14 March 2003, Volume 6, Number 10
NOTE TO READERS:
RFE/RL is pleased to announce the launch of the website: Crisis In Iraq The page provides breaking news on Iraq as well as RFE/RL special reports from the region, Arab press reviews, Newsline III (daily reports on Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq), and "Tracking Inspections" -- a daily summary of UNMOVIC and Iraqi Foreign Ministry briefings on UNMOVIC/IAEA inspections.
INSIDE IRAQIRAQI PRESIDENT ADDRESSES REPUBLICAN GUARD. Iraqi President Saddam Husayn addressed Republican Guard commanders on 11 March and advised them on how to fight in war, Iraq Satellite Television reported on the same day. "The most important thing I would like to emphasize is that trainers...should focus on how to weaken the enemy," Husayn said, adding, "Those fighting the aggressors must always know how to target them."
The Iraqi leader also advised the commanders to focus on minimizing their losses in battle. He criticized the current UN sanctions on Iraq and then told his men, "We don't want this war because we want peace, but not peace at any cost. It is peace that safeguards our land, sovereignty, our people's dignity, and all our rights as a free people." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
KURDISH ASSESSMENT OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. The Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) issued an assessment of recent developments in the region. First, they found the opposition meeting in Salah Al-Din to be quite successful, and heaped special praise on the establishment of a joint higher leadership shared by the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan).
The Council of Ministers saluted the people who indulged in mass demonstrations. These were multiethnic, including Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians, and Chaldeans.
The council also condemned the behavior of those who insulted the Turkish flag, and expressed its opposition to such activity, especially since Turkey is a neighbor. The people who burnt the flag have been arrested by the KDP authorities, the council said.
Finally, the council urged the region's citizens and political, social, and cultural organizations to follow the appropriate guidance with regard to their own safety and that of their organizations.
The council's appeal ends with a statement exhorting the people of Kurdistan to work toward a federal, parliamentary, and democratic system. (David Nissman)
KURDISH LETTER TO EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REBUTS TURKISH CLAIMS. On 8 March, Kurds representing the various Kurdish communities in Europe and the Middle East sent a letter to the European Parliament rebutting a number of Turkish claims. First, Turkey declares it to be imperative that its armed forces intervene to prevent a refugee crisis, as in 1991, along its border. Yet, in the intervening time the Kurds in northern Iraq have built up an infrastructure to handle such refugee phenomena.
Turkey also claims it must protect the Turkomans through the military presence of the Turkish armed forces. While the majority of Turkomans are settled in Baghdad-controlled Kirkuk and Mosul, some 9,000 families or 45,000 people are settled around Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. The letter points out that the Turkomans control several dozen Turkoman-language schools, have dozens of ethnic political parties, newspapers, and TV stations, have a minister in the cabinet, etc. All as evidence that there is no discrimination against the Turkomans in Kurdistan.
Turkey claims that in the event of an American advance through the Kurdistan region, a power vacuum will be created which could be used against Turkey by militants of the Kurdish Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK; formerly the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK). The Kurds point out that they have been cooperating fully with Turkey against the KADEK fighters and that this will continue.
Lastly, Turkey feels it must intervene militarily to prevent Kurdish independence movements. Yet the two primary Kurdish leaders, Mas'ud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, have declared that they do not intend to establish an independent state.
The letter was sent from a Kurdish cross-party rally in Brussels on 8 March. (David Nissman)
JALAL TALABANI ON KURDISH ATTITUDES TOWARDS TURKS. "Kurdistan Newsline" on 9 March had a transcript of an interview with Jalal Talabani on CNN-Turk in which Talabani condemned the burning of a Turkish flag during protests against reports that Turkish troops might intervene in Iraqi Kurdistan. He described such events as "irresponsible behavior inimical to the vital interests of the people of Kurdistan."
With regard to the presence of Turkish troops in Iraqi Kurdistan, he stated that there were rumors that the Turkish army intended to deploy 120,000 troops there. He noted that such plans considerably disturbed both him and Mas'ud Barzani and the two of them are continuing a dialogue with the Turks on this matter.
On the refusal of the Turkish parliament to grant access to American troops to enter northern Iraq through Turkey, he noted that there is no intention to form an independent Kurdistan. He said he regarded the Turkomans as "our compatriots," and pointed out that 90 percent of Turkomans live in areas under Baghdad's control, and asks: "Why do we never hear of any complaint from Turkey about their conditions under the oppressive Iraqi regime?" (David Nissman)
TURKOMANS WANT ARMS. Mustafa Kemal Yaycili, the London representative for the Iraqi Turkoman Front, told NTV news on 6 March that the Turkomans in northern Iraq need arms. "We [Turkomans] cannot accept the arming of only the Kurdish groups. The Kurds' first target will be Kirkuk," Yaycili told NTV. He added that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdish Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) are collaborating in northern Iraq.
Citing recent anti-Turkish demonstrations in the area, Yaycili said that while he does not believe that the KDP would fight Turkish forces, "What they are doing now is reacting to thwart the Turkish army's incursion. It is something like a bluff." Yaycili added that if arms are distributed to KDP and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) forces, then they would target the Turkoman-dominated city of Kirkuk. "They [KDP and PUK] are saying this themselves," Yaycili said, adding, "This is completely against our interests.... If arms are to be distributed among the opposition groups in Iraq, then the Turkomans must be given arms, too." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
TURKOMAN FEARFUL OF TURKISH INTERVENTION IN IRAQ. An AFP report dated 5 March from Irbil notes that many in the Turkoman community are fearful that they would be left at loggerheads with their Kurdish neighbors if the Turks did intervene in northern Iraq. While the pro-Ankara Iraqi Turkoman Front has threatened to seek Turkish support in the case of what they call a Turkish "provocation," other Turkomans say they would side with the Kurds against Turkey and even fight against an incursion.
Jawad al-Najjar, a Turkoman minister in the government led by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said: "We share the same position as the Kurds on this issue."
Ankara claims to be worried about the fate of the 500,000 to 3 million Turkomans who live around Mosul and Kirkuk. But officials at the Turkoman Cultural Association dismiss Ankara's concern as lies. Azzedin Karsti claimed that: "Turkey says that it wants to protect us but that's not true. They want to take control of the oil and the land."
The United States has said it is opposed to any unilateral Turkish intervention in northern Iraq after the Turkish parliament rejected a government motion to allow 62,000 troops use Turkey as a springboard for a military action against Iraq. (David Nissman)
IRAQI TURKOMANS REQUEST UN PROTECTION FROM KURDISH GROUP. The Iraqi Turkoman Front requested UN protection from Kurds in northern Iraq in an 8 March letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Al-Jazeera television reported on 9 March. The letter states that 3 million Turkomans living in northern Iraq are under threat from Kurdish forces in the region, specifically Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) forces, who the Turkomans claim are oppressing them. The Turkomans also fear that Kurds will attempt to seize Turkoman land in the event of a U.S.-led strike against Iraq. "We demand that the Turkomans in Iraq be urgently placed under protection against a possible genocide and ethnic cleansing," Istanbul's NTV reported the letter as stating on 9 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
SCIRI COMMANDER REJECTS U.S. MILITARY COMMANDER IN IRAQ IN POST-SADDAM ERA. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) rejected on 8 March a U.S. plan to install a military commander in Iraq, according to IRNA on 8 March. Sayyid Muhsen Hakim, a member of SCIRI, in an interview with IRNA, commented on a previous report by "Hambastegi," a Persian daily, on the Iraqis' attitude on the future of the country and said that SCIRI would seriously oppose any plan for a military governor for Iraq.
He denied the "Hambastegi" report that SCIRI had accepted the U.S. plan for a military governor in Iraq. The Islamic Students' News Agency (ISNA) had also reported that SCIRI had conceded to the U.S. demand for the installation of a military governor for Iraq.
ISNA had previously reported that at the Salah Al-Din conference of opposition, participants had agreed on a plan to determine a military governor for Iraq if the opposition fails to appoint a competent and effective civilian leader to rule the country.
Hakim noted that at the London conference of oppositionists this subject was also discussed and rejected. (David Nissman)
REGIONAL NEWSARAB LEAGUE DELEGATION LOBBIES UN AND IRAQ. A delegation of Arab leaders is scrambling to avoid war in Iraq by lobbying the UN Security Council and Baghdad, following a decision made at the Arab League emergency summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Al-Shaykh (see RFE/RL's "Iraq Report," 7 March 2003) to convey the Arab antiwar position abroad. The delegation to the UN and Washington was led by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa and the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Tunisia. The delegation members met with the foreign ministers of Guinea, Russia, China, Germany, France, and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on 8 March, "Al-Hayat" reported on 9 March.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq Al-Shar'a reportedly told Powell that the Arab position rejects a military solution in Iraq, and lobbied the secretary of state for a peaceful solution to the crisis, according to the report, Syrian Arab Republic Radio reported. Powell reportedly told the ministers, "We [the United States] are serious...we are not playing," "Al-Hayat" reported on 9 March. Asked whether the delegation's talks with Powell could avert war, Musa told reporters on 10 March that the U.S. position regarding war was clear, adding, "But what is important is that they [U.S.] should listen to us as they did with other ministers," MENA reported the same day. The same delegation is scheduled to travel to Baghdad on 14 March to meet Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, MENA reported on 11 March. A meeting with Iraq President Husayn is scheduled for 15 March [this was later cancelled].
Quoting Arab diplomatic sources, MENA reported that the delegation would reiterate the Arab antiwar position to Baghdad and call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Meanwhile, Musa said that the delegation does not intend to convey the U.S. view to the Iraqi leadership, since that view is well known. Instead, the delegates will listen to the Iraqi viewpoint and convey the Arab ministers' impressions of their meetings in New York, MENA reported on 11 March. The ministers and Musa are scheduled to brief Arab Summit Chairman King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Bahrain on 13 March on their trip to the U.S. before traveling to Baghdad. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
TURKISH AKP HEAD POISED TO LEAD GOVERNMENT, HINTS VOTE ON U.S. TROOPS MUST WAIT. Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a seat in a Turkish parliamentary by-election on 9 March and later assumed the position of Turkish prime minister, AP reported on 9 March. Erdogan reportedly told a delegation of U.S. congressmen over the weekend that it would be difficult for parliament to meet a U.S. request to hold a second vote by 10 March on whether to allow U.S. forces to begin "staging" operations in Turkey for a possible war on Iraq. "It might be difficult to get the motion passed through the National Assembly" before the legal procedures are played out, he said, according to a report on the website of Turkish daily "Milliyet" (http://www.milliyet.com.tr).
The current Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, submitted his resignation on 11 March, "Anatolia" reported on that day. Erdogan had been shut out of the November elections due to an "Islamist sedition" conviction stemming from an event in 1997. A legislative amendment cleared the way for him to run in the 9 March by-election. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EARLY CONTACT WITH WHITE HOUSE ON IRAQ 'NOT GREAT.' The most pressing issue facing Erdogan is whether to seek another vote on a U.S. request to deploy 62,000 troops along Turkey's border with Iraq. Parliament narrowly rejected the plan on 1 March. Erdogan has hinted that he might throw his weight behind the proposal, AP reported on 10 March. But he also indicated the next vote will likely come later than U.S. officials would like, according to "The New York Times" of 11 March. A phone conversation on 10 March between U.S. President George W. Bush and Erdogan "was not a great phone call," the paper quoted a Bush administration official as saying. With a majority of Turks opposing a U.S.-led war against Iraq, and the United States offering a multibillion-dollar aid package in return for cooperation, the troop deployment issue has created a conundrum for Turkey. Despite the uncertainty, U.S. General Richard Myers told journalists at an 11 March Defense Department briefing, "just be assured there will be a northern option." (Daniel Kimmage)
TURKISH MILITARY RESPONDS TO REPORTS OF U.S. TROOPS. The Turkish Office of the Chief of the General Staff (OCGS) issued a written statement on 6 March addressing the current activities of U.S. soldiers in the country, CNN TURK reported the same day. The statement noted that U.S. troops are working on the modernization and development of bases, per the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreed to between the two states. The statement reportedly said that the civilian population has interpreted U.S. troop movements in Turkey as unlicensed activities, but added, "All activities are being conducted in line with the MOU based on the authority of the National Assembly and are being closely followed." CNN TURK noted in a separate report on 6 March that military equipment, including transport tanks and armored vehicles, was being unloaded by U.S. troops at unnamed Turkish ports. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS NO IRAQI RESPONSE TO U.A.E. INITIATIVE... Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal bin Abd al-Aziz told the London-based "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" of 9 March that Arab states have not received any official response to an initiative sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) that calls for Iraqi President Husayn to step down. "The [proposal] was conveyed to the Iraqi leadership and people. It is up to them to accept it," al-Faysal added. Asked whether Saudi Arabia would grant asylum to Husayn, al-Faysal responded "no" and said he knows of no place that might host Husayn, adding that it is up to the Husayn regime to "look for a place to go."
Prince Saud Al-Faysal also told "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" of 9 March that the region is fearful of what might happen in Iraq in the event of war along with the destruction of infrastructure and an internal-security breakdown. "If factions in Iraq are divided into warring factions instead of...one national faction, it will be impossible to unite them," he said. "War leads to the division of Iraq, and this will lead to a conflict in the region."
Al-Faysal added that he sees no link between regime change in Iraq and other regional government changes. "In response to the [perception] that we do not want this change in Iraq because we will then be attacked by its democratic concepts in the region, I can very frankly say that we prefer to be attacked with the missiles of Jefferson's democracy rather than be attacked with Scud or other missiles.... We do not fear this thing [democracy]," he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQ OIL FIELDS REPORTEDLY MINED. Unidentified U.S. Defense Department officials have said Iraq has placed explosives around oil fields in Kirkuk and in southern Iraq, Reuters reported on 10 March. The officials said intelligence suggests that the movement of explosives is a recent occurrence, leaving another U.S. official to remark, "We certainly have very serious concerns about [Iraqi President] Saddam Husayn setting fire to the oil fields," Reuters reported. "A variety of sources lead the [U.S. Defense] Department to believe that the regime has both the capability and the intent to damage or destroy Iraq's oil fields." Recent information revealed that Iraq has received 24 railroad boxcars full of pentolite explosives, a 6 March U.S. Defense Department briefing (http://www.defenselink.mil/news) stated, adding, "While destruction of the fields would not be a militarily significant act, it will produce economic and environmental impacts with lasting effects on the people of Iraq, as well as Iraq's neighbors." Kirkuk has 10 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and produces 1 million barrels per day, according to the Environmental News Service (http://www.ens-news.com).
According to the Pentagon, the United States has a plan in place to thwart attempts by the Husayn regime to set Iraqi oil fields alight. "The [U.S. Defense] Department has crafted strategies that will allow U.S. forces to secure and protect the oil fields as rapidly as possible in order to preserve them prior to destruction. U.S. military forces would be responsible for securing and protecting the oil sites, and under appropriate contractual agreements, private-sector companies would extinguish any fires and assess damage to oil facilities," the 6 March press release stated. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters at a daily briefing on 10 March that he could not confirm reports that Iraq has placed explosives at the Kirkuk and southern sites, adding, "I'm not in a position to have evaluated them." Fleischer referred reporters to the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, U.S. military planners have reportedly held discussions with KDP leader Mas'ud Barzani and PUK head Jalal Talabani on the role that these two groups might play in a U.S.-led war on Iraq, according to a 9 March AFP report. The report cites an unnamed PUK military source as saying that the talks focused on military planning for attacks on the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. A second PUK source told AFP that the groups would secure the cities following U.S. bombings, while the U.S. would be responsible for securing the oil fields. Representatives from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq also participated in the talks, according to AFP. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
THERE'S A HACKER AFOOT. A hacker appears to have broken into the website of the Iraq News Agency (http://www.uruklink.net/iraqnews/). Visitors to the site on 11 March who clicked on the link for the Iraq Satellite Channel Television were taken to an alternate site that features links to the U.S. White House website and to a site called "Muslims for Christ," as well as a link called "News from the Free World" that takes viewers to the Fox News Channel site. The main page of the site purports to welcome Iraqi viewers with assurances that "[God's] people in the promised land are coming to rescue you from your despair and anguish." The site encourages Iraqis to "Impeach Saddam Now" and "Vote Saddam Out of Office." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRANIAN PRESS ON U.S. IRAQ POLICY. "Iran News" on 9 March said in an editorial that: "Iraq presents the existing codes on international law with a gigantic paradox, with the attackers (U.S.) in clear violation of international law and the same invaders to be treated by the long-suffering people of Iraq as a liberation army," IRNA reported on 9 March.
The editorial continued to point out disparities between the position of the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and U.S. President George W. Bush, especially after Blix's second report on Iraq's disarmament to the UN Security Council. The editorial predicts that once the Ba'athists in Iraq are toppled Washington will attempt to bring Paris, Moscow, and Berlin into line.
"This is why Iraq is in a paradox with Washington clearly violating international law as well as being seen by long-suffering Iraqis as their savior." The newspaper concluded by saying that the Iraq paradox can only be resolved if the whole concept of "national sovereignty" in international relations is analyzed from a totally different perspective.
The "Iran Daily" on 9 March highlighted the need for Iran to uphold its national interests and security as the U.S. prepares for war against Iraq. Advocates of the U.S. attacks reason that the incumbent Iraqi regime has been defeated morally, politically, and militarily, the paper reported, while the opponents of the U.S attack, Russia, France, and Germany, wish to play a more active role in the regional equations that may evolve.
The situation of some Islamic countries and Iraq's neighboring states are more complicated since some countries in the region are willing to cooperate with the U.S. whereas the people are not, according to the "Iran Daily," which further noted that the positions of Iran and Saudi Arabia are especially complex. (David Nissman)
EGYPTIAN SCHOLARS CALL FOR JIHAD IF IRAQ IS ATTACKED. Religious scholars from the Islamic Research Academy at Egypt's Al-Azhar University declared on 10 March that a U.S. attack on Iraq would require Arabs and Muslims to wage a jihad in Iraq's defense, "Al-Hayat" reported the next day. The statement stressed that "jihad against the crusader forces will be the individual obligation of each Muslim" and noted that "the Arab and Muslim community will face a new crusade that targets its land, honor, creed, and homeland." Wafa Abu Aggur, general secretary of the academy, said that Al-Azhar Grand Imam Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi "familiarized himself with the statement and approved it," Al-Jazeera reported on 11 March.
Al-Azhar spokesman Abbas Ahmad downplayed the significance of the statement, "The Washington Post" reported on 11 March. "The meaning of jihad means a lot of things, not just fighting," he said. Once considered the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar's prestige has declined through its association with Egyptian officialdom since Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it in 1961. (Daniel Kimmage)
THE UN AND IRAQIAEA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad al-Baradei gave an update to the UN Security Council on 7 March regarding the status of nuclear inspections in Iraq. Al-Baradei began by pointing out that Iraq's industrial capabilities have dramatically deteriorated since 1998, and "At only a few inspected sites involved in industrial research, development and manufacturing have the facilities been improved and new personnel been taken on. This...deterioration...is naturally of direct relevance to Iraq's capability for resuming a nuclear weapons program." Al-Baradei informed the council that the IAEA has carried out a total of 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites, including 21 new sites. In addition, car-borne radiation testing had covered approximately 2000 kilometers in the preceding three weeks, at over 75 facilities, including military garrisons and camps, weapons and manufacturing facilities, truck parks, and residential areas, al-Baradei noted. He also said that the IAEA has recently been able to conduct private interviews with Iraqi scientists, whereas previous interviews were recorded at the request of the interviewees.
Regarding the issue of aluminum tubes, al-Baradei told the council that the IAEA had determined that, "Iraq's efforts to import these aluminum tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges and, moreover, that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable re-design needed to use them in a revived centrifuge program." He added that the IAEA would continue to investigate the matter.
Regarding high-strength magnets, the IAEA concluded that the magnets acquired and declared by Iraq could not be used for directing a centrifuge magnetic bearing. In addition, although Iraq signed a contract to obtain a new magnet production line, the delivery, scheduled for 2003, has not yet occurred and "Iraqi documentation and interviews of Iraqi personnel indicate that this contract will not be executed." Al-Baradei noted, however, that it is likely that Iraq does have the technical "expertise to manufacture high-strength permanent magnets suitable for use in enrichment centrifuges," and that the IAEA would continue to monitor the equipment and materials that might be used for such production.
As for intelligence provided to the IAEA by a number of states that suggested that Iraq concluded an agreement with Niger "for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001," al-Baradei informed the council that the IAEA has determined that the intelligence documents were forged. "The IAEA was...able to review correspondence coming from various bodies of the Government of Niger, and to compare the form, format, contents and signatures of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation. Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents -- which form the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger -- are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded," al-Baradei stated.
Al-Baradei told the council that inspections continue to move forward, and concluded, "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq." Al-Baradei's briefing can be viewed on the IAEA website: (http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/Press/Statements/2003/ebsp2003n006.shtml). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UNMOVIC RELEASES REPORT ON IRAQ'S 'UNRESOLVED DISARMAMENT ISSUES.' The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) released a working document on 6 March titled, "Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programs." The 173-page document addresses unresolved or outstanding issues regarding proscribed weapons, grouped into 29 "clusters," and makes recommendations on the actions Iraq should take to resolve these issues. While the recommendations are too numerous to list, regarding Iraq's declarations on its activities since 1998, UNMOVIC suggested Iraq could: declare and provide employment records of individuals associated with Iraq's proscribed weapons programs; provide "local market" supplier information; and provide evidence on the purpose for which Remotely-Piloted Vehicle (RPV) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms were created, as well as the names of foreign suppliers for those vehicles.
Regarding scud missiles, UNMOVIC called on Iraq to provide information on "retained proscribed missiles and associated equipment," including a missing 50-ton trailer declared as stolen; present any remaining Scud-B guidance and control drawings, documentation, and hardware; present remnants of "destroyed key components, including the turbo-pumps for analysis." As for Volga (SA-2) missiles, UNMOVIC requested Iraq present Al-Sumud 2 missiles and their components (Iraq has done so in recent days), as well as drawings, research, and production documentation; and explain, "How the parts it dismantled from SA-2 missiles were used in its Al-Sumud 2 program." Regarding solid-propellant missile systems, UNMOVIC asked for information on, "all the sources of its import of equipment, raw materials, and technology that were acquired for the solid-propulsion missile program since 1998," and present design drawings of the Al-Ubour missile, its launcher, and associated radar system, as well as technology for the Badr-2000 system, and reasons (and evidence) regarding the upgrade of a test stand at Al-Mutasim.
On the issue of Scud-type biological and chemical warheads, UNMOVIC called on Iraq to present further evidence to support Iraqi declarations on the number of special warheads it produced, explain why no biological warheads were found since 1995, present verifiable evidence on warheads it claims to have unilaterally destroyed, present any remaining R-400 bombs and their molds, provide further documentation on production, inventory, and delivery of those bombs, and documentation on the coding system for the R-400. UNMOVIC also requested figures for quantities of aerial bombs that could be configured for chemical or biological use, as well as information on the import or indigenous manufacture of special warheads and munitions consumption. In addition, UNMOVIC made several demands regarding spraying devices and RPVs.
Regarding chemical agents, UNMOVIC requested evidence on the production of several agents and the quantities in Iraq's possession, as well as further documentation on the quantities Iraq claims were destroyed through aerial bombardment.
UNMOVIC also requested information on genetic engineering and viral research, including information on small pox research, records of the destruction of smallpox isolates obtained in 1972, and documentation related to research on camelpox.
The working document also provides a comprehensive account of the history of Iraq's proscribed-weapons programs. The entire document can be downloaded from UNMOVIC's website (http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UN HALTS U-2 RECONNAISSANCE AFTER INCIDENT. The UN temporarily halted U-2 reconnaissance flights over Iraq on 11 March following a complaint by Iraq that it was not properly notified of the two flights. Iraqi Satellite Channel Television carried a press conference with the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate (NMD) head, Lieutenant General Husam Muhammad Amin, in which Amin told reporters on 11 March that Iraq was informed on 7 March, in accordance with an agreement between Iraq and the UN, that one plane would enter Iraqi airspace from the direction of the Iraq-Kuwait border. That plane entered, as did a second plane, flying from the direction of the Iraq-Saudi border. Amin stated that as the NMD was not informed of the second plane, he immediately contacted the Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring Verification and Inspection Center (BOMVIC) and informed them that there was a second plane that "does not seem to be a UN plane" and asked for verification. Amin said that BOMVIC Director Miroslav Gregoric verified that both planes were on a UN surveillance mission and apologized to Amin for a technical mistake on the part of the UN. Amin called a reported U.S. claim that Iraq threatened the U-2 plane "completely incorrect," Iraq Satellite Television reported.
Speaking of the incident in New York, UNMOVIC Spokesman Ewen Buchanan stated, "Although Iraq had been notified of a flight time window, they expressed surprise and concern that two flights were operating simultaneously. In the interests of safety, UNMOVIC requested the aircraft to withdraw," Reuters reported on 11 March. According to an 11 March AP report, multiple flights are permitted under UN Security Council Resolution 1441.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters during a daily 11 March Pentagon briefing that there may have been a breakdown in communication between the U.S., the UN, and Iraq regarding the 11 March reconnaissance flights. "We [U.S.] believe that we had clearance through the Department of State that deals with UNMOVIC. So DOD [U.S. Department of Defense] talks to [the State Department], State talks to UNMOVIC, UNMOVIC talks to the Iraqis. Where the breakdown occurred is not clear to me, but we don't believe it was between DOD and State. It may have been between State and UNMOVIC or UNMOVIC or the Iraqis, or it may have been us. I just don't happen to know. We're trying to sort it through." Asked whether the incident constituted a "material breach" on the part of Iraq, Rumsfeld said, "Until I find out what the facts are, I wouldn't want to rush to judgment on it. I just don't know whether the Iraqis were actually told there would be two flights or not. And if they weren't, then their response might be considered not unreasonable." The briefing can be viewed on the Department of Defense website (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/). Rumsfeld said that the planes were not threatened in the air by Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UNICEF GEARING UP TO AID IRAQI CHILDREN. The United Nation Children's Fund (UNICEF) is gearing up to provide aid to Iraq's 400,000 malnourished children, according to an 11 March report by the UN News Center (http://www.un.org/apps/news/). UNICEF has transported over 1,000 tons of high-protein biscuits and 155 tons of therapeutic milk to Iraq. The shipment is the first in two years and is a one-month supply. According to UNICEF, Iraq has one of the highest rates of under-5-year-old mortality in the world -- one in eight Iraqi children die by the age of five. "Today, almost a quarter of Iraqi children are born underweight, and a similar number under the age of five are malnourished.... War adds displacement, interruption of food and water supplies, and outbreaks of disease" for Iraqi children, UN News Center quoted UNICEF Iraqi Representative Carel de Rooy as saying. UNICEF has also placed thousands of tons of relief supplies in the region so that it may launch an emergency response in the event of war. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EUROPE, THE U.S. AND IRAQU.K. PROPOSES SIX NEW CONDITIONS FOR IRAQ COMPLIANCE. On 12 March, British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented six new conditions for Iraq to avoid a U.S.-led strike on Iraq, "The New York Times" reported on the same day. The conditions, outlined on the 10 Downing Street website (http://www.number-10.gov.uk/) were circulated at the UN on 12 March, according to a statement by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The conditions are: a public statement by Iraqi President Saddam Husayn admitting that he has concealed weapons of mass destruction but will no longer produce or retain them; allowing at least 30 Iraqi scientists and their families to leave Iraq for interviews; the surrender of all anthrax or "credible evidence" of its destruction; the destruction of all Al-Sumud 2 missiles; an account of all Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and details of any testing of spraying devices for biological and chemical weapons; and the surrender of all mobile chemical and biological production units. Straw stated that the British government still aims to work through the UN, but added, "It can only damage the UN's authority if the Security Council fails to carry out what it said it would do in [UN Security Council] Resolution 1441. [Britain] will continue to do all we can to avoid that outcome." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
CHINESE OFFICIALS COMMENT ON INSPECTIONS, UN RESOLUTION ON IRAQ. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on 7 March that China is opposed to a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, especially if that resolution advocates the use of force in Iraq, Xinhua news service reported on 8 March. "Resolution 1441 adopted at the Security Council represents a result of unity and cooperation among all the members. We should not give up halfway through the process of weapons inspection in Iraq, which has been carried out on the basis of this resolution. At present, the door of peace should not be closed," Tang said, according to Xinhua. Meanwhile, Chinese President Jiang Zemin spoke with British Prime Minister Tony Blair by telephone on 9 March to urge a continuation of weapons inspections, saying, "If only the weapons inspections are continued and strengthened, it is possible to achieve the goal of solving the Iraq issues politically within the UN framework," AFP reported the same day. China expressed its support for a recent proposal to the Security Council by France, Russia, and Germany that called for increased inspections, not war, in Iraq (see RFE/RL "Newsline," 7 March 2003). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS UNILATERAL ACTION AGAINST IRAQ WOULD VIOLATE UN CHARTER... Igor Ivanov told RTR and ORT on 8 March that any U.S. military action against the regime of Iraqi President Husayn without UN authorization would be a violation of the UN Charter. If this happens, he added, then the UN Security Council should discuss the matter and take action if necessary. He said the 17 March deadline included in the amended Security Council resolution on Iraq put forward by the United States, Great Britain, and Spain is "an unjustified ultimatum." "Russia stands firmly for the continuation of the work of international inspectors," Ivanov said. He added that he doubts very much that the Security Council will approve the new resolution. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yurii Fedotov told NTV on 9 March that Russia and the United States might agree -- for very different reasons -- that another resolution is not needed. Russia wants to give the inspectors more time, Fedotov said, and the United States has lost faith in their mission altogether. (Victor Yasmann)
...AS MOSCOW CONFERS WITH OPPONENTS OF WAR. Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev flew to Baghdad on 9 March to meet with President Husayn and other Iraqi leaders, strana.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said that Foreign Minister Ivanov will be in Tehran on 11 March to discuss Iraq with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. Russia and Iran have persistently spoken out against a military solution to the Iraq crisis, he added. The Saudi embassy in Moscow announced that Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi will visit Moscow on 12 March at the invitation of Energy Minister Igor Yusufov, newsru.com reported on 10 March. The two ministers will discuss coordinating the energy policies of the world's two largest oil exporters in light of the Iraq situation, newsru.com reported. (Victor Yasmann)
U.S. UP IN ARMS OVER UNMOVIC ORAL REPORT. U.S. officials have expressed displeasure with UNMOVIC head Hans Blix's oral report to the UN Security Council on 7 March because Blix failed to mention the discovery of an undeclared drone in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Fox News on 9 March, "I think [Blix] could have made more of the [Iraqi] deficiencies...within the cluster document, but I don't write his script." Blix mentioned the drone in a revised 7 March report to the Security Council. "Recent inspections have also revealed the existence of a drone with a wingspan of 7.45 meters that has not been declared by Iraq," Reuters quoted Blix's written report as stating. "Further investigation is required to establish the actual specifications and capabilities of these RPVs and whether Iraq has UAV/RPVs that exceed the 150-kilometer limit," the report added. UAVs and RPVs are not banned items in and of themselves. Rather, the UN holds them to the same criteria as missiles: They may not exceed 150 kilometers in range. Moreover, the council had demanded that Iraq declare all of its drones to inspectors. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SAYS IRAQI FAILURE TO DECLARE UAVS IS VIOLATION. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte told reporters on 10 March that Iraq violated UN Security Council Resolution 1441 when it failed to declare the UAVs to UN inspectors. "Paragraph 3 of Resolution 1441 states very clearly that Iraq has an obligation to declare various types of vehicles and aircraft and so forth, including unmanned aerial vehicles of all types. The fact that this was not initially declared is another example of Iraq's failure to have told the truth with respect to its holdings when it submitted its declaration on the 7th of December," Negroponte said, according to the U.S. State Department's "Washington File" (http://usinfo.state.gov) the same day. Secretary of State Powell told the UN Security Council on 5 February that the United States observed an Iraqi test flight of a drone that flew in a racetrack pattern for 500 kilometers nonstop. However, Blix noted in his report to the Security Council that UN inspectors are still investigating the matter. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. REJECTS 45-DAY DELAY AS UN DEBATE ON IRAQ RAGES. As diplomatic jockeying intensified in the lead-up to a likely vote on a decisive resolution by week's end, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer rejected a proposed 45-day delay on a war decision at the UN as a "nonstarter," AP reported on 11 March. The proposal to delay a decision by 45 days came from six swing countries on the 15-member Security Council -- Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, and Pakistan. They could make or break a draft resolution sponsored by the United States, Britain, and Spain that could pave the way for a U.S.-led war against Iraq. "There's room for a little more diplomacy here, but not much room and not much time," Fleischer said. With an open meeting on the crisis to occupy 11 March, the key vote could come as soon as the following day. France and Russia have indicated they will use their veto to stop what they see as a prowar resolution. (Daniel Kimmage)
RUMSFELD HINTS U.S. CAN GO IT ALONE IN IRAQ. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld touched off a flurry of clarifications with remarks at an 11 March briefing (http://www.defenselink.mil/news) suggesting that the United States might embark on military action without Britain. Responding to a question about shrinking support for war in Britain, Rumsfeld told reporters that, if necessary, "there are work-arounds and they would not be involved [in fighting]." Asked directly whether the United States would go to war "without our closest ally," Rumsfeld replied that the president will be addressing the issue in the days ahead. According to BBC political editor Andrew Marr, the comments caused "shock and surprise in Downing Street." Liberal Democrat spokesman Menzies Campbell told the BBC that the remarks seemed to "devalue Britain's military contribution and hence its political influence." Rumsfeld quickly issued a statement to quell the flap: "I have no doubt of the full support of the United Kingdom for the international community's efforts to disarm Iraq. In my press briefing today, I was simply pointing out that obtaining a second United Nations Security Council resolution is important to the United Kingdom and that we are working to achieve it." (Daniel Kimmage)