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Impeach Bush


Bush the Budget-Buster

Bush Official Under Fire for Reception

World opinion moves against Bush

2004 Budget Likely to Show Record Deficits

Schwarzkopf Tells Bush: Don't Do It Alone

Invasion would be error to rival Hitler's attack on Russia

Consumer Confidence hits nine year low

Pa. Sues Bush Over New Clean Air Rules

Statements by UN Chief Inspectors

Bush the Budget-Buster
Washington Post
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 30, 2003; 8:32 AM

Imagine – hard as it is – President Gore standing in the House chamber and delivering his annual address to the nation.

He calls for spending $400 billion over the next decade to strengthen Medicare and launch a prescription drug program.

He calls for $450 million to bring mentors to disadvantaged students and children of prisoners.

He calls for $600 million for treatment programs for drug addicts.

He calls for $15 billion over five years to combat AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

He calls for $1.2 billion to develop clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

What do you suppose the Republicans would be saying about Al Gore?

Big spender? Wild-eyed liberal? Doesn't understand that government is the problem, not the solution?

Wouldn't there be lots of accusations of fiscal irresponsibility – especially when the $417 billion in new spending is coupled with $674 billion in tax cuts?

But no one in the GOP that we've seen is suggesting that George Bush's brand of compassionate conservatism is, well, kind of expensive. And the Democrats, who have their own domestic laundry list, obviously don't want to go there.

Much of this, of course, was overshadowed by the intense focus on the Iraq portion of the State of the Union.

But if Bush wants to spend all this money on new programs – admirable as that might be – how is he going to restrain overall spending, as Mitch Daniels keeps promising? Exactly which programs is the White House going to cut (or, excuse us, restrain the growth of spending)? How is the administration going to keep the nasty ol' deficit – which has now shot up to $199 billion, according to the CBO yesterday – from exploding?

No Democratic president would get a pass on this sort of fuzzy math, not with the budget plunging back into the red after years of surplus. But it's not the script to question the spending habits of a supply-side Republican president, since the GOP no longer cares very much about this sort of bookkeeping or thinks we can Laffer-curve our way into the black. Now we can all get back to worrying about the butcher of Baghdad.

ABC's Note hits the bullseye:

"Bill Clinton said seven years ago that the era of big government is over, but somehow, under the ministrations of this conservative-minded and big-hearted Republican President, it seems to be back.

"Say you are an abject supply-sider, and you don't believe that the additional tax cuts would add one red cent to the deficit.

"How then, still, to explain $400 billion for Medicare, $1.2 billion for (cue Don Pardo) 'a new car!,' $6 billion for Project Bioshield, $450 million for new mentors, $600 million for drug treatment, and $10 billion for AIDS?

"Despite all those SAO pledges that the speech would not be a laundry list, the president's domestic section was a laundry list – and one of domestic 'priorities' that would make Al Gore or Bill Clinton proud.

"Oh, how George W. Bush used to mock Gore for trying to encourage new auto technologies.

"And don't forget that those Social Security changes the president briefly re-touted last night still come with a trillion-dollar transition cost price tag."

Salon's Joe Conason recalls another presidential candidate who pushed the idea of replacing the internal-combustion engine:

"That's Al 'Ozone Man' Gore, in the revised foreword to the 2000 reissue of his 1992 book, 'Earth in the Balance.' Back then the Republican Party apparatchiks and all the conservative pundits ridiculed Gore's kooky ideas about replacing the internal combustion engine.

"The moronic Jim Nicholson, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, used to stand at the fax machine all day, sending out messages that attacked Gore for wanting to do away with the internal 'combustible' engine, which were duly repeated by all the right-wing hacks. They used Gore's farsighted ideas against him in places like Michigan and Tennessee, where lots of cars are built. Now they will all tell you that Bush is simply brilliant for supporting this visionary technology."

Andrew Sullivan finds grounds for inspiration:

"The domestic ambitions of this president strike me as immensely expensive and clearly liable to saddle us with at least another decade of deficit spending. But then I found myself – an unabashed small government supporter – putting some of those concerns aside.

"Why? Because Bush is tapping into American ambition again, which is no small achievement. And because his domestic concerns seem to me motivated by a decency and a compassion I cannot but respect. As someone with HIV, I listened to his words about AIDS and found my throat catching. This is a Republican president, and yet he sees the extraordinary pain and anguish and death that this disease has caused and is still causing. He made me question again my more pragmatic concerns about the feasibility of HIV treatment and prevention in Africa and shamed me into realizing I should be far more optimistic in the attempt to tackle this issue.

"And when he spoke about addiction – a problem I also see all around me – I also felt a genuineness in his words that surprised me. I shouldn't be surprised, of course. Bush was an addict. And he came this close to saying it. But this aspect of the drug problem is one too many have either spoken about glibly or not spoken about at all. If we cannot end the idiotic 'drug-war', we can at least expand treatment and care for the addicted. . . .

"So sue me for being moved. I was."

The New Republic wanted an even greater emphasis on the case for war:

"Bush is in some sense guilty of self-sabotage, neglecting to mention Iraq until more than halfway through the speech. If, as this magazine believes, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose an imminent threat, and if an overthrow of Saddam's regime could lead to a sea change in Middle Eastern politics, why didn't the president make Iraq the first topic on his agenda? Surely America's justification for sending its men and women to die in a foreign invasion should take precedence over plans to prevent forest fires, eliminate the marriage penalty for taxpayers, or provide mentors for middle-school children--all topics Bush mentioned in the first half of his speech. By the time Bush got to Iraq, it seemed like just another item on a laundry list.

"Bush also failed to explain why war with Iraq is so urgent. The president rightly tried to shift the country's focus from the minutiae of weapons inspections to the broader threat Iraq poses. And he rightly emphasized that the only point of inspections is to verify a voluntary disarmament, not to uncover Saddam's entire weapons program. But later in the speech Bush undercut himself, returning to the minutiae of inspectors' claims in order to justify America's aims in Iraq."

The Weekly Standard's David Brooks says Bush's oration got the job done:

"For the past several weeks, the American people have had growing qualms about going to war against Iraq. This speech will reverse that trend. If President Bush's speech had been a dud, it would have been cataclysmic for the administration. Instead, it was a strong, sober, moral, and determined speech, which will give the president the latitude he needs to pursue the right course.

"When I scanned through the text of the speech--which is delivered to journalists just as the president begins--I have to confess I was a little disappointed. I knew this wasn't going to be a legal brief with newly released intelligence data--much of the substance I had heard before in recent speeches by Colin Powell and other administration figures. But when I saw the president deliver the speech, all my disappointments evaporated. In this speech, the president was able to show his resolve, his sober determination, his moral vision."

Now, says the New York Times, we turn to the really secret stuff:

President Bush's top national security aides, preparing the indictment of Saddam Hussein, are debating whether to declassify satellite photographs of suspected Iraqi weapons sites and truck convoys – along with telephone intercepts and interviews with defectors and detainees – to demonstrate that Iraq is defying inspections.

"The rush to declassify comes as officials search for a way for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to make a credible argument at the United Nations next Wednesday, without harming the sources of the intelligence.

"They need to prove not only that Iraq is blocking the inspections but also that it has active links to Al Qaeda – and without compromising the sources of the intelligence."

Of course, they could always leak it to the papers.

The Los Angeles Times says the war could determine more than just the fate of Saddam:

"Bush is pursuing a strategy evident since the 2001 terrorist attacks – one of trying to strictly separate the nation's economic issues from its national security concerns.

"But the economy and war have not stayed in the distinct, hermetically sealed boxes as the president had hoped. As the prospect of conflict with Iraq has grown in recent weeks, the stock market and consumer confidence have tumbled, the value of the dollar has swooned and energy prices have climbed.

"As a result, analysts say, Bush's success at influencing the economy in the coming months will have less to do with cutting the tax on stock dividends than with prosecuting a speedy and successful war."

The fine print from Bush's speech still seems to be missing, the Philadelphia Inquirer observes:

"President Bush promoted his plan to overhaul Medicare yesterday while declining to spell out how he would change it.

"Bush's aversion to details during a campaign-style trip to Michigan was a tacit acknowledgment of the political risks involved in proposing to alter a program that offers health-care coverage to more than 40 million older and disabled Americans.

"Administration officials are still working on details of a plan Bush endorsed Tuesday in his State of the Union address. Initial drafts would offer prescription-drug coverage only to senior citizens who switched from traditional Medicare to health maintenance organizations or other managed-care plans."

National Review's Jay Nordlinger liked the speech but hated the audience:

"Rest assured, I like the State of the Union address as much as the next guy – no, more than the next guy. I'm a political junkie and, in particular, a presidential aficionado. But 'SotU,' as the State of the Union address is abbreviated, has gotten out of hand. All of that pomp, all of that circumstance, all of that nonsense – not very American or republican, really. Presidents used to send over a letter. But now there are Cabinet secretaries, military officials with their stripes and baubles, and all that applause.

"Yes, applause, applause, and more applause. The rhythm of just about every State of the Union address is ruined by applause – often mischievous applause, point-making applause, or competing applause between parties. Last night, the president allowed a lot of applause (and a speaker, of course, can control it). For long stretches, it seemed that there was applause after every sentence. And more than applause: a standing ovation! This is no friend to oratory."

Does Bush now have the moral high ground on AIDS? Not quite, says the Wall Street Journal:

"A day after proposing a huge spending increase to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, President Bush faced skepticism from health activists and the specter of being trumped by the Senate Republican leader and a Democratic presidential aspirant.

"The president opened himself up to a fight over support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The independent international body has strong supporters on Capitol Hill and doubters inside the White House. . . .

"But as White House officials worked to generate enthusiasm for the president's plan, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it will consider next week an even-more-generous bill sponsored by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.) and presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry. 'This isn't the first time this administration has spoken the right language about AIDS, but too often their actions have lagged far behind their photo opportunities,' the Massachusetts Democrat said."

The American Prowler finds some GOP noses out of joint:

"The White House economic team was miffed that House Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Thomas bad-mouthed the Bush economic stimulus package the day before the president was expected to make a strong pitch for it in his State of the Union Address.

"Thomas, who is known on the Hill for being particularly prickly, went out of his way on Monday to say that the Bush plan needed much going over with a fine tooth comb, particularly in the areas that gave investors breaks on taxation of dividends. The White House had been assured by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Republican leader Tom DeLay that the economic package would be put on a fast track. 'We need the House to move, so that we can focus on winning in the Senate,' says a White House legislative staffer, adding humorously: 'Maybe Thomas didn't get the memo.'

"Thomas has angered the White House in the past, complaining about not being let into the loop on economic and tax policy planning, even though the White House claims that Thomas is more plugged in on some issues than his own House leadership."

[edited]

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
In 1993, President Clinton proposed a $16 billion stimulus plan that republicans threatened to filibuster and kill because it was too large. Today, those same republicans have no problem supporting a stimulus package in excess of $600 billion. Amazing isn't it that these conservative republicans believe in absolutely nothing. Republican Filibuster Looms on Clinton Stimulus Plan except endless war and endless spending (but only when they get to do the spending and war-making).


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Bush Official Under Fire for Reception
AP/Washington Post
By Pete Yost Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, January 29, 2003; 7:00 PM

WASHINGTON –– A House Democrat asked the Commerce Department's inspector general Wednesday to look into whether the Bush administration's top telecommunications official acted properly in letting lobbyists help pay for a catered reception in her honor.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California urged the inspector general, Johnnie Frazier, to submit a report to the House Government Reform Committee on the $3,000 reception for 80 guests at the Great Falls, Va., home of Nancy Victory in October 2001. Ten days after the party, Victory said federal regulators should immediately repeal restrictions that wireless companies had been complaining about for years.

SBC Communications and Motorola helped pay for the reception, while a lobbyist for Cingular Wireless says he paid for his share of the event out of his own pocket.

"The inspector general's office has the authority to determine whether Ms. Victory acted appropriately and whether any steps need to be taken to prevent such a situation from occurring in the future," Waxman said.

The Associated Press first reported on the reception Jan. 20.

Victory, who says some of the party guests were from the telecommunications industry but refuses to identify any of them, initially said that her lobbyist friends from SBC, Motorola and Cingular Wireless paid for the event out of their own pockets.

Federal ethics rules prohibit officials from accepting gifts from corporations that may be affected by the officials' decisions. The lobbyists from SBC and Motorola reimbursed their companies last week.

Victory and the department initially said she did not have to reveal the event on her financial disclosure form. But Victory revised the form last week to add the party after the Office of Government Ethics said ethics rules required her to do so.

Victory, an assistant secretary of commerce, heads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

TechNews.com Home

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Nancy Victory had a party. Lobbyists paid for it. She didn't report it. A couple days later she gave the lobbyist exactly what they wanted. Two of the lobbyists paid for the party out of company funds (not personal checks). Why do we need to investigate this exactly? Quid pro quo is against the law. Not reporting what lobbists gave her is against the law. Having companies give her gifts is against the law. Not reporting the gifts is against the law. SCANDAL, SCANDAL, SCANDAL! The law is meaningless to this woman and her boss.


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World opinion moves against Bush
The Guardian/UK
Simon Tisdall
Thursday January 23, 2003

Those who are opposed to the George Bush administration's policy towards Iraq, and specifically its threat to launch an unprovoked invasion of the country, must surely be immensely heartened by the discernible shift in worldwide public opinion on the issue. Last weekend's well-supported demonstrations in cities as diverse and far apart as Tokyo, Islamabad, Damascus, Moscow, Washington and San Francisco are indicative of the gathering power and reach of the anti-war movement.

For every person who took to the streets, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, who share their concerns. As the crisis appears to move towards some sort of denouement, the size and potency of this international resistance can be expected to grow.

It has been clear for some time that most people in the Arab world and Muslim countries worldwide would fiercely object to any US-led intervention in Iraq. Among the many reasons cited is the fear that war will increase regional instability and inflame the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The rising tide of anti-war sentiment has produced some remarkable recent poll findings in western Europe. Three out of four Germans, for example, say that they consider President Bush to be a greater danger than Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

As is also the case in France, three out of four of those polled in Germany say that they are opposed to a war in Iraq, even if it is specifically authorised by the UN security council.

In Spain and Italy, majorities against war are over 60%, despite the expressed support for US policy of the countries' respective leaders, Jose Maria Aznar and Silvio Berlusconi. These largely Catholic countries will have listened to the Pope's recent denunciation of war as a "defeat for humanity".

The developing position in Britain is, in a sense, even more remarkable. For historical and cultural reasons, the British feel a greater affinity with the US than people elsewhere in Europe. Their instinct is to support the US, as the response to September 11 showed.

During the past six months or more, Britons have been repeatedly told by the prime minister, Tony Blair, that the threat posed by Iraq is urgent and must be dealt with, if necessary by force, as the US says.

Mr Blair's government has published dossiers on Iraq's estimated weapons of mass destruction capability and its human rights abuses in a bid to bolster the case for war. It has also followed the Bush administration's lead in drawing a link, without any evidence, between al-Qaida terrorists and Iraq.

It argues that the worldwide problem of weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and particularly the threat of weapons falling into terrorist hands, will somehow be curbed if Iraq's regime is ousted.

Yet from beneath the weight of this official, and media-backed, scaremongering and arm-twisting, a near-majority of Britons opposed to war is emerging. Over the past three months, those against an attack on Iraq has risen by 10 points to 47%, according to a Guardian poll.

Other polls show that more than 80% of Britons believe clear evidence of Iraqi non-compliance with the UN inspection regime's requirements, and specific UN authority for the use of force, are essential prerequisites for military action.

Yet for all this, perhaps the biggest turnaround in opinion is taking place in the US itself. Last summer, and throughout early autumn, many Americans complained that they were opposed to President Bush's plans but that their views were not being heard by the administration, Congress or the mainstream media.

They felt that they were talking into a vacuum, said there was no debate on the issue and feared being branded "unpatriotic" if they questioned their government's strategy.

The change since then has been startling. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that American grassroots support for the Bush administration's policy on Iraq is falling steadily. Seven out of 10 Americans want the UN inspectors to be given more time to do their job, according to the findings. They therefore oppose Mr Bush's anticipated attempt to curtail or cancel the inspections prior to launching military action.

As in Britain, this shift comes despite a daily diet of self-justifying speeches by the government, and a stream of new charges being levelled against Iraq. It is also occurring in the context of a gradual fall, as evidenced by other polls, in Mr Bush's overall approval rating. Confidence in his handling of the domestic economy is also dwindling, and it seems likely that these trends are connected.

For those opposed to war, this is all very jolly. But the key question remains: will it actually make any difference? A few weeks ago, the answer might have been a gloomy no. But now the picture has become more confused.

Responding to the concerns expressed by its people, the French government is currently trying to delay, at least for a few weeks, the onset of hostilities. It is backed in this aim by Germany, Greece and others - not an unpowerful alliance. France is also attempting to create a united EU position against an invasion.

Following France's lead, and perhaps reading the international public mood, veto-wielding China and Russia have called for an indefinite continuation of weapons inspections.

Another issue of particular concern to the hawks in the Bush administration may be Turkey's unexpected but dogged reluctance to allow its territory to be used as a large-scale base for war. Ankara has this week called a regional summit of all the major Middle East countries to discuss a non-violent solution to the crisis.

Even Mr Blair is showing signs of strain as he tries to take command of public opinion in Britain, but finds himself continually rebuffed. He will face stiff opposition from within his own party and government if, as seems increasingly possible, the US government asks Britain to join it in going to war without a clear UN mandate. Some commentators foresee his political demise in such circumstances.

And what of President Bush? Is there any sign that the pressure of growing public disapproval is telling on him? He certainly appears to be more than usually grumpy, and keeps saying that his patience with Iraq is running out.

But perhaps Mr Bush is beginning to wonder whether US voters are running out of patience with him. He wants to bring down President Saddam. He wants to vanquish his other perceived "rogue state" foes, such as Kim Jong-il in North Korea. He wants to win his "war on terror" at almost any cost, continuing to play the role of war president. It has worked for him so far.

But there is one price that Mr Bush will not pay, because there is one thing he wants more than anything else: a second term in office. He is unlikely to do anything to jeopardise that ambition, and up until now has seemed to think that starting a full-scale war in the Middle East, with all its potentially bloody consequences for Americans and others, would help him win another four years in power.

But perhaps even he is starting to worry that war, along with rising oil prices, unemployment, public and private debt and a faltering economy, could have the very opposite effect. Perhaps those around him, like campaign adviser Karl Rove, are worrying even more.

It remains unlikely that President Bush will back off now. But if he does, it would truly be a triumph for democracy in the very best sense of the word - and it would make all those street demonstrations worthwhile.

Commentary:
Interesting! Losing re-election is Bush's primary reason for war, that is obvious, but will he give up war to win re-election? Not bad!


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2004 Budget Likely to Show Record Deficits
Washington Post
By Jonathan Weisman and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 29, 2003; Page A04

The White House is likely to project record budget deficits next week when President Bush releases a 2004 budget that will include large tax cuts as well as big boosts in spending on homeland defense, Medicare and the military.

In a series of telephone interviews yesterday, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said the deficits for 2003 and 2004 would approach 3 percent of the economy, or more than $300 billion a year. That would surpass the 1992 record deficit of $290 billion, even before the cost of a possible war with Iraq is factored in. It would also be nearly triple the $109 billion deficit for 2003 that was forecast by the White House six months ago.

"We're about to disappear into the deepest of red ink," said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).

Still, expressed as a percentage of the gross domestic product, Daniels said, a $300 billion deficit is manageable and could be reversed easily if Congress and the president make it a priority. "If what the nation should care about most is getting back to balance, it's no great trick to do it," Daniels said. "We can do it in a year or two. All we'd have to do is limit spending growth to inflation and undertake no new initiatives."

That contention was echoed by Treasury secretary nominee John W. Snow at his confirmation hearing yesterday, when he said: "There is some level of deficits that is troublesome, that begins to tilt the financial markets. We're not there yet. We're a long way from there."

Nevertheless, the numbers appeared to put to rest any prospect of a return to surpluses this decade. Two years ago, the White House and the Congressional Budget Office forecast a surplus of $5.6 trillion this decade. In July, the OMB projected a deficit of $109 billion in 2003, declining to $48 billion in 2004 before surpluses return. Now, Daniels said he expects the 2004 deficit to be close to his 2003 estimate.

Daniels said the White House will no longer issue 10-year budget projections. "Those numbers would be, in my view, worse than a wasted effort," he said.

The CBO in August projected deficits of $145 billion in 2003 and $111 billion in 2004. The CBO will update those projections today with a relatively optimistic 2003 deficit of between $165 billion and $175 billion, according to Senate Republican aides. The CBO will likely project a 2004 deficit of about $130 billion.

[Note: CBO currently projects $199 billion for 2003, and $145 billion for 2004, not the numbers assumed "likely" above. Private economists project $300-350 billion for both 2003 and 2004.]

But unlike the White House projections, those figures do not include a new round of tax cuts or the increases in spending for defense, homeland security and Medicare that Bush will be seeking in his new budget.

Daniels said the 2004 budget would propose more than $40 billion more for homeland security, between a 7 percent and 8 percent increase over last year. Military spending would jump between 4 percent and 5 percent under the plan. Spending on the rest of the government would rise between 3 percent and 4 percent, Daniels said.

A senior administration official said Bush will also seek about $400 billion over 10 years to overhaul Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit for some seniors.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
It must be easy being president when you don't care about the budget. These numbers are just the beginning of what it cost to buy the votes Bush won in his first two years. Buying congress has always been easy, putting a stop to their spending is the hard part. Great presidents know how to control congress while weak presidents explode the deficits and let the congress walk all over them.

Bill Clinton had very high approval ratings because he did the right things. He raised taxes, reduced the deficit every year of his presidency, gave us record surpluses and will be remembered as one of our greats. Bush wants to be a wartime president, but the problem is there's no war to fight (though he's trying like hell to brew one in Iraq.

All he needs is WAR. War will solve his problems as Americans rally around their president during times of war. Bush needs to find a way to keep his wars never ending. Otherwise he's toast. Personally, I think he's already toast. We'll see in two years.


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Schwarzkopf Tells Bush: Don't Do It Alone
Times Online
From Tim Reid in Washington and Clem Cecil in Moscow
August 19, 2002

NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, the US general who commanded allied forces during the Gulf War, joined a growing number of senior US military and political figures yesterday who are opposed to a unilateral invasion of Iraq and said President Bush "should not go it alone".

General Schwarzkopf, now retired from the US Army but still a commanding voice on matters relating to Iraq, said that the success of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and the expulsion of President Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait was almost entirely based on the existence of a broad international coalition. He said: "In the Gulf War we had an international force and troops from many nations. We would be lacking if we went it alone at this time."

He emphasised the dangers of an invasion without international consensus and military support because of the size and strength of the Iraqi Army. "It is not going to be an easy battle but it would be much more effective if we didn't have to do it alone," he said.

To be effective, a US-led invasion would need launching points not only from Kuwait and Turkey, but also from Saudi Arabia, which Riyadh has so far pointedly refused, he added.

Wesley Clark, the retired general who led the Nato alliance during the Kosovo campaign, also joined the voices counselling against an invasion without international co-operation.

In an article for the September issue of The Washington Monthly, he said: "The early successes (in Afghanistan) seem to have reinforced the conviction of some within the US Government that the continuing war on terrorism is best waged outside the structures of international institutions. This is a fundamental misjudgment. The longer the war goes on . . . the more our success will depend on the willing co-operation and active participation of our allies."

Brent Scowcroft, who was the National Security Adviser to the first President Bush and who is a close friend of the Bush family, said last week that US action against Iraq, without resolving tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, "could turn the whole region into a cauldron and thus destroy the war on terrorism".

Richard Armey, the Texan House majority leader and a close presidential ally, said that an "unprovoked attack" on Iraq would be unjustifiable.

Mr Bush's hopes of international support suffered a further blow yesterday with the confirmation that Russia and Iraq are about to agree to a five-year economic co-operation plan worth £27 billion. Abbas Khalaf, Iraq's Ambassador to Moscow, said that the agreement would probably be signed in Baghdad at the beginning of September.

Mr Khalaf said that the new agreement will enable Russia to help Iraq to modernise much of its infrastructure, which was built by Soviet or Russian specialists.

President Putin supports lifting United Nations sanctions against Iraq in the hope that Baghdad will start paying off debts that were amassed in Soviet times. Mr Bush also faced accusations of hypocrisy over his claims that Saddam's use of chemical weapons justified "regime change". The New York Times said that covert US support for Iraq during its war against Iran in the 1980s would have included the realisation that Saddam was using gas and chemical weapons.


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Invasion would be error to rival Hitler's attack on Russia
TimesOnline
Analysis by General Michael Rose
May 25, 2002

THE defeat of the Taleban and al-Qaeda armies in Afghanistan, which presented an old-fashioned, conventional opposition to the US-led forces, was quick and without undue casualties.

But as Wellington said after the British Army had occupied Kabul in 1839, virtually without opposition, "the difficulties begin where the military successes have ended". Eight months after US forces entered Afghanistan there is little sign that the allies' strategy has sufficiently acknowledged that the nature of the conflict has radically changed and that kinetic energy weapon systems — however smart — cannot defeat guerrillas or suppress terrorism.

As Wellington added on the British Army's conduct of operations during the First Afghan War, "countries are not conquered by running up the hills and firing at long distances".

Nor would the defeat of terrorism be brought any closer by the overthrow of dictators or corrupt rulers whose states sponsor terrorism. Indeed, direct military action against countries like Iraq or Iran will only add to the numbers prepared to carry out terrorist acts against the West.

The Clausewitzian model of warfare, in which a government, people and army sought to achieve victory over the enemy through superior military force, is clearly less relevant to President Bush's global war against terrorism than the complex principles that govern modern revolutionary war.

Revolutionary and terrorist wars are more about changing the attitudes of people than destroying an army. Victory can be achieved only by isolating the terrorists from the mass of the people and by obtaining sufficient intelligence to limit their military options.

Therefore to launch a ground offensive against Iraq at this time would represent an enormous and terrible strategic blunder in the war against terrorism. Even if such a second front could be justified in terms of the suppression of terrorism (and there is no certainty that President Saddam Hussein was involved in the events of September 11), the risks and potentially negative consequences far outweigh any possible benefits.

First, any military action would have to achieve total success with great rapidity for the US and its allies: moderate Arab rulers who might be persuaded to turn a blind eye to such an operation could not afford to get involved in protracted operations. If the offensive did not succeed almost at once there would be increasing popular opposition to the military action, especially within neighbouring Arab states, and also in America if serious casualties occurred.

Second, there is no viable opposition to Saddam in Iraq as there was to the Taleban in Afghanistan, and even if the Republican Guard were destroyed, it is nonsense to assume that the regime would fall with its destruction. The security apparatus in Iraq controls every level of society and there is little chance of a spontaneous uprising of the Iraqi people after so many years of oppression.

Third, a ground offensive in Iraq would be an extremely difficult operation to mount logistically, with long lines of communication and limited, if any, forward operating bases, for the US would not be able to count on the same level of military support as it had during the Gulf War from neighbouring Arab states. Even then it took many months of military build-up before the operation to recover Kuwait could be launched in 1991.

Finally, the invasion of Iraq by Americans would represent an enormous propaganda victory for the extremist Islamic movements and make the job of winning the war against terrorism almost impossible.

If the present US Administration's debate about the feasibility of launching a ground offensive against Iraq is merely designed to put pressure on Saddam in order to get him to comply with UN Security Council resolutions regarding weapons inspections then there may be some merit in the debate.

If, on the other hand, the debate is intended by the US as a warning to its allies that such an attack is about to happen, then every effort should be made by those close to President Bush, including our own Prime Minister, to persuade the US not to embark on an operation that would equate in terms of folly with Germany's decision to attack Russia during the Second World War.

General Rose was Commander of the UN Protection Force, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1994-95.


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Consumer Confidence hits nine year low
Financial Times
By Peronet Despeignes in Washington
Published: January 28 2003 16:27 | Last Updated: January 28 2003 16:27

US consumer confidence dipped to a new nine-year low last month, according to a widely watched gauge released Tuesday, while figures on orders for durable goods showed only modest growth.

Stocks on Wall Street had made modest gains in early trade before moving back closer to unchanged levels by late morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 17.69 to 8,007.25. The threat of war with Iraq and speculation surrounding President George W. Bush's upcoming state of the union address on Tuesday evening were the key drivers in the markets.

Early in the trading day, the Conference Board, a New York business research group, said its index of consumer sentiment fell to 79 in January from 80.7 in December. The index was at its lowest level since November 1993.

The decline was in line with expectations and relatively modest in light of the past year's steep fall, which has taken the index from the high of 110 reached in March. A chart of the index over the past year, suggests its pace of decline is, in fact, slowing.

January's drop was due entirely to a drop in the expectations component, reflecting unease about economic and geopolitical uncertainty, but the second major component - assessing current economic conditions - rose.

In a busy day for economic releases, the US Commerce Department said orders for durable goods items, such as TV sets and cars built to last at least three years, rose a modest 0.2 per cent, well below the 1 per cent increase many economists had expected. The gain followed a 1.3 per cent drop in November and a 1.7 per cent increase in October.

There were no signs of a sharp recovery in investment, though the long three-year retrenchment appears to be ending. Orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, viewed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan as a good gauge of business spending, dipped 0.1 per cent, following November's 3.1 per cent drop.

In a separate released that provided evidence that US consumers continue to remain confident enough to take on long-term commitments, the Commerce Department reported sales of new homes continue to breach old records, rising to an all-time high, a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,08m units in December from 1.05m in November.

The report follows figures showing similarly strong activity in building permits, housing construction and sales of previously owned homes amid 30-year low mortgage rates. Mortgage activity and price increases, however, have slowed in a sign to some analysts that sales are bound to cool.

Commentary:
With the state of the Union is total disrepair Bush has only one hope. WAR! The ghost of his father losing to that guy from Arkansas must be his living hell. It's the economy stupid.

People are done waving their flags and done putting up stickers saying "God Bless America." Now, they want a president who can do more than drop bombs and bankrupt us. Americans want a real leader again.


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Pa. Sues Bush Over New Clean Air Rules *
An Impeachable Offense
Washington Post/AP
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 28, 2003; 9:50 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa. –– The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has sued the Bush administration over new rules that would make it easier for industrial plants and refineries to modernize without having to buy expensive pollution controls.

The administration of Gov. Ed Rendell, just six days old, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Monday, challenging changes set to go into effect March 3.

The EPA regulations amount to a major change in the way older industrial plants will have to deal with air pollution when they expand, make major repairs or modify operations to increase efficiency.

Acting Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said the EPA's changes are "troubling for Pennsylvania."

McGinty, who chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality and was President Clinton's principal adviser on climate change and sustainable development, said Pennsylvania filed its own lawsuit to ensure "our own seat at the table to help resolve these issues."

Nine other states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont – filed a joint lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals hours after the Bush administration announced the new rules Dec. 31.

Their lawsuit argues that the new approach amounts to a "gutting" of the 1970 law that they say has been responsible for substantial air quality improvements over the past three decades.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Are you guys getting like me and wondering why this president's administration spends almost every waking minute in court? Here's a thought, maybe they should follow the law once in awhile and freak us all out.

Bush 'gutted' the Clear Air Act without the consent of congress. If this were still a nation of laws I'd call for his impeachment? Oh yeah, I am. So should you.


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Statements by UN Chief Inspectors
United Nations News
Security Council
4692nd Meeting (AM)
27/01/2003
The meeting began at 10:40 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:36 a.m.

HANS BLIX, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), cited the three important questions before the Council today: how much in the way of prohibited weapons and related materials might remain undeclared and intact from the period prior to 1991, and, possibly thereafter; what, if anything, was illegally produced or procured after 1998, when the inspectors left; and how to prevent the production or procurement of any weapons of mass destruction in the future.

He said that resolution 1441 (2002) emphatically reaffirmed the demand on Iraq to cooperate. Indeed, it required that cooperation to be immediate, unconditional and active. The resolution contained many provisions, which were welcomed as enhancing and strengthening the inspection regime. The unanimity with which it was adopted had sent a powerful signal that the Council was "of one mind" in creating a last opportunity for peaceful disarmament in Iraq through inspection.

The UNMOVIC shared the sense of urgency felt by the Council to use inspection as a path to attain, within a reasonable time, verifiable disarmament of Iraq, he said. Under the relevant resolutions, that would be followed by monitoring for such time as the Council felt would be required. The resolutions also pointed to a zone free of mass destruction weapons as the ultimate goal. The UNMOVIC was fully aware of and appreciated the close attention, which the Council devoted to the inspections in Iraq. While today's "updating" was foreseen in resolution 1441 (2002), the Council could and did call for additional briefings whenever it wished. One was held on 19 January and a further one was tentatively set for 14 February.

Turning to the key requirement of cooperation and Iraq's response to it, he said that cooperation might be said to relate to both substance and process. It would appear from his experience so far that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance, in order to bring the disarmament task to completion through the peaceful process of inspection and to bring the monitoring task on a firm course. An initial minor step would be to adopt the long overdue legislation required by the resolutions. Concerning cooperation on process, "Iraq has, on the whole, cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field", he said. Access had been provided to all sites he had wanted to inspect and, with one exception, that had been prompt.

Two problems he said he wished to register related to two kinds of air operations. Iraq had refused to guarantee the safety of a U-2 plane placed at UNMOVIC's disposal for aerial imagery and surveillance, unless a number of conditions were fulfilled. As those conditions went beyond the stipulations in resolution 1441 (2002) and what had been practised by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and Iraq in the past, he noted that Iraq was not so far complying with that request. Another air operation problem concerned the use of helicopters flying into the no-fly zones. Iraq had insisted on sending helicopters of its own to accompany UNMOVIC's, but as that would have raised a safety problem, the matter was solved by an offer on UNMOVIC's party to take the accompanying Iraq minders in the inspectors' helicopters to the sites.

There had been some recent disturbing incidents and harassment, he continued. For instance, some far-fetched allegations had been made publicly that questions posed by inspectors were of an intelligence character. Iraq knew that the inspectors did not serve intelligence purposes, and Iraq should not say so. On a number of occasions, demonstrations had taken place in front of UNMOVIC's offices and at inspection sites. Those did not facilitate an already difficult job, in which the inspectors tried to be effective, professional and, at the same time, correct.

Discussing cooperation on substance, Dr. Blix referred to the 12,000-page declaration submitted by Iraq on 7 December 2002. In the fields of missiles and biotechnology, the declaration contained a "good deal" of new material and information covering the period from 1998 and onward. That had been welcome. One might have expected that in preparing the declaration, Iraq would have tried to respond to, clarify and submit supporting evidence regarding many of the open disarmament issues. Among them –- UNSCOM document S/1999/94 of January 1999 and the so-called "Amorim Report" of March 1999 (document S/1999/356) -– were questions which UNMOVIC, governments and independent commentators had often cited.

He said those reports did not contend that weapons of mass destruction remained in Iraq, but nor did they exclude that possibility. They pointed to lack of evidence and inconsistencies, which raised question marks that must be straightened out if the weapons dossiers were to be closed and confidence was to arise. Regrettably, Iraq's declaration did not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their number.

Turning to some examples of outstanding issues and questions, he began with chemical weapons. The nerve agent VX, he said, was one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq had declared that it had only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tonnes, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it said, that agent had never been weaponized. Iraq had said that the small quantity of the agent remaining after the Gulf War had been unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. The UNMOVIC, however, had information that conflicted with that account. There were indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than had been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicated that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared. There were also indications that the agent was weaponized.

On the so-called "Air Force document", found by an UNSCOM inspector in a safe in Iraqi Air Force Headquarters in 1998 and providing an account of the expenditures of bombs, including chemical bombs, by Iraq in the Iraq-Iran war, he was encouraged by the fact that Iraq had now provided that document to UNMOVIC. The document indicated that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while Iraq had declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during that period. Thus, there was a discrepancy on the order of about 1,000 tonnes. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, he must assume that those quantities were now unaccounted for.

Regarding the discovery of a number of 122 millimetre chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot south-west of Baghdad, he said that that was a relatively new bunker and, therefore, the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. The investigation of those rockets was still proceeding. Their discovery did not resolve, but rather pointed to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that were unaccounted for. Their finding showed that Iraq needed to make more effort to ensure that its declaration was currently accurate. Inspectors had also found, at another site, a laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas precursor.

On biological weapons, he recalled that Iraq had produced about 8,500 litres of anthrax, a biological warfare agent, which it stated it had unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq had provided little evidence for that production and no convincing evidence for its destruction. There were strong indications that Iraq had produced more anthrax than it had declared and that at least some of that had been retained after the declared destruction date. That might still exist. Either it should be found and destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision, or convincing evidence should be produced to show that it had been destroyed in 1991. Also, Iraq had not declared a significant quantity of bacterial growth media, which had been acknowledged as imported in Iraq. The quantity of media involved would suffice to produce about 5,000 litres of concentrated anthrax, he said.

Concerning missiles, there remained significant questions as to whether Iraq had retained SCUD-type missiles after the Gulf War, he went in. Iraq had declared the consumption of a number of SCUD missiles as targets in the development of an anti-ballistic missile defence system during the 1980s, yet no technical information had been produced about that programme or data on the consumption of missiles. There had been a range of developments in the missile field during the past four years presented by Iraq as non-proscribed activities. The inspectors were trying to gain a clear understanding of them. Meanwhile, Iraq had been asked to cease flight tests of two missile systems. It had refurbished its missile production infrastructure; in particular, it had reconstituted a number of casting chambers, which had been destroyed under UNSCOM supervision. Whatever missile system those chambers were intended for, they could produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometres, Mr. Blix said.

Also associated with missile development had been the import of a number of items, despite the sanctions, he said. Foremost among them was the import of 380 rocket engines for the Al Samoud 2, a liquid-fuelled missile. Iraq had also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and guidance and control systems. Those items might well be for proscribed purposes, but that was yet to be determined. What was clear was that they were illegally brought into Iraq, indicating that Iraq, or some company in Iraq, had circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions. He emphasized the presumptions did not solve the problem; evidence and full transparency might help.

Specifically, he said that information provided by Member States about the movement and concealment of missiles and chemical weapons and mobile units for biological weapons production would certainly be followed up. On the question of documents, he said that when he had urged Iraq to present more evidence, the response had often been that there were no more documents. The recent inspecting finding in the private home of a scientist of a box of 3,000 pages of documents, much of it related to the laser enrichment of uranium, supported a long-held concern that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. The Iraqi side, however, claimed that research staff sometimes brought home papers from their work places. He could not help but think that that case might not be isolated, and that such placements of documents was deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents.

He said that when Iraq claimed that tangible evidence in the form of documents was not available, it ought, at least, to find individuals, engineers, scientists and managers to testify about their experience. Some 400 names for all biological and chemical weapons programmes, as well as their missile programmes, had been provided by the Iraqi side. That could be compared to more than 3,500 names of people associated with those past weapons programmes that UNSCOM either interviewed in the 1990s or knew from documents and other sources. At his recent meeting in Baghdad, the Iraqi side committed itself to supplementing the list, and some 80 additional names had been provided.

In the past, much valuable information had come from interviews, he said. To date, 11 individuals had been asked for interviews in Baghdad. The replies had invariably been that the individual would only speak at Iraq's monitoring directorate or in the presence of an Iraqi official. At his recent talks in Baghdad, the Iraqi side committed itself to encourage persons to accept interviews "in private". Despite that, the pattern had not changed. He hoped that further encouragement from the authorities would permit knowledgeable individuals to accept private interviews, in Baghdad or abroad.

On UNMOVIC's capability, he said that in the past two months UNMOVIC had built up its capabilities from nothing to 260 staff members from 60 countries. Furthermore, the roster of inspectors would grow as the training programmes continued. In the past two months, the inspectors had conducted about 300 inspections to more than 230 different sites. Of those, more than 20 had not been inspected before. By the end of December, UNMOVIC began using helicopters, both for the transport of inspectors and for actual inspection work. Those had already proved invaluable in helping to "freeze" large sites by observing the movement of traffic in and around the area. Setting up a field office in Mosul had facilitated rapid inspections of sites in northern Iraq. Plans were under way to establish soon a second field office in the Basra area.


MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), began by recalling what had been accomplished during inspections from 1991 to 1998. The Agency's conclusion at that time was that Iraq's nuclear weapons programme had been neutralized, and there was no indication that Iraq had retained any physical capability to produce weapon-usable nuclear material. During the intervening four years of the Agency's absence from Iraq, the IAEA had continued its analytical work to the best of its ability, using satellite imagery and other information. But no remote analysis could replace on-site inspections, and the Agency was, therefore, not able to reach any conclusions about Iraq's compliance with its Council obligations in the nuclear field after December 1998.

Against that backdrop, he continued, when Iraq agreed last September to reopen its doors to inspection, and following the adoption of resolution 1441, which strengthened the IAEA's authority and the inspection process, the first goal of the inspection activities was "reconnaissance". In that phase, the Agency sought to re-establish rapidly its knowledge base of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, to ensure that key facilities had not been reopened, to verify the location of nuclear material and relevant non-nuclear material, and to identify and begin interviewing key Iraqi personnel.

Over the first two months of inspection, good progress had been made in the Agency's knowledge of Iraq's nuclear capabilities, with a total of 139 inspections at some 106 locations to date, he said. The bulk of those inspections had taken place at State-run or private industrial facilities, research centres and universities -– either at locations where Iraq's significant technical capabilities were known to have existed in the past, or at new locations suggested by remote monitoring and analysis. All inspection activities had been carried out without prior notification to Iraq, except where notification was needed to ensure the availability of required support. IAEA inspections had taken –- and would continue to take –- full advantage of the inspection authority granted by resolution 1441. In doing so, the inspectors had been instructed to make every effort to conduct their activities with appropriate professionalism and sensitivity.

While the Agency was continuing to some extent with that reconnaissance work, he said, inspections were now well into the "investigative" phase, with particular emphasis on determining what, if anything, had occurred in Iraq over the past four years relevant to the re-establishment of nuclear capabilities. Those investigative inspections focused on areas of concern identified by other States, facilities identified through satellite imagery as having been modified or constructed since 1998, and other inspections leads identified independently by the IAEA.

In parallel with those inspection activities, the IAEA had been conducting exhaustive analysis of supporting information obtained from various sources, he said. In that context, it had integrated the new information submitted by Iraq –- including its recent declaration -– with the records that had been accumulated between 1991 and 1998 and the additional information that had been compiled through remote monitoring since 1998. The Iraqi declaration was consistent with the Agency's existing understanding of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear programme. However, it did not provide any new information relevant to certain questions that had been outstanding since 1998 –- in particular, regarding Iraq's progress prior to 1991 related to weapons design and centrifuge development. While those questions did not constitute unresolved disarmament issues, they nevertheless needed further clarification.

In addition to on-site inspections and off-site analysis, IAEA inspectors had employed a variety of tools to accomplish their mission, he noted. Taking advantage of the "signature" of radioactive materials, the Agency had resumed the monitoring of Iraq's rivers, canals and lakes to detect the presence of certain radioisotopes. A broad variety of environmental samples and surface swipe samples had been collected from locations across Iraq and taken to IAEA laboratories for analysis.

The inspectors had also conducted a great number of interviews of Iraqi scientists, managers and technicians -– primarily in the workplace in the course of unannounced inspections -– as a valuable source of information about past and present programmes and activities. The information gained had been helpful in assessing the completeness and accuracy of Iraq's declarations. Resolution 1441 also clearly gave to the IAEA and UNMOVIC the authority to determine the modalities and venues for conducting interviews with Iraqi officials and other persons. The first two individuals whom the IAEA requested to see privately had declined to be interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi government representative. That had been a restricting factor.

Although the Iraqi Government recently had committed itself to encouraging Iraqi officials and other personnel to be interviewed in private when requested, regrettably, the third request, two days ago, for a private interview was again turned down by the interviewee, he said. The IAEA would continue to determine the modalities and locations of the interviews, including the possibility of interviewing Iraqi personnel abroad. He would continue to report to the Council on the Agency's efforts to conduct interviews according to the Agency's preferred modalities and venues, and its degree of success in that regard.

He then summarized some of the findings thus far from the inspection activities. First, the Agency had inspected all of those buildings and facilities that had been identified, through satellite imagery, as having been modified or constructed over the past four years. IAEA inspectors had been able to gain ready access and to clarify the nature of the activities currently being conducted in those facilities. No prohibited nuclear activities had been identified during those inspections.

A particular issue of focus, he noted, had been the attempted procurement by Iraq of high strength aluminium tubes, and the question of whether those tubes, if acquired, could be used for the manufacture of nuclear centrifuges. Iraqi authorities had indicated that their unsuccessful attempts to procure the aluminium tubes related to a programme to reverse engineer conventional rockets. To verify that information, IAEA inspectors had inspected the relevant rocket production and storage sites, taken tube samples, interviewed relevant Iraqi personnel, and reviewed procurement contracts and related documents.

From the Agency's analysis to date, it appeared that the aluminium tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges. However, he said the inspectors were still investigating that issue. It was clear, however, that the attempt to acquire such tubes was prohibited under Council resolution 687.

Another area of focus, he said, had been to determine how certain other "dual use" materials had been relocated or used –- that was, materials that could be used in nuclear weapons production but also have other legitimate uses. A fourth focal point had been the investigation of reports of Iraqi efforts to import uranium after 1991. The Iraqi authorities had denied any such attempts. The IAEA would continue to pursue that issue. Currently, however, it did not have enough information, and he would appreciate receiving more. He was also making progress on a number of other issues related, for example, to the attempted importation of a magnet production facility.

Over the next several months, inspections would focus ever more closely on follow-up of specific concerns, as the Agency continued to conduct visits to sites and interviews with key Iraqi personnel. It had begun helicopter operations, which increased the inspectors' mobility and their ability to respond rapidly to new information, and allow wide-scale radiation detection surveys. Laboratory analysis of environmental samplers was continuing, and the Agency would be re-installing air samplers for wide-area environmental monitoring. The Agency would also re-introduce surveillance systems with video cameras in key locations to allow near-real-time remote monitoring of dual-use equipment.

He had begun in the last few weeks to receive more information from States of direct and current value for inspection follow-up. He continued to call on States that had access to such information to provide it to the inspecting organizations, so that the inspection process could be accelerated and additional assurances could be generated.

He had urged Iraq, once again, to increase the degree of its cooperation with the inspection process. In support of the IAEA inspections to date, the Iraqi authorities had provided access to all facilities visited -– including presidential compounds and private residences -– without conditions and without delay. The Iraqi authorities had also been cooperative in making available additional original documentation, in response to requests by IAEA inspectors. In his discussions with Iraqi officials last week in Baghdad, he emphasized the need to shift from passive support –- that is, responding as needed to inspectors' requests –- to proactive support –- that is, voluntarily assisting inspectors by providing documentation, people and other evidence that would assist in filling the remaining gaps in the Agency's information.

The proactive engagement on the part of Iraq would be in its own best interest and was a window of opportunity that might not remain open for very much longer, he said. Iraq should make every effort to be fully transparent -– with a demonstrated willingness to resolve issues rather than requiring pressure to do so. The international community would not be satisfied when questions remained open regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The world was asking for a high level of assurance that Iraq was completely free from all such weapons, and was already impatient to receive it. The sooner such assistance could be provided by the inspecting organizations, the sooner the prospects of a peaceful resolution would translate into a plausible reality. Inspections were time-consuming, but if successful, could ensure disarmament through peaceful means. The presence of inspectors today continued to serve as an effective deterrent to and insurance against resumption of programmes to develop weapons of mass destructions, even as he continued to look for possible past activities.

To date, the Agency had found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s, he stated. However, the Agency's work was steadily progressing and should be allowed to run its natural course. "With our verification system now in place, barring exceptional circumstances, and provided there is sustained proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able, within the next few months, to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons programme. These few months would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war."

Commentary:
1) Blix: "It would appear from his experience so far that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance, in order to bring the disarmament task to completion through the peaceful process of inspection and to bring the monitoring task on a firm course."

2) ElBaradei: "To date, the Agency had found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s.



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