South News Feb 28  

Libya calls for lifting of UN sanctions  

United Nations: Libya will ask the U.N. Security Council to lift sanctions imposed on the North African nation following an eclipsing decision by the World Court, Tripoli's ambassador said Friday. 

"The sanctions ... no longer are justified, so they should be lifted," Ambassador Omar Dorda said Friday after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) overrode the security council by saying that it could decide whether the two men should stand trial at home or abroad. 

"ICJ should take over this case and not the security council," Dorda stressed. "This is a legal and not a political issue." The Libyan diplomat said he would ask the council to raise the sanctions when they come up for review in early March. 

The ICJ ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear a suit claiming that Libya had international law on its side in refusing to extradite two of its nationals to Britain or the United States. 

The decision was welcomed by representatives of relatives of the 270 people  arguing  for the compromise, Libyan authorities suggested the men be tried by Scottish judges and under Scottish law but in a neutral country. Washington and London rejected the offer and called on the ICJ not to overrule the U.N. Security Council's decision that the Libyan agents be tried in a U.S. or Scottish court. The ICJ ruled against the British/US submission.

The world court's rulings are binding and without appeal but ultimately may depend on the U.N. Security Council to enforce them. The United States and Britain are among the key five permanent members of the council. 

US hypocrisy on chemical weapons pact  

Washington: The United States hysteria about Iraq's imaginary chemical arms masks the fact that it stands in technical violation program global treaty to eliminate chemical weapons. 

The treaty, known as the Chemical Weapons Convention, calls for the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles and the monitoring of companies making compounds that can be used to produce nerve agents and the like. But so far the United States has not fully met its treaty obligations. 

The US government has struck out the names of Cuban and Iranian nationals from a list of United Nations arms inspectors visiting US chemical arms facilities under the Chemical Weapons Convention. 
 Both nations are also on a list of seven countries the US State Department considers "terrorist states". In rejecting Cubans and Iranians, the USA has exercised its right to determine the composition of the UN arms inspection team currently probing US chemical weapons facilities. 

Under the rules of the CWC, any qualified expert included in a list of arms inspectors shall be regarded as designated unless a state party declares its non-acceptance no later than 30 days after its receipt of the list. 

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) employs about 126 inspectors and assistants who undertake inspections mostly in countries that are declared possessors of chemical and biological agents. 

The US is reported to have about 30,000 tons of chemical agents and Russia about 40,000 tons. "Ironically, the US is exercising the same right it refuses to concede to the Iraqis," an Asian diplomat told Jane's defence weekly, "The US may have the right to do so under the existing Convention, but it is interesting to note that Iraq is virtually fighting for the same principle," he said. 

The recent Iraqi crisis to determine the composition of the UN arms inspection team. Since the inspection teams consist mainly of UK and US nationals, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has complained they are "dominated by Anglo-Saxons." Aziz has accused UN inspector Scott Ritter of being "an American spy". 

 ``It does damage our credibility,'' said Roger Majak, assistant secretary of commerce for export administration. ``I would have to say that in our efforts to obtain cooperation from our European allies, this issue has come up.'' 

Also the United States has not disclosed the required information on private-sector chemical production, which was due at the end of May. As a result, inspections at U.S. chemical companies have not taken place. 

The issue, as some see it, is one of credibility at a time when the United States is demanding Iraq open its doors to U.N. inspectors. U.S. chemical companies, which export $62 billion a year in various compounds capable making chemical weapons, 

``It's not just that we're in violation of this treaty, we're trying to tear it apart,'' said Amy E. Smithson, who studies chemical and biological weapons as a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a centrist think-tank in Washington. 

Beyond the delay, Smithson takes issue with the Senate bill to implement the treaty. In it, the United States prohibits inspection samples from U.S. facilities to be taken to laboratories outside the country. It also allows the president to deny requests for ``challenge'' inspections of any facility on national security grounds. 

``If we cripple this treaty, we shoot ourselves in the foot,'' Smithson said. ``Other countries will not let the United States craft a less stringent monitoring regime than they have themselves.'' 

With regard to private industry, the treaty is mainly interested in so-called dual-use chemicals, which have both legitimate commercial uses and can be found in weapons. The chemical thiodiglycol, for example, is used in ball-point pen ink. It is also used to make deadly mustard gas. 

The treaty restricts the trade of chemicals such as thiodiglycol. Eventually, treaty members would be banned from selling such compounds to non-member countries. 

The treaty is overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons based in The Hague, Netherlands. 

Swiss spring Mossad operation in Bern 

Bern: An Israel's spy agency attempt to bug telephones on the outskirts of the Swiss capital was thwarted on Thursday. It was the second  publicised Mossad bungle to embarrass the Israeli government in recent months. 

Switzerland accused Israel Thursday of violating its sovereignty after a suspected Israeli spy was arrested. Four others were being sought in the case which came to light by chance when a sleepless neighbor looked out of her window at 2 a.m., saw two suspicious people standing outside the building and called police. Switzerland has demanded an apology from Israel, the Foreign Minstry said. 

The Swiss announcement comes two days after the head of Mossad, Danny Yatom, resigned in the aftermath of the spy agency's failed Sept. 25 assassination attempt against a Hamas political leader in Jordan. The Israeli government had hoped that Yatom's resignation would restore some of Mossad's lost luster. 

At a news conference in Bern, Federal Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said five Israeli agents were detained as they tried to plant the bugs a week ago outside Bern. All but one were released and are believed to have left the country. 

The espionage effort was aimed at foreigners living in Switzerland, del Pont said, without elaborating. 
In Jerusalem today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that an Israeli citizen had been arrested in Switzerland, but declined to comment further. 
Unnamed Israeli government sources say this latest embarrassment was the main reason the leader of Israel's elite intelligence service had to go. The affair is likely to bring new ammunition to critics of Netanyahu, whose slim majority in the Parliament is already threatened by fundamental disagreements over the peace process, religion and other issues. 

Del Ponte denied Israeli media reports that Iranian diplomats were the target of the alleged spying. She said the targets were not even diplomats. 

The alleged bugging attempt took place the night of Feb. 19, according to a statement from Del Ponte's office. While two suspected accomplices kept watch, three men broke into the basement of a building near the capital, the statement said. 

Residents alerted Bern state police about the break-in, who detained the five and released four of them after routine checks. Investigations so far "have revealed that the five persons are of Israeli origin, and that they were mixed up in an operation of the Israeli secret service Mossad involving telephone bugging,'' the statement said. 

Police scientists in Zurich are examining the confiscated bugging equipment used in the operation. 
Del Ponte has issued a warrant for the arrest of the four released a week ago, but they are believed to have left Switzerland. 

The five are suspected of violating Swiss law by trying to carry out "illegal business for a foreign state,'' she said, adding that the Israelis are also accused of unauthorized recording of telephone conversations and of damaging property. 

Del Ponte's office confirmed today that the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Meir, was ordered to appear before the Swiss government last Monday. The Swiss Foreign Ministry lodged an official protest through Meir, saying members of the Israeli secret service had violated Swiss sovereignty. 

A Zurich newspaper, the Tages-Anzeiger, quoted "unconfirmed sources in Bern'' as saying that federal police came on five Mossad agents, who were conducting a bugging operation from an apartment, during a building search. 

Four of them fled, but the fifth pretended to have a heart attack after the arrest, the newspaper said. He was taken to Bern's main hospital, but it was unclear whether he was still there, it said. 

Israeli media said today that Israel and Switzerland had been holding negotiations to free the Mossad agent and end the affair without publicity. However, leaks of the story appeared in Israeli newspapers on Wednesday. Israeli legislators blamed senior Mossad officials, saying they planted the information in hopes of pushing out Yatom, the Mossad chief. 

Yatom had been under intense pressure to resign since the botched Sept. 25 assassination attempt of Hamas political leader Khalid Mashaal. The failed operation strained ties with Jordan, and prompted it to suspend security cooperation. 

Netanyahu had approved the assassination attempt. A panel appointed by him after the attempt's failure cleared him of blame, saying most of the fault was Yatom's. 

World court rules in favour of Libya 

Hague: In a blow to London and Washington, the International Court of Justice ruled on Friday it had jurisdiction to hear Libya's complaints against Britain and the United States. 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, found today that it has jurisdiction to deal with the merits of the case brought by Libya against the United Kingdom concerning the aerial incident at Lockerbie. It also found that the Libyan claims are admissible. 

Friday's ruling was welcomed by Libya "We are very happy. This is a victory for law and for Libya," Libyan ambassador Hamed Ahmed Elhouderi said. "The suffering of the Libyan people must stop. Libya has proposed many solutions but other parties have not accepted it." 

Libya, which submitted the case to the Court on 3 March 1992, contends that the United Kingdom does not have the right to compel it to surrender two Libyan nationals suspected of having caused the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988, in which 270 people died (all 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 people on the ground). Libya argues that the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation signed at Montreal in 1971 authorizes it to try the suspects itself. 

In June 1995, the United Kingdom raised two preliminary objections: one to the jurisdiction of the Court and the other to the admissibility of the Libyan Application. In dealing with admissibility, the United Kingdom also asked the Court "to rule that the intervening resolutions of the (United Nations) Security Council have rendered the Libyan claims without object". 

Jurisdiction of the Court  

The United Kingdom maintained that there was no legal dispute with Libya with regard to the Convention because the question to be resolved had to do with "the . . . reaction of the international community to the situation arising from Libya's failure to respond effectively to the most serious accusations of State involvement in acts of terrorism". 

In its Judgment, the Court however finds that the Parties differ on the question whether the destruction of the Pan Am aircraft over Lockerbie is governed by the Montreal Convention. A legal dispute of a general nature concerning the Convention thus exists between the Parties. The Court adds that specific disputes also exist concerning the interpretation and application of Article 7 of the Convention (relating to the place of prosecution) and Article 11 (relating to assistance in connection with criminal proceedings). 

The United Kingdom also maintained that, even if the Montreal Convention did confer on Libya the rights it claims, they could not be exercised in this case because they were superseded by Security Council resolutions 748 (1992) and 883 (1993) which, by virtue of Articles 25 and 103 of the United Nations Charter, have priority over all rights and obligations arising out of the Montreal Convention. 

The Court does not uphold this line of argument. Security Council resolutions 748 and 883 were in fact adopted after the filing of the Application on 3 March 1992. In accordance with its established jurisprudence, if the Court had jurisdiction on that date, it continues to do so. 

The Court concludes by thirteen votes to three that it has jurisdiction to hear the disputes between Libya and the United Kingdom as to the interpretation or application of the Montreal Convention. 
Admissibility of the Libyan Application 

The United Kingdom contended that the Libyan Application was inadmissible because the so-called issues in dispute "are now regulated by decisions of the Security Council". The Court finds that it cannot uphold this conclusion. The date, 3 March 1992, on which Libya filed its Application, is in fact the only relevant date for determining the admissibility of the Application. 

Security Council resolutions 748 and 883 cannot be taken into consideration in this regard since they were adopted at a later date. As to the resolution 731 (1992), adopted before the filing of the Application, it could not form a legal impediment to the admissibility of the latter because it was a mere recommendation without binding effect, as was recognized moreover by the United Kingdom. 

The Court concludes by twelve votes to four that Libya's Application is admissible. 

Objection that the Security Council resolutions rendered the claims of Libya without object 
Finally, regarding the request of the United Kingdom for a ruling "that the intervening resolutions of the Security Council have rendered the Libyan claims without object", the Court finds that if it were to rule on that objection at this stage of the proceedings, it would inevitably be ruling on the merits and affecting Libya's rights. The Court rejects by ten votes to six the objection raised by the United Kingdom but will be able to consider it when it reaches the merits of the case. 

Further proceedings  

Having established its jurisdiction and concluded that Libya's Application is admissible, the Court will now, after consultation with the Parties, fix time-limits for the further proceedings. 
The proceedings consist of two parts: written and oral. 

During the written phase, written pleadings are exchanged. The Applicant (Libya in this case) has already filed a Memorial on the merits and consequently, the Court will fix the time-limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by the Respondent (the United Kingdom). The Court may authorize a Reply by the Applicant and a Rejoinder by the Respondent. 

Upon the closure of the written proceedings, public hearings are organized during which the Parties address the issues that still divide them. The Court hands down a Judgment on the merits only after the oral proceedings. 

The Court was composed as follows in the case: Vice-President Weeramantry, Acting President; President Schwebel; Judges Oda, Bedjaoui, Guillaume, Ranjeva, Herczegh, Shi, Fleischhauer, Koroma, Vereshchetin, Parra-Aranguren, Kooijmans, Rezek; Judges ad hoc Sir Robert Jennings, El-Kosheri; Registrar Valencia-Ospina. 

The full text of the Judgment, the declarations and opinions, as well as the Press Communiqués, are already available on the Court's Website ( 

CIA's Bay of Pigs adventure exposed 

Havana: In documents declassified over the weekend, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency admitted that it botched the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. A 150-page report blamed the invasion's failure on what it called the CIA's "ignorance, incompetence, and arrogance" towards the 1500 Cuban exiles it trained. 

The document criticized virtually all components of the operation, including inaccurate information, poor planning and inaccurate intelligence information. The report admits that only a few of the CIA agents who trained the Cuban exiles spoke Spanish and that the invasion force was treated like U.S. puppets. 

The report also states that upon approving the mission, and despite press leaks tieing the agency to the invasion, the CIA demonstrated -- in the report's words -- a pathetic illusion that it could deny responsibility in the matter. 

The report went on to say that the operation placed a seal on former President John F. Kennedy's foreign policy, which became centered around the assassination of Cuban President Fidel Castro. The report was drawn up by CIA inspector general Lyman Kirkpatrick. News agencies are commenting that it's now understandable why the CIA took 47 years to declassify the documents on the Bay of Pigs. 

In Washington,The National Security Archive, a research organization using the Freedom of Information Act  has released a crucial CIA paper long assumed to have been destroyed or lost: 

The paper, titled Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation, documents in harsh detail the CIA blunders that culminated in a force of 1,500 Cuban expatriates delivering themselves into the arms of Castro's military. 

The document, retrieved from the CIA director's safe after a National Security Archive F.O.I. request, describes the CIA effort as "ludicrous or tragic or both.'' 


Eclipse draws astronomers to South America 

Caracas:  Thousands of astronomers, tourists and sun-worshers flocked to the coasts of Venezuela and northern Colombia on Wednesday to witness the last total solar eclipse in the Western Hemisphere this century. 

A solar eclipse occurred on 26 February, 1998 beginning at 1547 UT and continuing until 1909 UT. The path of eclipse's shadow began near the equator in the southern Pacific Ocean west of South America, progressed across the northern most tip of South America, crossed through the southern Caribbean Islands near Montserrat and ended over the Atlantic Ocean. 

The southeastern United States experienced a partial eclipse. From southern Florida nearly 50% of the sun's disk was blocked by the Moon. 
The moon passed between the Earth and the sun Thursday, lasted about four minutes, projecting a 93-mile-wide shadow on a band extending from the Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador, northeastward over parts of northern Colombia and Venezuela and across the Caribbean sea. It was the last solar eclipse visible in the Western Hemisphere until 2017. But for some, the darkness at noon had a more poetic meaning. 

Wayuu Indians, in the Guajira peninsula covering northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia, said a total eclipse meant the sun and the moon are making love and from this encounter stars are born. 

"This is the reason why Indians won't watch the eclipse because sexual relations are very intimate," a member of the Wayuu indigenous community was quoted on Wednesday as saying in the Caracas newspaper El Nacional. 

A group of  scientists flew aboard aHercules  transport plane over Panama to take infrared photographs of the sun's corona, the brilliant halo of light visible when the sun is covered by the moon's shadow. 

Hotels in northern Colombia, Venezuela's Zulia and Falcon provinces and on the Dutch Antilles islands of Curacao and Aruba reported a sellout as tourists booked their rooms for the event, in many cases extending their Carnival holidays. Hotels offered special "eclipse viewing" packages and cruise lines planned to have astronomers on board to give lectures on a phenomenon that traditionally brings together professional astronomers and curious amateurs. 

Authorities said some 300 scientists gathered in Maracaibo, capital of Zulia state bordering Colombia, from countries as far-flung as Russia, India and Japan. 

In both Falcon and Zulia provinces, schoolchildren will be given the afternoon off but they were not expected to join crowds of New Age travelers planning wild Caribbean beach parties to the sound of "techno" music with up to 30 disc-jockeys flown in from Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and France. 

One of the organizers advertised on its website "eight days of friendship and party surrounded by virgin rainforest and the Caribbean sea." 

Back to main index