Inspectors Call U.S. Tips
Feb. 20, 2003
(CBS) While diplomatic maneuvering continues over Turkish
bases and a new United Nations resolution, inside Iraq, U.N. arms
inspectors are privately complaining about the quality of U.S.
intelligence and accusing the United States of sending them on
CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports the U.N. has been
taking a precise inventory of Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missile arsenal,
determining how many there are and where they are.
Discovering that the al-Samoud 2 has been flying too far in
tests has been one of the inspectors' major successes. But the
missile has only been exceeding its 93-mile limit by about 15
miles and that, the Iraqis say, is because it isn't yet loaded
down with its guidance system. The al-Samoud 2 is not the
800-mile-plus range missile that Secretary of State Colin Powell
insists Iraq is developing.
In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that
could hit its neighbors – or U.S. troops in the region, or
even Israel – is just one of the claims coming from
Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly
unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to
chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun
to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms.
U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead
to one dead end after another.
# Example: satellite photographs purporting to show new
research buildings at Iraqi nuclear sites. When the U.N. went
into the new buildings they found "nothing."
# Example: Saddam's presidential palaces, where the inspectors
went with specific coordinates supplied by the U.S. on where to
look for incriminating evidence. Again, they found "nothing."
# Example: Interviews with scientists about the aluminum tubes
the U.S. says Iraq has imported for enriching uranium, but which
the Iraqis say are for making rockets. Given the size and
specification of the tubes, the U.N. calls the "Iraqi alibi air
The inspectors do acknowledge, however, that they would not be
here at all if not for the threat of U.S. military action.
So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has
referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as
"garbage after garbage after garbage." In fact, Phillips says the
source used another cruder word. The inspectors find themselves
caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding
shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they've
found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Britain are planning to present a new
resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Monday in a bid for
support to use force to disarm Iraq.
Finishing touches were being put on the resolution on
Thursday. Adoption is by no means assured. A majority of the 15
council members are opposed to war at least until U.N. weapons
inspectors report in mid-March.
Secretary Powell said a headcount was "academic" because the
resolution demanding Iraqi disarmament had not been put
Powell, who flies to Japan on Friday for the start of a
five-day Asia trip, juggled resolution diplomacy with stressful
negotiations with Turkey, a potential key ally in any war.
Turkey is balking at U.S. terms for an economic aid package.
Powell, who interceded on Wednesday with Prime Minister Abdullah
Gul, said he had told the Turkish leader "our position was firm
with respect to the kind of assistance we could provide."
However, Powell said, "there may be some other creative things
we can do."
As for the expected U.N. resolution, the Bush administration
sees little value in extending inspections and much to worry
about in Iraq's connection to al Qaeda and other terror
One U.S. official said the projected day for presenting the
resolution was Monday but that it could slip a day or two.
Powell said, "We won't put a resolution down unless we intend
to fight for the resolution, unless we believe we can make the
case that it is appropriate."
In Baghdad, meanwhile, Iraq allowed another flight by an
American U-2 surveillance plane Thursday as President Saddam
Hussein's government sought to convince the world that it is
cooperating with the weapons inspectors.
In New York, a U.N. spokesman said Iraq also had submitted a
list of people involved in the destruction of banned weapons
— a key demand by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
It was the second flight this week by a U-2 in support of the
U.N. inspection program. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said the
plane spent six hours and 20 minutes over Iraq's territory,
searching for evidence of banned weapons.
In regard to the possible basing of U.S. troops in Turkey, Gul
said in Ankara that a statement would be made on Friday. He did
Powell did not elaborate on the refinements under
consideration, but another U.S. official said one approach might
be to seek a $1 billion congressional appropriation that would
then permit Turkey to obtain loans at preferential
U.S.-government rates for many times that amount.
Ships carrying equipment for a U.S. infantry division are
already at sea. The United States wants to base tens of thousands
of soldiers in Turkey to open a possible northern front against
The dispute with Turkey is one of many problems the Bush
administration has as it tries to line up support for an attack
on Iraq if Saddam doesn't disarm quickly.
Implying the United States might deploy troops elsewhere if
terms could not be reached with Turkey, White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer said "we have to deal with realities, and we will."
Meanwhile, President Bush sought to keep the pressure on the
Security Council, telling a suburban Atlanta audience, "Denial
and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not an
The president has said the council risks irrelevance if it
does not face up to Iraq's defiance of more than 10 years of
Mr. Bush also has said if the council does not approve a
second resolution he is prepared to go to war with a "coalition
of the willing" — nations like Britain that agree with him
that Iraq's arsenals of biological and chemical weapons pose a
Mr. Bush planned to host Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of
Spain, an ally, at his Texas ranch Friday and Saturday. Another
potential ally, Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski of
Bulgaria, is due next Tuesday at the White House.
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