2 February 2003, Volume
SPECULATING ON A WAR DATE.
With the passing of the 27 January UNMOVIC/IAEA briefing at the UN Security Council (UNSC), speculation by Iraq watchers is now focused on 14 February as a possible date when the U.S. administration might decide to call for military action against Iraq -- the date of the next scheduled briefing by inspectors to the Security Council. However, the U.S. and Security Council members may wait until inspectors give their next quarterly report to the Security Council. UNMOVIC spokesman Ewen Buchanan confirmed to RFE/RL that the report, the 12th regular quarterly report, is scheduled for 1 March. It is reasonable to assume that the quarterly report, which covers inspections from 1 December 2002 to 28 February, as required by UNSC resolution 1284 (from 1999) may provide Security Council members with the information it needs to declare Iraq in "material breach" of UNSC resolution 1441 (from 2002), should Iraq continue to offer limited cooperation to inspectors. (Kathleen Ridolfo)HUSAYN HOLDS NEAR-DAILY MEETINGS WITH COMMANDERS ON 'READINESS'...
President Saddam Husayn has held meetings on a near-daily basis with army commanders and fighters. Saddam's son Qusay Husayn, Defense Minister Staff General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, and Staff General Husayn Rashid have attended most of the meetings.
Husayn was briefed by his commanders on the readiness of their units. In a meeting broadcast on Iraq Television on 27 January, Major General Hamid Salman Juraysi told Husayn that morale is high among the personnel of the Al-Hurriyah Air Base, and "the efficiency of technical equipment and aircraft...is above 85 percent." The commander of the base, Major General Muwaffaq Husayn Ali, told the Iraqi president, "We will fulfill the tactical task assigned to the base literally, and as we received it from our references." A brigadier general from an infantry division told Husayn that his division was "fully ready."
Responding to the reports, Husayn tells his commanders, "Treason is an unmanly act...It does not frighten. However, in times of inattention, it may produce a treacherous act." He goes on to say, "Treason everywhere is a state of weakness, it is the height of human weakness. As a matter of fact, it reflects man's renunciation of his humanity."
Addressing the issue of preparedness, Husayn advises the commanders, "I want you to reduce to a minimum the efficacy of the resources on which the enemy depends. On what does the enemy depend? It depends on electronic jamming, firing from afar, and the intensity of air and missile fire. When you reduce the efficacy of such resources to a minimum, the enemy will be smaller than a seed of millet in front of you, for you are right, and the enemy is wrong." (Kathleen Ridolfo)AND OFFERS ADVICE ON LEADING AND FIGHTING...
In a meeting broadcast on 28 January on Iraqi Television, Husayn commented on leadership skills, noting, "Leadership is a big responsibility...like that of the honorable head of the family, who cares for his family. [The leader] is like the big brother in the family." The Iraqi president added, "We should all share the honor of defending Iraq and crossing to the other bank in a calculated manner and known time." During the meeting the various commanders briefed Husayn on the readiness of their brigades. Husayn then told the commanders: "The U.S. enemy depends on one of two choices. One of them is indirect engagement...in areas where there are no weapons or men. They think that by indirect engagement they can affect the morale of the fighters. The other choice is shooting from afar, either by aircraft or missiles. If you render these two factors, on which the enemy depends, unable to shake the fighters, and if you keep our sacrifices at a minimum level, then the enemy attack on you will fail."
While briefing President Husayn, Brigadier General Sabah al-Dulaymi, commander of the Dhat Al-Sawari naval base, noted that the base "is ready for combat and for undertaking any task," Iraq Satellite Television reported. "The base has completed all the required measures of deployment and all the required ammunition, fuel, and food-storing operations," he said. Staff Brigadier General Khalid Dawud Ya'qub al-Janabi said: "Concerning the combat field, the brigade is fully ready...be it in the field of alternative positions, preparations, or in the field of training. We have focused on night training.... My brigade has important characteristics, including swift reaction, which is one of the principles of air defense." Staff Colonel Thabit Ghayth Salih al-Ubudi told President Husayn that the Third Commandos Brigade has "97 modern vehicles" and "1,548 fighters and 66 officers."
Husayn told the commanders that trainees should also be taught about cleanliness, adding, "We teach [recruits] life affairs in terms of fitness, cleanliness, and culture." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...WHILE INCREASING THE ANTI-U.S. RHETORIC.
President Husayn met with yet another group of commanders, officers and soldiers, according to a 29 January report on Iraqi Television. Husayn chatted with his guests before launching a diatribe against the United States in which he expressed hope that he has "illuminated" the Americans "so that they would not imagine that Iraq is an easy target." He added, "They [can] harm Iraq, but how much will they be harmed at the strategic level in the long run?" Husayn went on to say that U.S. citizens cannot travel freely, adding: "They fear the world as a whole. Their embassies in most countries of the world have been withdrawn. This is the price of aggression on Baghdad and on others, including their support for the aggression of the criminal Zionists [Israel]."
President Husayn went on to say: "If the evil ones [U.S.] act obstinately, we, by God, will break their necks in Iraq." He also spoke of Iraqi preparedness for war with the United States, saying: "The United States would be harmed in such a manner, and the U.S. people do not have an interest in having this harm inflicted on the United States and on its economy and reputation worldwide. A major change will take place in the current U.S. state of affairs, although it has reached now a state of affairs where it is hated worldwide. But if they commit the aggression [against Iraq] about which they speak, their state of affairs will be something else and far more worse than their present state of affairs, be it in terms of their reputation or the material results that this aggression entails." Husayn added, "Now, the Americans cannot walk in the world without having in mind that bombs could explode in their face from this or that person who hates the policy of their rulers." He concluded, "If it [U.S.] pursues its stupidities and evil dealings by depending on force alone without taking justice into consideration, then it will be defeated." (Kathleen Ridolfo)WHAT THE IRAQI PEOPLE WERE TOLD ABOUT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING.
A 28 January commentary broadcast by Iraqi Satellite Television outlined the 27 January UNMOVIC/IAEA briefings to the UN Security Council, arguing that the briefings "prove the failure of the U.S. and British deception to sell their false claims against Iraq." The commentary listed "an important number of facts that cannot be obliterated." First, the commentary noted, "the two reports did not indicate that there are banned weapons in Iraq." Second, Blix and al-Baradei's reports contained only "a repetition of old and well-known issues." Third, the UNMOVIC/IAEA heads both noted "Iraq's full cooperation with the inspectors. Thus, it is inevitable, logical, and legitimate that the international rejection of the aggression against Iraq will increase after listening to these reports," the commentary concluded. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO UN REACTS...
Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Muhammad al-Duri spoke with reporters at UN headquarters following the briefing by Blix and al-Baradei, Al-Jazeera television reported on 27 January. Al-Duri insisted that the inspections have "proven that Iraq is clear of weapons of mass destruction" and that "all the intelligence information and satellite pictures provided later by the United States and Britain were baseless." Al-Duri added: "In view of this, the only way out for the United States and Britain was to resort to the so-called remaining disarmament issues and claim that not resolving these issues is a material breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Everybody knows that any legal or logical reading of Resolution 1441 contradicts that."
The Iraqi ambassador went on to say that former U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration declared after Operation Desert Fox in 1998 that the United States had destroyed all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sites, and that U.S. intelligence reports since then have stated that Iraq "did not restore its weapons capabilities." "We, therefore, should be very careful before determining who is actually in material breach of Security Council resolutions and has caused the suffering and death of nearly 2 million of the Iraqi population under a big lie called weapons of mass destruction," al-Duri said.
Al-Duri later told Reuters on 29 January that if Iraq is attacked, U.S. "interests will be endangered in the Arab world and Muslim world," adding, "I am certain of that...They cannot accept that a whole country will be attacked." (Kathleen Ridolfo)AND ISSUES LETTER TO SECURITY COUNCIL.
According to a 29 January Reuters report, al-Duri issued a formal response to UN Security Council members on the 27 January UNMOVIC/IAEA briefing which stated, "What remains [in Iraq] are not programs but questions about the 'past programs.'" The letter added, "It is up to [inspectors] to present the counter-evidence and not play hide-and-seek with Iraq." The letter denied many of the allegations made by UNMOVIC head Blix and IAEA chief al-Baradei. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI NATIONAL-MONITORING HEAD CALLS BUSH SPEECH A 'CHEAP LIE.'
Major General Husam Muhammad Amin, head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate (NMD), told Iraqi Television on 29 January that U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address on 28 January was a "distortion of facts and a cheap lie." He maintained that Iraq has fulfilled its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. Amin went on to refute all allegations made by Bush in his annual speech to the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, "Al-Thawra," the official Ba'ath party newspaper, called Bush's speech "a load of rubbish," adding, "This speech full of verbal boasts and Hollywood antics is the same as his politics which are marked by lies, deceit, and disinformation," AFP reported on 30 January. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER SENDS LETTER TO UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on 24 January sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan detailing the extent of Iraq's cooperation with the former inspection regime, UNSCOM, as well as the present UNMOVIC/IAEA team. In the letter, Sabri cited previous reports by UN inspectors to the UN that stated that Iraq was no longer capable of producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). "Since 1992, the [UN] Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA have not discovered any banned weapon or activity in Iraq," he insisted. Sabri criticized the UN Security Council, saying: "The council has never viewed what has been implemented [in Iraq] in a comparative and fair manner. In fact, it has behaved in an unprecedented arbitrary and harsh manner in the previous and current international dealings." He went on to detail how Iraq addressed "outstanding issues" in its 7 December report to the UN Security Council. Sabri insisted that, since inspectors have never found evidence of WMD in Iraq, the Security Council "should...implement the obligations it has pledged under the relevant resolutions; that is, lifting the unfair embargo, which is now 13 years old." The letter can be found on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's website (http://www.uruklink.net/mofa).
Sabri's letter also detailed the work of UNMOVIC/IAEA inspectors thus far. He noted that the number of inspectors and support personnel in Iraq reached 237 by 23 January. Inspectors have carried out 440 inspections thus far, including 365 at sites that are subject to permanent monitoring, and have visited 75 new sites, according to Sabri. He added that inspectors have visited 297 sites in the northern and southern no-fly zones. Inspectors have visited military and government sites as well as universities, oil refineries, and private businesses and residences, he said. Inspectors have conducted extensive radiation testing, according to the foreign minister, and "took samples of heavy water, soil, vegetation, river water, [and] air waste from mechanical industries and other sources. This is in addition to their use of [aerial] photos and detailed maps obtained via satellite." He added in his letter to Secretary-General Annan that the "inspection teams' visits included interviews with the officials in charge of the sites," Sabri said. The inspections of these sites "have proven the veracity of Iraq's declaration that it is free of weapons of mass destruction and banned activities. They also confirmed the falsehood of the U.S. and British claims," the Foreign Minister concluded. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI GOVERNMENT CANCELS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.
The Baghdad-based daily "Babil," which is published by President Husayn's son Uday, posted the following note on its website (http://www.iraq2000.com/babil) on 25 January. "The higher authorities have issued instructions to cancel restrictions on travel of Autonomous Region's citizens that [had] required securing the security authorities' approval of their travel. Hence, Autonomous Region's citizens are treated like Iraqi citizens in other governorates." The report is apparently referring to the Kurdish autonomous areas. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQIS ARREST TWO WHO GET TOO CLOSE TO INSPECTORS.
Iraqi authorities arrested two men over the weekend, one of them for attempting to enter the inspectors' headquarters while carrying two knives, Al-Jazeera television and UPI reported on 25 January. The second man was arrested in a separate incident after he jumped into an automobile belonging to inspectors as they were preparing to leave the headquarters. The man refused to get out and had to be removed by force by Iraqi guards. The incidents happened in rapid succession, according to UPI. UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said the first man tried to storm the inspector's headquarters at 7:50 a.m. local time. The second man snatched papers from the UN automobile, forced the driver from the car, and attempted to drive away, UPI reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KIRKUK MILITARIZED?
The northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk has been "militarized," tehrantimes.com reported on 26 January. "Iraq has dug trenches around Kirkuk's Oil Refinery and...evening working hours in the refinery have been [suspended]" to better control the flow of pedestrian traffic, the daily reported. The report also noted that the Iraqi government has warned citizens to "stay indoors" once the war begins. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
ARAB DAILY'S NEWS EDITOR SAYS IRAQI REGIME SHOULD NOT BE DEFENDED.
"Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" Editor in Chief Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid wrote a commentary titled "Why the Baghdad Regime Does Not Deserve to be Defended" in the London-based daily's 28 January edition. "A history such as this is not worth defending and it is not worth the tears that are shed for its sake," al-Rashid wrote. "In the absence of the Iraqi regime, the Arab world will be able to breath and find a glimpse of hope that the region will see stability." He acknowledged that the "process will be bloody and painful," but added that those who defend the regime based on the idea that all the Arab regimes are under threat from foreign interference are wrong. "Protecting the Arab regimes by using the Iraqi regime as an example makes all the Arab regimes a subject of ridicule for the whole world," al-Rashid noted. He said that Arabs should "choose a regime that deserves to be defended," adding, "Instead of the United States, it ought to have been us who took the initiative ourselves." (Kathleen Ridolfo)ARAB LEAGUE HEAD SAYS WAR WILL COMPOUND REGION'S FRUSTRATION.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa has said inspectors should be allowed to complete their task and that war can be averted. His comments appeared in an interview published on 29 January in the "Berliner Zeitung." Musa noted that Iraq needs to increase its level of cooperation. Asked what the true reason for war is, Musa said: "That is something you have to ask the United States.... Why do they wish to plunge the whole region into chaos? Especially when the situation in the territories occupied by Israel is already so difficult. If the wrath over a war on Iraq is added to this, this will double the frustration [in the region], and then things will be bad for all of us," Musa added. On the issue of possible exile for President Husayn, Musa said, "The Arab League and the Arab countries have nothing to do with it. Nor do I know whether the idea would really be feasible." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQ MAY CHAIR CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT.
Iraq is in line to chair the UN Conference on Disarmament in May, according to that forum's website (http://www.unog.ch/disarm/disconf.htm). The conference is the international community's multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. Established in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, the 66 member-state conference meets for 24 weeks per year, with its session divided into three parts of 10 weeks, seven weeks, and seven weeks respectively, according to its website. The presidency rotates alphabetically, with member states serving four-week terms. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UNMOVIC NOW DECLINING TO INTERVIEW SCIENTISTS.
Ala al-Ja'fari, an Iraqi scientist from the Al-Fatah Military Industries Establishment, met for two hours on 25 January with inspectors at the Burj Al-Hayah Hotel before asking them to postpone the interview, Al-Jazeera television reported. National Monitoring Directorate head Major-General Husam Muhammad Amin said that al-Ja'fari was one of three scientists summoned to the hotel that day, and that all three refused to be interviewed unless an Iraqi official was present. Subsequently, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) declined to interview scientists on 27 and 28 January, after both refused to be interviewed outside the presence of an Iraqi official. UNMOVIC noted in its 29 January briefing that it has submitted a total of 16 requests for private interviews with 13 Iraqi individuals. Three individuals were asked to be interviewed in private "once before the 10-point agreement of 20 January and once afterwards." (Kathleen Ridolfo)BLIX AND AL-BARADEI DISCUSS INSPECTION SITUATION.
UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Blix told Al-Jazeera television on 29 January that unlike International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General al-Baradei, he did not request that the UN Security Council (UNSC) grant additional time for inspections in Iraq. "The two situations are rather different," Blix said. "For the chemical and biological weapons, we have seen everything that was supposed to be seen," he said. "Therefore, we believe that two months are enough to answer outstanding questions." He added: "If we feel that we need more time, we will request this. Despite the Iraqi cooperation, which seemed insufficient, I felt that there was no need to extend the inspection operations. This does not at all mean that I do not welcome such an extension if the UNSC so decides." Regarding the work of al-Baradei and the IAEA inspectors, Blix added, "[Al-Baradei] needs more time to shed light on the situation in issues under his mandate." Meanwhile, on 29 January, al-Baradei told London-based "Al-Hayat," "The difference is that we are responsible for different files. I am making progress (in the nuclear file) with tenacity, while he is not making worthwhile progress," adding that Blix does not see "a light at the end of the tunnel."
Al-Baradei told BBC Radio on 29 January, "I believe that in the next few months, probably four, five months, we should be able to come to the conclusion that Iraq is clean of nuclear weapons," AP reported on 30 January. The IAEA head reportedly told the BBC that North Korea's program is technologically more advanced than Iraq in the nuclear field, adding, "We need to deal with North Korea urgently, decisively," AP reported. However, on 13 January, BBC news quoted comments by Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the IAEA, to News Online's Talking Point program in which Gwozdecky said, "For a credible inspection process, we [IAEA] believe we do need in the vicinity of a year...It's a very large country, there is a lot of terrain to cover, a lot of facilities to inspect." Gwozdecky reportedly also told the BBC directly that, "Unless the inspectors know exactly where to go, the chance that they'll find anything is practically zero." Al-Baradei refrained from labeling Iraq in "material breach" of UN Security Council resolution 1441 in a 29 January BBC interview, noting, "We are not going to say that this [noncooperation] is a material breach unless we see a gross violation of the resolution. But even then it is for the Security Council to pronounce itself on this issue." (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE COMMENTS ON BRIEFING.
Colin Powell said at a 27 January press conference following the inspectors' briefing that Iraq continues to defy the UN with "empty claims, empty declarations, and empty gestures," the U.S. State Department announced on its website (http://www.state.gov). Asked whether the U.S. will allow inspectors to continue their work, Powell said President George W. Bush will consult with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Washington this week, as well as with other world leaders. However, he added: "Inspections only work in the presence of...active cooperation and a willingness on the part of the other side to participate in the disarmament.... And when all these consultations are finished, we will let it be known what our next steps are going to be." The press conference can be viewed in its entirety at (http://www.state.gov). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EIGHT EUROPEAN LEADERS PEN LETTER SUPPORTING U.S. POSITION ON IRAQ.
The leaders of Britain, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, along with EU candidates Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are signatories to a letter published in European newspapers on 30 January calling for united European support of U.S. policy toward Iraq, agencies reported. The letter states that President Husayn's regime "and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security." It also notes, "The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security. Our strength lies in unity." In the two days following publication of the letter, the governments of Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia also declared their support for it. Meanwhile, AFP reported on 30 January that the European Parliament has adopted a resolution in opposition to unilateral military action against Iraq. According to the report, the resolution was adopted by 287 deputies with 209 members voting against. The resolution further stated that the parliament "believes that a preemptive strike would not be in accordance with international law," AFP reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)EU ADOPTS COMMON POSITION ON IRAQ.
European Union foreign ministers adopted a common position on Iraq in Brussels on 27 January, international media reported. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told a press conference that "we have a unified position [on Iraq] and I think this is an important message, an important achievement," IRNA reported. The declaration adopted by the ministers demands "effective and complete disarmament" and "full and active cooperation" from Iraq, the German daily "Berliner Zeitung" reported on 28 January. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the declaration was a "very good decision by the European Union," the daily reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)FRANCE WARNS U.S. TO WORK WITHIN THE UN...
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told France-2 TV on 27 January that the international community must "work together in the most suitable framework -- the United Nations Security Council," Reuters reported on 28 January. "If the Americans decided to go further in a unilateral way, [French President Jacques] Chirac has already said it -- we would not be able to associate ourselves with such a move," de Villepin added. According to the Reuters report, Chirac said on 27 January that he advocates giving UN inspectors in Iraq more time. (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AS BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY SAYS IRAQ IS IN 'MATERIAL BREACH.'
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw commented on the UNMOVIC/IAEA briefing to the UN Security Council that "as of today, according to the reports we have received, Iraq is now in further material breach [of UN Security Council Resolution 1441]. So it is profoundly serious for Iraq," Reuters quoted Straw as telling BBC radio on 28 January. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SWISS OFFER TO HOST U.S.-IRAQ TALKS.
The Swiss government has offered to host talks between Iraq and the United States in an attempt to avert a war, swissinfo news agency reported on 25 January. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey reportedly proposed the talks to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Everyone talks a great deal about oil and sanctions, but Switzerland is concerned above all with people," Calmy-Rey said. "I urged him [Powell] to consider the consequences of a war," the website quoted Calmy-Rey as saying. Powell did not comment on the offer, according to the report. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. BEGINS TRAINING IRAQIS IN HUNGARY.
Budapest's MTV-2 reported on 29 January that the first group of volunteers from the Iraqi opposition have arrived at Taszar military base. Fifty-eight volunteers reportedly arrived by military transport. Budapest's MTV-2 reported on 24 January that the Iraqis would begin training early in February, the report added. "The Hungarian police, the [Hungarian] Border Guard, and the U.S. Army have built multiple defense lines around the base," MTV-2 reported on 26 January, adding that aircraft continue to land "one after another" at the base. Meanwhile, canada.com carried a story from the "Ottawa Citizen" of 24 January that said, "Although Pentagon officials originally claimed that this Iraqi formation was to perform 'civil administration' duties, they now admit that these 'volunteers' will wear uniforms and carry weapons." The report quoted U.S. Pentagon spokesman Dan Hetlidge as saying that "this group will include former Kurdish opposition fighters as well as many Iraqis who served their basic national conscription." He added: "Depending on their capability and experience, they will be tasked as guides for U.S. ground troops -- who better than those who know the territory? [They will also be tasked with] prisoners-of-war handling and rear-area security." The Iraqi volunteers receive a $3,000 "signing bonus" as well as free transportation to Taszar, the website reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
AN OVERVIEW OF THE BLIX AND AL-BARADEI BRIEFING AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL.
By Kathleen Ridolfo
UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad al-Baradei briefed the UN Security Council in New York on 27 January under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which called for a briefing 60 days after the resumption of inspections.
Blix told the UN Security Council that while Iraq has provided weapons inspectors with cooperation on "process" -- logistical assistance and access to sites, it has refused to guarantee the safety of U-2 surveillance planes and has accused inspectors of espionage due to the nature of their questioning. In a statement posted on the UN's website (http://www.un.org/news), Blix also complained about Iraqi protestors outside UN offices and inspection sites and called on Iraq to provide better evidence to weapons inspectors through documentation, expressing concern at the recent discovery of a box containing 3,000 pages of documents related to the laser-enrichment of uranium during a search of an Iraqi scientist's home. He added that Iraq needs to be more forthcoming with the names and whereabouts of scientists, and implied that Iraq is not doing enough to encourage scientists to be interviewed outside the presence of Iraqi officials.
UNMOVIC head Blix told the Security Council that Iraq's 7 December declaration provides "a good deal of new material and information" on activities in the fields of missiles and biotechnology from 1998 to the present. Regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Blix noted that previous inspection reports point to a "lack of evidence and inconsistencies which raise question marks;" Iraq, he notes, did not attempt to clarify these issues in its 7 December declaration. Rather the declaration on WMD does "not contain any new evidence." Regarding chemical weapons, Blix said Iraq has not provided evidence that it destroyed stocks of VX after 1991, as it has claimed. He added that the UN has evidence to the contrary, and it believes that Iraq might even have weaponized VX.
Regarding chemical bombs, Blix noted that there is a discrepancy between Iraq's declaration and an "Air Force document" obtained by inspectors, leaving 6,500 bombs (containing 1,000 tons of chemical agent) unaccounted for. Blix also said the recent discovery of "a number of" 122-millimeter warheads in a bunker (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January 2003) raised concerns, as the bunker is relatively new and those types of warhead should no longer exist in Iraq. In addition, inspectors have found a laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a precursor to mustard gas. As for biological weapons, he said there are indications that Iraq produced more than it has declared. Blix also implied that Iraq deliberately failed to declare 650 kilograms of bacterial-growth media in its 7 December declaration.
Regarding missiles, Blix said that the Al-Sumud 2 and the Al-Fatah missiles have both shown in tests to exceed the permitted range of 150 kilometers, but added that the matter is still under investigation. He said that the Al-Sumud's diameter has been modified to 760-millimeters despite a 1994 UNSCOM directive instructing Iraq to limit missile diameters to less than 600-millimeters. Blix also noted that Iraq has refurbished its missile-production infrastructure -- meaning it has "reconstituted a number of casting chambers, which had previously been destroyed under UNSCOM supervision." Blix added that as late as December 2002 Iraq had imported, despite sanctions, up to 380 rocket engines that could be used for the Al-Sumud 2 missile. Finally, he claimed Iraq has illegally imported chemicals for rocket propellants. Blix's entire statement can be viewed at http://www.un.org/news
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad al-Baradei told the UN Security Council that his agency's inspectors have found no evidence that Iraq has restarted its nuclear program, but he added that inspectors need "a few months" to provide "credible assurance" that Iraq has no such program. Al-Baradei said in his briefing that the agency's inspectors have conducted 139 inspections at 106 locations so far, and inspectors are "well into the investigative phase" in determining nuclear developments in Iraq since UNSCOM inspectors left in 1998. He added that Iraq's 7 December declaration to the Security Council did not provide new information regarding outstanding issues. Al-Baradei told the Security Council that inspectors are monitoring rivers, canals, and lakes for radioisotopes, and have collected a "broad variety" of environmental samples and surface swipes from "locations across Iraq." Al-Baradei noted that inspectors have been to all sites where construction has occurred since 1998, and they have not detected any nuclear activities at those sites. He noted the refusal of Iraqi scientists to be interviewed privately by IAEA inspectors. Regarding aluminum tubes, he said they are "consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges." Al-Baradei noted the issue of aluminum tubes remained under investigation.
The IAEA chief also addressed "dual-use" materials. He noted that the whereabouts of some HMX explosives need to be determined, and that inspectors are also checking reports that Iraq attempted to import uranium after 1991. Al-Baradei called on states to assist inspectors with any relevant intelligence regarding Iraq. Al-Baradei's entire statement can be viewed at http://www.iaea.org