15 December 2002, Volume
NOTE TO READERS:
Daily News On Iraq! Get the latest news via e-mail every day by subscribing to RFE/RL Newsline Part III for news on Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: email@example.com
IRAQ RELEASES WEAPONS REPORT TO UN...
The UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) announced receipt of the Iraqi declaration of weapons of mass destruction in a press release on 7 December and Iraqi Lieutenant-General Amir al-Sadi confirmed on 8 December that Iraq has provided the United Nations with a complete and accurate declaration of its weapons programs, Al-Jazeera television reported. The 12,000 page-long declaration includes a list of "suppliers, be they countries or firms, and what was manufactured over the past years" according to Al-Jazeera. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad El-Baradei confirmed receipt of the Iraqi declaration on 8 December, AFP reported. El-Baradei said the IAEA would begin reviewing the declaration immediately, "including the painstaking and systematic cross-checking of the information provided by Iraq against information that the IAEA already has, information that it expects to receive from other [UN] member states, as contemplated in [UN] Resolution 1441, and results of past and present agency verification activities," El-Baradei said. He added that the IAEA expects to give a preliminary report on the Iraqi declaration to the UN Security Council within 10 days, and a more complete assessment by the end of January.
Major General Husam Muhammad Amin, director of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, told Baghdad's Iraq News Agency on 7 December that the Iraqi declaration covers three periods of time: from pre-1990 until 1991; from 1991-98; and from 1998 to the present. Amin noted that the nuclear declarations total some 2,400 pages, while the missile declarations total around 6,300 pages. Chemical declarations total around 1,800 pages and biological declarations amount to some 1,330 pages. "We turned over to the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission [UNMOVIC] and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] the semiannual declarations, which are submitted every six months in accordance with the monitoring plans annexed to Security Council Resolution 715 of 1991. These declarations were made on CD-ROMs and not paper," Amin said. He added that the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate also submitted a "complete" 350-page report on the monitoring regime and the whereabouts of cameras, sensors, and tags. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI UN REPRESENTATIVE SAYS DECLARATION WAS WELL-RECEIVED...
Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Muhammad al-Duri told Al-Jazeera television that the Iraqi declaration sent to the United Nations on 7 December has been well-received thus far. "In general, the reactions before and after the arrival of the report were positive," al-Duri said. He also noted that the only negative positions in regard to the report have come from the United States and Britain. "This was the stand of the United States and Britain even before they receive the report and study it," he said. "This stand, however, was expected from both countries." (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY CRITICIZES U.S. RECEPTION OF DECLARATION...
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 10 December, charging the United States with commandeering Iraq's declaration to the UN Security Council on 9 December. The ministry said the United States' reception of the document was "in violation of Paragraph 3 of UN Security Council Resolution 1441," and that the United States seeks to tamper with UN documents regarding Iraq, Iraq Satellite TV reported on 10 December. The statement said: "The United States forced the UN Security Council (UNSC) president to hand over the original copy of Iraq's declaration...in violation of the agreement that the UNSC...reached on 6 December 2002. This agreement says that the declaration should be kept with UNMOVIC and the IAEA to have their experts first study the declaration in accordance with the international agreements on disarmament and nonproliferation.... This U.S. behavior disparages the UN Charter, the authority of the UNSC and the United Nations." The Foreign Ministry statement also recalled that Iraq's foreign minister warned UNMOVIC and the IAEA against publishing the declarations because "some of the information they contain would have some repercussions and such action would conflict with the nonproliferation regulations." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AS U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE EXPLAINS...
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's complaints in a State Department speech on 11 December at the American Academy of Diplomacy Annual Awards Presentation Luncheon, saying, "The simple answer is that with this 12,000 page document, it was important that we go through this 12,000-page document to make sure that before it was widely distributed, it didn't contain information that might tell someone how to proliferate either a chemical or biological or nuclear technology or capability." Powell added, "The decision that was made by the Colombian presidency with our full support was that the United States would reproduce it, provide it to all of the Permanent Members of the Security Council who have the experience and the ability to make judgments about these kinds of technologies. And as soon as it has been reviewed for that purpose, make it available to the 10 elected members of the Security Council. So all 15 would have that which we believe it appropriate for all 15 to have." Powell noted that the U.S. government had given the documents to the other four permanent member-states of the UN Security Council within 24 hours. He added that the Iraqi declaration would be given to the other Security Council member-states following a review by the 5 permanent members and the UNMOVIC and IAEA. Powell's speech is at: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2002/15887.htm (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AND OPPOSITION FIGURE SAYS IT WILL ONLY BUY IRAQ SOME TIME.
Iraqi Military Council spokesman Tawfiq al-Yasiri has said that the Iraqi declaration of weapons of mass destruction submitted to the UN on 7 December will only buy President Saddam Hussein time, "Der Standard" reported on 9 December. The Iraqi Military Council is an opposition group founded in 2002 and is composed of some 300 Iraqi military officers who defected from Iraq. He told the Austrian daily "Der Standard" that his organization is financially independent, but that it maintains contact with the United States. Al-Yasiri added that he remains in contact with Republican Guard members in Baghdad, and he estimates that in a war, anti-Hussein militias in Iraq could number some 100,000. He added that he is certain that Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, but he doubts that the Iraqis would use them in the event of an American attack, because the United States would immediately cut all communication lines between the president and the troops. Al-Yasiri also noted that the Iraqi-based Iranian opposition group Mujahedin Khalq is militarily involved in Iraq's defense, and questioned why some U.S. figures sought to remove it from the U.S. terror list in November. The Mujahedin Khalq numbers some 25,000 men. (David Nissman, Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR INVASION OF KUWAIT...
Iraqi President Hussein offered an apology to Kuwait for his country's 1990 invasion. The apology was read by Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf on Iraqi Satellite TV on 7 December. In his letter, Hussein invoked pan-Arab ideology and Islamic rhetoric as he called on "the believers, the faithful, and the mujahedin in Kuwait" to unite with their "peers in Iraq under the umbrella of their creator instead of the umbrella of London, Washington, or their counterpart the Zionist entity." Hussein added that Kuwait has been victimized by its rulers and by Western domination through oil exploitation and military "occupation." "We [Iraq] are certain that right will guide you now," he said. "The foreigner is lying in wait for our nation and harbors evil and harm to us, to you, and to our nation. And based on this, we apologize to you," the statement said. Hussein also criticized Kuwaiti officials' plans to attend the upcoming meeting of the Iraqi opposition in London and accused the officials of "plotting against Iraq." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...THEN CHARGES THAT KUWAIT HAS VIOLATED ARAB LEAGUE RESOLUTIONS.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has sent a letter to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa charging that Kuwait has violated the resolutions of the Beirut Summit, international law, the UN Charter, the Arab League Charter, UN Security Council resolutions, and the resolutions of the Arab League Ministerial Council. Republic of Iraq Radio on 10 December carried the text of the letter, in which Sabri specifically charged that Kuwait has continued negative media campaigns against Iraq despite the decisions of the Beirut Summit and Arab League to uphold the territorial integrity of Iraq. Sabri also said Kuwait has not met its commitments under agreements pertaining to the terms of the 1991 cease-fire agreement and subsequent agreements regarding POWs. He added that Kuwait continues to allow a buildup of U.S. and British forces, which carry out military attacks on Iraq from Kuwait. The minister further charged that Kuwait is interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs by meeting with Iraqi opposition members and through its attendance at the 13-15 December opposition meeting in London. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KUWAIT CONDEMNS IRAQI LEADER'S APOLOGY.
Kuwaiti Minister of Information and acting Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahed al-Sabah told the Kuwait News Agency on 9 December, "It was not an explicit apology, rather, it was an equivocal apology in which [President Hussein] made use of the Arabic vocabulary," the minister said. "It was not a clear apology that affirms good intentions in words and deeds." He added that the "speech did not mention any of our crucial causes that the Kuwaiti people and the world realize; namely, the POWs' cause, returning Kuwaiti properties and Kuwait's security and sovereignty." Al-Fahed said the speech reflected Hussein's arrogance and aggressiveness. His comments followed a meeting of the cabinet's Political and Security Affairs Committee, which convened to study the Iraqi leader's apology.
Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah officially condemned Hussein's apology in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Kuwait News Agency reported on 11 December. "An attentive reading of the Iraqi message proves it contained no apology by the Iraqi leadership to the Kuwaiti people," al-Sabah's letter stated. He insisted that Iraq continues to interfere in Kuwait's internal affairs, and pointed out a comment Hussein made in his apology in which he said that "The Americans seek to...plunder your resources and...turn your leaders into local heads of a U.S. oil firm." Al-Sabah concluded, "This is not only a negative step and a step backward as far as the Iraqi regional and international obligations toward Kuwait are concerned, but also a clear shunning of relevant UN resolutions and the decisions of the Beirut Arab summit resolutions held last March." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AS MINISTER SAYS KUWAIT 'REINFORCING' SECURITY.
Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah said his country has taken steps to reinforce security following the above-mentioned apology by Iraqi President Hussein, Kuwait News Agency reported on 11 December. According to the agency, Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak told "Al-Rai al-Aam" that the tone of the Iraqi speech was perceived as an escalation of threats against Kuwait. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT CRITICIZES U.S. ALLIES IN THE REGION.
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has said that Iraq's neighbors who contribute to the U.S. military effort against Iraq are "shameful," Al-Jazeera television reported on 10 December. "The only thing I would say is that any facilitation of the aggression against Iraq and any contribution, even if it is termed as indirect, is a crime and a shame on that country and its rulers until doomsday," Ramadan said. "This applies to any country that offers any service to the criminal U.S. administration in attacking Iraqi people," he added. "We are confident that if they facilitate the aggression against Iraq, they would also be facilitating an aggression against themselves later on." (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI PRESIDENT SPEAKS OF WAR, LEADERSHIP.
Iraqi President Hussein addressed a meeting of ministers, military leaders, Ba'ath Party members, and his sons, Iraq Satellite TV reported on 10 December. "War is savage and detestable," Hussein said, "It has implications and demands sacrifices...Man is sometimes put in a situation where he either loses his entire cause, his honor, the honor of the homeland and the honor of the coming generations, and principles and their meanings; or upholds his faith and advances," he added. "Your heads will remain high, God willing, and your enemy will lose with God's help." The Iraqi leader also addressed the issue of leadership, recalling that he has asked ministers to work as district officers. "This is what we did with the party," he said. "There was interaction between the higher and lower cadres in a way where the higher cadres gave experience to the lower ones and learned from them...This is because all of us should learn and teach at the same time," he explained. "There will be no leadership if the leader does not carry out the task of the teacher and instructor along with that of the leadership." (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQ CANCELS RUSSIAN OIL DEALS.
Iraq has reportedly canceled a $3.7 billion oil deal with three Russian firms to develop the West Qurna field, Interfax and international media reported on 12 December. "LUKoil, Russia's largest oil group by reserves, was informed this week, along with two minority partners [Zarubezhneft and Mashinoimport] in the project, that their contracts in the second phase of the West Qurna field had been terminated," ft.com reported. A LUKoil spokesman said that an Iraqi deputy oil minister on 9 December sent a letter to LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov informing him that the contract has been canceled. The action reportedly resulted from failure on the part of the Russian companies to develop the field, which has reserves estimated at 7.3 billion barrels. Iraq has repeatedly tried to pressure the Russian firms to begin developing the fields. However, the firms are currently banned from doing so under UN sanctions. LUKoil spokesman Aleksandr Vasilenko told reporters on 12 December that the Russian firms intend fight the cancellation of the contract through legal channels. "We do not understand how a petty bureaucrat from the Oil Ministry of Iraq can cancel a law that has been passed by Iraq's parliament," abcnews.com quoted Vasilenko as saying. (Kathleen Ridolfo)RUSSIA WEIGHS IN ON IRAQI DECLARATION.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergei Lavrov told ITAR-TASS on 12 December that his country has issued "concrete proposals" pertaining to Iraq's 7 December declaration to the UN. Lavrov said that United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Executive Chairman Hans Blix asked the five permanent Security Council member states to review the Iraqi declaration and submit proposals or suggestions by 13 December regarding which sections of the Iraqi declaration should remain confidential. "The Russian representatives carried this work out at the interagency level in the course of 24 hours, and today I've been instructed to inform Mr. Blix about [the] concrete assessment of each section of the Iraqi declaration in order [for him to] take into account our professional views in deciding what sections should remain confidential," Lavrov said. On 11 December, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell commented on the United States' intentions with regard to examining the report (see RFE/RL "Iraq Report," 13 December 2002). (Kathleen Ridolfo)YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF IRAQI ARMS SALES...
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica told "The Times" of 9 December that "Belgrade's cooperation with the West in the event of an attack on Iraq would be 'less enthusiastic' than in other former communist countries and denied reports that he knew of recent illegal exports of arms and missile technology to Baghdad that may have been used to help in developing weapons of mass destruction" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 and 29 November), the paper reported. The president stressed that he "really did everything" to launch an inquiry into the affair. (Patrick Moore)...AND AGAIN CHALLENGES NGO REPORT.
"The Times" of 9 December added that "Kostunica said that he was pleased that the U.S. State Department had denied allegations by the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization, which claimed that Yugoslavia was a hub for material enabling Baghdad to develop weapons of mass destruction. 'I consider this was one of my successes on the eve of the elections'" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 and 29 November). In related news, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting reported from Belgrade on 9 December that Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic and some others have gone to great lengths recently to make information on the arms deals available to NATO, the U.S., and the UN. (Patrick Moore)U.S. AUTHORIZES MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO OPPOSITION GROUPS...
U.S. President George W. Bush on 9 December issued a determination on defense aid to Iraqi opposition groups, according to a State Department press release. The determination provides "up to $92 million in defense articles from the [U.S.] Department of Defense, defense services from the Department of Defense, and military education and training" for Iraqi opposition groups. The determination specifically mentions the Iraqi National Accord, the INC, the KDP, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, and the SCIRI, but funding will be made available to all groups designated by the White House as eligible to receive assistance. The inclusion of SCIRI (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) is noteworthy because it maintains offices funded by the Iranian government and has coordinated activities with Iran's intelligence services.
According to UPI of 10 December, Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, "The Iranians have allowed SCIRI to take some positions different than the government. That said, the group is never going to go against Iranian policy and is dependent on Iranian financial and logistical support." He added that the step is "significant because the Iranians are willing to see someone on their soil accept money from the United States government." SCIRI's leader, Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, lives in Tehran. (David Nissman, Kathleen Ridolfo)...AND ADDS TO LIST OF GROUPS ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL, MATERIAL ASSISTANCE.
U.S. President Bush on 9 December designated five additional Iraqi opposition groups "democratic opposition organizations," making them eligible to receive U.S. financial and material aid, according to a State Department press release. "A presidential determination issued by the White House on 9 December identified the five groups as the Assyrian Democratic Movement; the Iraqi Free Officers and Civilians Movement; the Iraqi National Front; the Iraqi National Movement; the Iraqi Turkmen Front; and the Islamic Accord of Iraq," according to the statement. The determination falls under the provisions of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. Currently, the INC, the SCIRI, the KDP, and the PUK receive U.S. assistance. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SCIRI REPRESENTATIVE OUTLINES FORMAT OF IRAQI OPPOSITION MEETING...
Hamid al-Bayati, the London representative of the SCIRI and a member of the preparatory committee for the 13-15 December Iraqi opposition meeting, told "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" on 11 December that preparations have been completed for the meeting. Al-Bayati said the list of Islamists slated to participate in the conference stands at 40 percent of participants, with 33 percent being Shi'ite Islamists and 7 percent being Sunnis. He added that the figure was decided based on the percentages agreed upon at the 1992 Salah al-Din conference in which the INC was founded. However, he said the Iraqi Constitutional Movement, the National Accord, and the INC are now opposed to those percentages because their groups will have less representation than the Kurds and Shiite Islamists. Al-Bayati said the conference will focus on three objectives: "Agreement on a unified political message from the Iraqi opposition commensurate with the current stage; drawing up a vision of Iraq's future and the transitional period after regime change until free and democratic elections are held; and agreement on a follow-up and coordination committee that implements the conference's resolutions." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...WHICH WILL NOT INCLUDE EVERY GROUP.
Al-Bayati told "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" that independent Sunni and Shi'ite leaders will participate in the London meeting, including Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum and Abd al-Majid al-Khui (Shi'ite); and Abd al-Sattar al-Duri, Faris al-Ani, Rashid al-Hadithi, and Abd al-Muhsin al-Uraybi (Sunni). But, Salah Umar al-Ali, a representative from the Democratic Accord, disputed this to "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" saying that, "I am not the only one who has decided not to participate. There are national, pan-Arab, democratic, and Islamic forces representing the real Iraqi opposition that have refused to participate in it." Al-Ani added that the National Accord believes that the "minimum conditions" for a national plan have not been met because "some influential parties in the preparatory committee" monopolized decision-making and "imposed their views" on the other groups. (Kathleen Ridolfo)STATE DEPARTMENT HOSTS DEFENSE WORKING GROUP.
The U.S. State Department hosted the first meeting of the working group on Defense Policy and Institutions on 10-11 December, according to a press release dated 10 December. The Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs reportedly hosted 10 "free Iraqis" in Washington "for discussions of major issues and challenges to be faced in the defense policy of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, complies with Security Council resolutions, and maintains Iraq's territorial integrity." (Kathleen Ridolfo)TWO U.S. SENATORS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN.
Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Chuck Hagel (Republican, Nebraska), a member of the committee, have visited the Iraqi Kurdistan region. They met with leading members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Salah-al-Din, according to Kurdistan Satellite TV on 7 December.
According to the report, the U.S. delegation expressed its satisfaction with the democratic experience in the region, in the Kurds' administrative capabilities, and their united political stance. The American delegation attended a session of the Kurdish National Assembly (parliament) in Irbil, and addressed the assembly, which was attended by the head of the KDP-headed government, Nechirvan Barzani, and the head of the PUK-led regional government, Barham Salih.
Biden, in his address to the assembly, stressed the need to continue efforts to build a future for the Kurds within a united Iraq. He also stressed the commitment of Washington and its allies to support the development of democracy in the "Kurdistan" region.
In a subsequent interview on CNN on 8 December, Biden expressed his sense of how difficult the aftermath of a victory would be in the event that the U.S. decides to invade Iraq. Hagel expressed the opinion that he, like many others, thought Hussein had to go. Both senators felt that the U.S. faced a gigantic undertaking in Iraq. (David Nissman)IRAQI SHI'ITES ISSUE STATEMENT PRIOR TO OPPOSITION CONFERENCE.
A group of Iraqi Shi'ites have issued a statement prior to the opening of the opposition conference to be held in London on 13-15 December; it was published in the London-based "Al-Hayat" on 5 December. They called on the conference "to formulate a unified political message and a common vision of Iraq's future during the transitional period that follows President Saddam Hussein's downfall and the permanent constitutional period."
The principles enunciated in the document call for getting rid of the dictatorship, confirming the Iraqis determination and natural right to build a new Iraqi state, not squandering the great sacrifices they have made in the fight against the dictatorship, maintaining the Iraqi society's Islamic identity, and stamping out the sectarian policies whose main victims were Iraq's Shi'ites.
The demands of the signatories of the document are: democracy as a constitutional mechanism to ensure the participation of all Iraqis on an equal footing in ruling and administering the country; the adoption of decentralization in the administration of the country which gives all areas extensive administrative powers in all fields with the exception of defense, finance, and foreign policy; the abolition of sectarianism and the removal of its causes, and the elimination and treatment of its consequences for the political, religious, cultural, social, and economic realities in Iraq.
The "Al-Hayat" report listed 16 signatories to the statement. The signatories include Dr. Muhammad Bahr-al-Ulum of the Independent Islamic Movement and a number of other prominent Shi'ite activists. (David Nissman)IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET IN IRAN BEFORE LONDON CONFERENCE.
Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraq National Congress and Mas'ud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, were in Tehran ahead of the London opposition meeting scheduled for 13-15 December, according to AFP on 9 December. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is also expected in Tehran. Chalabi and Barzani met together on 9 December, as well as meeting separately with Iranian officials and the Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
Details of the talks were not released, although it is reported that Chalabi met on 8 December with al-Hakim; subsequently, al-Hakim refused to have his picture taken with Chalabi. In a later press conference, Chalabi told AFP that "Iran supports the liberation of Iraq. The Iranians will not oppose Iraqis fighting the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Barzani met also with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who maintain a presence on the Iran-Iraq border. Talks with the media were declined "for security reasons."
SCIRI official Hamid al-Bayati was also quoted as saying that Iran has also been invited to join the London conference of the opposition, along representatives from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union. (David Nissman)ANSAR AL-ISLAM ASSAULT KILLS 53 NEAR HALABCHA.
A surprise attack by Ansar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam) forces killed 53 peshmerga of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's (PUK) forces near Halabcha, close to the Iranian border, according to an ABC News report carried by KurdishMedia.com on 11 December. The Ansar al-Islam has been often linked with Al-Qaeda. The Ansar were attempting to take two heavily fortified PUK fortifications. While they were initially successful, the PUK later retook the positions.
The attack was on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Normally, the PUK posts are staffed by some 3,500 peshmerga, but 1,500 had been sent home on holiday leave. As a consequence of the surprise attack, troop strength will be increased to 4,500.
This was the largest attack in the 15 months that the Ansar guerrillas had situated themselves along the border. According to Barham Salih, premier of the PUK territory, Al-Qaeda set up a base here 10 days prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center. (David Nissman)BARZANI IN IRAN.
Mas'ud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), was in Tehran and was received by Iranian parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi, IRNA reported on 8 December. He discussed Iraq's future as well as met with ranking officials in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
According to the cultural and public relations department of parliament, Karrooubi stressed the importance of the unity, dependence, and territorial integrity of Iraq.
The "Kurdistan Observer" of 8 December said that Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is also expected to arrive in Tehran in the coming days. Afterwards, both Kurdish leaders are expected to proceed to London for the opposition meeting. (David Nissman)BARZANI WARNS WASHINGTON ABOUT IMPOSING NEW GOVERNMENT.
While in Tehran, Barzani said he would be happy to see the U.S. oust Hussein from power, but warned Washington not to impose its will when it comes to the formation of a new government, according to AFP on 10 December. The KDP, which Barzani leads, also asserted that "Iraq should not be used as a base against Iran."
He told a press conference in Tehran that "for the U.S. interest to be preserved, they should not intervene without consulting with others and should not impose their will on the Iraqi people."
Asked whether the U.S. would use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base for an assault on Iraq, he did not give a direct answer. He said only: "Who can keep the U.S. from doing what it wants in the world?" (David Nissman)BARHAM SALIH ON KIRKUK.
Barham Salih, the prime minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan-controlled region of Iraqi Kurdistan, was interviewed by "Newsweek" on 16 November. He was asked a number of questions about Kurdish attitudes toward Iraq and the United States. He was also asked about the question of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds have said would be declared the capital of Kurdistan.
Salih said about Kirkuk: "Kirkuk is a symbol of Iraq's failure as a state.... In order for Iraq to be peaceful we need the injustice which befell Kirkuk [when non-Arabs were expelled by Saddam] to be reversed. All the peoples of Kirkuk should be allowed to return -- Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians. Ethnic cleansing should not be allowed to stand. Kirkuk should be a city of Kurdistan, but inhabited by many peoples." (David Nissman)RUSSIA TO INITIATE CONTACT WITH IRAQI KURDS.
The London-based Arabic newspaper "Al-Hayat" of 7 December says that Moscow intends to hold direct contacts with the Iraqi Kurds and will send its ambassador in Baghdad to Iraqi Kurdistan for that purpose.
An informed Russian source told "Al-Hayat" that Ambassador Titorenko is to travel to Kurdistan to meet with Jalal Talabani, leader of the PUK, and Mas'ud Barzani, the head of the KDP.
While Moscow has declined to participate in the Iraqi opposition conference on 13-15 December in London, it has held "exploratory" talks with opposition parties. The last visit to Kurdistan by a Russian ambassador was in the 1990s.
It may be that Titorenko will brief the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad on his talks, thus, to a certain extent, removing Baghdad's concerns about a change in the Russian stance.
"Al-Hayat" notes that the Iraqi ambassador in Moscow, Abbas Khalaf, has praised Russia's "principled stance" and remarked that Baghdad "will continue to wager" on Russian oil firms and that Iraq will continue to give "preference" to Russian companies. (David Nissman)BARZANI REAFFIRMS KURDISH IDENTITY OF KIRKUK.
KDP leader Mas'ud Barzani, speaking at the Kurdish Institute in Paris, discussed the importance of Kurdish federalism and denounced sectarianism in Iraq, according to an article in the Irbil newspaper "Brayati" on 30 November. He stressed the importance of the emergence of an Iraq which is "democratic, parliamentary, pluralistic, and federal."
He also dwelt on the issue of Kirkuk. He said: "We would like to state that Kirkuk is a Kurdistani city. This is a geographical and historical fact." While he notes that Kirkuk is not only for the Kurdish people, he stresses that "it is impossible for us to compromise regarding the Kurdistani identity of Kirkuk." (David Nissman)PRISONERS PARDONED IN KDP-LED REGION AFTER RAMADAN.
In the region led by the KDP, a special pardon was given to a number of prisoners in the Irbil and Duhoq governorates. The pardon was decreed by the chairman of the Council of Ministers on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan).
Nechirvan Barzani issued a special pardon to 29 prisoners. A number of other prisoners were released earlier in another special pardon, according to the Irbil newspaper "Khabat," which is published by the KDP. It is unclear what the prisoners were charged with or for what crimes they were convicted. (David Nissman)KURDISH ORGANIZATION BRANDED AS 'TERRORIST' BY STATE DEPARTMENT.
AP reported on 10 December that a Kurdish organization that recently changed its name will remain on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. The group, now calling itself the Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan (KADEK) was formerly known as the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that "...the relevant circumstances designating this group as a foreign terrorist organization and under the terrorist financing order still exist." He added: "Despite claims by senior party officials that they would regroup as a new, politically oriented organization," the group "continues to operate under the same leadership and with the same aim of committing acts of terrorism that threaten U.S. interests and the security of U.S. nationals." (David Nissman)IRAQ ADMITS USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST IRAN.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz admitted that his country used chemical weapons against Iran during the 1980-88 war between the two states. His comments came during an interview with Swedish state-run television, IRNA reported on 7 December. Aziz reportedly told Swedish Television that Iraq was somehow "forced" to use chemical agents against Iran. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI TROOPS MAY TRY TO RECLAIM KURDISH AREAS.
The London-based Libyan daily "Al-Arab al-Alamiyah" reported on 10 December that "Iraqi troops and paramilitary militias numbering thousands of volunteers have completed their preparations in the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul to pave the way for reclaiming the area under the control of the Kurdish gangs that are operating under the supervision of the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services in northern Iraq." The report quotes Iraqi officials as telling their Turkish counterparts that any U.S. aggression launched from Kurdish areas could lead to a refugee crisis, "should these gangs decide to run away as they did in 1991." (Kathleen Ridolfo)CORRECTION:
An article in last week's "RFE/RL Iraq Report" entitled "Barzani, Talabani Express Reservations About U.S. Invasion of Iraq" (9 December 2002, Volume 5, Number 40) mistakenly referred to Robin Wright, chief diplomatic correspondent of the "Los Angeles Times," as a correspondent for "The Times" of London. Our apologies for the error.
By Kathleen Ridolfo
A summary of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in Iraq from 5-11 December 2002
No inspections carried out.
A team of 15 inspectors visited the Al-Quds State Company, located in Al-Iskandariyah, approximately 50 kilometers south of Baghdad. The company belongs to the Iraqi Military Industrialization Organization, Iraqi Television reported, citing a Foreign Ministry statement. The company was established in 2002 and conducts "research on mechanical designs," according to the report. The Foreign Ministry added that the team questioned the director general of the company and "inspected all buildings and laboratories at the site."
Meanwhile, a team of four inspectors visited the Al-Shaykhali warehouses in Al-Tuwaythah, which are owned by the Atomic Energy Organization. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, the warehouses "contain equipment, machinery, and raw materials that are under permanent monitoring and sealed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)." According to the IAEA, an inventory was taken and will be "reconciled with the IAEA's database on equipment and material, and changes described in the Iraqi biannual declaration of 1 October 2002."
UNMOVIC noted in a 7 December press release that "the Government of Iraq handed over to UNMOVIC and the IAEA at the Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Center (BOMVIC) documents and CD-ROMs containing Iraq's declaration pursuant to paragraph 3 of Security Council resolution 1441 (2002). The handover took place at the Canal Hotel, which houses BOMVIC. The declaration will be transmitted expeditiously to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the IAEA Headquarters in Vienna. BOMVIC is the operations base of UNMOVIC and the IAEA in Iraq."8 DECEMBER
A Foreign Ministry spokesman told Iraq Radio on 8 December that 15 inspectors the same day visited the Al-Fallujah III site of the Al-Tariq State Company, located in the Al-Fallujah district 70 kilometers west of Baghdad. According to UNMOVIC, Al-Fallujah III is "a chemical factory engaged in the production of pesticides, insecticides and rodent poisons. A research and development department is also located at the facility and is concerned with new formulations and synthetic processes for local production of active ingredients. The site contains a number of tagged dual-use items of equipment, which were all accounted for." The Iraqi Foreign Ministry noted that inspectors asked "about the castor oil production unit. This unit was destroyed during the U.S.-British aggression on 16-20 December 1998. The aggression also destroyed the control system of the monitoring cameras that belonged to the defunct [UN] Special Commission. Production then stopped and the undamaged parts of the production unit were dismantled and transported for other uses. The factory established a castor oil extraction unit near the destroyed unit. The new unit began production in 1999." The ministry added that inspectors used hand-held devices to measure the concentration of chemical compounds.
In addition, a team of three inspectors visited the Baghdad-based State Establishment for Geological Survey and the related Geo-Pilot plant facilities, which are part of the Industry and Minerals Ministry. UNMOVIC reported, "These facilities had previously been involved in the mapping of ore assays and developmental processing of those ores." The Iraqi Foreign Ministry described the site as specializing in the geological survey of "Iraqi lands to define mineral resources." The ministry added, "The team visited the Pilot Unit building for...Abu-Sukhayr Mine. This building has not been used since 1991 and is listed in the semi-annual declarations."
A team of 25 nuclear inspectors arrived in Iraq on 8 December -- 21 from the IAEA and 4 from UNMOVIC.
An Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman issued a statement detailing the activities of weapons inspectors on 9 December, Iraq Satellite TV reported. According to the statement, the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) visited a chlorine factory and a phenol factory at Al-Fallujah II, north of Baghdad. Both factories are connected to the Al-Tariq State Company, which is part of the Military Industrial Organization. The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the chlorine factory has not operated since August due to a shortage of spare parts, and the phenol factory is used to manufacture medicine and pesticides from oil products for civilian use. UNMOVIC reported: "The Fallujah II site comprises the headquarters of the Al-Tariq Company and a factory area. Only the factory area was inspected. Two separate chemical plants are in the factory area and their major activity is the production of phenol and chlorine. The chlorine plant is currently inoperative. The site contains a number of tagged dual-use items of equipment, which were all accounted for."
The IAEA visited the Al-Tuwaythah, Al-Shaykhali, and Al-Qa'qa sites. Eighteen inspectors at the Al-Tuwaythah site (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 2002) inspected a warehouse containing nuclear material, and to collect water and soil samples and conduct radiation scanning around the Atomic Energy Organization.
According to a UNMOVIC press release, "Five teams were deployed to the site. They utilized a wide range of inspection techniques, ranging from visual inspections to sampling for detection of any potential radiological activity using Gamma surveys, water sampling and swipe sampling techniques. The team also started to take a physical inventory of nuclear materials from al-Tuwaythahs, which are the last known remnants of the past nuclear program." UNMOVIC added, "A detailed inspection was made of Al-Shaykhali. All buildings were inspected and sampled for the detection of radiological materials. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry did not comment on the Al-Shaykhali inspection.
Another team visited the State Al-Qa'qa Company, located 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, where it visited "some of the company's plants, the site where explosive material was destroyed, and the Research and Development Section," according to the Foreign Ministry. It also seized the prototype of an 81-millimeter missile. UNMOVIC reported, "An IAEA team at Al-Qa'qa began inventorying known explosive materials from the past nuclear program that were previously under the control of the IAEA. Other tasks involved inspecting a number of key buildings and outdoor sites within the huge Al-Qa'qa complex."
An UNMOVIC team visited the site of the National Project for Controlling Brucellosis and Tuberculosis (NPCBT), which belongs to the State Veterinary Company/Agriculture Ministry located west of Baghdad. According to UNMOVIC, the site has "limited equipment for small batch production of animal vaccine and diagnostics" and was declared and monitored before 1998. The team also visited the Saddam Center for Research on Biological Technologies (SCB), which is part of Baghdad University and is listed in the 7 December Iraq declaration as containing "dual-use" equipment. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the center was founded in 1999 "for building scientific laboratories in the field of biological technologies," according to a report by the Iraq News Agency on 11 December. Inspectors also visited the center for infectious-disease control in Baghdad, which was a newly declared site.
According to the Foreign Ministry statement, an IAEA team visited the Ibn al-Haytham site north of Baghdad, which belongs to the Al-Karamah State Company. The site specializes in producing missile parts "within the range allowable." IAEA inspectors also visited the Al-Karamah facility, which contains a complex of sites, including Ibn al-Haytham, the associated stores of the Military Industrialization Committee (MIC), the Al-Fatah Company, and the Al-Sumud factory. UNMOVIC spokesman Hiro Ueki noted, "The primary aim of the inspections was to carry out a review of current activities of the site as well as the activities since 1998, and also to ascertain the disposition and use of various machine tools and items of equipment that were previously known to the IAEA."
The IAEA also revisited the Atomic Energy Organization in Al-Tuwaythah to resume testing and complete a physical inventory of nuclear materials from Iraq's past nuclear program.
The Al-Furat State Company for Chemical Industries, located in Siddat al-Hindiyah, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, was also inspected. It produces liquid chlorine, concentrated sulfuric acid, and diluted sulfuric acid for use in batteries and chemical products for domestic use, the ministry reported.
Inspectors also visited the Al-Siddah cement factory's water-pumping station, and checked for dual-use capabilities. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry briefing also noted that inspectors inquired about HOMOX, an explosive substance used in the factory's quarries. UNMOVIC also noted that a team investigated an outlying site of the Al-Qa'qa explosives plant called Sumud-4, located near the Al-Siddah cement factory.
Inspectors also visited the State Phosphate Company in Al-Qa'im, 400 kilometers west of Baghdad, which produces agricultural fertilizers and houses stored uranium, according to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. UNMOVIC reported, "Al-Qa'im was previously associated with Iraq's production of uranium from ores found in the area. The team is tasked with verifying the status of destroyed equipment at this site and an inspection to determine that no uranium extraction activities have been resumed."
UNMOVIC released details of inspections carried out on 11 December by it and the IAEA. According to a press briefing posted on the UNMOVIC website (http://www.un.org/depts/unmovic/), UNMOVIC visited the Al-Fatah factory, which is located northwest of Baghdad and belongs to the Al-Karamah State Company. The factory was opened in 1999 and remains under construction. "The site is concerned principally with the manufacture of mechanical parts for the guidance and control system of the Al-Samud ballistic missile, as well as parts of the engine and airframe," the UNMOVIC report stated. "The factory also manufactures components for the control system of the T-72 tank and for the shoulder-launched Saddam's Arrow surface-to-air missile." A second UNMOVIC team visited the Al-Razi Research Center, located in Al-America, 25 kilometers west of Baghdad, which produces "small amounts of diagnostic reagents for a limited number of human and animal diseases." Incidentally, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that the Al-Razi center is located in the Abu Ghurayb area north of Baghdad. The ministry noted in its daily briefing that the center belongs to the Ministry of Industry and Minerals and "specializes in carrying out research on medical diagnosis equipment and producing pills for testing sensitivity to antibiotics, solutions, and tinctures," INA reported on 12 December.
According to the UNMOVIC website, the IAEA completed inspections at two sites and visited four additional sites on 11 December. IAEA teams completed inventory of the nuclear materials stored at the Al-Tuwaythah site, as well as at the uranium-extraction plant at Al-Qa'im (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 December 2002). The Iraqi Foreign Ministry reported that during the visit to the State Phosphate Company (Al-Qa'im), the IAEA teams inquired about concentrated and diluted sulfuric acid, the site's Freon gas project, and fertilizers. They also took soil, grass, solid material, and water samples from the site and conducted a radiation survey.
A team also visited the Ibn Sina Company, which lies 40 kilometers north of Baghdad. UNMOVIC reports that this site was previously known as Tarmiyah and was the site of a uranium-enrichment plant that was destroyed by coalition forces in 1991. There are reportedly "dual-use activities" at the site. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry reported on 12 December that the Ibn Sina company "specializes in industrial chemical research and the production of the organic and non-organic raw materials needed by civil industries in Iraq.... It also carries out various chemical tests." The inspectors also visited the Al-Amal liquid-nitrogen plant located 10 kilometers from the Ibn Sina Company. In addition, inspectors visited the Saddam GE and Al-Amir factories, which are located approximately 120 kilometers west of Baghdad. The two facilities provide "support to the military in the field of armaments," according to UNMOVIC. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry reported on 12 December that UNSCOM teams visited the Al-Amir factory several times. "The factory specializes in heavy mechanical operation for public services. It does not carry out any activity for missiles with allowable ranges that are covered under the monitoring. But it was included under the monitoring regime due to its ability to make missile parts, according to the opinion of...UNSCOM."