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[casi] US Not Sharing Evidence Says UK


20 December 2002 17:22

US not sharing intelligence, say UK agencies

By Kim Sengupta

20 December 2002

The United States has failed to provide Britain with full details of its
"solid evidence" proving that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction,
security sources say. There is also concern in London that the Americans are
again trying to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network,
a link British and European intelligence agencies do not believe exists.

The latest manifestations include claims that Iraq supplied an
al-Qa'ida-affiliated group, Asbat al-Ansar, with the nerve agent VX for
terrorist attacks. Another tale likely to surface soon, the security sources
say, will be that of a Shia prisoner held by Kurds in northern Iraq who
claims to have been an assassin for both al-Qa'ida and Baghdad.

Proof of Iraqi subterfuge over weapons of mass destructions (WMDs) is likely
to be seen as a "material breach" of the United Nations resolution, and could
provide the trigger for an attack by US and British forces. But although
classified information is routinely exchanged by Washington and London,
British officials say they do not have the " smoking gun" the Americans claim
to possess about Baghdad's alleged chemical, biological and nuclear arsenals.

British officials agree President Saddam has secreted material and documents
about his weaponry. But their conclusion is based on analysis of a vast
amount of raw intelligence which needs to be verified. The sources believe
the Bush administration is "talking up" the strength of the information on
Iraq's WMDs.

"We know [of] material which is unaccounted for," a senior source said. "But
we have not got a definite site, a grid reference, where we can say Saddam is
hiding it. If the US administration does indeed have that kind of specifics,
it has not been passed on to us. The main problem is known to us all. After
all, it was Paul Wolfowitz [the hawkish deputy US Defence Secretary] who
said, 'Iraq isn't a country where we've had human intelligence for years'."

The security agencies are putting huge emphasis on getting access to Iraqi
scientists and technical officials who helped develop Iraq's old chemical,
biological and nuclear programmes. But despite the United Nations chief
weapons inspector, Hans Blix, writing to the Iraqis to demand such a list, it
has yet to be produced.

Pressure on US intelligence agencies from hawks in Washington to establish
that the Baghdad regime is working with al-Qa'ida and its Islamist
sympathisers have failed, with the "evidence" presented being met with
scepticism in the US as well as abroad.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, is also being blamed for a lack of
clarity over plans for attack. The divisions he has with military commanders
on strategy mean the Ministry of Defence still does not know what exactly the
Americans require from Britain.

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