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[casi] News, 20-27/12/02 (1)

News, 20-27/12/02 (1)


*  Quizzing scientists will be tricky
*  6,000 gas bombs could be missing
*  U.S. to Give U.N. Inspectors Better Iraqi Site Intelligence
*  U.S. Is Preparing to Share Intelligence With U.N. Team
*  U.N.: Give Iraqis who talk asylum
*  Iraq hits back with CIA offer
*  Iraq 'ready' for questions on dossier
*  UN arms experts search Iraqi space site for banned weapons
*  U.S. to give Iraq inspectors photos of 'sanitation activities'
*  Christmas Cause: American Weapons Inspector Doing Job in Iraq, Away From
*  Iraqi nuclear scientists quizzed
*  US can't withdraw inspectors from Iraq: UN
*  U.S. courted top Iraqi scientist
*  Iraq to Let Scientists Leave for Interviews


*  British Bishops To Deliver Anti-war Christmas Sermons
*  Church leaders attack war plans
*  British people reject action against Iraq
*  Blair's priest denounces PM over war on Iraq


by Roula Khalaf
Financial Times, 20th December

This week's preliminary assessments of Iraq's weapons declaration shift the
spotlight to ways of exposing suspected Iraqi lies.

Judging from public US statements, the US expects the case for war to be
bolstered by a crisis over the extraction of Iraqi scientists from Iraq, a
move that Baghdad might resist.

This is a new right granted to inspectors by UN resolution 1441 and a power
that the US wants the inspectors to use.

"This is one of those neat ideas but how do you actually make it work? It
seems extraordinarily difficult," says Garth Whitty, a former senior UN
inspector. "How do you extract scientists in a country that has coerced its
population for so long?"

Determining the most useful expert testimony will be tricky. Iraq, heeding a
request from Unmovic, the UN inspection agency, is now compiling a list of

Unmovic has some idea of the key experts it might want to interview.
Diplomats say the inspectors' job would be facilitated if the US shared with
inspectors the names of people it believes are the most valuable sources of

"There are thousands of scientists and the best way to waste your energy is
to start interviewing people left and right," notes a western diplomat. "And
the US has not even said that it is willing to provide asylum for these
people, so how can they even begin to be pulled out if they don't know where
they're going?"

The mechanism by which people are taken out is still being discussed by
Unmovic and US officials. "The issue is still being looked at. . . there are
some practical things to be worked out," says Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for
Unmovic. "How many people, how do you take them and do you send them back if
they don't give you useful information?"

The inspectors are likely to be approached by Iraqis seeking to use them as
a defection agency. Information promised might prove less valuable once the
Iraqis' objective - to leave the country - is achieved. Information gathered
from defectors in the past has often been of questionable value.

On the other hand, some of the most important scientists inspectors will
want to spirit away might resist the offer. The heads of the nuclear,
chemical, biological and missiles programmes, for example, are closely tied
to the regime and likely to remain loyal to it.

"The question is whether one will be able to credibly determine that the
Iraqi government refuses to accept that scientists go or that the scientists
themselves don't want to go," says John Chipman, director of the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

"There is a formal obligation on Iraq to let people go but the question is
whether that obligation applies to individuals."

Some scientists may simply not wish to leave the country. Others will be
afraid to leave relatives behind and risk exposing them to Iraqi
retaliation. Although the UN resolution says the Iraqi experts may take
their families along, it is unclear whether this extends beyond spouses and

"It's not clear what family means. Do the inspectors bring out 50 people or
an entire village and what if a brother doesn't want to come along?" says a
western diplomat who closely follows the inspection process. "Hans Blix [the
UN chief inspector] has said that he will mot take anyone without their

Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which
is responsible for Iraq's nuclear file, says three issues must be addressed
before attempts are made to extract researchers and technicians.

"First, we need to have good information that there's someone who has
information and can't give it to us inside the country," he says. "Second,
we have to know that the person is willing to leave, and third, that there's
a country willing to provide him with protection and asylum.",,3-520319,00.html

by James Bone in New York
The Times, 21st December

THE United Nations is in possession of a document, once snatched from the
hands of a weapons inspector, that suggests Iraq might be hiding 6,000
poison gas bombs, The Times has learnt.

Iraq turned over the six-page document to UN weapons inspectors on November
30, but failed to account for the damaging information it contains in its
12,000-page arms declaration it submitted on December 7.

The so-called "Air Force document" is, therefore, emerging as a key piece of
evidence in the detailed assessment of Iraq's declaration that Hans Blix,
the chief weapons inspector, is due to give to the UN Security Council on
January 9.

"In their 'currently accurate declaration' they do not address unresolved
issues from the past," one source said. "If they gave an explanation for
that document, they would have to give an explanation for the biological
questions and the chemical questions and they do not want to do that at this

The so-called "Air Force document" was seized by an Iraqi official from a UN
inspector who found it at the Iraqi Air Force headquarters on July 18, 1998.
The team, led by a female biological weapons expert attached to the UN from
the German Ministry of Defence, found the file in a safe in an operations
room at the heart of the building.

After consulting a superior, an Iraqi minder refused to allow the German
inspector to copy the Arabic document, but not before she was able to jot
down notes on what it disclosed.

The document lists the number of four types of "special" aerial bombs
dropped by the Iraqi Air Force during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The UN inspectors told the Security Council at the time that the inspector's
jotted notes "revealed serious discrepancies between Iraq's declarations on
the consumption of chemical bombs and the data copied from the document on
the expenditure of these weapons".

Of some 150,000 munitions that it had admitted filling with chemical
weapons, Iraq claims that about 100,000 were "consumed" in the Iran-Iraq
war. But a UN official told The Times yesterday that the Air Force document
shows that 6,000 fewer 250kg and 500kg chemical bombs were used in the
Iran-Iraq war than Baghdad claimed.

"It purports to show that Iraq dropped about 6,000 bombs less on the poor
Iranians and, therefore, raises the question of what happened to these
shells and do they still exist?" one UN official said.

For the past four years, the document had been kept in a safe at Iraq's
National Monitoring Directorate under UN seal until the two sides were able
to agree to terms for inspectors to view it.

But Iraq voluntarily surrendered it on November 30 in the knowledge that UN
inspectors would demand to see it under their tough new mandate.

Dr Blix has so far refused to use the document. But UN sources say that he
is likely to cite it next month when he points out the omissions in the
Iraqi declaration.,2933,73660,00.html

Fox News, 21st December

WASHINGTON ‹ The United States is increasing the quality of intelligence
given to U.N. weapons experts in Iraq as the United Nations bolsters its
inspection team to act more quickly on the information, American officials
said Saturday.

The arrival of 15 additional inspectors last week brought their total to
113. President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, wants 250
to 300 on the ground in Iraq, though the United States has not specified a
time frame, a senior administration official said.

In the next two weeks, as the inspectors grow in number, the United States
will provide more detailed intelligence reports, said the official, speaking
on condition of anonymity.

Two administration officials said the United States has been continuously
providing the United Nations with intelligence on Iraqi weapons sites.

The United Nations has pressed for more.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix urged the United States and Britain
to hand over any additional evidence they have about Iraq's secret weapons

He said the inspectors need intelligence because Iraq's declaration on the
state of its weapons programs leaves so many unanswered questions that it is
impossible to say confidently that its claim to have no weapons of mass
destruction is accurate.

The United States and Britain have given briefings to inspectors on what
they think the Iraqis have, but what inspectors really want to know is where
weapons-related material is stored, Blix told the BBC.

One U.S. official said the administration was reluctant to provide
information as detailed as the United Nations seeks for fear that inspectors
would not be able to act immediately on it.

U.S. intelligence officials are also concerned that information could leak,
jeopardizing information-gathering sources and other methods. The Pentagon
fears that handing over such intelligence could tip off Iraq on likely
bombing targets.

Blix said he planned to give the United States and Britain assurances that
intelligence material would be protected. He said his inspectors, who are
searching for chemical, biological and long-range missile programs, have
between 500 and 1,000 sites to visit.

The administration's current strategy is to increase pressure on inspectors
to seek interviews with Iraqi weapons scientists outside of Iraq to gain new
intelligence and provide evidence that could be used against Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein.

by Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, 21st December


Former U.N. inspector David Kay said on Wednesday at an American Foreign
Policy Council meeting: "Do you give your targeting cells to inspectors or
husband the intelligence data . . . to protect lives of American military
men?" Now with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Kay said that
rather than giving out data on where the United States thinks Iraq's
missiles are located, the inspectors should be pushed into questioning "the
cadre of [Iraqi] military officers who are experienced in scooting and
shooting these missiles."

Security for intelligence provided by the United States to U.N. weapons
inspectors has been an ongoing problem for Washington since Blix decided
that he would not have a senior American deputy. During the 1990s
inspections, the American who served as the deputy chief of the U.N.
inspectors also served as the entry point for U.S. intelligence.

Blix has tried to assure U.S. and British officials that he has established
a tight security system under his chief of intelligence James Corcoran,
former deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency, who has
clearances for receiving U.S. intelligence and the confidence of the CIA and
other U.S. intelligence agencies. In a statement earlier this year, Blix
said that all intelligence passed to UNMOVIC goes to "only two people,"
himself and his intelligence chief, and "is tightly controlled and withheld
from other organizations or governments."

To avoid charges that the inspectors are spies for the United States or
other countries, Blix has also said that the findings based on intelligence
supplied to him would be provided to all Security Council members, and not
solely to the nation providing the data. U.S. officials want to have some
feedback on the data they supply as a means of checking the credibility of
sources. Blix has said he took that step "to protect the information and
integrity of the inspection team."

Corcoran has been meeting with the State Department's John Wolf to work out
the system for handling the intelligence. The sharing will begin shortly,
one senior administration official said yesterday, involving a small number
of target sites to see how the system works. Although Corcoran will know all
the site data, he will give the locations only to UNMOVIC's chief inspector
in Baghdad. The inspectors themselves will not be told where they will be
going until they get their orders, one U.N. official said yesterday.

To supplement his own collection assets, Blix has begun discussions with the
Pentagon about delivering satellite information on Iraq directly to UNMOVIC.
During the 1990s inspections, some U-2 photo reconnaissance planes were
assigned to the U.N. team.

Blix also will soon have his own U.N. fixed-wing aircraft and eight
helicopters that can carry out photo missions as well as provide
transportation services for the inspectors. In addition, he is exploring the
purchase or rental of unmanned drones from Germany for similar purposes.

by Colum Lynch
Detroit News, from Washington Post, 23rd December

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N.'s chief weapons inspectors are pressing the
United States to guarantee that any Iraqi scientist or government official
they interview outside of Iraq will be granted political asylum for
themselves as well as their entire families if they want it, according to
U.S. and U.N. officials.

The Bush administration, which has been urging the inspectors to conduct
such interviews, has so far declined to offer blanket assurances of asylum
to all Iraqis questioned by the inspectors, the officials said.

Senior U.S. officials have been engaged in intensive discussions with U.N.
inspectors this month to try to reach a compromise that would ensure a
select number of key Iraqi scientists and their families would receive safe
haven if they cooperate. John S. Wolf, the U.S. assistant secretary of state
for nonproliferation, and John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations, have met several times with Hans Blix, Mohammed ElBaradei
and other U.N. officials over the past two weeks to work out procedures for
the interviews.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that the U.N. inspectors "should
give high priority to conducting interviews with scientists and other
witnesses outside of Iraq, where they can speak freely."

Blix, who has resisted U.S. pressure to spirit Iraqi officials out of the
country, saying he did not want to run a "defection" agency, told the
Security Council that such interviews with willing Iraqi specialists are "an
option." ElBaradei went further, confirming that "we will do it" if there
are arrangements in place to guarantee the protection of the Iraqis and
their families.,3604,864780,00.html

by Ewen MacAskill, Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard
The Guardian, 23rd December

Baghdad fought back in the highly charged propaganda battle with the US and
Britain yesterday by inviting its arch-enemy, the CIA, to enter Iraq and
track down the country's elusive weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraqi offer of unhindered access to US intelligence agents came after
intensive pressure from Washington that made war early in the new year
appear almost inevitable.

After four days of diplomatic pounding, Iraq hit back yesterday, accusing
the Bush administration of rehashing old lies.

"We have told the world we are not producing these kind of weapons, but it
seems that the world is drugged, absent or in a weak position," President
Saddam Hussein said.

At a press conference in Baghdad yesterday, General Amir al-Sadi, scientific
adviser to the president, issued a challenge to the US and British
intelligence to offer up hard evidence that Iraq has any biological,
chemical or nuclear weapons.

"We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the
inspectors to show them the suspected sites," Gen Sadi said.

This marks a major turnaround. Until yesterday, Iraq had objected to the
possibility of US or other Western spies infiltrating the UN weapons teams.

Baghdad said, rightly, that the inspections team that left Iraq in 1998 had
been infiltrated by intelligence agents and, in the intervening four years,
repeatedly cited this as a reason why it objected to the return of the UN

A CIA spokesman said yesterday that he did not want to comment on Baghdad's

Both the US and Britain claim, against Iraqi denials, that they have
evidence that Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said at the end of last week that
if the US and Britain had such evidence, they should hand it over.

US officials said at the weekend that they have been handing over
intelligence and will provide more specific information to the inspectors
over the next fortnight.

The Foreign Office made a similar promise yesterday: "The weapons inspectors
will get all the help they need to carry out their job in Iraq."

But it emerged that British intelligence is reluctant to hand over
everything it claims to have, insisting there is a danger that sources could
be compromised.

British government officials have already privately admitted that they do
not have any "killer evidence" about weapons of mass destruction. If they
had, they would have already passed it to the inspectors.

Babil, the Iraqi government newspaper run by president Saddam's son, Uday,
said in a front-page editorial yesterday: "Everybody knows that if they had
concrete information, they would have put it on television all around the
world before giving it to the inspection teams."

Gen Sadi accused the US and Britain of rushing to judge Iraq's weapons

He claimed that objections raised by the US secretary of state, Colin
Powell, and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, to Iraq's declaration on
weapons of mass destruction, were a rehash of old information that had
already been dealt with.

But US officials said yesterday the accusation made by Washington last week
that Iraq was in material breach of a UN resolution on disarmament had come
from specific information it has obtained and not from the declaration.

This new information, they said, was based on satellite pictures that showed
construction at sites that had previously been bombed by US-led forces.

They also claimed to have fresh information based on records of suspicious
dual-use material - that which has both a civilian and military function -
procured by Iraq as part of a UN deal to relieve the suffering of Iraqis
from sanctions.

British military chiefs are drawing up detailed plans in which thousands of
Royal Marines would take part in a huge amphibious assault to seize the
Iraqi port of Basra to control key strategic areas in south of the country.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that HMS Ocean, Britain's
biggest helicopter and marine commando carrier, will be available to join a
flotilla heading towards the Gulf next month after a major refit.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 23rd December

BAGHDAD: Iraq said Sunday it was ready to answer any questions raised by the
United States and Britain on its arms declaration, and would not object to
CIA personnel identifying suspect sites alongside inspectors.

"We are ready to deal with each of those questions if you ask us," said
President Saddam Hussein's chief scientific adviser, Amir al-Saadi.

"We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the
inspectors to show them the suspected sites," he told a news conference in

He said chief weapons inspector Hans Blix had sent Iraq a "formal request to
provide a list of certain scientists and we are going to provide that list
before the end of this year."

Saadi addressed specific questions raised by Washington and London, and said
American and British officials were rushing to judgment in saying that
Baghdad's declaration fell short of meeting the UN resolution to disarm

Saadi said US questions over whether Iraq had disclosed its efforts to
obtain uranium from South Africa or Niger had already been discussed in
talks with Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed

Saadi said he told the two inspectors last month Iraq had tried to obtain
uranium oxide, not uranium, from Niger in the mid-1980s but had never tried
to obtain any such material from South Africa.

"There were no new procurements or attempts to procure," he said. "That was
a question formally asked across the table and formally answered by us."

On Washington's question of whether Iraq had tried to produce the deadly
nerve agent VX, Saadi said US concerns were based on information from an
earlier UN inspection team in the early 1990's, which Iraq said manipulated

Saadi said Iraq made an unsuccessful attempt in April 1990 to produce a
quantity of VX but the material degraded rapidly and attempts to produce it
were abandoned. "No production was achieved, no VX was produced," he said.

The adviser said samples purported to be VX taken from Iraqi sites by
members of UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission), headed by Richard
Butler, were sent to the United States for analysis.

"They were sealed Š but we found later they had been opened," Saadi said.



BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- UN arms inspectors on Sunday visited a space
research and development center in their searches for weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, their spokesman Hiro Ueki said in a statement.

A team of missile experts from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification
and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) paid their unannounced visit to the Al
Battanee Center in Baghdad, which "provides the telemetry systems for the Al
Samoud missile system."

This center is a scientific group engaged in "space technology, space
optics, atmospheric studies and remote sensing," Ueki said.

Another missile team inspected the Taji Technical Battalion, some 40 km
north of Baghdad. The site, belonging to the Iraqi military, is "a missile
storage area and a former Scud dump site."

A UNMOVIC chemical team went to the Al Nahrawan site, which is part of the
Al Basil Company. This facility consists of several pilot plants involved in
the production of some chemicals and "was previously declared to be using
dual-use equipment and chemicals."

Some UN biological experts inspected the Al Kindi Company for the Production
of Veterinary Vaccines in Abu Ghraib, 43 km northwest of Baghdad, Ueki said.

The facility is a multi-sector company, partially owned by the Ministry of
Agriculture and partially privately owned, and "produces a variety of viral
and bacterial veterinary vaccines, using basic glassware and techniques."

Also on Sunday, nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) visited an electronics factory, a computer center and a teaching
institute of welding technology, all of whichwere suspected of developing
prohibited nuclear weapons.

Currently there are 115 inspectors in Iraq, 94 of whom are from the UNMOVIC
and 19 from the IAEA.

By Jan. 27, the inspectors must give their first report to the UN Security
Council about Iraq's weapons programs.

by John Diamond
Yahoo, from USA TODAY, 23rd December

WASHINGTON ---- U.S. intelligence has photographic evidence of Iraq hastily
clearing and cleaning suspected weapons sites, raising suspicion the
activity is intended to avoid detection of prohibited arms by United Nations

The satellite imagery is part of what the United States will present to U.N.
inspectors this week in an effort to help them track down banned weapons.
U.S. officials acknowledge the intelligence is circumstantial but not
irrefutable proof that Iraq continues to develop weapons in defiance of U.N.

''We have good evidence of sanitation activities at various sites: carting
away scrap, cleaning up and so forth,'' said a U.S. intelligence official
who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sharing of satellite imagery with the United Nations marks the latest round
of jousting between the administration and the inspection team. The
administration wants a faster, more aggressive pace to the inspections. U.N.
officials counter that they need help from U.S. and other intelligence
agencies to determine where to go to look for prohibited weapons.

The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and other branches of U.S. intelligence
are pooling information that could be shared with the weapons inspectors.

While there is no proof the cleanup activity was sinister, the officials
said some of the sites were later visited by U.N. inspectors, or are on the
list of sites likely to be visited.

This is the type of circumstantial evidence that U.S. officials expect to
compile over time as they build a case that Iraq has been developing banned
chemical and biological weapons.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said he wants detailed information.
U.S. and British intelligence officials briefed inspectors on what they
suspect the Iraqis are hiding. But Blix told the BBC that the inspectors
need information on specific locations. He told CNN the Bush administration
should ''put the evidence on the table.''

The Pentagon and CIA say they can't put all their information on the table
for fear of compromising intelligence-gathering methods or tipping off the
Iraqis to locations that might be the focus of a U.S. military campaign.

U.S. intelligence is most concerned about protecting human sources in Iraq
who are providing information on Iraqi weapons programs. But the imagery
alone may be of limited value. A second intelligence official said the spy
satellite photos don't show whether the substances being cleared are related
to prohibited Iraqi weapons programs. The scarcity of proof of suspected
Iraqi weapons programs is generating some political pressure on the Bush

''I would like to at least have the president, who I think is an honest
person, look us in the eye and say, 'We have evidence, here it is.' We've
never heard the president of the United States say that,'' Vermont Gov.
Howard Dean, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, said on ABC's
This Week.

''There is nothing but innuendo, and I want to see some hard facts,'' Dean

A front-page editorial in Babil, a newspaper run by Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein's son Odai, voiced similar skepticism.

''Everybody knows that if they had concrete information, they would have put
it on television all around the world before giving it to the inspection
teams,'' the editorial said.


by Dan Harris
ABC News, 24th December

B A G H D A D, Iraq, Dec. 24 ‹ On the job, U.N. weapons inspector Kay
Mareish comes off as brisk, focused and tough. While conducting inspections,
she is often the only woman ‹ and she is unquestionably in charge.

 Her demeanor changes completely, however, when you ask about her 7-year-old

"Sarah is a beautiful princess," Mareish gushes, "with the greatest eyes
that God created and the greatest smile that I ever saw in my life."

Mareish hasn't seen her daughter or her husband since Dec. 5, when she left
her home in Leesburg, Va., to come to Iraq.

She admits to missing her family so much that, some days, she cries. But as
the United Nation's chief biological inspector ‹ whose job it is to find
secret Iraq bioweapons programs ‹ Mareish doesn't get that much time for

At work by 7 a.m., Mareish leads inspections at factories, hospitals and
laboratories across the country. After a quick dinner at the U.N. compound
in Baghdad, Mareish and the 23 members of her team get back to work ‹
writing reports and planning for the next day's inspections. She usually
doesn't head back to her hotel until 10 p.m.

Thus far, she says she's developed a good working relationship with the
Iraqis, who have not obstructed her work. "I get to see every room that I
want," she said. "Every closet, every refrigerator, every freezer. I talk to
every person I could meet in that building, from the directors to the head
of departments to the technicians running equipment in the laboratory."

Mereish was raised overseas, and moved to the United States for college. She
became an American citizen, and went to work as a scientist for the U.S.
Army and the State Department. As someone with experience in Iraq ‹ she was
one of the original weapons inspectors in the 1990s ‹ she casts some doubt
on the plan, popular in Washington, to take Iraqi scientists out of the
country for questioning.

While many U.S. officials say removing scientists and their families is the
best way to expose Iraq's weapons secrets, Mareish isn't so sure the
scientists themselves will go along.

"It is a very difficult thing for me to comprehend that somebody would be
willing to do it," she said. "It's very risky."

Those out-of-country interviews may not start for a few weeks. In the
meantime, Mareish will work straight through Christmas. Though there's a
little plastic Christmas tree in her hotel lobby, she is not feeling very

"It's completely not Christmas. I don't feel it. I don't have that spirit
anymore." Mareish said.

She says that's because she's not with Sarah.

When she speaks to her on the phone, her daughter often asks her to come
home. But Sarah seems to understand that her mother is doing something

"My husband says she keeps telling her friends, 'Mommy's going to stop the
war,'" Mareish said.

Mareish dismisses the doubters who say the inspectors have no hope of
achieving anything. She says if she didn't think this job was worthwhile,
there's no way she'd be so far away from her daughter on Christmas.

CNN, 24th December

BAGHDAD, Iraq: U.N. weapons inspectors have stepped up their search in Iraq
and have begun interviewing Iraqi nuclear scientists, the International
Atomic Energy Agency says.

"We are moving from an information-gathering phase to a more probing,
investigative phase," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said on Tuesday.

Gwozdecky, speaking in Vienna, Austria, said the scientists would be
interviewed in Iraq.

He did not reveal "when or how many or with whom" the interviews would take

He indicated the interviews and questions would be more targeted, based on
information the inspectors had already gathered, enabling "one-on-one
interviews in a more strategic way."

Scientists would be interviewed outside Iraq as well but "the Agency has not
moved to exercise its authority under Security Council mandate to conduct
(those) interviews," Gwozdecky said.

There are other considerations for interviews conducted outside of Iraq as
well such as individual consent and protection for the Iraqi scientists
including possible asylum in other countries.

On Tuesday, the inspectors visited Baghdad University of Technology where
they questioned Dr. Sabah Abdul Noor, a scientist who worked in Iraq's
nuclear program.

Noor said the inspectors asked that they be allowed to interview him alone,
but he said he refused and asked that members of his team be present.

The inspectors, he said, wanted to know "all the progress that has been made
after 1998 until now. I explained to them all that I know."

Noor described the atmosphere as "very friendly, actually." He said he was
not asked to leave the country.

Noor said: "I was a member of the nuclear program." He told reporters he
headed a "powder technology center" which did research and development of

He said the inspectors wanted to know about the university's programs and
"equipment that can be used or misused."

University officials said inspectors had been to at least three

"They know exactly what we have been doing in the past," said Noor. "They
have the details."

He said the main interest of the inspectors was "any progress since 1998."

Meanwhile, inspectors visited eight other sites Tuesday, with plans to
maintain a heavy schedule on Christmas Day.

A baby milk factory was among the sites inspectors visited Monday. In 1991,
the factory was bombed by the United States amid U.S. claims it was a dual
use facility which also produced chemical weapons.

Officials on both sides of the Iraqi inspection process said Monday they
want to see evidence of weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. says it
has. (Story)

On Sunday, Iraq's top government scientist said his country would welcome
"someone from American intelligence" to show U.N. weapons inspectors where
President Bush believes Iraq is hiding its weapons programs.

Bangladeshi Independent, 26th December

AFP, Cairo, Dec 24: A UN official said here Tuesday that Washington would
not have the right to withdraw UN weapons inspectors if it goes it alone and
attacks Iraq without the approval of the world body.

"The United States does not have the right to withdraw the teams without a
Security Council resolution because the inspectors went into Iraq in
accordance with a Security Council resolution," Jayantha Dhanapala, the UN
undersecretary for disarmament affairs, told reporters. "The work of the
inspection teams is going well and the teams have not encountered any
problems" which would require them to be withdrawn by the United Nations, he
said after meeting here with Arab League chief Amr Mussa.

The UN disarmament teams sent in under UN Resolution 1441 are working
straight through the Christmas period, visiting suspected sites in the hunt
for Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. At least nine
teams were in the field Tuesday, the 25th day of inspections since the
United Nations experts resumed work in Iraq after a four-year break.

by Colum Lynch
(MS)NBC, from The Washington Post, 26th December

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 26 ‹ When a senior Iraqi delegation arrived in New York
on May 1 to finish plans for the resumption of U.N. inspections in Iraq, a
key member of the team was missing. Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, widely regarded as
the father of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program, had been held up by
American officials at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan, and questioned for
several hours before he was given a visa.

The British-trained physicist had been "singled out for interrogation" by
U.S. officials in Jordan and would not be arriving until the following day,
said Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in the opening meeting with a U.N.
delegation. Iraqi diplomats subsequently told U.N. officials that U.S.
officials also offered money to Jaffar and other Iraqi officials in an
unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to defect, according to Iraqi and
Western diplomats.

The disclosure suggests that Washington may have already begun an aggressive
campaign to identify key Iraqi officials for defection several months before
U.N. inspectors arrived in Iraq to question Iraq's weapons experts. In
recent weeks, the United States has stepped up efforts to encourage new
defections, demanding that weapons inspectors invite Iraqi scientists for
interviews abroad, where they will be provided with an opportunity to
request political asylum.

Information about the alleged defection effort in May came originally from
Iraqi officials, who have a stake in portraying the United States as a
disruptive force in the inspections process. Still, the Iraqis complained
about it at the time ‹ before the issue became so highly charged ‹ and U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan took the claims seriously enough to change the
venue of the next round of talks to Vienna.

While the Iraqi claims that the United States had targeted several officials
for defection have been generally known, until now their names were
unpublicized. In addition to Jaffar, the diplomatic sources said, the
Americans also targeted Gen. Amir Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein who was also instrumental in developing Iraq's chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons programs.

The third individual was Mehdi Labidi, a midlevel technical expert,
according to a report Tuesday by the London-based Arab language newspaper
Asharq al-Awsat. The newspaper, citing Iraqi officials as sources, reported
that U.S. intelligence agents had repeatedly phoned Iraqi officials at their
hotels in New York and sought to lure them into defecting with a case filled
with cash.

A Bush administration official declined to comment, saying, "We don't
comment on intelligence matters." A CIA spokesman declined comment.

The Bush administration, which succeeded in persuading two Iraqi diplomats
at Baghdad's U.N. mission to defect in the summer of 2001, has argued that
well-placed defectors are the key to unearthing fresh insights into Iraq's
secret weapons program. The CIA has a program aimed at encouraging such

But Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, has expressed concern about
the United Nations running a defector program. He has said that the United
States has yet to come up with ideas for how the international organization
can select Iraqi scientists and their families, and take them out of the
country for interviews.

The defection of Jaffar would have constituted the most significant
intelligence coup on Iraq's weapons program since Hussein Kamel Hassan
Majeed, who headed Iraq's secret weapons program, fled Iraq in 1995,
prompting the government to hand over millions of pages of secret documents
related to its banned weapons program. A former deputy to Hussein Kamel,
Jaffar had been at the center of Iraq's secret effort to develop nuclear
weapons for more than 20 years. A trusted member of Hussein's inner circle,
Jaffar would have likely been a pivotal figure in any recent efforts to
restart the program.

"He's extremely significant. He knows more than anybody else, because he is
trusted by the top level and he was very involved in all the different
programs" in the nuclear field, said David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear
weapons inspector who heads the Institute for Science and International
Security (ISIS). "He also should have known about all the chemical,
biological and missile programs."

The May episode led to an appeal from the Iraqi government to Annan to hold
future meetings on weapons inspections in Geneva or Vienna. But the Iraqi
government did not go public with the outlines of the story until June,
after Washington ordered the expulsion of an Iraqi diplomat in New York ‹
Abdul Rahman Saad ‹ on the grounds that he was recruiting U.S. citizens to
spy for Iraq.

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Douri, told reporters that
Washington was simply retaliating because Baghdad had lodged a complaint
with the United Nations over U.S. "harassment" of three members of the Iraqi
delegation, whom he declined to identify. "This is vengeance," Douri told
the Associated Press in June. "They have been asked to stay in the United
States ‹ to defect."

Albright said that Jaffar would have been a natural target for U.S.
intelligence agents. A member of Iraq's former royal ruling class, Jaffar
was imprisoned and tortured by Hussein until he agreed in the early 1980s to
help build the Arab world's first nuclear bomb. But Jaffar also prospered
under the regime, increasing his wealth and rising to the post of minister
without a portfolio.

"Here's a guy who they tortured to force him to work in the program. I don't
see him having a tremendous loyalty to them if he had a choice," Albright
said. But "it may be that he is so intertwined financially with the regime,
so he has in a sense no way out."

Khidhir Hamza, a former aide to Jaffar who defected to the United States,
said that the United States and the United Nations are potentially
endangering the lives of Iraqi scientists. Jaffar's flight would have placed
his family in peril. The Iraqi regime had responded to previous acts of
betrayal mercilessly. After luring Hussein Kamel back to Baghdad, he was
gunned down outside his home along with other family members.

Hamza said the IAEA's efforts to conduct an initial round of interviews with
Iraqi scientists in Iraq before narrowing a list of key figures for
questioning abroad is particularly dangerous. "Talking to scientists with
minders is meaningless; without minders it is an endangerment," he said.
"The mere fact that [an individual] is interviewed and chosen will tell the
Iraqi government that he is ready to cooperate, and that could endanger him
and his family."

That fear has already had a chilling effect on the interviews. One Iraqi
scientist, Sabah Abdel-Nour, who participated in Iraq's previous nuclear
energy program, told the French press agency that he declined to be
interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi official. "The inspectors asked
me for a personal interview and proposed that it be in private," he said. "I
apologized and asked for the presence of a member of the National Monitoring

If Jaffar had any intention of betraying the Iraqi regime, it was anything
but evident when he finally arrived in New York for an afternoon meeting
with U.N. nuclear experts on May 2. Jaffar complained that his luggage was
missing and that he was wearing the same outfit as when he left Baghdad. "He
said the [U.S. intelligence] agencies are probably going through every
single piece of clothing," according to a U.N. official.

Jaffar then launched into a tirade, saying the United Nations falsified its
reports on Iraq's efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons. "He went
ballistic," the official said. "Some people in the meeting thought that he
was probably being aggressive with us to show his own government that he had
no intention of defecting."

At one point, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA,
threatened to stop the discussions when Jaffar insulted ElBaradei's chief
aide, Jacques Baute, the French head of the IAEA's Iraq action team,
criticizing his command of English. One U.N. official said Jaffar said, "'My
English is much better than yours, Baute, so don't come play with words in
English. Though I must admit that since you married a British national, your
English is improving.'"

by Peter Baker
Washington Post, 27th December

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 26 -- Iraq agreed today to allow its weapons scientists
to leave the country for interviews with a U.N. inspection team, but despite
calling it their "personal decision," the government seemed to signal that
they should refuse to go, saying "it's not necessary" to leave Iraq to
conduct the interviews.

The government promised to deliver to the United Nations by Sunday a list of
scientists and technicians who have worked in fields related to ballistic
missiles or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. A senior Iraqi official
said the list, requested by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission, would include hundreds of names.

The issue of interviewing weapons scientists has become particularly
sensitive in the confrontation between Iraq and the United States, and tens
of thousands of additional U.S. troops are reportedly ready to move to the
region for possible military action to destroy President Saddam Hussein's
rule. U.S. officials have said an Iraqi refusal to allow the scientists to
leave would violate the Nov. 8 Security Council resolution requiring full
cooperation with weapons inspectors -- and thus could be construed as a
reason for war.

The Bush administration has pressured U.N. inspectors to take key scientists
and their families out of Iraq, saying they would offer more candid
disclosures without the fear of retaliation. For weeks, Iraq declined to
commit to the idea, citing concerns about human rights and international law
and pushing for interviews to be conducted here, even if government
witnesses were not permitted.

At a news conference today, the chief Iraqi liaison to the inspectors said
the government would not block scientists from traveling abroad for
interviews. But he left little doubt that he thought they should decline to

"It's up to them. You can ask the scientists one by one," said Gen. Hussam
Mohammed Amin, head of the National Monitoring Directorate and a weapons
specialist. "I'm one of them. I can answer you on my case only. I will not

Asked why, he said, "Because I don't like to leave my country. If there is
any important question to be addressed to me, let them address it to me here
in Iraq. Why this complicated procedure? I don't believe in this complicated

Amin added, "It's not necessary to meet scientists outside Iraq. The issue
of meeting is a personal one, and the National Monitoring Directorate cannot
force anyone to do this because everyone is free to do what he wants and we
as the National Monitoring Directorate are not supporting or refusing this."



Palestine  Chronicle, 22nd December

LONDON - The anti-war movement in Britain will move to the churches as
leading bishops plan to preach against a war in Iraq this Christmas, openly
defying British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, a U.K. newspaper
reported Sunday.

The Independent said Christmas sermons will echo the "widespread concerns
about the seemingly inevitable push towards war."

The paper quoted Right Reverend Peter Price, the bishop of Bath and Wells,
as saying that he will tell worshippers on Christmas Eve that: "The sanctity
of life precludes all war and violence. We must be guided by a vision of the
world in which nations stop seeking to resolve their problems through

Right Reverend Richard Lewis, the bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich ,
is expected to warn, in his Christmas message, "against the desire for
revenge in the wake of 11 September," the paper said.

"The question for all of us is whether we give in to that knee-jerk need for
revenge and respond in that sort of way, or whether we address the essential
questions of justice and peace that underlie that need.

"We must not let a desire for revenge affect our relations," the Independent
quoted him as saying.

The paper said it conducted a survey among all 44 senior bishops in the
Church of England and the 34 who responded to the survey all said that they
"were unconditionally opposed to war."

"A further 25 were against war unless military action was sanctioned by the
United Nations and even then only as a last resort," said the paper.

It added that several bishops will also warn in their Christmas sermons that
racial tensions in the multicultural communities will also be fueled if
hostility against Iraq continues.

However, on November 11, the Telegraph reported that the Church of England
decided that "British and American plans to attack Iraq if Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein breaches could be justified even without the further backing
of the U.N."

The move was described by the paper as an "unexpected rebuff to a number of
senior bishops" and added that a move to insist that only the United Nations
could permit war was rejected by the Church's General Synod by 141 to 110

Despite saying that unilateral military action risked the credibility of the
U.N., some speakers at the Synod argued that "the Church would display a
lack of understanding of international politics if it tried to tie the hands
of Western governments," reported the Telegraph.

However, most Christian leaders in the U.K. remained against a war on Iraq .

Just a week before the Church of England made that statement, the coming
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said that a pre-emptive strike
on Iraq could "rapidly and uncontrollably spiral down into chaos."

In an article which Williams sent to the Telegraph on November 5, he said
that to ignore the fears of people in the area would leave the West open to
the criticism that it was behaving like a colonial power.

U.K. officials have been irritated at the "anti-war rhetoric" of the Church
of England, the paper said.

Elsewhere in the world, Christian leaders have been outright opposed to a
strike against Iraq .

Earlier in November, patriarchs of the eastern Catholic churches came out
against a war on Iraq .

"Nothing justifies a war against Iraq , whatever the pretexts and reasons
invoked," said the heads of the Maronite, Melchite, Coptic, Chaldean, Latin,
Syriac and Armenian churches after a five-day conclave at Raboueh, near
Beirut .

"There can be no just war because men have the choice: negotiating and
arriving at peaceful solutions or unleashing wholesale destruction," they
said in a statement.

On September 18, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed strong
opposition to unilateral U.S. military offensive against Iraq in a letter to
U.S. President George W. Bush.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the head of Italy 's Catholic bishops, said on
September 16 that a U.S.-led war against Iraq would have "unacceptable"
human consequences and would destabilize the Middle East .

On September 12, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy
II, said he was totally opposed to any attack by the U.S. on Iraq , warning
of a "bloodbath" if war went ahead.

Britain 's Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said on September
5 that war against Iraq could set the Arab world against the West and
undermine efforts to secure peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The London Times also reported that George Carey, the since retired
archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, had
raised his concerns about Iraq in a private letter to Blair.

In September, the World Council of Churches expressed "concern and alarm"
over U.S. threats to strike Iraq in the name of overthrowing the present
Iraqi government, and called on the United States to cease military threats
against Baghdad .

The Geneva-based WCC also urged U.S. allies "to resist pressures to join in
pre-emptive military strikes against a sovereign state under the pretext of
the 'war on terrorism'."

-IslamOnline (

BBC, 25th December

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is continuing his criticism
of politicians over the possibility of a war against Iraq.

In a Christmas message he will use the analogy of the Three Wise Men to mock
strategists who, in spite of their sophistication, end up killing innocent
people and causing more suffering.

His remarks come as the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales said
war against Iraq must not be seen as inevitable, despite growing momentum
towards military action.

Celebrating Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O'Connor said that peace on earth was a "permanent commitment" and
that efforts to avoid conflict should never end.

On Christmas Eve seven Iraqi children delivered giant Christmas cards signed
by thousands of people to Prime Minister Tony Blair, urging him not to go to

And in Baghdad Saddam Hussein delivered a rallying Christmas message on
Iraqi television, warning that "the forces of evil and darkness" wanted to
create instability and chaos in many parts of the world.

In his message, to be broadcast shortly after midnight on 26 December on
Radio 4, Dr Williams recalls the bible story of the Three Wise Men.

On their way to Bethlehem they tell King Herod of the birth of Jesus,
prompting a massacre of children.

Dr Williams says it is as if the wise and resourceful cannot help making the
most immense mistakes of all.

He has robustly opposed war in Iraq and his Christmas broadcast seems to be
intended to build on that theme.

Dr Williams likens the Wise Men to strategists who, despite intimate
knowledge of politics, miss obvious things and create more suffering and

We are, he says, still tangled in the same net, with better communications,
intelligence and surveillance, but stepping ever deeper into tragedy.

During his traditional Christmas service Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
told worshippers: "We must never give up and assume that war is inevitable.

"Let us pray today, therefore, that each one of us, particularly those
involved in international diplomacy and politics, will maintain our
permanent commitment to building and maintaining peace in our world."

The Archbishop of Westminster's remarks followed calls by the Catholic
bishops of England and Wales in November for both sides to "step back from
the brink" of war.

They said that Britain had a moral responsibility to avoid war and called
for sanctions against Iraq to be lifted as an incentive for Saddam Hussein's
regime to improve.

Delivering the anti-war cards to Downing Street on behalf of the Stop the
War Coalition the seven Iraqi children were joined by a brother and sister
from Egypt and a Palestinian boy.

The cards contained thousands of messages and signatures of British people
opposed to the government's backing of President Bush's firm stance against

The campaign group argued that Britain and the US are more interested in
Iraq's oil reserves than they are in its reputed weapons of mass

Spokesman Andrew Burgin said: "People are talking about war so blithely at
the moment, as if there is no human cost."

Standing on the doorstep of Number 10, Egyptian-born Fatima Mahmoud, 17,
from London, warned: "A lot of very innocent children, the same age as those
here, will die."

In his Christmas message Saddam Hussein warned that an "American-Zionist
campaign against Iraq is being launched".

He said: "The tone of a threatened, large-scale military aggression against
our peace-loving people is growing louder, in addition to the aggression
already inflicted and the unjust blockade still in place."

The Iraqi leader said his government was committed to working with the
United Nations and the Security Council.

Dawn, 27th December

Toba Tek Singh, Dec 26: The British people have rejected unilateral action
against Iraq. British House of Commons member Chaudhry Sarwar told newsmen
on Thursday that all opinion polls conducted by various organizations and
institutes in UK recently showed that a majority of people were against
their government on Iraq issue.

He said he had also participated in an anti-war rally which was held in UK.
It was the biggest rally in the history of the country which was attended by
more than 400,000 people.

He said white voters of his constituency often visited him and favoured
attack on Israel instead of Iraq. They said though Israel violated UN
resolutions, Bush administration patronized it, he added.

He said Israeli forces had been killing innocent Palestinian people,
including children, daily since long. Israel did not pay any heed to the UN
which ordered it to give autonomy to Palestine and withdraw its troops from

Mr Sarwar said US President Bush had his eyes on two of the five biggest oil
producing countries, Iraq and Iran, while other three - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and Arab Emirates - were already under his control.

He criticized Bush for getting secret documents through unfair pressure on
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan which were given to him (Annan) by Iraq
regarding its weapons.

He said he had recently met Tony Blair who assured him that both the US and
the UK had the only aim of disarming Iraq and not to attack it. He said Bush
himself was a threat to the world peace and not Saddam Husain.

He said two MPs of Pakistan and two of India origin planned to hold joint
seminars in both the countries with the cooperation of a British
organization to ease tension between them. They have the support of premier
Tony Blair too.

He welcomed the restoration of democracy in Pakistan and urged politicians
not to create a situation which could lead to the return of army.

Chaudhry Sarwar will leave for UK on January 1.

by Fraser Nelson
The Scotsman, 27th December

THE Prime Minister faced a fresh wave of religious criticism for his stance
over Iraq after the priest who said mass for the Blair family on Christmas
Day accused him of "moral surrender".

Father Timothy Russ, priest of the Roman Catholic church near Chequers, Mr
Blair's official country home, suggested the Prime Minister had betrayed his
Christian background in preparing to wage war to depose Saddam Hussein.

"Man must live the will to integrity rather than the will to power. The
Prime Minister is caught up in the will to power game - and that is his
problem," Fr Russ said after saying mass.

"He has had a moral surrender from his past ... He may not like me very much
for telling you, but it is my job to try to speak the truth from God and
apply it to a very fallen world."

The Anglican Bishop of Oxford added his voice to the warnings yesterday in
an interview with BBC Radio. "Personally I take the view that on the
evidence available to us at the moment, the traditional just war criteria
are not met," he said.


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