Give us facts, Blix pleads with West (TELEGRAPH UK) By Michael Smith 12/21/02)
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Britain rejected complaints yesterday by Hans Blix, the head of the
United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq, that it was not providing
enough intelligence on the location of weapons of mass destruction.
Britain´s intelligence organisations are helping the UN inspectors as
much as they can without giving away sources and risking the lives of
agents, officials said.
The Secret Intelligence Service, MI6; the Cheltenham-based signals
intelligence organisation, GCHQ, and the Ministry of Defence, which
deals with photographic and satellite intelligence, are providing a
large amount of technical information.
Mr Blix said inspectors were at present not in a position "to confirm
Iraq´s statements, nor in possession of evidence" to disprove them.
He complained to the BBC´s Today programme that his inspectors "don´t
get all the support we need" from western governments.
"They have all the methods to listen to telephone conversations, they
have spies, they have satellites so . . . they have a lot of sources
which we do not have," he added.
The Foreign Office said Mr Blix´s remarks had been taken out of
context and that he had acknowledged receiving useful intelligence
from Britain and America.
But officials say there is always a limit to how much intelligence
can be made public without revealing sources. This is especially true
where UN inspectors are involved; they are prone to leaks.
According to former UN inspectors, the previous operation, Unscom,
which searched for weapons in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 was penetrated,
both in Baghdad and in New York, by Iraq as well as by several other
The problem for Britain´s spies is that the Iraqis are mounting a
highly complex operation to hide the key components and in particular
chemical and biological agents, what Tony Blair described yesterday
as playing "hide and seek" with the weapons of mass destruction.
That poses highly complex problems for the intelligence services.
Details of the existence of the weapons of mass destruction and in
particular their day-to-day movements is being kept to a very small
circle of Iraqis.
Saddam Hussein is already paranoid about his security and is
suspicious about anyone close to him. So western intelligence agents
are in a dangerous enough position without putting themselves in even
greater danger by giving the UN inspectors high-grade intelligence.
GCHQ is also extremely sensitive about its sources of intelligence,
but for different reasons. The Iraqis employ great use of fibre-optic
cables that make communications difficult to intercept.
The vehicles used to transport the weapons batches around the country
must use some form of radio transmission to communicate but these are
bound to use highly encrypted communications.
If GCHQ is able to decrypt them - far from certain - it will
certainly not want to compromise high-grade intelligence material by
passing it to UN inspectors.
Imagery intelligence, provided by coalition aircraft and spy
satellites, analysed in Britain by the Joint Air Reconnaissance
Intelligence Centre at Brampton, near Huntingdon, is the only
information which can be safely passed on to the UN.
• American and British aircraft attacked Iraqi air defences in the
southern "no-fly" zone yesterday in the fifth such raid in a week, it
was reported in Washington. Baghdad said Iraqi anti-aircraft and
missile batteries fired back. (© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited
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