Iraq and Russia have reached an agreement for all weapons inspectors to come back and for Russia to work for the lifting of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency reported on Thursday .
The statement carried by the agency was issued in the form of a joint communique between Russia and the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. ``An agreement has been reached that Iraq will accept the return of the Special Commission in its entirety and the resumption of its work starting today, November 20, 1997,'' said the text of the statement.
It said ``that Russia on its part will participate
to implement U.N. resolutions related to the quick lifting of the sanctions
and especially the implementation of article 22 of resolution 687.''
Iraq's National Assembly, or parliament, went into session Thursday morning 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) to discuss the agreement. INA said the assembly was briefed by its speaker, Sadoun Hamadi, ``on the important results'' of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz's visit to Moscow ``on the road to lifting the unjust sanctions imposed on Iraq.''
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov had announced a compromise was reached after a hastily arranged, middle-of-the-night meeting in Geneva among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. A statement issued after the meeting in Geneva gave no specifics of the compromise. It said the U.N. Special Commission in charge of monitoring Iraq's weapons program would meet in New York on Friday.
The foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Britain and France and a representative of China issued a joint statement after emergency middle-of-the-night talks in Geneva on the crisis over Iraq's expulsion of American members of the U.N. arms control team.
"Mr Primakov felt able to indicate that a decision by Iraq in that direction was imminent or in any case expected in the very near future," Vedrine told reporters. "That makes it possible to envisage an end to the immediate crisis."
Albright insisted the United States had agreed to nothing in exchange for an Iraqi climbdown. But France, Britain have all hinted in the last two days that UNSCOM could alter the balance of nationalities on its inspection teams once Iraq reversed its decision, although all have said there must be some Americans.
"There will be no public pledge to reduce the
number of American inspectors, since that would look like we were yielding
to Iraq's demands. Anything that did happen would be tacit," the European
Iraqi officials have said that some American inspectors could return under a balanced political settlement. A British official told reporters Tuesday that London, Washington's closest ally in the crisis, had no problem with a change in the mixture of nationalities in UNSCOM.
US President Clinton Tuesday ordered some of America's most potent warplanes to the Gulf and publicly attacked Iraqi President Saddam Hussein once again.
"We must never give in to the forces of destruction and terror," Clinton said late Tuesday to a pro Zionist meeting of the Council of Jewish Federations.
He continued: "Our law enforcement officials went halfway around the world to bring to justice the man responsible for the cold-blooded murder of Americans outside the CIA headquarters. The World Trade Center bombers are going to jail for a long, long time. Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to expel international weapons inspectors because we cannot accept another dictator with weapons of mass destruction."
Earlier, Clinton met at the White House with his senior military and diplomatic advisers and ordered an increase in the already substantial armada of U.S. warplanes in the region -- including six B-52 bombers and six F-117A stealth fighters.
White House National Security adviser Samuel Berger said on CNN changes, "can't be dictated by Saddam Hussein" in the oil sanctions against Iraq and the make-up of the U.N. inspection teams."Dispatching additional forces to the Gulf would give "the president the widest range of options to deal with the situation as it exists today ... and as it may develop in the next weeks," Berger said in the CNN interview.
Further stepping up the race to war, a British intelligence written 'government risk assessment' report Tuesday, warned that Iraq could produce chemical and biological weapons within days and the missiles to hit key targets in a few months .
"In a crisis these could be available for use within a matter of weeks or perhaps even days,'' the report said. "Provided it still has key components — and that is unclear — Iraq could within a few months build, with little risk of detection, missiles capable of hitting Israel and key targets in Saudi Arabia.''
"If Unscom were to be removed or prevented from operating for a sustained period, Iraq could produce within a matter of months a small number of chemical or biological weapons, including missiles warheads," the report said.
The disinformation concluded it could not rule out the possibility that Saddam had successfully hidden "a handful'' of largely complete missiles and chemical and biological weapons. Britain's Foreign Office said the 'risk assessment' was released to selected British media outlets "This is information that needs to be in the public domain,'' said Foreign Office spokesman Andrew Page in raising the stakes in the propaganda campaign.
The PR move is seen to head off a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday with Russia and several other members urging UNSCOM head Butler to send inspectors back to Iraq as soon as possible. Butler, head of the U.N. Special Commission has been asked to appear before the council to discuss how the disarmament process can go on now that inspections have been crippled.
At a stormy private council session last Thursday, Russia, France, China, Sweden and Costa Rica chastised Butler for taking out all the inspectors without notifying the council. The move to quiz Butler was initiated by Russia, whose ambassador Sergei Lavrov wants to limit Butler's authority. To this end Russia has also asked for an emergency meeting of the commission's 20-member advisory board, which will take place on Friday.
Washington was considering sending F-117A stealth fighters and B-2 bombers to reinforce two aircraft carriers and more than 200 warplanes already in the region. The B-2 is equiped with bunker busting mini-nuclear bombs. The proposed deployment followed with talks Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the Gulf region
"There is no impediment now to sending additional assets. We had good talks with our allies," said one of the officials, noting that Defense Secretary William Cohen had also discussed the matter with leaders in the region."We are looking at enhancing our air power over there," said one official, who noted that it had been "widely reported" that the United States might send F-117As, swing-wing B-1s, radar-voiding B-2s or other planes.
In a speech at an aircraft factory in Wichita, Kansas Monday, Clinton stressed again that he wanted a peaceful solution to the dispute, but was not ruling out any options in a diplomatic endeavor backed by U.S. military might. "I am trying to settle this issue peacefully. But our diplomatic efforts must be backed by our strong military capabilities. We cannot rule out any options," he said.
The U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier Nimitz is already in the Gulf and the carrier George Washington is heading south in the Red Sea and will arrive there shortly, both carrying some 50 warplanes. In addition, the U.S. Air Force has about 150 warplanes stationed in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Israel neutron bomb threat
In Australia, Melbourne's Sunday Age front page said today,
The article begins: "Israel has reached agreement with the United States to explode a neutron bomb in an Iraqi city in the event of a serious attack by ......."
The Age report originates from British military and strategic publishers, Jane's Information, said Israel was preparing to use a neutron bomb if it were attacked by Iraqi missiles. If a missile carrying chemical or biological cargo penetrated Israeli defences, Jane's sources said Israel would use a neutron bomb - which suppresses the nuclear blast but increases radiation levels to cause far greater loss of life - to strike back.
Geoff Strong, the Sunday Age, science reporter wrote
"THE neutron bomb, or enhanced radiation warhead, is the ultimate weapon for the misanthrope. It kills people in large numbers while doing minimal damage to real estate. The technology is now around to make them no bigger than a baseball, leading some analysts to warn that they could become the new weapon of terrorism.
This is the weapon that reports from Britain claim Israel is preparing to use against an Iraqi city, should Baghdad deploy chemical or biological weapons against the Jewish state.
A spin-off of the thermonuclear weapon, or hydrogen bomb, neutron bombs were first developed by the US in 1963 and then the Soviet Union in the late '70s. They were primarily intended as a small-scale battlefield weapon. The US suspended development in 1978 under the Carter administration but resumed it under Reagan in 1981.
In a normal thermonuclear weapon, half of the energy released is produced
by the fusion of hydrogen isotopes, tritrium and deuterium. But this weapon
is encased in a blanket of the uranium isotope 238 which after detonation
produces the rest of the bomb's energy by fission. A neutron bomb does
not have the blanket to produce the blast and the fast neutrons are released
into the environment to kill living tissue.
Because a neutron bomb has a ground zero blast area of only a few square metres, the idea was for them to be used as a deterrent against armored or infantry assault.
They could be carried by a lance type missile, fired by a 200 millimetre
gun or delivered by an aircraft. The bomb would disable enemy infantry
or tank crews in minutes and those exposed would die within a few days...........
Today the British Guardian newspaper became increasingly
critical of UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler. The article says,
The Russians are furious at Butler's decision to pull out UN monitoring teams from Iraq after the expulsion of US inspectors. France and Egypt are equally critical of Butler, whose decision to withdraw all his teams has given the impression that he is acting at the behest of the US instead of listening to the rest of the Security Council - a charge Iraq has been quick to make.
Earlier in the crisis, Butler was upbraided by the British mission at the UN over his decision to suspend inspection visits because of Iraq's decision to bar US monitors. UN-watchers say Butler has been too keen to stamp his authority on Unscom in an effort to emerge from Ekeus' shadow. "