CIA tries desperate stunt against Iraq
Once again the CIA is circulating unsubstantiated statements just before the UN Security Council considers the status of the sanctions against Iraq. These provocations have become the critical factor in overcoming opposition in the United Nations and the international community to sanctions against the people of Iraq. This cruel and endless hoax of new incidents and provocation every few months has become so repetitive and predictable that the whole process has become a farce.
At the very time the Iraqi foreign minister was addressing the UN General Assembly on Oct 2 the CIA conspirators with certain UNSCOM officials released the following disinformation statement which was carried on the Associated Press news wire.
"A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Iraqi authorities prevented inspectors "from even reaching the sites" last Saturday, Monday and again on Wednesday. He said the team had left Iraq, and the chief inspector, Richard Butler, sent a letter to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz demanding an explanation. Another U.N. official said the Iraqis have not been sticking to their side of the bargain. "
The news sent oil markets into a flat spin on the assumption that UN embargo against Iraq would not be lifted this month. But the basis of the statement was in fact not true. Actually the Sept. 29 "incident" near Tikrit was solved amicably. The UN helicopter crew took pictures of the movement of vehicles around the site to be inspected but on return to base were told by Iraqi officials they could not leave until they had surrendered the film. After a telephone conversation between Aziz and Butler the helicopter crew was allowed to leave its base with the film, on condition it was viewed at a joint U.N.-Iraqi meeting the following day. This was done.
The Oct. 1 "incident" related to the blocking of U.N. inspectors seeking access to a facility identified on documents accompanying kits for testing certain biological agents. The kits had been found previously at another location but this U.N. inspection ran out of time to return New York on Thursday, as originally scheduled.
The UN Security Council in June threatened further measures against Iraq if it barred inspectors from sensitive sites in their quest for materials relating to chemical, biological and ballistic weapons. Unless the inspectors are satisfied, stringent sanctions against Iraq, particularly oil exports, cannot be lifted.The UN General Assembly is currently debating reform of the Security Council.
Iraqi foreign minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf said in his speech to the General Assembly,"The United Nations should not be controlled by the rich, although they are a small minority in the world. Among the basic objective of the United Nations, according to the Charter, is "the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples." Based on that, we consider it necessary to avoid marginalizing developing countries and denying them the chances and potential for economic and scientific development".
The credibility of Iraqi complaints about the bias of some UN personnel
dealing with the country can only be enhanced by the public knowledge that
the entire Special Commission on Iraq is run by loan personnel. All 112
staff of the UN Special Commission responsible for disarming Iraq are gratis
personnel who owe no allegiance to the world organisation but only to their
national masters. The US alone supplies about 60 funded on loan personnel
to the UN while withholding its UN dues that could employ genuinely independent
Iraq assails US no-fly zones
Iraq said on Wednesday two no-fly zones over its territory were illegal and called on Western powers imposing them to halt violations of its airspace. The ruling Baath Party newspaper al-Thawra said the zones, one in the north to protect rebel Kurds and the other in the south to guard dissident Shi'ite Moslems against air attacks by Baghdad, were not mandated by the 1991 Gulf War U.N. resolutions on Iraq.
``We call on the United Nations to respect its obligations with regard to Iraq's sovereignty and exert pressure on America and those cooperating with it to lift the air-exclusion zones imposed on it by force,'' the newspaper said in a front-page editorial. ``This arbitrary (air) exclusion does not represent international will...but it is rather a unilateral and arrogant decision practised by America and those cooperating with it,'' the paper said.
Iranian and Turkish planes penetrated the two zones on Monday. Baghdad says the presence of the zones makes it difficult to defend itself against such attacks. Both zones were imposed after the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. U.S., British and French aircraft take part in policing them.
Thawra said the U.S. persisted on the imposition of the zones ``using fabricated excuses to weaken Iraq and restrict its movement in the face of matters threatening Iraq's territorial security and national unity.''
In Northern Iraq UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement on Wednesday that he was following the situation in northern Iraq with growing concern. As he has made clear in the past, Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected. He, therefore, urges Turkey to withdraw its troops as soon as possible.
Bahrain on Tuesday expressed concern over raids by Iranian planes on sites inside Iraq, the official Gulf News Agency said. ``The State of Bahrain expresses its extreme concern and anguish about the air raids by Iranian planes against sites in Iraq,'' the agency quoted an official source at the Gulf Arab state's Foreign Ministry as saying. The Bahraini source said Iraq's sovereignty and integrity should be respected and condemned all foreign interventions in Iraq as a ``threat to the security and stability in the region,'' the agency said.
In a sudden about face to appease Bahrain the Clinton administration warned Iran Tuesday against repeating its air attacks of the previous day in southern Iraq, saying pilots who violate the U.S.-enforced ``no-fly'' zone may get shot down.
``We made it clear to Iran that flights such as the one they made on (Monday) complicate the enforcement of the no-fly zone,'' said Kenneth Bacon, Defense Secretary William Cohen's spokesman. That ``can present risk to their pilots.'' He said this was communicated to Iran through British diplomatic channels. The no-fly zone is enforced by U.S. Air Force planes stationed in Saudi Arabia and in nearby Bahrain. Bacon said they fly mostly during daylight; the Iranian incursion into southern Iraq was at night.
Earlier, the US State Department noted the Iranian attack, but warned against Iraqi retaliation.``We do not support the reported Iranian incursion into the Iraqi air space for any reason,'' State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters. ``That said, Iraqi violations of the no-fly zone are not acceptable under any circumstances.'' The U.S.-led coalition will take ``whatever action necessary'' if Iraqi warplanes take to the air, he said. The Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, enforcing what is known as Operation Southern Watch against Iraq increased flights over Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday after the Iranian raids on Monday.
Iraq replies to IAEA's Blix
Iraq said on Wednesday it no longer had a nuclear weapons programme and demanded an end to international sanctions, which it said were starving the Iraqi people. Iraq has turned over 1.5 million pages of documents on its nuclear program and has allowed monitors to conduct hundreds of inspections, but the agency continues to stall.
Minister of Culture and Information Humam Abdul-Ghafur, who heads the Iraqi delegation to the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the world's nuclear watchdog should now consider the work of dismantling Iraq's atomic programme completed.
``The IAEA has to meet its obligations without resorting to methods of prolongation under technically unjustified pretexts,'' he told the conference. He asked the IAEA to avoid ``being influenced by circles that want to manipulate the technical matters politically for the purpose of prolonging the sanctions, starving the people of Iraq and causing damage to its national and social structure.''
``The agency should not allow its credibility to be called into question,'' Abdul-Ghafur, said, urging Hans Blix, outgoing director-general of the 116-member agency, to recommend that the sanctions be lifted. IAEA director-general Hans Blix said at the opening of the five-day conference on Monday that Iraq may still be hiding equipment linked to its nuclear weapons programme despite six years of international investigation.
The Iraqi minister noted that the IAEA at the end of the investigation was expected to submit a report to the Security Council, eventually leading to the lifting of U.N. sanctions. ``The IAEA has, in accordance with the requirements of Resolution 687, destroyed, removed or rendered harmless the components of Iraq's nuclear programme, including the nuclear material which is now under the custody of the IAEA,'' Abdul-Ghafur said in his speech.
Abdul-Ghafur said questions put to Iraq by an IAEA Action Team in recent months were political, marginal or superfluous ``and therefore do not change the main picture that the IAEA has already formed about Iraq's programme.'' He said this conclusion was supported by ``half a million pages of documentation.''
``Iraq wants us to submit a final report to the Security Council,'' an IAEA official said. ``We will provide the requested half-year report on Iraq at the end of October or early November, and it would be for the Security Council to decide whether is to be considered the final report or not.''
On Monday Blix said the blank spots in the Iraq picture had become fewer. ``Yet we can be sure that there still remains more to learn and it is not impossible that some equipment may still be undetected,'' he said. ``Due to Iraq's policy of concealment and obstruction -- mixed with spells of co-operation -- the schedule envisaged by the Security Council could not be followed,'' said Blix, who is resigning in December after 16 years at the helm of the IAEA.
``However, as fewer questions pose themselves, the emphasis is shifting to ongoing monitoring and verification which should allow us to strike the alarm if a renewal of the nuclear programme were to be undertaken,'' he said.
Mohamed El Baradei of Egypt appointment as the IAEA's next Director General was approved by the Agency's General Conference. He will succeed Hans Blix of Sweden of whom Non-aligned nations have been increasingly unhappy. The change of leadership takes effect on 1 December.
In a new era of reform criticism also was targeted at Israel. Arab nations claim the Israelis have failed to disclose the extent of their nuclear program. With its undeclared nuclear reactors, Israel ``poses a serious menace not only to its neighbors but to the world at large,'' said Samir Hobeica, head of the Lebanese delegation.
Hobeica, and representatives from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Qatar, urged Israel to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and place its nuclear program under agency scrutiny. The Israeli newspaper Yedaoun Ahronote quoted Israeli officials on Monday as saying that it would be necessary to launch a nuclear strike against Syria in order to counter an expected Syrian offensive in which chemical weapons will be used. The newspaper claimed that the geographical position of Syria installed Scud B missile pads makes it easy for the 6000 km range missiles to hit any place in Israel.
The annual conference of the agency, which promotes peaceful atomic
energy use while seeking to contain nuclear weapons proliferation, ends
UN should reflect will of developing countries
The Deputy Foreign Minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Thursday said that the United Nations should be restructured to reflect the will of developing countries which form the majority of the United Nations Member States.
In his statement to the General Assembly, Choe Su Hon said that in order to prepare itself for the demands of the next century, the United Nations should "make an early departure from the outdated structures that only serve the interests of a few countries, allowing their privileges and high-handedness". First of all, the Deputy Foreign Minister added, the international community should be democratized through the democratic reform of the United Nations.
On the restructuring of the Security Council, Choe Su Hon said that the present composition of the permanent membership of the Council did not fully represent the developing countries which formed the overwhelming majority of United Nations Member States. Similarly, the non-permanent membership of the Council did not reflect geographical representation.
On the situation on the Korean peninsula,"The prevailing situation in the Korean peninsula is so tense that a war could break out at any moment due to the attempts of the U.S., Japan and South Korean authorities against our socialist republic," Choe said. "In recent years alone, the United States introduced over $3 billion worth of war equipment into South Korea," the North Korean said.
To ease the tension and avert the danger of war, the United States should "abandon its hostile policy against our republic and sign a peace agreement" with North Korea, he said.
Malaysia's Mahathir wants forex trading banned
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, attending the Council on Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Chile, Tuesday repeated his call for the regulation or outright banning of foreign exchange trading.
Mahathir -- whose country's currency, the ringgit, has crumbled this year -- also criticized the Western media and even the International Monetary Fund for blaming Asian governments for his region's economic turmoil instead of censuring speculators.
``The activities of currency traders deny freedom to others, to peoples of many countries and to the countries themselves,'' Mahathir said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Pacific Basin trade conference in Chile. The Malaysian leader, who in recent weeks has waged a war of words with high profile foreign investors such as George Soros, went further.``We therefore need to regulate or outlaw currency trading so free trade can flourish,'' he added.
The ringgit has tumbled nearly 30 percent in value against the dollar since July. On Wednesday it continued to plunge, falling to 3.2805, its lowest level since the currency was floated in 1973.
Mahathir accused the Western media of finding pleasure in the recent turmoil in Asian emerging markets. ``It's nauseating to read in some Western magazines the obscene gloating over what they consider the fall of the Asian tigers,'' he said in his speech.
Comparing Asia's economic woes to the death of Princess Diana, Mahathir said the press and the IMF were trying to blame everything on governments rather than speculators, just as attempts were being made to exonerate ``paparazzi'' photographers and blame the dead chauffeur for the princess' Paris car accident.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is on a four-nation Latin American tour. He will pay a two-day visit to Uruguay after leaving Chile before going on to Argentina where he will attend a meeting of the Trade Council of the Southern Cone Group (Mercosur) which ends on Oct. 5. He had previously beeen in Cuba on the weekend. During his visit on the Caribbean island he held private meetings with the Cuban leader.
Mahathir, accompanied by a large business delegation, said on Saturday his country was interested in developing commercial ties and establishing joint ventures with Cuba. ``Malaysia is seeking new friends in this region and our visit to Havana demonstrates our desire to establish and develop relations with this country,'' he said.
He said Malaysia's business community was not bound by the U.S economic embargo on Cuba which seeks to discourage other nations from carrying on trade and financial relations with the socialist island. He said there was special interest in developing joint ventures with Cuba's state-of-the-arts pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
Cuba calls for human development
Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina opened his address to the 52nd United Nations General Assembly by recalling that when Ernesto Che Guevara spoke before the 19th UN session in 1964, the planet was home to 700 million illiterates, 200 million jobless and approximately one billion people living in extreme poverty. "Today," said the Cuban foreign minister, "there are one billion illiterates, one billion people without work and more than two billion living in sub-human conditions." Robaina said "this reality contradicts the UN principle which states that human beings -- the source of development, as well as its agent and beneficiary -- should be considered, above all, development's justification and end."
The Cuban foreign minister pointed to the 425,000 children who have died from curable diseases since the UN General Assembly session opened on September 16th. He said those children "were sacrificed in the name of efficiency, quality and consumption -- demanded by irrational and unsustainable development."
Robaina said the UN's promise to unite against war and in favor of peace has never borne fruit and that the victims of violence and armed conflicts, just since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, are comparable to the number of people killed during 15 years of war against Vietnam.
Among numerous other denunciations, the Cuban foreign minister asked member nations how long they will sit idly by and allow the U.S. blockade of Cuba to continue -- a blockade which has cost the island immeasurable human damage -- physically and psychologically. Robaina stated that the U.S. policy has created a distorted economy on the island and that the blockade has caused 60 billion dollars in losses to the country.
Robaina questioned the passivity of the international community in the face of the growing influence of the U.S. government and its acts of blackmail as contained in the Helms-Burton and D'Amato Laws. Cuba is gearing up to present its sixth consecutive anti-blockade resolution, which last year garnered the support of 137 nations, compared to 117 in 1995, 101 in 1994, 88 in 1993 and 59 in 1992. Abstentions have also been increasingly less -- from 71 in 1992, down to 57, 48, 38 and 25 over the past four years.
South News next week will be a special edition on the revolutionary legacy of Che Guevara