UN Says they Inspector Found Empty Warheads in Iraq! US Rejects March UN Report on Iraq, and 3 more aircraft carriers head to Gulf Region...
1) U.S. Rejects March U.N. Report on Iraq (Assoicated Press)
2) Inspector Found Empty Warheads (Assoicated Press)
3) Britain says "no rush to judge" Iraq warhead find (Reuters)
4) Dow falls on news of empty chemical warheads in Iraq
5) U.N. arms inspectors search more sites in Iraq (Reuters)
6) Iraq Situation 'Very Dangerous', Says UN (Reuters)
On the Military..
7) Three or More Carriers May Head to Gulf (Assoicated Press)
8) US admiral tells navy to be ready to make 'history' (Reuters)
9) Turkey says can give only limited help on Iraq war (Reuters)
By EDITH M. LEDERER
.c The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United States has objected to a planned report on Iraq's disarmament in March that could lead to a suspension of sanctions, but most U.N. Security Council members made clear they would not back any delay.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said he did not push for any decision during a Security Council meeting Thursday, but would raise the issue again after chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix reports to the council Jan. 27 on Iraq's cooperation and the findings of inspectors who resumed work in late November after a four year absence.
He said outlining the key remaining disarmament tasks that Iraq must complete ``could leave the impression that most of the disarmament tasks had already been accomplished,'' which is not the view of the Bush administration.
It contends that Iraq is already in ``material breach'' of its requirement to disarm and has embarked on a military build-up in the Persian Gulf, hinting at military action if Iraq doesn't provide new evidence of its nuclear, chemical, biological and long-range missile programs.
Diplomats said a report by Blix in late March could delay the U.S. timetable for possible military action, forcing U.S. soldiers to fight in the heat of summer if they invade Iraq.
The United States is spurring on inspectors who are looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, hoping that aggressive inspections and private interviews will produce hard evidence.
One Security Council diplomat described the atmosphere in Washington as ``more fevered'' because of pressure over the U.S. military timetable.
But the majority of council members want evidence of Iraq's weapons programs - even though they privately believe Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The dispute over the March report stems from the fact that U.N. inspectors are operating under two separate Security Council resolutions.
The first resolution, adopted in December 1999, created a new inspection agency headed by Blix and set out a timetable that could lead to a suspension of sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The second, adopted on Nov. 8, gave Iraq a final opportunity to eliminate its nuclear, chemical, biological and long-range missile weapons programs and threatened ``serious consequences'' if it doesn't.
The 1999 resolution requires inspectors to submit the list of Iraq's key remaining disarmament tasks. Blix has said Iraq's cooperation in fulfilling its demands could lead him to recommend in a year that sanctions be suspended.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told the council Thursday that both resolutions remain in force and as long as the council has taken no decision, the timetable in the December 1999 resolution should be followed.
``There is no reason for this issue to divide us,'' he said, according to his speaking notes. ``So insofar as the council has not decided otherwise, we must abide by the resolution in force.''
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, whose country is the closest U.S. ally, said both resolutions are ``valid and compliment each other.''
The November resolution is ``stronger'' and ``contains the urgency,'' he
said, but ``it is up to the inspectors to judge the calibration of the two.''
01/17/03 05:32 EST
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Jan. 16) - U.N. inspectors on Thursday found 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads in ''excellent'' condition at an ammunition storage area where they were inspecting bunkers built in the late 1990s, a U.N. spokesman reported.
A 12th warhead also was found that requires further evaluation, according to the statement by Hiro Ueki, the spokesman for U.N. weapons inspectors in Baghdad.
"Our response at this stage is cautious," Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien told BBC radio. "We will look at the detail of the evidence when Hans Blix...provides it."
"There is no rush to judgment...The inspectors need time to look at this particular finding and also to make a general assessment of how the inspections are going," he said.
Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, is due to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a strong supporter of U.S. President George W. Bush's hard line towards Iraq, at 1500 GMT on Friday.
Their talks come one day after U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq said they
found empty rocket warheads designed to carry chemical warfare agents at
the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area, 120 km (75 miles) south of Baghdad.
01/17/03 03:37 ET
The Dow industrials ($INDU) have dipped back into negative territory and is now down 23 points at a fresh intraday low of 8,700. Weighing on the blue chip barometer is a news that U.N. inspectors have found 11 empty chemical warheads in Iraq. The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPQ) is down 12 points at 1,427.
Iraqi officials said a chemical weapons team from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) visited Fallujah-1 and Fallujah-2 sites northwest of Baghdad.
An UNMOVIC biological weapons team visited al-Saweira, 50 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad.
Weapons inspectors on Thursday found empty chemical warheads, causing a stir which Iraq dismissed as a "storm in a teacup."
It was not clear whether the warheads had ever contained banned chemicals and an unnamed U.S. official said they did not represent a "smoking gun" that could trigger war, but the experts took samples away for testing.
UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), carrying out nuclear weapons inspections, are due to report to the United Nations Security Council on January 27 on their findings since resuming work in Iraq in November.
The United States is massing forces in the Gulf ahead of a possible attack
on Iraq over weapons of mass destruction it says President Saddam Hussein
01/17/03 03:28 ET
BRUSSELS/BAGHDAD (Jan. 16) - U.N. weapons chief Hans Blix said Thursday Iraq must prove it has destroyed banned weapons and let its scientists answer questions freely to defuse what he called a ''very dangerous'' situation.
With the United States signaling impatience over Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament demands, Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei embarked on a four-day diplomatic tour that will end in Baghdad Sunday.
''The message we want to bring to Baghdad is, the situation is very tense and very dangerous and everybody wants to see a verified and credible disarmament of Iraq,'' Blix said in Brussels where he met European Union officials.
On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait and committed President Saddam Hussein's government to a rigorous weapons inspection program, all sides agreed war to disarm Iraq was not inevitable.
But both Blix and ElBaradei said to avoid it, Iraq must be seen as not only cooperative but ''proactive'' in its cooperation.
''One way would be to let (Iraqi scientists) talk without any minder present. Another would be to accept that they go abroad, if they want to do so,'' Blix said.
In Moscow ElBaradei said: ''There have been lots of open questions, particularly in the area of chemical and biological and missile weapons...and also some in the nuclear field.''
Oil prices hit two-year highs after Blix's remarks, which renewed fears of a big supply crunch if war cuts Iraqi exports.
IRAQ SAYS TO COMPLY
Iraqi presidential adviser Amir al-Saadi said his country was ready to resolve any problems and answer any questions Blix and ElBaradei might pose.
''All this will be discussed and we will reply officially and hand it over to the Security Council,'' Sadi said.
After talks in Baghdad, Blix and ElBaradei are due to brief the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 27.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush has not made a decision about whether to go to war to force Iraq to disarm but called the Jan. 27 reporting deadline ''an important date.''
''Beyond that events will dictate timetables,'' he added.
Blix said he is ''almost sure'' diplomats will request another report in February. But EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Blix had ''told me very clearly that the time in front of him is not very long.''
The inspectors say many gaps must be filled and information analyzed. Among other things, Blix said inspectors had found illegally imported conventional weapons materials in Iraq, some dating from two years ago, but had not determined if they were destined for banned weapons programs.
Sadi said Iraq willingly disclosed the materials that he said were used to make weapons allowed by the United Nations.
''We produce weapons from bullets to handguns, artillery and artillery guns as well. How do we produce these, from thin air? No. We import material. We are allowed to produce these things under the Security Council resolution,'' he said.
Saddam was to deliver a televised speech Friday at 11 a.m. (0300 EST) marking the 12th anniversary of the Gulf War, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) said.
While the subject of the speech is the past, Saddam's words will be scrutinized over what they might foretell of the future.
Diplomatic efforts to avoid a conflict intensified on Thursday with Russia, a veto-holding member of the Security Council, dispatching Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov to Baghdad Thursday and a delegation from the Duma to Iraq in early February.
Turkey, which also opposes war in Iraq, has invited five Middle Eastern leaders to Ankara next week for a summit amid efforts to avert conflict.
Officials said Turkey had prepared a declaration for the leaders of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia to sign and jointly present at a summit in Ankara next week.
U.N. arms experts, meanwhile, paid surprise visits to the homes of two
Iraqi scientists in Baghdad Thursday. The appearance of inspectors in a
residential district was a first for the teams which have scoured plants,
military facilities, universities and presidential palaces since returning
to Iraq on Nov. 27 after a four-year absence.
ElBaradei restated his belief that inspectors needed more time to complete their monitoring of sites in Iraq.
''We are going to ask for at least a few months to do our job,'' he said. ''We also intend in the next few weeks to intensify our work.''
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he was worried the United States was increasing pressure on inspectors.
''We are worried about growing pressure being put on inspectors by certain circles in Washington,'' Ivanov told reporters.
REUTERS Reut12:16 01-16-03
By ROBERT BURNS
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon, preparing for a possible Persian Gulf War, may send at least three more aircraft carriers to join two already within striking distance of Iraq, senior defense officials said.
Having carriers in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea would put hundreds of Navy fighter-bombers in position to attack from three directions, complicating Iraq's effort to defend its airspace.
The USS Harry S. Truman battle group is now in the Mediterranean and the USS Constellation is in the northern Persian Gulf. Aircraft from the Constellation help patrol the ``no fly'' zone over southern Iraq.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had made no decision on deployment extra carriers as of Thursday, officials said.
Under consideration was a plan to send the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is conducting training off the East Coast of the United States; the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is undergoing repairs at Perth, Australia, and originally was scheduled to return home to Everett, Wash., this month, and the USS Kitty Hawk, which is based at Yokosuka, Japan, and is the only Navy carrier permanently stationed abroad.
The proposal included having the USS Carl Vinson fill the Kitty Hawk's mission in the western Pacific. The Carl Vinson, which had not been scheduled to deploy from its home port of Bremerton, Wash., until this summer, is headed for exercises near Hawaii.
The Navy has 12 aircraft carriers and each travels with a battle group of destroyers, cruisers and other ships, plus a submarine. Aboard each carrier are about 70 aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters and support planes.
Only the Abraham Lincoln, which just completed a tour of duty in the Gulf, has the new F/A-18 Super Hornet, which has more range and is designed to be less vulnerable to enemy radar than the older Hornet. The new version made its combat debut last November in strikes from the Lincoln against air defense targets in southern Iraq.
In the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq the Navy had four aircraft carriers involved - two in the Red Sea and two in the Gulf.
In another sign of Pentagon preparations for war, the Air Force announced Thursday that it had canceled a major training exercise, called Red Flag, which had been scheduled this month at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
It was scrapped because the 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., has been ordered to the Gulf region. It was to have been the lead wing in the exercise at Nellis. The cancellation frees up 24 air combat units and nearly 2,800 personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army.
Officials who discussed the carrier plan on condition of anonymity cautioned that Rumsfeld could choose a different approach, but other officials familiar with deployment planning said it was almost certain that at least five aircraft carriers would be positioned within striking distance of Iraq.
Also available for potential deployment from the East Coast is the USS George Washington, which returned to its homeport at Norfolk just before Christmas after a six-month deployment. The Navy has ordered the George Washington to be ready to get under way again on short notice.
On the Net:
Navy at http://www.navy.mil
01/17/03 03:13 EST
By Claudia Parsons
ABOARD U.S.S. CONSTELLATION, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. navy's top admiral told sailors in the Gulf on Friday to be ready to write a new chapter in history and vowed to use overwhelming force in any war against Iraq.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark said the navy was better prepared now than at any time in its history and would display a new level of warfare against Iraq.
"Because we are going to bring our asymmetric strengths to bear -- which is speed, precision, overwhelming force -- if we go to war against Iraq, this world is going to see a new level," Clark told sailors on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation.
"Remember, the American people are watching you," Clark told a cheering crowd in the huge hangar bay below the flight deck. "Be ready to go write some history."
The Constellation and its battle group are stationed in the Gulf to support patrols in a no-fly zone imposed on southern Iraq after a U.S.-led coalition drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.
The ships would be on the frontline if U.S President George Bush orders an attack on Baghdad, which he accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction.
"If the call comes and if the president says do this... then do it," said Clark, standing under a wall painting of an eagle weeping over the burning twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11 attacks in 2001.
"Hit fast, hit hard, hit with precision."
Clark declined to answer a question from a sailor about how long a war against Iraq might last, but said the navy was ready.
"I was just given the order the other week to get another 15 ships under way and they're loaded with marines," he said.
Captain John Miller, the Constellation's commanding officer, said his crew was aware that they might be called upon to do more than their mission in the no-fly zone, which is giving strike pilots valuable experience of the terrain.
"That's the field that the battle gets fought on if it gets fought," Miller told Reuters. "The more familiar you are with this arena the better your chance of success."
Miller said the U.S. military was now able to pinpoint targets better than in the last Gulf War and this would be a key difference between the conflicts.
The navy's top chaplain, Rear Admiral Barry Black, joined Clark to rally the 5,500 sailors and Marines on the Constellation.
"We will prevail because right does make might," Black told the crew.
Iraq denies its has weapons of mass destruction and President Saddam Hussein vowed on Friday to defeat U.S. troops at the gates of Baghdad.
In a speech marking the 12th anniversary of the Gulf War, Saddam said he had mobilised his army and drawn up a plan to counter any invasion by U.S. forces now massing in the Gulf region.
01/17/03 05:56 ET
ANKARA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Turkey's president said on Friday his country could make only a limited contribution to any U.S.-led war on its southern neighbour Iraq.
Washington is pressing NATO-ally Ankara to open its air bases and facilities for U.S. warplanes and troops to attack Iraq, which it accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction.
Ankara opposes a war and has dragged its feet on any response to the U.S. requests, saying it would need United Nations approval for a war and a vote in the Turkish parliament.
"It would be realistic to expect that the contribution Turkey could consider giving to a possible operation, if it meets international law, would be limited because of its historic ties to a neighbour and Turkey's status in the region," Tacan Ildem, spokesman for President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, told reporters in Ankara.
He gave no details about what Ankara was prepared to offer Washington.
The vast majority of Turks oppose any war, fearing regional turmoil and damage to their fragile economy.
Ildem also said the government would find it difficult to win parliamentary backing for military action without a second United Nations resolution authorising war if Iraq failed to allay suspicions about any nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
"It should be known that parliament would have difficulty making a decision in the absence of a second ruling...for the start of an operation," he said.
The Justice and Development (AKP) government has a strong majority in the assembly, but many of its deputies are opposed to any war on a neighbour.
The powerful military, which would have a strong say in any decision, views the government with suspicion because of its roots in political Islam. The United States, however, has courted the AKP.
Turkey is seeking U.S. guarantees of financial support to offset any economic damage from a war while trying to head off conflict by talking to countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The United States' top general, Richard Myers, is due to visit Turkey this
01/17/03 06:55 ET