GI in Persian Gulf..
GI in Kuwait..
U.S. Army Specialist Derek Watson (R) leads a squad from Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon of the 3/15 Infantry Regiment of Fort Stewart, Georgia during a trench clearing exercise in the northern Kuwaiti desert December 9, 2002. Iraq's parliament urged Arabs to seek martyrdom by attacking U.S. forces in Kuwait, saying the Americans were preparing to occupy Iraq.
1) US Bombs Iraqi Missile System (Associated Press)
2) US Begins War Game in Qatar (Associated Press)
3) Iraqi Challenges US on Evidence Claim (Associated Press)
4) US pores over Iraq arms dossier, suppliers named (Reuters)
5) US hawk 'tried to sully Iraq arms inspector' (Guardian, UK April, 2002)
The Oil-for-Food Programme...
6) UN Extends Oil-for-Food Scheme, US Wins Compromise (IPS)
WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. F-16 fighter bombed an Iraqi surface-to-air missile system Tuesday after Iraq moved it deep into the southern no-fly zone, defense officials said.
The mobile SA-13 missile system was at a site called Qalat Sal, about 30 miles from the Tigris River city of Al Amarah, military officials said. The F-16 fighter dropped two bombs on it at about 6 a.m. EST, officials said.
Al Amarah, about 165 miles southeast of Bagdad, is inside the southern no-fly zone set up and patrolled by British and American planes since the Persian Gulf War to keep Iraqi forces from flying there.
Iraq says the patrols violate its sovereignty and its forces frequently shoot at allied pilots both in the northern zone set up to protect the Kurdish minority and the southern zone to protect Shiites. Iraq has never shot down a coalition warplane patrolling either no-fly zone.
The Soviet-built SA-13 system - a missile battery mounted on a tank-like armored personnel carrier - had not fired on any coalition planes, military officials said. The United States says the mere presence of such air defense systems in the no-fly zones is a threat to pilots monitoring the areas.
The SA-13 missiles are effective only up to about 11,000 feet, however, and the planes patrolling the no-fly zone usually fly higher than that.
``Coalition strikes in the no-fly zones are executed as a self-defense measure in response to Iraqi hostile threats and acts against coalition forces and their aircraft,'' said a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Central Command, which monitors the southern zone.
The last previous strike in the south was Dec. 1, when planes targeted air defense facilities between Tallil and Al Basrah. In the north, two U.S. F-16s aimed four precision-guided weapons last Wednesday at elements of Iraq's air defense system near Mosul after Iraqis fired anti-aircraft artillery, said the U.S. European Command, which handles that zone.
Though the hostilities have become almost routine, they come as the Bush administration plans a possible war against Iraq to force it to give up weapons of mass destruction that officials say President Saddam Hussein could share with terrorists. Baghdad denies it has such weapons programs.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said the United States considers
hostile actions in the no-fly zones to be violations of the latest U.N.
Security Council resolution demanding that Iraq disarm. U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan and some other Security Council members say they disagree with
12/10/02 11:28 EST
DOHA, Qatar (AP) - A U.S. war game believed to be a rehearsal for an invasion of Iraq began Monday in Qatar with senior commanders and battle planners conducting a computer-assisted exercise to improve their ability to fight a war in the region.
Led by Gen. Tommy Franks, the chief of U.S. Central Command, exercise Internal Look involves officers from all four branches of the military, Franks' permanent office in Florida and the Pentagon, a Central Command official said.
The seven- to 10-day exercise started shortly after 7:30 a.m.
``Internal Look has begun and is proceeding on schedule,'' said Jim Wilkinson, director of strategic communications for Central Command. ``This exercise gives General Franks and the battle staff an opportunity to learn new lessons and will improve the command's ability to win on the modern battlefield.''
Franks and his staff are controlling all of Central Command's forces from a high-tech, portable headquarters set up on Qatar's As Sayliyah army camp in the desert 20 miles outside of the capital, Doha. U.S. and Qatari officials have not allowed journalists to visit the base, which is surrounded by barbed wire and sand walls to keep out prying eyes.
The exercise tests the ability of Franks' top staff. Military officials have refused to reveal details of the exercise, but the timing and location have prompted speculation that it will test a battle plan for invading Iraq.
The exercise does not involve combat troops, only senior officers and their staff. Central Command officials have refused to discuss the specifics of the war game, only saying that it is realistic but fictitious.
President Bush has threatened military action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein if he doesn't give up his weapons of mass destruction in line with U.N. resolutions. The Iraqi government has turned in a report to U.N. arms inspectors declaring that Iraq has no such weapons.
President Bush's insistence on the disarming of Iraq and the exercise's use of U.S. troops arrayed around Iraq has prompted speculation that the exercise is a rehearsal for an invasion.
Planning for Internal Look began more than a year ago, before the current tension with Iraq. But using Qatar, a small peninsular nation bordering Saudi Arabia, for the exercise is a sign that the United States has developed an alternative command center to a permanent one located in Saudi Arabia, where Central Command was based during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis and war that evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
The Saudi government has been somewhat reluctant to allow the United States to use its bases in a new conflict with Iraq.
The exercise began after Franks received his daily intelligence and operations briefings on the war in Afghanistan and other operations in the Central Command's 25-nation area of responsibility, which includes central Asia, the Middle East and East Africa.
Franks started the exercise from the war room that was flown to Qatar from Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. He was accompanied by 50 senior officers who make up the command's intelligence and operations staff.
Franks urged his staff to use the exercise to make smarter decisions, more quickly and more efficiently, Wilkinson said.
The modular, portable buildings and the high-speed digital communications
equipment, constructed by American defense contractor Raytheon, is being
used for the first time.
12/09/02 10:42 EST
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A top adviser to President Saddam Hussein challenged Washington on Sunday to ``come up'' with evidence it claims to have that Baghdad still holds weapons of mass destruction.
At the same time, Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi told reporters that a huge, new Iraqi arms declaration, submitted to the United Nations on Saturday, does not offer fresh Iraqi evidence to allay U.N. suspicions that Baghdad may retain weapons in two crucial areas: VX nerve agents and biological weapons.
Al-Saadi said the report documents the weapons programs that Baghdad has acknowledged pursuing up until 1991 - including its drive to develop a nuclear weapon.
``It's for the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to judge how close we were,'' al-Saadi said.
The report also details the chemical, biological and nuclear programs since 1991, which Baghdad contends were peaceful.
He did speak of sensitive evidence in another area, however: information about foreign help to Iraq's past weapons programs. If released, it will ``embarrass'' some countries and their companies, he said.
The general, former military production chief and now Saddam's science adviser, spoke at a news conference as the voluminous declaration, more than 12,000 pages on Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological programs, was flown to U.N. headquarters in New York, where it arrived at 8:40 p.m. EST.
The documents were met by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, who said his staff ``will immediately take a look'' at them.
Regarding U.S. comments on the documents, Blix said: ``They will have their reaction and we will have our study.''
He then notified the Security Council that the document arrived and that he planned to discuss its handling during a Tuesday luncheon with council members.
But in a surprise decision late Sunday, the Security Council agreed to give the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain full access to Iraqi's arms declaration, U.N. officials and diplomats said.
The decision overrides one made Friday to distribute censored copies to the council and means that Washington won't have to wait to begin it's own analysis and translation of the 12,000 pages Iraq turned over to weapons inspectors on Saturday in Baghdad.
The latest U.N. resolution required Iraq to give a full declaration detailing all its chemical, biological and nuclear programs, even those it says are peaceful, and provide evidence it had gotten rid of the weapons programs it possessed in the past, as well as its programs to develop missiles to deliver the weapons. The White House underlined Sunday that the burden was on Iraq to prove that it had complied.
U.N. officials have said that Iraq's previous disclosures made since inspections first began in 1991 have been neither complete nor candid.
A U.N. inspector brought a copy of the part of the report dealing with Iraq's nuclear program to Vienna on Sunday and handed it over to the IAEA, the U.N. agency overseeing nuclear inspections in Iraq.
IAEA experts were to begin examining the documents Sunday night, searching for gaps and comparing Iraq's account to intelligence from other nations and to data from past and present inspections, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said. He said he hoped to have a preliminary report in 10 days and a more detailed analysis by the end of January.
The two New York copies were earmarked for the Security Council and the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, whose inspectors are here checking for violations of U.N resolutions that since the Gulf War have forbidden weapons of mass destruction to Iraq.
International inspectors in the 1990s destroyed many tons of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and dismantled its effort to build a nuclear bomb. The Baghdad government denies it retains any such weapons.
Bush administration officials reject such denials, however, and threaten war against Iraq if, in their view, Baghdad does not meet U.N. arms control demands. They say they have ``solid evidence'' Iraq retains weapons of mass destruction, although U.N. inspectors indicate they have seen no conclusive evidence thus far from U.S. or other sources.
Al-Saadi told reporters the Iraqi declaration was ``accurate'' and ``truthful.'' Then he added: ``If they have anything to the contrary, let them forthwith come up with it, give to the IAEA, give it to UNMOVIC. They are here. They could check. Why play this game?''
White House spokesman Scott McClellen would not comment on al-Saadi's demand, but he said the administration believes the burden is on Iraq to prove that it has provided a full accounting - not on Security Council members or the inspectors to prove that it has not.
Some U.S. lawmakers said Sunday the White House must decide soon to release intelligence data to the United Nations and the public if the Bush administration is to make its case that Iraq is lying about its weapons of mass destruction.
``We have to put our best evidence forward, especially if it's a question of Saddam Hussein again denying all of these assertions,'' Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota told CNN's ``Late Edition.''
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., compared the situation to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the Kennedy administration offered information on Soviet missile sites in Cuba.
Al-Saadi was asked whether Iraq, in the declaration, presents any new evidence in its own defense, in the area of VX nerve agent, for example.
In the 1990s, U.N. inspectors found that 1.5 tons of the lethal chemical weapon, produced in the 1980s by Iraq, was not fully accounted for. They found evidence VX had been dumped where the Iraqis said it was, but they could not verify the 1.5-ton amount. Al-Saadi said ``some first-class evidence'' was given to inspectors in the 1990s, but they weren't satisfied ``because they were mainly led by personnel from the United States and Britain.''
Al-Saadi insisted that ``nothing of the previous program exists,'' referring to VX.
As for biological weapons, earlier U.N. inspectors said in 1999 that Iraqi documentation left huge gaps in verification. Al-Saadi said Sunday that further evidence does not exist.
Blix has said that on such questions, Iraq's answers ``must be convincingly shown by documentation, by evidence.''
Al-Saadi's comment was brief on companies implicated in Iraq's drive for doomsday weapons in the 1980s. He said only, ``There are things that will embarrass countries and companies,'' and that the world should not be surprised, since it required Iraq to report such information.
Previously undisclosed information about foreign business involvement in Iraq's weapons programs could lead to prosecutions under export-control laws or deeply embarrass governments that have urged restraint in dealing with Iraq.
The team received reinforcements Sunday: 25 new investigators. If Iraq is eventually found to have cooperated fully with the inspectors, U.N. resolutions call for the Security Council to consider lifting economic sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
12/09/02 01:10 EST
WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD, Dec 10 (Reuters) - U.S. officials were to press ahead with their analysis of a 12,000-page dossier detailing Baghdad's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs on Tuesday as U.N. inspectors prepared to visit more sites in their hunt for banned Iraqi arms.
The United States received an early unedited copy of the Iraqi weapons declaration after a deal was struck to override a U.N. Security Council decision to keep the report under wraps.
The huge document appeared to contain the names of foreign arms suppliers in a long declaration on Iraq's past weapons programs -- something that could prove embarrassing for the countries involved, including members of the Security Council.
The council had wanted to delay release of the Iraqi document until it had been screened for technical secrets on making nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, for fear that the information might fall into the wrong hands.
A surprise deal was reached on Sunday to hand the voluminous document to the United States, which is making copies for the other permanent Security Council members. Britain and France received copies late on Monday and Washington was expected shortly to deliver copies to Russia and China in New York.
The report, which is supposed to give a full accounting of Iraq's past and present weapons programs, was ordered by the Security Council as part of a tough new resolution to disarm or face war.
In the index, Iraq listed procurements for its nuclear programs as well as imported chemical precursors and foreign technical assistance for its chemicals weapons programs.
"There are lots of pages devoted to procurement information," said Gary Milholling, director of the Washington-based Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, commenting on the dossier's information on suppliers.
"If they have listed all their suppliers, that is quite important and should be made public. If you expose this network, it means it is harder for them to continue."
COMPANIES NEVER IDENTIFIED
In the past such information has been submitted but not disclosed by U.N. weapons inspection units. Companies around the world that cooperated with the United Nations did so on condition they would not be publicly identified.
It is not known whether the United States or other council members may try to suppress this part of the Iraqi report, but after distribution to all the Security Council's 15 member states, there is a good chance it will leak to the media.
U.N. experts in New York and Vienna pored over the report on Monday, trying to judge whether it would satisfy U.N. demands for disarmament, set out in resolution 1441, and avert war with the United States.
U.S. experts are expected to search for discrepancies between Iraq's disclosures and U.S. intelligence data.
American officials say they have evidence of continuing Iraqi illegal weapons and insist Washington will take military action if necessary to rid Iraq of them.
Iraq says the declaration shows it has no weapons of mass destruction -- an assertion that puts it on a collision course with the United States.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it could take experts weeks to scour the documents and urged patience.
"I think the thing to do is to not prejudge it, be patient and expect that it will take days and weeks probably to go over, and come to some judgments about it," he told reporters travelling with him to the Horn of Africa.
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it would be "naive" to think that President Saddam Hussein was likely to comply with the U.N. demands.
The "implication" of resolution 1441 was that "if there is a breach and Saddam doesn't comply, then we are ready to take action," he told the Financial Times.
In Washington, a group of Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill challenged the Bush administration to prove its assertions by releasing intelligence reports.
"If the administration has evidence that counters the Iraqi disclosures, they should provide such evidence to the United Nations," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat. "The administration does not do well if it bypasses the United Nations and prepares to engage in war no matter what the U.N. findings."
WAR GAME IN QATAR
Strikes on Iraq are among the military scenarios to be tested in a major U.S. war game that began on Monday in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, site of Gen. Tommy Franks' new mobile headquarters for U.S. Central Command.
Bush was taking new steps to solidify support against Iraq, and will host a visit later on Tuesday by Turkey's new political leader, Tayyip Erdogan, who is from an Islamic-related party.
Erdogan said in a speech on Monday that Turkey, worried about the impact on its already weak economy of a war in neighbouring Iraq, would support war only as a last resort and wanted a "continuous dialogue" with Washington before any military action was taken.
The arms inspectors, back in Iraq after a four-year absence, on Monday searched al-Tuweitha Nuclear Research Center, 12 miles (20 km) south of Baghdad, the heart of Iraq's efforts to make nuclear weapons.
Other experts inspected a military industrial complex near Fallujah, 55 miles (90 km) northwest of Baghdad, repeatedly investigated by the United Nations and bombed by Western warplanes in the 1990s as a suspected chemical weapons center.
Yashuhiro Ueki, spokesman for UNMOVIC and IAEA in Baghdad, said the site, known as Fallujah 2, contained tagged dual-use equipment that was all accounted for.
The IAEA team also visited two other sites, called Ash Shakyli and al Qa Qaa.
Asked about estimates the inspection process could take up to a year, IAEA
Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in Tokyo: "I think that's accurate."
12/10/02 00:34 ET
Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary and a leading hawk in the Bush administration, commissioned a CIA investigation of the chief United Nations weapons inspector in an apparent attempt to undermine the importance of inspections and strengthen the case for military action against Iraq, it was reported yesterday.
According to the Washington Post, Mr Wolfowitz asked the CIA earlier this year to look into Hans Blix's record when he was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1981 and 1997.
The IAEA's critics argue that during this period the agency took Iraqi assurances about its civil nuclear programme at face value and failed to spot signs that Saddam Hussein was secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Mr Blix, a 73-year-old Swedish diplomat who now heads the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission (Unmovic), told the Guardian that the IAEA during his watch had been prevented from carrying out intrusive inspections by the internationally agreed rules it was forced to operate under.
But he conceded that before the Gulf war the Iraqis "were cheating and fooling us and everybody else" and he said "the lesson was learned". He promised that Unmovic would be "firm" in its inspections, although it would not "undertake any unnecessary provocations".
He made his remarks in an interview before the news of the CIA investigation surfaced, and his office made no comment on the report yesterday.
The CIA appears to have agreed that Mr Blix had conducted inspections "fully within the parameters he could operate" as head of the IAEA.
Mr Blix is due to attend talks next week with Iraqi officials about the possibility of UN inspectors returning to Iraq for the first time in more than three years. However, Baghdad has asked for a postponement, arguing that the meeting would divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Even if Unmovic is allowed into Iraq, the US hawks believe, the Iraqi leader will be able to convince Mr Blix that he has destroyed his stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and they point to Mr Blix's time as IAEA chairman as evidence of his gullibility.
The state department, meanwhile, has argued that the administration must support Unmovic inspections if it wants to persuade the rest of the world it has exhausted all diplomatic means of dealing with the threat of Iraq's suspected arsenal.
The Washington Post said Mr Wolfowitz's request to the CIA "illuminates
the behind-the-scenes skirmishing in the Bush administration over the prospect
of renewed UN weapons inspections in Iraq."
The inspection issue has become "a surrogate for a debate about whether we go after Saddam", Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and another prominent Washington hawk, said.
In its routine inspections before the Gulf war, the IAEA failed to find evidence of Baghdad's nuclear weapons programme which was later found to have been within months of successfully building a bomb. "It's correct to say that the IAEA was fooled by the Iraqis, but the lesson was learned," Mr Blix said.
However, he argued that the IAEA was hamstrung in its operations because
it had no mandate before 1991 to conduct intrusive inspections.
The Washington Post quoted a state department official as saying that Mr Wolfowitz had "hit the ceiling" when the CIA report appeared to support Mr Blix's defence, concluding he was operating within the "parameters" laid down for him.
But an administration official claimed that the outspoken deputy defence secretary "did not angrily respond" to the CIA report because it only gave a "lukewarm assessment" of Mr Blix.
Mr Blix will find himself in a sensitive position if Iraq allows Unmovic to carry out inspections. If he judges that Baghdad is cooperating with the inspectors, sanctions could be suspended. If not, it could provide the US with legal justification for a military assault.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to resume the supply of humanitarian goods to Iraq for another six months, through the UN-sponsored oil-for-food programme, despite strong opposition from the United States.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 5 (IPS) - The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted Wednesday to resume the supply of humanitarian goods to Iraq for another six months, despite strong opposition from the United States.
The vote came after intense weeklong negotiations between the United States and other Council members, including Britain, the closest U.S. ally on the 15-member body, who insisted that Iraq's oil-for-food programme should continue for another six months.
The last-minute change in the U.S. position caught many by surprise. "It's better than what anybody expected," said a British diplomat who closely watched the talks.
"It's a victory for common sense, it's a victory for the Security Council, it's a victory for the Iraqi people," said Sergey Lavrov, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, whose country led the push on the Council to continue the humanitarian programme unhindered.
Under the plan, Iraq is allowed to import food, medicines and other essential goods in return for exporting some of its oil.
The strategy was initiated by the United Nations in 1995 after the U.N. Fund for Children (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) documented how economic sanctions had caused disease and hunger in the country on a massive scale.
Last week, the United States surprised the Council by insisting that it would not support a vote to extend the six-year-old programme for the customary six months unless it could first review the extensive list of banned items.
The move came the day the programme was set to expire, so the Council was forced to extend the plan for only nine days, until Wednesday's vote.
"This is a success for the humanitarian attitude in the Security Council," said Syria's Ambassador Mikhail Wehbi after the decision.
But the decision includes a compromise. Though Iraq is allowed to import humanitarian goods for another six months, the Council is empowered by the new resolution to make changes to the list of prohibited items within 30 days, a provision that supports the U.S. position.
"We must ensure the integrity of the export control system we have created," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. "Changes are needed on an urgent basis. It's imperative that Iraq not be able to take advantage of the loopholes or omissions in the goods review list."
"The United States' objective has been very clear," he added: Washington wanted to continue the humanitarian programme for Iraqi civilians, while strengthening the goods review and its procedures to "ensure that Baghdad does not manipulate the programme".
Diplomats say that Washington failed to put further pressure on the Council because officials at the State Department and Pentagon were still busy finalising the list of humanitarian goods that they want to ban as the Council was preparing for its vote Wednesday.
The resolution says the Council has decided to consider "necessary adjustments" to the Goods Review List and procedures for its implementation, for adoption no more than 30 days from today.
In addition, it asks Secretary General Kofi Annan to provide a comprehensive report to the Council a week before the end of the 180-day period, based on observations of U.N. personnel in Iraq in consultation with the Iraqi government, on whether Iraq "has ensured the equitable distribution of medicines, food and other humanitarian items''.
Earlier today, most Council members had rejected the U.S. position by arguing that they had already reviewed the 300-page list of banned items over many months last year. Under the new resolution, the Council is bound to review the list of banned goods in the next 30 days.
U.S. media reports claim that Washington wants to add about 40 items to a list of goods that Iraq is not allowed to import under the programme. U.S. officials contend that certain humanitarian goods, including geo-positioning devices and a variety of medicines, could be used as antidotes during any chemical or biological warfare.
Until a few hours before Wednesday's vote, many members seemed frustrated by the U.S. insistence on changes to the list. "This is very unfortunate," said Lavrov shortly before the vote. "We should not send wrong signals, especially when we are talking about the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people."
"It's very difficult to review the list in 15 days," said Wehbi earlier today. "Iraq has accepted everything: the resolution 1441, the inspections. We should not add more to the difficulties of Iraqi people."
Last month, UNICEF said the oil for food programme had helped reduce child
malnutrition in Iraq, but warned "there are still close to one million
children under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition in Iraq
today - that's nearly a quarter of all children of that age."