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U.N. team sets trap in Baghdad (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Nicholas Kralev 12/05/02)Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20021205-17714170.htm WASHINGTON TIMES WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The innocuous initial U.N. inspections in Iraq are part of a strategy designed to catch Baghdad if it is lying about its weapons stockpile, former inspectors and arms control analysts said yesterday.

The team currently in Iraq has been visiting known sites so far, to no surprise of President Saddam Hussein. As expected, the U.N. experts have found nothing that constitutes "material breach," the term used in Security Council Resolution 1441.

But after Baghdad declares its warfare capabilities this weekend, the inspectors will most likely target facilities that Western intelligence has detected without Iraq´s knowledge, which would expose any omissions in Saddam´s list.

"After the declaration, the inspectors will be comparing notes — from intelligence, from what they see on the ground and what they are hearing in interviews with Iraqi scientists who have been involved in the weapons programs — and look for discrepancies," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Iraq is required by Resolution 1441 to present a full account of its exotic arms capabilities by Sunday. It said this week it would do so a day earlier, but insisted again that it does not have weapons of mass destruction.

"The declaration will be critical, and if they really maintain that they have no weapons, it will not be credible," said Jonathan Tucker, a former inspector in Iraq, now a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Raymond Zilinskas, another ex-inspector, said there is no point in visiting undeclared sites before the list is made available, because the Iraqis "will have time to put in the declaration." The "serious stage" of the inspections will begin after the list is analyzed, noted Mr. Zilinskas, who currently directs the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.

The Iraqi government yesterday began to sense the U.N. team´s strategy, accusing its members of being U.S. and Israeli spies and helping Washington prepare for war.

"The inspectors have come to provide better circumstances and more precise information for a coming aggression," said Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. "From Day One, their foremost work was spying. Their work was spying for the CIA and [Israel´s intelligence service] Mossad together."

But Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, echoing comments by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday, said the United States was absolutely sure Iraq does possess weapons of mass destruction and has continued to develop them.

"The burden is on them to prove that they don´t have," he said during a visit to Colombia. "If they do have, they had better acknowledge it and make those programs accessible to the U.N. inspection teams."

The White House called on the United Nations yesterday to send more inspectors to Iraq so they can start multiple and more intensive searches at more than one site at a time.

While not disputing the need to increase the inspectors´ number, Mr. Zilinskas said they have been remarkably productive in the week they have been on the ground. He pointed out that they have visited seven suspected nuclear sites and five missile sites, as well as two suspected biological and two chemical facilities. They also have been to a presidential palace and the sensitive headquarters of a defense unit, which were off limits during previous inspections.

Mr. Tucker conceded the team has done a good job and said he has been pleasantly surprised by the level of Iraq´s cooperation. But he warned that the "real test" is yet to come, as the first several days have been "a training exercise," so the inspectors can adjust to the conditions in Iraq and the behavior of the locals they are dealing with.

"My experience was that the Iraqis were very polite and superficially cooperative when we were visiting sites they had nothing to hide in, but their behavior changed once we went to a sensitive site," he said.

Mr. Zilinskas said the team this time is different. Its members are U.N. employees rather than working for a national government, so their primary loyalty is to an international organization. They have no experience in Iraq, although he said they were trained by some of the toughest former inspectors there.

In terms of technical capabilities, the current team is still limited, Mr. Zilinskas said. Its predecessor had a U-2 spy aircraft that helped keep an eye on the ground, in case the Iraqis tried to move hardware from one facility to another.

"They don´t have these capabilities yet, but they will when the serious inspections start," he said.

Mr. Tucker said another difference is that last time there were monitoring and visiting teams. The former would spend several months in Iraq, while the latter would go in for much shorter periods. In addition, separate groups of specialists in different fields would make inspections. "Now the teams are integrated with experts in different disciplines to create appearance of greater objectivity," he said.

In their search, Mr. Kimball said, the inspectors are "unlikely to find a smoking gun in the near term, but more likely a pattern of evidence that suggests Iraq is not in compliance." (copyright © 2002 News World Communications, Inc. 12/05/02)


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