda - most of it in the vein of Mr Saddam
rallying his army and his nation. In recent nights it has taken a turn that
has surprised diplomats here.

Iraqi TV has been running rarely seen, graphic footage of the Shiite
uprising that took place in southern cities in the wake of the 1991 Gulf
War. The message to Iraqis is simple - only Mr Saddam can hold Iraq together
in the face of civil war, and they should fight with him.

by Charles J. Hanley
Yahoo, 13th March

VIENNA, Austria (AP): The chief U.N. nuclear inspector urged the Security
Council on Thursday to compromise on proposed disarmament conditions for
Iraq, with staggered deadlines and no ultimatum for war.

"I think there's a keen desire globally to do everything before resorting to
war," Mohamed ElBaradei said in an Associated Press interview at his
agency's headquarters along the Danube River in Vienna. He offered to return
to Baghdad himself to help see a timetable of tasks carried out.

ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also
dismissed the U.S. contention that Iraq intends to use imported aluminum
tubes to eventually help make nuclear bombs.

ElBaradei reported to the Security Council last Friday that his
investigation concluded the tubes were unrelated to nuclear work. Secretary
of State Colin Powell has since said "more information from a European
country" suggested they were, indeed, meant for that purpose.

"We have got this information," ElBaradei said, "and it doesn't change our

The IAEA chief spoke as divisions deepened at the United Nations in New York
over the next steps in the crisis.

In the latest version of a British resolution, London proposes listing six
disarmament requirements Baghdad would have to meet or face "serious
consequences." France, which opposes setting ultimatums and has veto power
in the council, flatly rejected the plan.

ElBaradei, who with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has been at the
center of the disarmament effort in Iraq, said he supports the idea of
setting "tasks" for the Baghdad government.

"We haven't really told them specifically what they need to do," he said of
the Iraqis.

He approved of some requirements on the British list, such as its call for
interviews abroad of Iraqi scientists and a commitment to destruction of all
al-Samoud 2 missiles, recently declared illegal by U.N. inspectors.

But he questioned Britain's demand for a televised statement by Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein that banned weapons are hidden in Iraq.

"We have no clear evidence he has things he is hiding for him to admit,"
ElBaradei said.

ElBaradei, an international lawyer from Egypt, said he regretted the schisms
in the Security Council.

"You need the U.N. for (fighting) terrorism, for the Middle East," he told
the AP. "The fact the Security Council is being split is very

He called on the Security Council to fashion a compromise resolution with
disarmament benchmarks, with deadline dates assigned to certain tasks.

"You need to give them (Iraq) adequate time, and the time obviously is
linked to the task you're asking them to do," ElBaradei said.

Then, he said, he would go to Baghdad if necessary.

"If as part of the implementation of this benchmark we are asked to go to
Iraq, I obviously would not see any reason not to go," he said.

But missed deadlines must not automatically lead to war, he said: "It's a
deadline to evaluate, to take stock, not a deadline to automatically say I'm
going to war."

by Dana Priest and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post, 13th March

The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq
to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign
government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military
action against Iraq.

"It's something we're just beginning to look at," a senior law enforcement
official said yesterday. Officials are trying to determine whether the
documents were forged to try to influence U.S. policy, or whether they may
have been created as part of a disinformation campaign directed by a foreign
intelligence service.

"We're looking at it from a preliminary stage as to what it's all about," he

The FBI has not yet opened a formal investigation because it is unclear
whether the bureau has jurisdiction over the matter.

The phony documents -- a series of letters between Iraqi and Niger officials
showing Iraq's interest in equipment that could be used to make nuclear
weapons -- came to British and U.S. intelligence officials from a third
country. The identity of the third country could not be learned yesterday.

The forgery came to light last week during a highly publicized and
contentious United Nations meeting. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the Security Council on
March 7 that U.N. and independent experts had decided that the documents
were "not authentic."

ElBaradei's disclosure, and his rejection of three other key claims that
U.S. intelligence officials have cited to support allegations about Iraq's
nuclear ambitions, struck a powerful blow to the Bush administration's
argument on the matter.

To the contrary, ElBaradei told the council, "we have to date found no
evidence or plausible indications of the revival of a nuclear program in

The CIA, which had also obtained the documents, had questions about "whether
they were accurate," said one intelligence official, and it decided not to
include them in its file on Iraq's program to procure weapons of mass

The FBI has jurisdiction over counterintelligence operations by foreign
governments against the United States. Because the documents were delivered
to the United States, the bureau would most likely try to determine whether
the foreign government knew the documents were forged or whether it, too,
was deceived.

Iraq pursued an aggressive nuclear weapons program during the 1970s and
1980s. It launched a crash program to build a nuclear bomb in 1990 after it
invaded Kuwait. Allied bombing during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 damaged
Iraq's nuclear infrastructure. The country's known stocks of nuclear fuel
and equipment were removed or destroyed during the U.N. inspections after
the war.

But Iraq never surrendered the blueprints for its nuclear program, and it
kept teams of scientists employed after U.N. inspectors were forced to leave
in 1998.,4386,176891,00.html?

by William Safire
Straits Times, from The New York Times, 14th March

WASHINGTON - France, China and Syria all have a common reason for keeping
American and British troops out of Iraq: The three nations may not want the
world to discover that their nationals have been illicitly supplying
President Saddam Hussein with materials used in building long-range
surface-to-surface missiles.

We are not talking about the short-range Al-Samoud 2, which Mr Saddam is
ostentatiously destroying to help his protectors avert an invasion, nor his
old mobile Scuds. The delivery system for mass-destruction warheads requires
a much more sophisticated propulsion system and fuels.

If you were running the Iraqi ballistic missiles project, where in the world
would you go to buy the chemical that is among the best binders for solid

Answer: To 116 DaWu Road in Zibo, a city in the Shandong province of China,
where a company named Qilu Chemicals is a leading producer of a transparent
liquid rubber called hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene, familiarly known in
the advanced-rocket trade as HTPB.

But you wouldn't want the word 'chemicals' to appear anywhere on the
purchase because that might alert inspectors enforcing sanctions, so you
employ a couple of cut-outs. One is an import-export company with which Qilu
Chemicals often does business.

To be twice removed from the source, you would turn to CIS Paris, a Parisian
broker that is active in dealings of many kinds with Baghdad. Its director
is familiar with the order but denies being the agent.

A shipment of 20 tonnes of HTPB - the sale of which to Iraq is forbidden by
United Nations resolutions and the oil-for-food agreement - left China in
August last year in a 40-foot container.

It arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus - fortified by the Knights Templar
in AD 1183, and the Mediterranean terminus for an Iraqi oil pipeline today -
and was received there by a trading company that was an intermediary for the
Iraqi missile industry, the end user. The HTPB was then transported in
trucks across Syria to Iraq.

Syria has no sophisticated missile-building programme. What rocket weaponry
it has comes off the shelf (and usually on credit) from Russia, so it
therefore has no use for HTPB. But cash-starved Syria is the conduit for
missile supplies to cash-flush Mr Saddam, as this shipment demonstrates.

We will have to wait to find out how much other weaponry, for what huge
fees, Mr Saddam has stored in currently uninspectable Syrian warehouses.

The French connection - brokering the deal among the Chinese producer, the
Syrian land transporter and the Iraqi buyer - is no great secret to the
world's arms merchants. French intelligence has long been aware of it. The
requirement for a French export licence as well as UN sanctions approval may
have been averted by disguising it as a direct offshore sale from China to

I am also told that a contract was signed last April in Paris for 5 tonnes
of 99 per cent unsymmetric dimethylhydrazine, another advanced missile fuel,
which is produced by France's Societe Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs.

In addition, Iraqi attempts to buy ammonium perchlorate, an oxidiser for
solid propellant missiles, were successful, at least on paper. Both
chemicals, like HTPB, require explicit approval by the UN Sanctions
Committee before they can be sold to Iraq.

Perhaps a few intrepid members of the Chirac Adoration Society, formerly
known as the French media, will ask France's lax export-control authorities
about these shipments. UN inspectors looking at Iraq's El Sirat trading
company might try to follow its affiliate, the Gudia Bureau, to dealings in

Is this account what journalists call a 'keeper', one held back for
publication at a critical moment, made more newsworthy by the Security
Council debate?

No. I've been poking around for only about a week, starting with data
originating from an Arab source, not from the CIA. (Anti-Kurd analysts at
Langley have it in for me for embarrassing them for 18 months on Al-Qaeda's
ties to Mr Saddam, especially in the terrorist Ansar enclave in Iraqi

This detail about the France-China-Syria-Iraq propellant collaboration makes
for dull reading, but it reveals some of the motivation behind the campaign
of those nations to suppress the truth. The truth, however, will be out.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (USUK's definite possession of)

by John Keegan
Daily Telegraph, 10th March

By every sign, America and its allies will open a ground and air war on Iraq
during the next fortnight. The Bush Administration has clearly lost all
patience with Iraq and retains little patience for the United Nations
inspection procedures or for debate in the Security Council.

It will persist with diplomacy, in a final effort to bring dissenting and
doubting member states round to its point of view. Diplomatic protocol will
not, however, cause it to slow or halt its military build-up on Iraq's
borders. The expeditionary forces are moving to their attack positions. The
attack is imminent.

Many comparisons have been made between the current crisis and others of the
past - appeasement in 1938, the Suez crisis of 1956, even the July crisis of
1914, which preceeded the First World War.

The closest comparison of all has been overlooked - that with the
preliminaries to the Salonika campaign of 1915-18. Then, the British and
French, anxious to open a front against their enemies in southern Europe
after the failure of Gallipoli, disembarked a large army in northern Greece
through the port of Salonika.

They had been invited to do so by Venizelos, the Greek prime minister. The
Greek king opposed the move and dismissed Venizelos. The allies took no
notice and proceeded with their campaign anyway.

Something similar seems to be happening at present. Though the Turkish
parliament has voted against allowing American troops to use southern Turkey
as a base, American ships are reported to be unloading equipment at the
southern Turkish port of Iskanderun.

American aircraft have arrived at Souda Bay in Crete, though the Greek
public opposes the war, and troops and aircraft are appearing at bases in
Jordan and Saudi Arabia, even though the Saudi government is highly
sensitive to Muslim anti-war opinion.

It seems that, as in 1915, offensive bases are being prepared through
agreement reached with autonomous authorities and local government factions.
The Turkish army, for example, the ultimate source of political power in the
country, supports American policies.

The moves may provoke protest, but should not cause surprise. Anticipating
Turkish parliamentary agreement, America has already deployed a large
proportion of the expeditionary force in the eastern Mediterranean,
including the equipment and 15,000 soldiers of the 4th Mechanised Division.
They have been waiting offshore in a fleet of more than 20 ships and cannot
be kept cooped up much longer.

They could be shipped to Kuwait through the Suez Canal, but that would
postpone the outbreak by several months, counting both movement and loading
time, which the Americans in their present mood would not countenance.
Moreover, a northern base is highly desirable, if not absolutely essential,
to the Pentagon's war plan.

It would no doubt be possible to defeat and overrun Iraq from Kuwait.
Indeed, almost any point of departure chosen by the overwhelmingly powerful
American expeditionary force would yield victory, and quite quickly.

It will oblige Saddam to divide his forces, to his great disadvantage, while
using bases in southern Turkey will hasten the advance on Baghdad by making
use of routes through the northern no-fly zone, which is not under Saddam's

If the reports of allied concentrations in Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
as well as Kuwait are accurate, the following picture of the coming campaign
emerges. It will open, obviously, with intense air operations, employing
cruise missiles, B-52 heavy bombers and stealth aircraft. The targets will
be headquarters and communication centres.

In 1991, the coalition air forces were presented with targets virtually
guaranteeing Saddam's defeat, by his decision to spread out his army without
air cover in a desert, and to mark his positions with conspicuous fixed
defences that prevented it from manoeuvring.

This time, he appears to have avoided those mistakes, but his troops still
lack air cover, since the rump of the Iraqi air force flies antiquated
machines and will in any event be driven from the skies, probably on the
first day. He probably won't resort to chemical warfare - the inconvenience
of chemical suits is great on both sides.

The air offensives will be accompanied or quickly succeeded by an air mobile
assault, using armed helicopters, the elite troops of the 82nd and 101st
Airborne Divisions and special forces. The 82nd is already in Kuwait; the
deployment of the 101st has been set back by the Turkish difficulty, but
means will no doubt be found to bring it into battle. Special forces, some
of which are already on Iraqi territory, are said to have bases in Saudi
Arabia, Turkey and Jordan.

After the air and air mobile preliminaries, the ground forces will strike at
the Iraqi army, with the objective of reaching Basra in the south and
Baghdad in the north. How the ground battle will go depends on what Saddam
decides to defend.

If he tries to hold the main roads, he will inevitably present the coalition
air forces with ripe targets. If he attempts to fight mobile engagements off
the roads, he will be overcome by superior technology. Battles off the roads
are unlikely, in any case, because, at this time of the year, the valleys of
the Tigris and Euphrates are waterlogged by the flow of snowmelts off the
northern mountains. Flood conditions will also hamper the coalition, but its
possession of large numbers of helicopters will allow its troops to press
forward unchecked.

The ultimate question is whether the coalition will attempt to enter the
cities. They provide Saddam with strongholds, for no invading army willingly
commits itself to street-fighting. It need not be necessary, however, to
fight in Baghdad, the key to the campaign, to bring about its surrender.
Blockade will achieve the same result.

Saddam isolated within his capital would be Saddam defeated. The coalition
would possess his territory, would control his oil fields, the source of his
finances, and would be free to uncover the hiding places of his weapons of
mass destruction.

Distances are the coalition's chief enemy. Baghdad is 400 miles both from
the Turkish and the Kuwaiti borders. Mobile and air mobile forces, protected
by air power, should nevertheless be able to reach it in a week. The fall of
the Saddam regime would inevitably follow.

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