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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Iraq News, OCTOBER 1, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .

   This is the 57th day without weapons inspections in Iraq.
   The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrrorism, Technology and 
Government Information will hold a hearing on the question of the six 
Iraqi opposition members, evacuated by the US Gov't after Saddam's Aug 
96 assault on Irbil, and presently detained in California.  The hearing 
will be Oct 5, 2:00 PM, Dirksen Bldg, Room 226.
   The NYT, today, reported that Foreign Minister, Mohammed al-Sahaf, 
took a hard line in his speech yesterday to the UNGA.  He denounced 
UNSCOM and said Iraq had complied with UNSCR 687.  He also said 
sanctions were "tantamount to internationally proscribed acts of 
genocide."  He also seemed to assume Iraq could have the "comprehensive 
review," provided for in UNSCR 1194, before allowing weapons inspections 
to resume.
   USIS, yesterday, in "Iraq Liberation Bill Introduced into Congress," 
reported on the "bipartisan support shown for [the] removal of Saddam 
Hussein."  Rep. Benjamin Gilman [R, NY], introducing the "Iraq 
Liberation Act of 1998" [HR 4655], Sept 29, explained that "the purpose 
of this legislation is to finally and irrevocably commit the United 
States to the removal from power of the regime headed by Saddam Hussein. 
...   If this man remains in power, Iraq will remain a clear and present 
danger to the United  States and our allies.  We heard as much from the 
Chief UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, and we have heard as much from 
the Administration."
   Robert Kagan, in The Weekly Standard, Sept 28, underscored the Iraqi 
threat, as detailed by Ritter and suggested by the long break in weapons 
inspections.  "The Clinton administration clearly has no idea how to 
handle this imminent and devastating threat to American interests. ... 
The unstated but de facto policy of the administration is now this 
slender hope: if and when Saddam builds his weapons of mass destruction, 
the United States will still be able to deter him from aggression 
against his neighbors.  This must be comforting to the folks in 
Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Kuwait City, as well as to anyone else who cares 
about American credibility and Middle East peace.  It has long been 
clear that the only way to rid the world of Saddam's weapons of mass 
destruction is to rid Iraq of Saddam.  Last week, Paul Wolfowitz, a 
defense official in the Bush administration, laid out in testimony 
before Congress a thoughtful and coherent strategy to accomplish that 
goal.  The Wolfowitz plan calls for the establishment of a 'liberated 
zone' in southern Iraq ... The zone would be a safe haven for the 
opponents of Saddam's regime.  They could rally and organize, establish 
a provisional government there, gain international recognition, and set 
up a credible alternative to Saddam's dictatorship. ...  Arab officials 
have told Wolfowitz that the effect on Saddam's regime would be 
'devastating.'  Wolfowitz predicts that the creation of such a zone 
would lead to the 'unraveling of the regime.'" [see "Iraq News," Sept 17 
for Wolfowitz' testimony].  Kagan stressed that the US should be 
prepared to back up the Iraqi opponents of Saddam with its own force.
   The extremity of the Saddam menace was highlighted by yesterday's 
Wash Post report on Iraq's nuclear program.  In 1996 and 1997, UNSCOM 
told US officials that it had credible intelligence indicating that Iraq 
had built and retained several implosion devices that lacked only 
enriched uranium cores to make 20-kiloton nuclear weapons.  
  David Steinmann, who just finished four years as president of JINSA 
[Jewish Institute for Nat'l Security Affairs] and now serves as Chairman 
of JINSA's Board of Advisers, commenting on the story, noted "the now 
recognizable reaction of the Clinton Administration: 1) we didn't get 
the information; 2) OK, we got it, but it's not so credible; 3) OK, it 
may be credible, so 4) let's investigate and smear the source of the 
information (Scott Ritter) instead of investigating the validity of the 
information and the danger it poses to the US and Iraq's neighbors (this 
last point isn't mentioned in this article but has been in previous 
pieces by the same journalist)."
   Indeed, while the information about Iraq's nuclear program is new in 
its detail, it has long been known in its generality.  It came to light 
as a result of Hussein Kamil's Aug 95 defection and was first reported 
by Paul Leventhal and Edwin Lyman, Nov 2, 1995 in the IHT, "Who Says 
Iraq Isn't Making a Bomb." Also, Mike Eisenstadt, of The Washington 
Institute, which sporadically reports on the Iraq threat, wrote "Still 
Not Bomb-Proof," in the Wash Post, Feb 26 96.
   And in Dec 95, a month after the assassination of Itzhak Rabin, 
Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, and Foreign Minister, Ehud Barak, 
visited Washington. Both raised the danger of an Iraqi nuclear 
breakthrough, but Barak did so in exceptionally strong terms.  
Evidently, they were rebuffed by the Clinton administration.  Still, a 
key question is why no Israeli official spoke out subsequently.  That is 
especially puzzling, given the Wash Post, Sept 29, and Haaretz, Sept 29, 
reporting on the close relations that developed between Israel and 
UNSCOM from Jul 95 onwards, which presumably kept at least some Israelis 
aware of the Saddam menace and the US failure to address it.
  Finally, another attack on the administration's Iraq policy came from 
a quite different direction.  Dennis Halliday recently resigned his 
position as co-ordinator for UN aid in Iraq.  As the BBC reported 
yesterday, Halliday denounced sanctions as "a totally bankrupt concept." 
 He explained that sanctions caused Iraqis to die, while they eroded the 
fabric of society, contributing to divorce, prostitution, and crime.
  Wen the Bush administration announced, in May 91, that it would not 
agree to lift sanctions while Saddam remained in power, it did so in the 
context of a policy aiming to overthrow Saddam.  That is the policy that 
Congress is seeking to restore. Sanctions were not intended to remain in 
place the rest of Saddam's natural life.  It was only the Clinton 
administration, looking to its own convenience, which came up with the 
idea.  But the policy is cruel, as well as ineffectual, and the two 
together are a particularly dangerous combination.
News from the House International Relations Committee
Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman
Sept 29, 1998; Jerry Lipson, Communications Director (202) 225-5021.
Gilman Introduces Bill to Support Democratic Opposition against Saddam 
WASHINGTON - International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin A. 
Gilman (20th-NY) has introduced legislation providing support for a 
democratic opposition to replace Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
   Gilman's bill, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (HR 4655), calls on 
the President to designate groups that are committed to a democratic 
Iraq and authorizes up to $97 million in military assistance and $2 
million for opposition broadcasting operations inside Iraq.  Following 
is Gilman's statement that accompanied introduction of his bill:
   "As the title suggests, the purpose of this legislation is to finally 
and irrevocably commit the United States to the removal from power of 
the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.
   "For almost eight years now, since the end of Operation Desert Storm, 
we waited for Saddam Hussein's regime to live up to its international 
obligations: to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction under 
international inspections, to stop threatening Iraq's neighbors, and 
stop menacing Iraq's Kurdish and Shi'ite minorities.
   "After dozens of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and compromise 
after compromise, we have too little to show.  Our patience was 
misinterpreted by Saddam Hussein as weakness.  Regrettably, America's 
friends in the Middle East believe our policy lacked seriousness. The 
time has come to let Saddam know-to let the whole world know-that the 
United States will not tolerate this regime's continued grip on power.
   "We must abandon the fiction that there can be peace and security in 
the Persian Gulf region with Saddam Hussein's regime still in power. 
Simply put, Saddam must go. This is not a simple task. Even when the 
international community was unified and the United States was energized, 
solutions were few and far between.
   "Some suggest that our nation should go to war and rid the Persian 
Gulf of the threat posed by Saddam. We may yet be compelled to do so, 
but before we put American lives at risk in that far away land, we have 
a duty to explore the alternatives. One alternative is to assist 
freedom-loving Iraqis.
   "Consider the people of Iraq who have no say in their future.  
Because of Saddam Hussein, they tolerated years of deprivation. At the 
hands of this man and his Republican Guards, tens of thousands of people 
were massacred. The people of Iraq are sick and tired of suffering; they 
have been willing to take up arms against Saddam Hussein, and they are 
willing to do so again.
  "The Iraq Liberation Act is not a complete recipe for Saddam's 
removal, but it contains some key ingredients. This bill calls on the 
president to designate a group or groups committed to a democratic Iraq. 
For the designated group or groups, it authorizes the President to 
provide up to $97 million in military assistance, to be drawn down from 
the stocks of the Department of Defense. In addition, it authorizes the 
provision of $2 million for opposition radio and television broadcasting 
inside Iraq
  "These authorities, combined with other actions Congress already has 
taken, will contribute to a comprehensive policy of promoting democracy 
in Iraq.  Earlier this year, the Congress appropriated $10 million to 
support pro-democracy groups, assist their organization, found Radio 
Free Iraq under the aegis of Radio Free Europe, and build a war-crimes 
case against Saddam Hussein.  A further $10 million is contained in the 
Senate version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that will 
soon go to conference.
  "The Iraq Liberation Act marks an important step forward in our fight 
against Saddam Hussein. We must not fool ourselves: The man is the 
problem. If this man remains in power, Iraq will remain a clear and 
present danger to the United States and our allies. We heard as much 
from the Chief U.N. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, and we have heard 
as much from the Administration.
  "This bill will not tie the President's hands. It does not mandate the 
actual delivery of military assistance. The only requirement it contains 
is that the President designate a group or groups as eligible to receive 
the assistance we are authorizing. I would hope, however, that the 
President will use the authority we are offering him begin to help the 
people of Iraq liberate themselves."

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