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[casi] News, 15-22/01/03 (3)

News, 15-22/01/03 (3)


*  Chretien Wants U.N. Campaign Against Iraq
*  Czech News Agency: Iraq may use smallpox - press
*  Czech Republic OKs Iraq Troop Deployment
*  German on trial says equipment was bound for Iraq
*  Dalai Lama against 'thrusting war' on Iraq
*  US seeks aid from Nato as rift grows
*  Poland to Contribute Troops to Operation in Iraq
*  Poland Needs US Missile Defense System: Defense Minister
*  Allies start to squabble over arms report
*  Iraq still in firing line if weapons not found
*  Russia has reasons to worry
*  Israeli Astronaut Bombed Iraqi Nuclear Reactor in 1981
*  Voting 'yes' to war on Iraq inconceivable: Germany
*  France may block U.S. war march
*  Nato backs US on Iraq
*  Germany, France Line Up Against Iraq War


*  Iraqi opposition postpones Kurd-hosted congress
*  Kurdestan Ready to Exchange Tourists with North Iraq
*  U.S. Building Secret Military Airport in Northern Iraq


*  US, UK attack Iraqi radar
*  U.S., British Planes Hit Iraqi 'No-Fly' Sites
*  Unmanned U.S. craft shot down, Iraq says


by Tom Cohen
Newsday, from Associated Press, 15th January

TORONTO -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Wednesday he wants U.N. backing
for any military campaign against Iraq, but he refused to rule out Canada's
participation in a U.S. led strike without Security Council approval.

Speaking at a rare formal news conference to lay out his agenda for the
year, Chretien said Canada's policy on the Iraq situation was based on a
multilateral approach through the United Nations and other international

Defense Minister John McCallum said in Washington last week that Canada
could decide to join the United States if it attacks Iraq without U.N.

Chretien called McCallum's comment speculation and refused to answer when
asked if Canada would take part in a unilateral U.S. campaign.

"You come to see me and ask me that question on the day that happens, then
I'll answer that question," he said at the Ottawa news conference. "I don't
know. I'm not speculating."

He reiterated Canada's support for the U.N. Security Council resolution that
brought international weapons inspectors back to Iraq.

While President Bush has sent troops to the region and expressed impatience
with the inspections process, Chretien echoed comments by British Prime
Minister Tony Blair that the inspectors need time to complete their work.

"We can't wait an eternity of course, but we will see," he said. "We will
take decisions as we go along."

Nobody wants war, Chretien said, "not the president of the United States,
not the prime minister of England, not myself."

The issue is sensitive for Chretien, who must balance the need to support
his most crucial ally south of the border with a public desire in Canada for
U.N. approval for any attack on Iraq.

Some members of Parliament from Chretien's Liberal Party said this week they
opposed a unilateral attack on Iraq. Chretien, who has said he will step
down in February 2004, already faces problems controlling his Parliament
caucus due to support for his likely successor, former Finance Minister Paul

Hoover's (Financial Times), 15th January

PRAGUE, Jan 15 (CTK) - Military experts fear that in the event of an allied
attack on Iraq, Saddam Hussein could retaliate with biological weapons, in
particular with special versions of the smallpox virus, dailies Mlada fronta
Dnes and Pravo write today.

According to the head of military health services, Jan Petras, it is very
likely that Iraq acquired from the former USSR a very dangerous smallpox
strain - Aralsk 1970 - and also modified a strain of camel smallpox. Petras
also expressed unease at the fact that doctors today have no experience with
smallpox, and thus would not recognise its initial symptoms.

As cited in Pravo, the USA has already asked Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav
Tvrdik as to whether Czech soldiers would prefer to be vaccinated against
smallpox. "In terms of our capabilities, it is not immediately necessary to
undertake vaccinations, because the protective measures at the Czech Army's
disposal are sufficient even after a possible use or confirmation of the
substance," Tvrdik told the daily.

If Hussein were to use smallpox as a weapon, experts predict it would have
consequences far beyond the borders of Iraq or even surrounding states. The
likelihood of this danger is also confirmed by the extensive vaccination
programme begun several months previously in the USA and Israel, both papers

It is hard to state exactly what damage the "smallpox weapon" is capable of
causing. One model study by American scientists claims that if the virus
were released in a U.S. city of three-and-a-half million inhabitants at a
gathering of around one thousand people, in two months the disease would
have appeared in 150,000 cases across 20 American states and four European
countries. Such a massive epidemic would lead to the political and economic
isolation of the USA, experts maintain.

According to the head of Czech intelligence services, Josef Proks, Iraq does
not have atomic weapons. The greatest military threat for the allies is the
Al-Hussein rocket, of which Hussein has 83, states Pravo. With a range of
600 kilometers, they can strike at 50 percent of the territory of Turkey and
Saudi Arabia, Israel and limited targets in Egypt, Kuwait, and parts of

The Associated Press, 16th January

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) ‹ The upper chamber of the Czech Parliament
agreed overwhelmingly Thursday to deploy chemical weapons troops to Iraq in
the event of war.

The vote in the Czech Senate was 70-3, with three abstentions and five
absent. The decision still needs the approval of the lower chamber of the

Under the measure, the unit could be sent to treat soldiers injured by
chemical or biological weapons attacks ‹ with or without a U.N. Security
Council resolution calling for their deployment.

by Melissa Eddy
News & Observer, 16th January

MANNHEIM, Germany (AP) - A German businessman accused of helping Baghdad
acquire drills to make artillery indicated Thursday that he assumed the
equipment was headed for Iraq, contradicting earlier testimony.

Prosecutors say Willi Heinz Ribbeck and another German broke arms export
rules and United Nations sanctions by selling the equipment to Iraq for
military use. Ribbeck had testified when the trial began Tuesday that he
thought the drills would stay in Germany.

Also on trial is engineer Bernd Schompeter, 59, accused of using a front
company in Jordan and an Iraqi middleman to deliver drills to Baghdad.

Letters presented as evidence Thursday implicated Schompeter and his alleged
middleman, an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen, Sahib Abd al-Amir al-Haddad.

One letter, written by Schompeter on al-Haddad's behalf to a tool company,
said: "We have an excellent relationship with the Iraqi government and feel
your products would be good for the Iraqi market."

Another letter signed by Schompeter listed ways to do business with Iraq
under the U.N. embargo, including going "via a third country to bypass the
regulations of the embargo."

Under persistent questioning by prosecutor, Ribbeck conceded that after
meeting al-Haddad in Germany in 1999 he understood that the equipment headed
for Jordan would likely be shipped further. "That is what one had to
assume," he said.

Prosecutors say the drills could be used to make a 209mm cannon capable of
firing biological and chemical weapons. Ribbeck, 53, is accused of helping
Schompeter acquire the equipment.

The men could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Prosecutors believe the equipment was sent from the Mannheim, Germany-based
Alriwo GmbH company to Jordan in 1999, and from there to Iraq. Such sales
are prohibited under German export laws and United Nations sanctions imposed
after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Asian Tribune, 16th January

Bodh Gaya (Bihar), (PTI), Jan 16: Describing war as an organised and
legalised form of violence, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, today
disfavoured "thrusting" war on Iraq as it would only lead to destruction.

The Dalai Lama, who is here for the ongoing Kalchakra puja, called war an
organised and legalised form of violence which would create more problems
than it would solve.

"War will lead to a trail of destruction...and it will definitely have its
impact on other countries", he said replying to a question on the continuing
stand-off between the US and Iraq.

The Dalai Lama also said he wanted China to grant meaningful autonomy to

"I had sent a delegation to China recently following a positive change in
its attitude towards Tibet", he said adding efforts aimed at getting
autonomy would continue.,,3-544566,00.html

The Times, 16th January

THE United States piled pressure on its reluctant allies last night,
formally asking Nato members for military assistance in a possible war
against Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, confirmed that America had tabled
a proposal for six forms of support, including access to airspace, bases,
ports and refuelling facilities, and was seeking permission to deploy
missiles on Turkish soil.

The request came as the head of Nato's parliamentary assembly gave warning
of a widening rift between the US and some of the other 18 members of the
alliance. "There is a growing gap in attitudes and perceptions between the
Europeans and the United States," Douglas Bereuter, who is also a US
congressman, said. "This will endanger the consensus in Nato and this is
just the sort of time when we can least afford a growing gap."

Nato sources said that the allies had been asked to deploy Awacs early
warning and surveillance aircraft and Patriot air defence missiles to
protect Turkey, a Nato member and a likely base for US-led airstrikes on
Iraq. The request also included using standing naval forces and

The timing of the proposals was sensitive, with political leaders and public
opinion in many European countries opposed to a war with Iraq, at least in
the absence of specific UN authorisation, and urging more time for UN arms
inspections. Several allies, notably France and Germany, say that the US and
Britain would need a fresh UN Security Council mandate to use force against
Baghdad. Germany has ruled out participation in any attack on Iraq, but has
opened its airspace to US military aircraft.

Peoples Daily, 16th January

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Wednesday his country
supports the United States' military attacks against Iraq and has promised
to contribute troops to a possible war with Baghdad.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Wednesday his country
supports the United States' military attacks against Iraq and has promised
to contribute troops to a possible war with Baghdad.

Kwasniewski made the remarks as he returned from the United States from a
two-day working visit where he discussed with his US counterpart George W.
Bush and other US officials on the bilateral relations and the situation in

He said his visit has helped the development of the relationship between the
two countries.

During the visit, Kwasniewski demanded the United States exempt the entry
visas for Polish citizens as it treated other European Union countries when
Poland enters the EU in 2004.

Responding to the rumor that he could succeed George Robertson as the
secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO),
Kwasniewski said he will not seek the position before his tenure concludes
at the end of next year.

Peoples Daily, 16th January

Poland needs the US missile defense system and military cooperation tops all
its cooperation with the United States, Polish Minister of National Defense
Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Saturday.

Szmajdzinski was responding to questions from the press concerning Poland's
bid to join the US missile defense system.

Szmajdzinski said the initial aim of the United States to develop the
missile defense system is to protect itself and it has now proposed to
develop a missile defense system that can also protect all NATO nations, a
move welcomed by Europe.

According to reports reaching here, Poland has asked to join the US missile
defense system by setting up on its soil a long-range radar headquarters in
Central Europe.

A delegation from the US State Department visited Poland late in July when
the two sides agreed to further discuss Poland's bid to join the US missile
defense system.

by Colum Lynch
The Age, from Washington Post, 17th January

The Bush administration is seeking to derail plans by the United Nations'
chief weapons inspector to issue another report on Iraqi disarmament to the
Security Council in late March.

The US fears this could delay its timetable for forcing an early
confrontation over Iraq's banned weapons programs.

In a move that diplomats believe could touch off a divisive battle in the
Security Council, the US plans to press it to suspend plans for the March 27
report by Hans Blix.

Dr Blix's report was expected to include a list of specific disarmament
obligations for Iraq before UN sanctions could be suspended.

He told the council on Tuesday that the March meeting was required under a
1999 resolution that created his weapons inspection agency.

But his plans have complicated America's diplomatic strategy at the UN in
which it has pointed to late this month as the start of an end-game in the
six-week-old weapons inspections program in Iraq.

The administration wants a decision on whether to go to war shortly after Dr
Blix's scheduled presentation to the council on January 27.

US officials said they would ask the council to effectively disregard the
1999 resolution requiring a later report.

President George Bush is expected to make a strong case for action against
Iraq in his State of the Union address on January 28. Three days later he
has scheduled a meeting at Camp David with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, his closest ally on Iraq.

Dr Blix, by announcing he was operating under the assumption that he would
produce an additional report two months later, underscored that he was
progressing along a much more deliberate timetable.

His plan risks undermining the administration's strategy to intensify the
pressure for a decision on whether to go to war later this month.

It has also raised the prospect that Security Council members, including
some US allies, would use it as an excuse for putting off a decision until
March at the earliest.

An administration official said: "How can you talk about suspending
sanctions or outlining key remaining disarmament tasks when the Iraqis have
not complied (with a complete declaration on its weapons program)?

"They have to first comply. We don't want to reward Iraq," the official

The issue is pitting the US and Britain against Russia, France and Syria,
who maintain that there are no grounds for rewriting the terms of the 1999

A diplomat who shares their position said Washington's initiative would
remove the council's main incentive for Iraq to cooperate and keep the
council in a constant state of crisis.

"The council's resolutions shouldn't be flouted, they should be respected,"
said Syria's deputy UN ambassador Fayssal Mekdad.

China's UN ambassador Wang Yingfan said the standoff could drive a wedge
between the council's key members.

"We have to work within the Security Council to find a way out of this
dispute," he said. "It's no good for everyone if we have confrontation."

Dr Blix is scheduled to pay a final visit to Baghdad on Sunday before
presenting his January 27 report.

He said on Wednesday that he would urge the Iraqi leadership to provide more
evidence of its efforts to develop banned chemical, biological and nuclear

"There is still time, I think, for Iraqis to get themselves out of a very
dangerous situation," he said. I don't think we should ever talk about last
chances in the world.

"They have provided prompt access, been very cooperative in terms of
logistics," he said.

"But they need to do a good deal more to provide evidence if we are to avoid
any worse development."

Mr Bush said on Tuesday he was sick and tired of Iraqi games and deception.

by Tom Allard and Robin Wright in Washington
Sydney Morning Herald, 17th January

The Australian Government agrees with the United States that finding no
evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction may still provide the grounds
for military action because the onus is on Saddam Hussein to show he has
destroyed his banned stockpile.

Bush Administration officials say the US is mapping out a back-up strategy
that would justify possible military intervention in Iraq if intelligence
tips, United Nations inspections and Iraqi scientists all fail to produce
solid evidence of a forbidden arsenal.

"The chances that the UN will find something are slim," said a senior
Administration official who requested anonymity. "The chances that the
Iraqis will tell us anything are slim. So it's quite possible after three or
four months of no real progress in inspections that President Bush will
simply say, 'That's it. We're not satisfied, and the UN shouldn't be
satisfied either'."

This stance was echoed yesterday by the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill,
who said of Saddam: "He has chemical and biological weapons that we know
existed [that] he says he's destroyed but won't say where or when or who did
it or provide access to those who are supposed to have destroyed them.

"On that basis, unfortunately, the inspectors won't be able to say that in
fact Saddam Hussein is complying with the obligation of the international
community ... the Security Council might say, you know, he's never going to

That debate, he said, could be triggered by the report to the UN by its
chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, on January 27.

Senator Hill said he was confident that the Security Council would back
President Bush and insisted he did not expect the US to launch a unilateral
strike without UN approval.

Also, the Federal Government was determined to follow the UN route on Iraq.
One scenario where the Government may opt out was if one of the UN's
permanent members vetoed action, as happened with Kosovo.

Senator Hill's position is similar to that outlined by Labor's leader, Simon
Crean, on Wednesday.


by Mark Brzezinski and Lee Wolosky
International Herald Tribune, 17th January

WASHINGTON: Iraq has 112 billion barrels of proven reserves, or roughly 11
percent of the world's proven supply. That is more oil than the reserves of
Europe and South America put together, and more than Africa and the
Asia-Pacific region combined. That oil has global strategic, political and
economic significance, particularly for Russia.

This past November, President George W. Bush visited St. Petersburg to
further a dialogue that he hopes will lead to Russian support for a U.S.-$
led campaign to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

The Russians have substantial stakes in the future of Iraq's oil. Russian
firms do brisk business with Iraq and are counting on additional riches
after removal of UN sanctions. The UN oil-for-food program has been a
particular boon for Russia. Since the inauguration of this program allowing
limited Iraqi oil sales in 1996, Russian businesses have been by far the
largest beneficiaries, earning more than $4.3 billion. Russian firms have
been awarded significant long-term contracts with the current regime.

Also, Moscow is depending on future Iraqi oil receipts to enable Baghdad to
repay $8 billion in sovereign obligations owed to it. Russia's oil-dependent
economy cannot afford a decline in world oil prices due to a glut of Iraqi
oil on world markets. Analysts estimate that a $6 fall in the price of a
barrel could reduce Russian economic growth by half.

The Russians remember the Saudi oil glut of 1985, when Saudi Arabia allowed
its excess capacity to flood the market and drive oil prices down to $12 a
barrel, ruining any hopes of a Soviet economic revival.

The Russians are concerned that their profitable commercial contracts could
be altered or abrogated by a new American-installed Iraqi government.
Officials of the opposition Iraqi National Congress have said they would
look at who helped to free Iraq and who took Saddam's side.

Russian concern over a future INC-inspired carve-up of Iraqi oil has become
so intense that Moscow recently sent a senior diplomat to hold talks with
INC officials. The deputy chairman of the Russian Duma has urged Moscow to
dispatch troops to Iraq once hostilities end to protect Russian oil
interests there. But last month's abrupt Iraqi cancellation of rights
belonging to Lukoil, the largest Russian oil company, to develop the giant
West Qurna field - a $3.5 billion project - should open Russian eyes to the
realities of dealing with Saddam. He cannot be trusted, as he has
demonstrated again and again. His abrogation of the Lukoil contract should
make the Russians more willing to cooperate with Washington.

To secure Moscow's participation in a military campaign against Baghdad,
Washington should take limited steps to assuage Russian concerns. The Bush
administration should commit, for example, to maintaining stability in world
oil prices. Soft oil prices can devastate Russia, and a weak and dispirited
Russia is not in the interests of either Russians or Americans. Likewise,
Washington can affirm the sanctity of Iraq's sovereign obligation to Moscow,
to be repaid from revenue generated by a revitalized oil sector.

But Washington should not go too far in making concessions. Bush should urge
the Russians to support the war on terrorism, not exploit it.

And while advance planning is worthwhile, it is important to keep
possibilities relating to Iraqi oil in perspective. The suggestion that Iraq
represents an enormous opportunity, a Klondike on the Shatt Al Arab, is
overstated. War may still be avoided, and even if it isn't, lasting
stability could be years away.

At a minimum, funds and time will be needed to repair the ravages of 20
years of sanctions and neglect.

Brzezinski, a Washington lawyer, served as director for Russia/Eurasia on
the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. Wolosky, a New
York lawyer, served as director for transnational threats on the National
Security Council in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

by Julie Stahl
Crosswalk, 17th January

Jerusalem ( - Israel's first astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, is a
former Israeli fighter pilot who bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 - a
feat that has some people praising him as a "hero."

The bombing of the primarily French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor near
Baghdad brought world outrage and censure on Israel in 1981.

But 10 years later in 1991, when a U.S.-allied coalition faced Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein - who had no nuclear weapons - the West was forced to admit
that Israel had done them a great favor.

"They built the reactor with French and Italian help. They were about to
start the radioactive process there," said Col. Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a
member of the Israel Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics and former
Chief of Planning and Operational Requirements in the Israel Air Force.

Daily Star, Bangladesh, 18th January

AFP, Ludwiggshafen: It is not conceivable for Germany to vote in favour of
military action against Iraq at the UN Security Council, Germany Defence
Minister Peter Struck said in an interview published on Friday.

A yes vote is "fundamentally no longer conceivable", Struck told the
regional daily Rheinpfalz.

Germany, which became a non-permanent member of the Security Council on
January 1 and takes over from France as its president on February 1, has so
far studiously refused to say how it would vote on any possible resolution
authorising a strike against Baghdad.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Tuesday spoke out publicly for the
first time in favour of a second UN resolution being adopted before any
military action can be launched against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In November the Security Council adopted resolution 1441, which sent UN
inspectors back into Iraq to verify whether Baghdad has given up its
programmes to acquire weapons of mass destruction. That resolution did not
specify whether another Security Council vote was needed to authorise
military action.

Schroeder's centre-left government has had a difficult time balancing German
public opinion -- the latest poll showed that 81 percent of Germans believe
the possible war on Iraq is unjustified -- and being a strong NATO ally of

Thousands of people took part in a demonstration on Thursday evening in the
eastern city of Dresden against a possible war on Iraq, police said.

The German government has ruled out the participation of German troops in
any Iraqi conflict but has given the United States permission to move its
troops and aircraft from bases in Germany to the Gulf.

Struck downplayed the importance of any Security Council vote, saying the
ultimate decision about a war against Iraq rested with US President George
W. Bush.

The defence minister acknowledged that Germany's relations with the United
States were currently strained.

"We cannot deny that at the moment it's difficult," he said.

But he said the German-US relationship was sufficiently strong to overcome
the difficulties.

"If we tell them: 'We're not going to follow you on this one', then that
doesn't please them, but they'd like it even less if we beat around the
bush," he said regarding the German-US disagreements over Iraq.

Only the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China,
France, Russia and the United States -- have the power to veto any

by Catherine Belton
Moscow Times, 20th January

Iraq awarded two new contracts to Russian oil companies Friday and gave
preliminary approval to another deal in what appeared to be a last-ditch
attempt to get Russia on its side as the threat of a U.S.-led military
attack mounts.

But the fate of Iraq's biggest deal with Russia, a LUKoil contract to
develop the vast West Qurna field, remained undecided following talks
between Russian officials and Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan. Iraq
announced late last year it was tearing up the five year-old deal in a
surprise move that threatened to undermine Russia's long-standing ties with

At a signing ceremony Friday attended by Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Hussein
Suleiman al Hadithi and First Deputy Energy Minister Ivan Matlashov,
Gazprom's construction arm Stroitransgaz was awarded a contract to develop
block 4 of the Western Desert oil field. Soyuzneftegaz, an obscure oil firm
owned by former Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Shafranik, won the rights to
develop the Rafidayn oil field in southern Iraq. Another deal was signed
that outlines future projects for Russian oil companies in Iraq, but no
further details were given.

Iraq also started negotiations with state-owned holding Zarubezhneft on the
giant Bin Umar oil field, Reuters reported.

Al-Hadithi said the agreements "reflect the will of the Russian and Iraqi
governments to pursue good relations," news agencies reported.

News of the contracts came as Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov made his
strongest statement yet against a U.S. strike on Iraq. In an interview with
Al-Jazeera television on Friday, he said that war against Iraq would be a
"terrible and fatal mistake" and that Russia considers any U.S. unilateral
action "completely inadmissible."

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Thursday lashed out at the United States,
saying it was putting "mounting pressure" on international arms inspectors
that "disagrees with the letter and spirit of [UN Security Council]
Resolution 1441."

Analysts said the new contracts signed Friday were puny in comparison to the
deal for the West Qurna field, which is one of the biggest in the world, and
were unlikely to impact Russia's stance on Iraq. Russia, however, has so far
offered little support for a U.S. strike, juggling warming ties with
Washington against fears of U.S. dominance in oil-rich Iraq and a possible
drop in crude prices as a result of war.

Kremlin-connected analyst Sergei Markov said Sunday that Russia could still
try to veto any U.S. proposal for war against Iraq forwarded to the UN
Security Council if it coordinated that move with fellow council member

LUKoil attempted to put a positive spin on the outcome of talks over West
Qurna on Friday. Russia and Iraq have agreed "to drop all claims against
each other," the company said in a statement. LUKoil stressed it still
considered the agreement valid.

Matlashov, however, said that differences still remained.

"We must continue a discussion of the rules and plans [of this contract],"
Matlashov said, according to Russian news agencies. "It is not a question of
taking LUKoil and replacing it with someone else. ... We have differences
here, but the door is open for further discussions."

Russian oil majors have had close ties with the Iraqi oil industry since
Soviet days and are worried about losing out to richer Western oil giants
should the United States move in.

Even though the new contracts signed Friday cannot be implemented under UN
sanctions, analysts said Russia would still try to use them as an additional
bargaining chip in a future carve-up of Iraq's oil patch, which contains the
second-largest reserves in the world. "One of the very few ways Russia can
try to have input over the future of Iraq is to have these contracts
signed," said Paul Collison, oil and gas analyst at Brunswick UBS Warburg.

"But the really critical thing will be what happens with the West Qurna
field and LUKoil," he said. "This is one of the biggest oil fields in the
world and is longstanding. What happened on Friday was just noise. These
contracts are not going to move ahead unless there is a regime change. But
anything that Saddam signs is going to have limited value in a new regime.

"The only thing Iraq has to offer is oil. It is trying to get Russia signed
up to help stem any attack against the regime."

Markov said Russia's position on Iraq would not be decided by contracts but
by concerns such as the precedent that would be set if the United States
were allowed to oust Saddam Hussein.

"It is impermissible to allow the U.S. to do whatever it wants, but it would
be senseless for Russia to vote against this on its own," he said. "We will
try to coordinate our actions with France."

Toronto Star, 21st January

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ France has told the Security Council there is no
reason yet for military action against Iraq, hinting it may veto any UN
resolution for military action.

The United States and Britain lined up against France, China and Germany in
a confrontation over the Iraq issue during a gathering of 13 foreign
ministers at the Security Council on Monday.

France had called the session to give new momentum to the global war on
terrorism. During the meeting, the 15-member council unanimously demanded
that all 191 UN member states take urgent action to prevent and halt all
support for terrorism.

But members split over the U.S. push for a quick decision on disarming Iraq,
and to a lesser extent over the nuclear crisis with North Korea. Those
divisions are certain to resurface when UN weapons inspectors report to the
council on the first 60 days of inspections in Iraq on Jan. 27 ‹ and if
North Korea gets on the council's agenda as the United States wants.

On Iraq, the United States and Britain, who have embarked on major military
mobilizations in the Persian Gulf, warned that time was running out for the
government of President Saddam Hussein.

But France and Germany, backed by China, opposed military action and
demanded that the inspectors be given the time they need. Russia has
supported the same position.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that nothing today
justifies military action, and didn't rule out the possibility of a French
veto if the United States sought a second Security Council resolution
authorizing military action.

"In the event of second resolution ... we will not associate ourselves with
military intervention that is not supported by the international community,"
he said. "Using force like that would only be a last resort assuming all
other possibilities are exhausted."

"As long as you can make progress with the inspections and get co-operation,
there's no point in choosing the worst possible solution ‹ military
intervention," de Villepin added.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, keeping up Washington's tough line,
challenged members not to be "shocked into impotence" and shrink from their
responsibilities when the inspectors report next week and the council
considers what comes next.

Powell dismissed Iraq's 10-point agreement with inspectors Monday to make
inspections more effective and possibly help answer questions about what
happened to thousands of chemical and biological weapons.

"It's just more of the same," he argued.

"If Iraq is disarming, then there may be a solution to this crisis without
conflict," Powell said. "But if Iraq is not disarming, the United Nations
cannot simply turn its head away and ignore this lack of respect that Iraq
has for the United Nations and the international community. And we must not
be afraid to meet the challenges that are ahead."

His only support came from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who warned
that "the moment of choice for Saddam is close."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country joined the council on
Jan. 1 as a non-permanent member, reiterated his country's strong opposition
to an attack against Iraq.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has opposed an Iraq war and ruled out a German
combat role, angering Washington.

"We are greatly concerned that a military strike against the regime in
Baghdad would involve considerable and unpredictable risks for the global
fight against terrorism," Fischer said. He also warned that there could be
"disastrous consequences for long-term regional stability."

China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also called for inspectors to be given
more time, saying the Jan. 27 report "is not a full stop of the inspectors
work but a new beginning."

Both Powell and de Villepin noted that the Security Council had unanimously
adopted Resolution 1441 on Nov. 8, giving Iraq a final opportunity to get
rid of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the long-range
missiles to deliver them or face "serious consequences" ‹ including possible
military action.

The council could also see a division over the handling of North Korea's
withdrawal from the global treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons
and its reactivation of a nuclear reactor.

Powell said the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency has "a
responsibility" to refer the issue to the council ‹ a step that could lead
to UN punitive sanctions against Pyongyang.

But Tang said "we have to go mainly though direct dialogue between North
Korea and the United States."

ITV, 22nd January

Nato has a "moral obligation" to support a United States-led war on Iraq,
the organisation's Secretary General Lord Robertson has said.

Lord Robertson rejected the suggestion that US President George Bush would
act unilaterally because the US depended on its allies for airspace and
bases in the Middle East.

He said the 19 Nato countries would stick to the United Nations' process
under Security Council resolution 1441, which orders Saddam Hussein to

"Nato is very, very supportive of the United Nations' process and if that
breaks down then clearly there is a moral obligation by Nato to give
whatever support is required," he said.

"Up to now the United States has kept very rigidly to the United Nations
route. They still do, the inspectors are still there.

"What the Americans have done in Nato is to suggest a number of options
where Nato could help in a military action and countries have been invited
to consider that, but no decisions have yet been taken on it.

"The decision won't be taken by America, the decision will be taken by
Saddam Hussein.

"Either he complies with the will of the United Nations in which case no
military action will be required, or he fails to comply in which case the
international community, united in resolution 1441, is going to have to do
something about it.

"So there is certainly a military capability being put in place, and frankly
the history of dealing with Saddam means that unless he knows that there are
going to be severe consequences, he just simply ignores the will of the
international community.

"But the decision to go ahead with it will be triggered by Saddam Hussein
and not by any other country."

Lord Robertson said there was nothing the United States could do on its own
without allies, "whether it's airspace or basing in remote parts of the
world, and all of the characteristics of the Bush administration have been
to involve allies".

by Tony Czuczka
Las Vegas Sun, 22nd January

BERLIN (AP): Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has made plain that Germany will
refuse to back an Iraq war resolution in the U.N. Security Council, ending
weeks of hedging and aligning himself more closely with his main European
partner, France.

Schroeder's clearest position yet is likely to further displease President
Bush, who this week scolded countries - like Germany - that are seeking more
time for U.N. weapons inspectors to search in Iraq.

"Don't expect Germany to approve a resolution legitimizing war, don't expect
it," Schroeder told a rally of his Social Democratic party Tuesday night in
Lower Saxony.

That followed similar statements by France, which said this week that it
sees no justification for a war for now and left open the possibility of a
French veto if the United States sought a new Security Council resolution
authorizing military action.

Schroeder has already ruled out a German combat role in any Iraq war. He has
maintained an uneasy balance for months between his country's alliance with
the United States and strong anti-war sentiment in Germany, which helped him
win re-election last year. His platform built on defiance of Washington has
left U.S.-German ties strained.

Though it wields no veto, Germany is set to assume a central role in Iraq
war diplomacy when it takes over the council chairmanship in February, just
after U.N. inspectors are due to submit a progress report on Jan. 27.

German and French leaders, who have agreed to consult closely on Iraq,
reinforced their stance in newspaper articles published Wednesday in
Germany's Berliner Zeitung and France's Liberation.

"In the crises involving terrorism, Iraq and North Korea, our peoples can
count on the governments of Germany and France to join forces to preserve
peace, avoid war and ensure people's security," Schroeder wrote.

"Our aim is to put the power of Europe at the service of peace," said French
President Jacques Chirac. "That underlines our actions in Afghanistan and in
the Iraq crisis."

Schroeder previously said that Germany would decide how it would vote in the
Security Council only when a second Iraq resolution takes shape. But Defense
Minister Peter Struck said already last week that a vote in favor was
"basically not imaginable anymore."

Schroeder did not specify whether Germany would vote against a resolution or
abstain, but he said Berlin's position was increasingly being "understood by
the European partners and in the world."

While seeking partnership with France, Germany has gone even further than
Paris in its anti war stance. The French have left open the possibility of
military action against Saddam Hussein as a last resort, but Schroeder has

Still, British Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane said Wednesday he was
confident the United Nations would approve action against Iraq.

"The U.N. will accept its responsibilities in this matter and make sure that
Saddam Hussein does not get away with what he has been getting away with for
years," MacShane told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.


by Jonathan Wright
Yahoo, 15th January

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The Iraqi opposition postponed on Wednesday
what would have been its first congress on Iraqi soil for 10 years because
the United States could not guarantee security for the meeting, opposition
sources said.

A 65-member grouping of opponents of President Saddam Hussein had been due
to meet in the Kurdish-controlled town of Salaheddin, northern Iraq, on Jan.
22. Now the congress will not take place before early February, the sources

In a preparatory meeting in the White House on Wednesday, U.S. presidential
envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told opposition leaders that the United States could
not give the meeting any protection beyond routine air patrols by U.S. and
British planes, the opposition sources said.

Khalilzad told them extra protection might be possible in early February and
the Kurdish representatives accepted what amounted to a U.S. request for a
postponement, they added.

A senior Bush administration official declined to discuss the security
dispute and said the postponement was at the Iraqis' request. "We're willing
to talk with them about any variety of their concerns," he told Reuters.

Kurdish forces face Iraqi troops along a long frontier and the Kurds have
bitter memories of betrayal by Britain and the United States, dating back to
the early 20th century.

They fear antagonizing the Baghdad government unless they have watertight
assurances that Washington will protect them.

"The Kurds want to know what the hell is going on (with U.S. war plans).
Massoud Barzani isn't going to get into anything that's halfway," said one
opposition source said.

Barzani is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls
Salaheddin and which is especially cautious about cooperation with the
United States against Saddam.

One Iraqi opposition source, who asked not to be named, said the United
States appeared to be nervous about the congress, anyway, because meeting
inside Iraq would add some credibility to the opposition in exile.

"Khalilzad is not as interested in the Salaheddin meeting as he was because
... the congress will not be under their control. The Americans want to do
things regardless of what the Iraqi opposition wants," another opposition
source said.

The United States is pressing to set up a 12-member preparatory committee,
diluting the representation of the groups which dominated a major conference
of Iraqi opposition groups in London in December, he added.

Some parts of the U.S. government have serious reservations about the
viability of the Iraqi opposition and would prefer to recruit their own
local politicians if and when the United States invades and occupies the
country, one source said.

The United States may also be holding out hopes of a coup in Baghdad as U.S.
troops close in on the country, he added. A coup could push the Iraqi
opposition to the sidelines.

In London Sadiq al-Mousawi, spokesman for the Constitutional Monarchist
Movement, said: "We need more consultations among the delegates, as well as
time to organize logistics." The Constitutional Monarchist Movement is one
faction in the overall opposition grouping.

The overall grouping, formed at the London conference to act as a
government-in-waiting if Saddam were overthrown, is dominated by six parties
recognized by the United States.

These are the Iraqi National Congress -- the most pro-U.S. wing led by
former banker Ahmad Chalabi -- the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq, two Kurdish parties controlling northern Iraq,
the Iraqi National Accord and the Constitutional Monarchist Movement.

Washington has threatened to take military action against Iraq if Saddam
fails to disarm and cooperate fully with arms inspectors searching for
alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Tehran Times, 16th January

TEHRAN -- The Kurdestan governor general said that the province is ready to
exchange tourists with Kurd regions of north Iraq. Assadollah Razani added
that the Governor General's Office of Kurdestan is ready to issue license to
tourists as well as applicants from other regions of Iran.

On issuance of visas to tourist groups, which is of priority, he said that
the project aims to familiarize Iranian tourists with Kurd regions of Iraq
and eliminate prejudices that exist among the people.

"Kurdestan Province enjoys many beautiful tourism sites to attract tourists
from different regions," he said, adding that the province needs more
precise planning.

Referring to allocation of over 10b rials to the tourism industry of the
province, he added that long-term projects to develop the industry are also

"Better economic conditions in the region will depend upon the development
of the tourism industry. The cities are preparing to host the tourists
during Norouz holidays." he noted.

"The province can easily attract many tourists even without any need for
long term projects," he concluded.

Tehran Times, 20th January

TEHRAN -- The United States is building a secret military airport in
northern Iraq and will make it operational next month, the Central News
Bureau quoted an informed local source in Iraqi Kurdistan as saying on

The source said that the airport is located in a remote area in the Ben
Harir heights in Arbil Province of Iraq, adding that it would have the
capacity to accommodate up to 250 fighter jets once completed.

Furthermore, military experts of the region believe that the Ben Harir base,
with its unique geographical features, is meant to be a staging area for
special operations, particularly considering the proximity of Turkey's
Incirlik airbase to northern Iraq, where U.S. troops have already been

In another development, it has been reported that a group of U.S. and
Turkish troops entered northern Iraq on Sunday. The group consists of 37
U.S. officers and military experts and 67 Turkish troops, according to the

In a related story, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported on Sunday that
several U.S. warships had docked in ports in southern Turkey. The Milliyet
report said that ships transporting military equipment had been dispatched
to the region three weeks ago and are waiting for Ankara's authorization to
off-load their cargo.

NO FLY ZONES,6119,2-10_1302279,00.html

News 24 (South Africa), 17th January

Washington - US and British planes on Sunday attacked two Iraqi military
radar bases, the US military said.

The US Central Command said in a statement the latest attack in the no-fly
zone in southern Iraq came "in response to Iraqi acts against coalition
aircraft" policing the zone.

It said the sites were near Ad Diwaniyah, about 120km south of Baghdad and
the attacks were carried out about 12:40 GMT.

"The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the system
into the southern no-fly zone. Its presence was a threat to coalition
aircraft," said the command statement.

"Target battle damage assessment is ongoing," it added.

The last US-British attack in the no-fly zone was on Friday when US and
British jets struck an Iraqi military air defence command and control
system, "which supported highly mobile surface-to-air missile systems" near
Al Kut, 150km south-east of Baghdad.

Attacks in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq have increased as
the United States has stepped up pressure on Iraq over its weapons
programmes and built up a military force around Iraq. - Sapa-AFP

Yahoo, 19th January

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Warplanes participating in a U.S.-British patrol over
a "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq on Sunday attacked eight sites after Iraqi
air defenses opened fire, the U.S. military said.

The targets were cable repeater sites that were part of the command and
control system for Iraq's air defense, U.S. Central Command said in a
statement from its headquarters in Tampa, Fla.. The strikes were "in
response to Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft," the statement

"The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi air defense forces fired
anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles at coalition aircraft
patrolling the Southern No-Fly zone," Central Command said.

The strikes took place at about 7:10 a.m. EST (1210 GMT) and were aimed at
sites located between Al Kut, about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, and An
Nasiriyah, around 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, according to the Pentagon
(news - web sites). It said it was still assessing the damage.

The United States and Britain created no-fly zones in northern and southern
Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) to protect Kurds in the
north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from Iraqi government forces. Iraq
does not recognize the zones.

A major escalation of attacks in the no-fly zones has coincided with a U.S.
military build-up in the Gulf region to prepare for a possible war with
Iraq. On Friday, U.S. and British patrols struck cable repeaters also
located between Al Kut and An Nasiriyah.

News & Observer, 22nd January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq shot down an unmanned U.S. aircraft that entered
its airspace from Kuwait, the state news agency reported Wednesday. It would
be the second time in a month that Iraqi defenses had brought down one of
the American reconnaissance drones.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Pentagon of the report.
An unnamed spokesman for the air defense command, quoted by the official
Iraqi News Agency, said the downed aircraft was a Predator but did not say
where or when it was downed.

"The spy plane that breached the sanctity of Iraq's international airspace
is used by the American enemy to spy on our civilian military
installations," the spokesman said.

After Iraq brought down a Predator on Dec. 23, U.S. officials called it a
"lucky shot" and did not treat it as a significant hostile act. In that
encounter, Iraqi warplanes penetrated the southern no-fly zone and fired at
the $3.7 million Predator, the Pentagon reported.

American warplanes have been patrolling the skies of southern and northern
"no-fly zones" in Iraq since 1991, keeping Iraqi aircraft from flying in
those areas.

The camera-equipped Predator drones presumably have been overflying Iraqi
territory to reconnoiter for troop movements and other intelligence that
would be useful for any U.S. attack resulting from the current international
crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. They may also be
looking for information useful in the ongoing U.N. weapons inspectors' hunt
for such arms programs.


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