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 Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 21:41 GMT
Analysis: US builds case for war
An Iraqi soldier in front of a UN truck
The US argues there has been no genuine cooperation

The Bush administration has intensified its efforts to convince its allies and the American public that Iraq is not cooperating in working with the UN towards genuine disarmament.

We have a powerful case - it is a case grounded in history, it is a case grounded in current intelligence

Paul Wolfowitz,
US Deputy Secretary of Defence
The White House has released a document, "What Does Disarmament Look Like?," which contrasts the approach of Iraq with other countries who, it says, genuinely embraced disarmament, and gives details of the weapons it believes Iraq is concealing.

And the administration also despatched Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, who is generally considered the intellectual architect of its Iraq policy, to explain why the US should not necessarily wait for further weapons discoveries.

UN Security Council
The Security Council will meet next week
It comes at a crucial time in the debate, with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix about to deliver his report to the security council next week, against a background of growing scepticism about the war from France and Germany.

And it may form the basis of the case President George W Bush is expected to make to the American people next Tuesday, when he delivers his State of the Union address to Congress.

Threats to scientists

According to Mr Wolfowitz, Iraq is engaged in "a shell game played on a grand scale with deadly serious weapons" to thwart UN disarmament efforts.

He said that "we know from multiple sources that Saddam has ordered that any scientist who co-operates during interviews will be killed, as well as their families."

And he claimed that the Iraqis were attempting to penetrate UN computer systems in order to track the inspectors and thwart their inspections.

"I think it is very important to make it clear we have a powerful case," Mr Wolfowitz said.

"It is a case grounded in history, it is a case grounded in current intelligence."

Weapons list

The White House document accuses the Iraqi regime of concealing thousands of weapons of mass destruction that were not declared in its "current, accurate and complete" statement to the UN on 7 December.

And it says that thousands of "anti-inspectors", Iraqi security services personnel, are engaged in hiding documents and materiel, policing inspection sites, and monitoring the inspectors.

The list of weapons the US alleges Iraq is hiding includes:

  • Undeclared biological agents, enough to produce 26,000 litres of anthrax,1200 litres of botulinum toxin, and 2200 litres of aflatoxin, a carcinogen.

  • Ballistic missiles with a range beyond the UN limit of 150 miles.

  • Unaccounted chemical weapons, including 1.5 ton of VX nerve gas, 550 mustard gas-filled artillery shells and possibly thousands of tons of chemical precursors.

  • Attempts to procure uranium fuel from abroad

  • Use of unmanned vehicles and mobile facilities to produce and disperse biological weapons.

Genuine disarmament

According to the White House, genuine disarmament - which they argue occurred in South Africa, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan over nuclear weapons - means that a government makes a high-level political commitment to disarm, puts in place its own national disarmament plans, and fully cooperates with international organisations.

In contrast, it argues that the Iraqi Government has continued to obstruct and intimidate international inspectors, to try to conceal weapons, and to prevent scientists being interviewed in safe and secure conditions.

Mr Wolfowitz said that genuine disarmament would mean "a massive change of attitude and action on the part of the Iraqi regime."

He argues that it is not the inspectors' role to find Saddam's hidden weapons if he lies about them or conceals them.

"That would make them not inspectors but detectives, charged with going through that vast country... it would be a fool's errand or to play a game. And this is not a game."

The remarks by Mr Wolfowitz are designed to reinforce the message that is now coming out in full force from across the Bush administration: that time is running out for Saddam Hussein, and that Iraq is already in breach of UN resolution 1441.

But Britain apart, it is not a message that key US allies in Europe are likely to heed.

As the diplomatic rift widens, the flurry of rhetoric coming out of Washington can only intensify.

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See also:

23 Jan 03 | Middle East
22 Jan 03 | Americas
19 Jan 03 | Middle East
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