US wins 60 more days of Iraq sanctions
South News June 25

United Nations: The Security Council has decided to maintain sanctions against Iraq Wednesday after a successful US disinformation campaign drew attention away from the genocidal aspect of the embargo.

Following consultations, Security Council President Antonio Monteiro of Portugal said, "after hearing the views of the members on this matter, we concluded that there was still no agreement" to modify the sanctions regime against Iraq which according to UNICEF, continue to claim the lives of over 4,500 children each month.

The sanctions, reviewed every 60 days stay in place unless the council votes to lift them, were to be discussed by the council Thursday. But Mr Monteiro said members had time to discuss them at the end of a briefing by chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler who said US tests detected traces of a nerve gas VX and stabilising chemicals on destroyed warhead fragments.

"I explained to the council that that is very serious because Iraq has always insisted it never weaponized VX," Butler said of the tests, conducted by the US Army laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, at a closed-door meeting of the Security Council. But at Wednesday's meeting, Russian Ambassador Sergei  Lavrov suggested that future such tests be conducted in countries other than the U.S

Butler's presentation to the Council came as it conducted its periodic review of the sanctions against Iraq as American and British officials cited the VX evidence as contradicting Iraqi assertions that it had never weaponised the  nerve gas. "Facts are facts; Iraq has been deceiving the international community with weaponization of nerve gas. It's that simple," US Ambassador Bill Richardson said.

Under fire Butler expressed deep regret that the findings had been leaked to The Washington Post, saying that the source "certainly wasn't UNSCOM." The Washington Post said a US army laboratory results from a destruction site at Nibai, north of Baghdad had been leaked to them from the CIA funded Iraqi National congress (INC).

But the report is peculiar, as the INC, once a powerful umbrella group for the Iraqi opposition, no longer really exists. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is nominally one of the few remaining members of the INC, told the London based Independent newpaper that the group is moribund.
 
In a pattern repeating itself whenever Iraq appears to take a step closer to having the genocidal sanctions on its civilian population lifted, stories about Iraqi UNSCOM non-compliance suddenly appear in the Washington press, throwing cold water on hopes that another weapon of mass destruction -- economic sanctions -- might end.
The Iraqi mission to the UN issued a statement Tuesday that the lab findings were dubious citing a mismatch of results from samples taken from the same site.The statement said that of seven warhead samples tested, only one showed VX traces. "Finding a trace of a stabilizer in one sample out of 7 analyzed is not evidence because if VX was used, a stabilizer would have been found in every sample", the statement said.

The Iraqi statement also criticised the sampling technique saying, "No soil samples were taken from the destruction sites for comparison purposes" and "those samples were taken individually without giving Iraq equivalent samples as was agreed upon".

A French official said the correct procedure would have been for UNSCOM to corroborate any US finding of nerve gas by sending samples for tests to French or Swiss laboratories. ``I'm suspicious. This smells of manipulation,'' he said.

Butler said he was content to go along with a council decision to call for further tests. Butler had described the original findings as ``utterly unambiguous'' but added,``In the spirit of cooperation, we've said `yes, we'll rerun some further tests in other labs and see what they come up with'.''

In Baghdad, Iraqi presidential adviser Amer al-Saadi said he was surprised by what Butler reported. ``We know very well VX was never weaponized ... how did the VX appear there (on missile warheads), we have no idea,'' he told reporters in Iraq.
 
Developed by a British scientist in 1949, the nerve gas VX is made from common precursors: chlorine , phosphorus pentasulfide and di-isopropylamine. It was weaponized as a chemical superweapon by the US Army in 1961. The US still retains 1,170 tons of VX stockpiled  at the Newport Weapons Depot in Indiana. 
 
In a related matter, the United States filed a formal complaint with the Security Council over a letter written to the council president by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.The letter is reported to have described the US Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk as a "known Jew and Zionist" in complaining about Indyk's comments before a Washington seminar last week.

Mr Richardson said the US considered Sahaf's comments on the Australian-born diplomat to be a racial slur. "We call on the Foreign Minister of Iraq to apologise for this dramatically offensive slur," Mr Richardson said.

On Wednesday June 17, Martin Indyk said the UN approach to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction now is one in which the onus is not on UN inspectors to find the weapons but on Saddam "to show what he's done with his weapons of mass destruction."

He said there are 73 opposition groups outside of Iraq and "now we're going to get behind them and try to help them," Indyk, who oversees Near Eastern affairs, told a seminar for regional journalists at the State Department. "We will be launching an effort to help them organize and coordinate their case against Saddam Hussein".

In the letter Sahaf slams Indyk's ``explicit statement...represents a dangerous development in international relations and is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as a flagrant breach of the duties of members of the Security Council' . Sahaf calls on the council ``to condemn the hostile and conspiratorial policy of the United States towards Iraq and to appeal to the United States administration to halt the policy of conspiracy and incitement against a member state and founding member of the United Nations.''

Sahaf also urged the council to take measures that would guarantee respect for Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence and prevent the ``irresponsible United States administration from continuing this criminal behaviour'' against Iraq.
 
"The destructive attempts and misleading of opinion by UNSCOM will not throw dust in the eyes of the righteous after they discovered the full truth, and the lies and the forgeries of the Special Commission and the American role in supporting this aggressive programme," an Iraqi spokesman said on Wednesday after a joint meeting of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, chaired by President Saddam Hussein
The United States is keen to maintain the economic embargo on Iraq as long as President Saddam Hussein is in power, working with 73 groups outside of Iraq funded by US Congress. This year it approved $5 million to fund a CIA "Radio Free Iraq" to broadcast programming in Arabic to Iraq. Republican lawmakers also proposed spending another $33 million to directly help Iraqi opposition movements overthrow Saddam.

State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters on March 11 ``We have worked with the Iraqi opposition in the past and we are actively considering ways to do so more effectively in the future,'' he said. He said then that the proposed funding was on top of humanitarian assistance in the northern Iraq recently increased to $682 million.

The United States had an extensive overt and covert program of support for Kurdish groups in northern Iraq opposing Saddam. But it collapsed in August 1996 when the Iraq sent troops into the region to intervene in Kurdish factional fighting.

 
 Related : CIA lies enter fantasy-land, South News Nov 7, 1997
 
               Protests rock Security Council, South News June 27, 1997
 
              New book on CIA war on Saddam, South News June 27,1997