[A-List] US, British, French imperialism: Iraq & arms supplies
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed Dec 11 07:12:10 MST 2002
Document names western arms suppliers
Julian Borger in Washington
Wednesday December 11, 2002
The Iraqi declaration on banned weapons programmes contains the names of
western companies which helped Baghdad amass a nuclear, chemical and
A nine-page table of contents includes chapters on "procurements" in Iraq's
nuclear programme and "relations with companies, representatives and
individuals" for its chemical weapons programme.
UN officials and weapons experts said the information appeared to be old and
mostly referred to the years before the Gulf war. It had been covered in
earlier reports, they said.
Western states had in the past fought to prevent publication of the names of
companies and people implicated, they added.
The Iraqi declaration threatens once more to bring the names to light.
The 12,000 pages and accompanying CD-roms, providing an inventory of Iraq's
arms programmes, was delivered under the terms of a security council
resolution demanding full disclosure of Baghdad's attempts to build weapons
of mass destruction.
But the contents pages, released by US diplomats yesterday, strengthened
initial assessments that most of the declaration was a reprint of earlier
reports to the UN about Iraq's weapons programmes.
A "terminated radiation bomb project" is also mentioned - a reference to
Iraqi attempts to build a "dirty bomb", in which radioactive material is
dispersed by conventional explosives.
But according to Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), the project was in place before the Gulf war.
"That was reported long ago. It's history," Ms Fleming said.
The role, witting and unwitting, played by western companies in helping
Saddam Hussein's regime develop its fearsome arsenal in the 1980s, has been
But according to David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector, not all the
names of people and companies involved were made public.
"France, Germany and Britain and other European countries didn't want a
massive tome to come out with all the companies and names, so in the
mid-nineties it became the policy not to put them in the reports," Mr
"It's hard to justify in terms of national security. But I suppose it can be
justified in terms of avoiding national embarrassment."
Despite a security council agreement that the declaration would first be
analysed by UN specialists at the weekend before being submitted to the 15
council members, Washington got the agreement of the sitting council
president, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, to hand the security
council's copy over to US diplomats on the understanding that they would
Copies have been given only to the council's other four permanent members,
Britain, France, Russia and China.
The Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement that America's successful
attempt to gain exclusive access to the document initially amounted to
"unprecedented extortion in the history of theUN". It accused Washington of
"possibly forging what it wants to forge".
The official reason for the declaration's limited distribution was that it
contained sensitive information that could help rogue states or terrorists
to build devastating weapons, particular nuclear arms.
However, a UN official said that there could be trepidation among the big
powers over revealing the names of Baghdad's former suppliers.
The official said that he did not have a complete list of names mentioned.
Mark Hibbs, the European editor of Nuclear Fuel and Nucleonics Week, said
"In the early inspections, they started finding machine tools, and a lot of
them were manufactured in European countries."
"When those reports came out tagging those companies, the governments and
companies hit the ceiling," Mr Hibbs said.
"So there was a gentleman's agreement that in return for cooperation the
reports would no longer refer to individual companies whose equipment was
linked to Iraqi programmes."
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