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U.S. Tells Iraq It Must Reveal Weapons Sites (NY TIMES) By DAVID E. SANGER WASHINGTON 12/06/02) Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/06/international/middleeast/06IRAQ.html NEW YORK TIMES NEW YORK TIMES Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 — Less than 72 hours before Saddam Hussein is required to declare any weapons of mass destruction he holds, the Bush administration set stiff demands today, saying at the White House and the Pentagon that Iraq must physically take inspectors to the weapons and make available all the people who developed and worked on them.

Mr. Hussein, the Iraqi president, appeared on Iraqi television today to urge "patience" in dealing with the United Nations inspectors, and said his objective was to allow the inspectors to do their work so that he could "keep our people out of harm´s way." But he gave no indication that he planned to lead the inspectors to suspect sites or hidden caches of weapons, as the White House demands. [Page A17.]

At the White House, President Bush´s spokesman, Ari Fleischer, dismissed Iraq´s claims that it possesses no nuclear weapons, citing the testimony of past weapons inspectors and intelligence experts. But he offered no new evidence to back up the administration´s declarations that the Iraqi government had simply moved its weapons of mass destruction out of sight.

"The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it," he said.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, speaking at the Pentagon, said Iraq´s leaders faced three choices. "They could decide that the game´s up, and Saddam Hussein and his family could leave the country — which would be a nice outcome," he said, planting anew an idea for a way out of war: exiling the Iraqi leader.

Alternatively, he said, Mr. Hussein could "open up his country and say: ´Here are our weapons of mass destruction. Here´s where they´re located. Here are the people who made them.´ " Or, he said, "He could follow the pattern of previous years" and "continue to lie and deceive and deny."

Officials in the White House left no doubt they thought Mr. Hussein would reach for the third option.

The coordinated statements from Washington came as administration officials worried that Mr. Hussein might get the upper hand in a public relations war if he dropped a blizzard of papers on the United Nations this weekend, filled with descriptions of "dual use" plants that could be used to make ordinary chemicals or pharmaceuticals — or weapons.

But the big question the White House now confronts is how to respond to the Iraqi information, and whether to counter it with declassified American intelligence information to prove that Mr. Hussein omitted the most damaging evidence of his weapons programs.

Mr. Fleischer said today that the task facing the United Nations inspectors was a virtually hopeless one without the active aid of the Iraqi government or defectors with knowledge of the weapons programs. In Iraq, a country the size of France, a hundred inspectors could not be expected to succeed by themselves, he said.

Administration officials stopped just short of endorsing Vice President Dick Cheney´s statement in August — which he has never repeated since — that "a return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever" of Iraqi compliance, and could create "false comfort" that Mr. Hussein was somehow "back in his box." But the clear implication of today´s comments was that many members of Mr. Bush´s national security team retain that view.

In preparation for the deluge from Iraq, officials at the White House, are already planning for how to deal with the information Mr. Hussein delivers, hoping to farm it out quickly to the national laboratories, the Central Intelligence Agency and other government experts for examination. They have made clear that Washington will not respond to the disclosures until they have fully analyzed them.

As for whether the United States will reveal any intelligence information on Iraqi weapons, one intelligence official said, "There´s an institutional resistance to making our most secret stuff available, even to some of the governments that might demand it." Other experts say the administration´s troubles are deepened by the fact that there is no single piece of clear evidence that would back up the claims Mr. Fleischer and Mr. Rumsfeld made today.

Mr. Fleischer did not point to any particular piece of evidence in making his assertions today, and it is not clear what intelligence the administration is using as a basis for its deductions. It is also unclear how much of this information has been shared with the United Nations.

"I don´t think they are going to be able to replicate Adlai Stevenson´s feat during the Cuban missile crisis," said Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the C.I.A. and the White House during the Clinton administration. He was referring to the photographs Mr. Stevenson produced proving that the Soviet Union was moving missiles into Cuba.

"It´s unlikely we have satellite photos of Scud missiles in Baghdad," Mr. Pollack said. But he suggested that other data, including some provided by Iraqi defectors, could bolster the administration´s case.

Briefing reporters today, Mr. Fleischer contended that secret talks under way with 15 nations that the United States had identified as potential partners in any coalition against Iraq had resulted in "good responses."

But he declined to name any of the countries, even though some of the most critical, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have been the subject of intense lobbying by Mr. Bush and a team of officials he has dispatched around the world.

Some of those allies have asked for more intelligence, officials say, so that they can justify aiding the United States. The weapons inspectors, too, have put some pressure on Washington.

Hans Blix, one of the chief inspectors, said this week that after Iraq´s declaration was delivered, "it will be the moment for those who say they have evidence to put this evidence on the table." One of his deputies, Demetrius Perricos, said the United States should hand over more information to the inspectors, saying he did not believe he was "being served the intelligence that national authorities have."

The intelligence that has been made public so far about Iraq´s activities since inspectors were withdrawn in 1998 is sketchy. The C.I.A. has said Iraq bought specialty aluminum tubes that could be the cylinders for centrifuges, the key equipment in the enrichment of uranium. But other experts inside the American government have described other uses for the tubes.

Similarly, the agency has declassified satellite photographs of a site previously used to manufacture arms. The pictures show reconstruction work on the buildings, but not what is happening inside. So far, it is unclear if inspectors, during their first week of surveys, have found anything in these buildings.

U.S. Issues Terror Warning

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Reuters) — The government warned citizens today of a "possible terrorist threat" in Turkey, which is likely to be an American ally in any war with Iraq, citing unconfirmed information suggesting Americans might be targeted and urging caution at a civilian airport used by American troops.

"The U.S. government has received unconfirmed and fragmentary information that suggests unknown terrorists may be planning to conduct a terrorist incident in southeast Turkey against official U.S. government facilities or personnel," the State Department said.

"American citizens should be particularly cautious if they travel into or out of the Gaziantep airport," it added.

The airport in Gaziantep, 315 miles southeast of Ankara, is sometimes used by American troops. (Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company 12/06/02)

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