Israel Resource Review 2nd March, 2003


When Saddam Hussein was a US Ally
Scott Shane
Writer, Baltimore Sun Journal

Newly released documents reveal U.S. talk of regime change in the early 1980s - except then it was language condemning Iran for attempting to overthrow the government in Baghdad.

In an interview Tuesday with the Arab-language television network Al-Jazeera, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld laid out again the case for war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Among other crimes, he said, Iraq "used chemical weapons on its neighbor Iran."

The defense secretary has reason to remember that crime. It was taking place in December 1983, when Rumsfeld met with Hussein as a special envoy of President Ronald Reagan. But his mission then was to improve U.S.-Iraqi relations, assure Hussein that Iran was their common enemy and promote an oil pipeline project.

According to records of the meeting, Rumsfeld made no complaint to the Iraqi dictator about his use of weapons of mass destruction, though he did mention U.S. disapproval to Hussein's foreign minister.

The National Security Archive, a nonprofit public affairs research group at George Washington University, published this week on its Web site recently declassified documents revealing the delicate diplomatic dance performed by the United States in the 1980s as it tilted toward Iraq and away from Iran.

Twenty years ago, Iran seemed a far bigger threat to the United States. Iranian students chanting "Death to America" had seized the U.S. Embassy in 1980 and taken diplomats hostage. Iran was implicated in major terrorist attacks against American targets, including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut, carried out by Hezbollah militants.

But if Reagan and Rumsfeld were right to be cozying up to Hussein in 1983, when he was gassing Iranians and Kurds, does that mean President Bush and Rumsfeld are wrong today to be preparing a war against Iraq and citing such chemical attacks as one reason? Or was U.S. policy wrong then and right now?

U.S. presidents often present American positions in starkly moral terms, as Bush did in describing Hussein in the State of the Union address: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages. . . . International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."

But all those evils were well-documented in 1983.

At the time of Rumsfeld's visit, Hussein had invaded Iran, was seeking nuclear weapons and had used lethal mustard gas. He had harbored terrorists (though he had just expelled the infamous Abu Nidal) and had a well-established record of torturing and murdering domestic opponents.

The U.S. response? It dropped Iraq from the list of nations sponsoring terror, renewed diplomatic ties, and provided intelligence and aid to Iraq to prevent its defeat by Iran.

Joyce Battle, the National Security Archive analyst who assembled the previously secret U.S. documents, says they are a reminder that diplomacy is rarely a clear-cut campaign of good against evil.

"We published these documents as a response to the way the Bush administration is trying to describe this situation in black and white terms," says Battle. "In reality, that's not the way international relations are carried out."

Following are excerpts from the documents:

  • On November 1, 1983, State Department official Jonathan T. Howe writes to Secretary of State George P. Shultz expressing concern about both Iraq's use of chemical weapons and its weak position in the war with Iran:

    We have recently received additional information confirming Iraqi use of chemical weapons [CW]. We also know that Iraq has acquired a CW production capability, primarily from Western firms. . . . If the [National Security Council] decides measures are to be undertaken to assist Iraq, our best present chance of influencing cessation of CW use may be in the context of informing Iraq of these measures. It is important, however, that we approach Iraq very soon in order to maintain the credibility of U.S. policy on CW, as well as to reduce or halt what now appears to be Iraq's almost daily use of CW.

  • On December 14, 1983, the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq, William L. Eagleton Jr., proposed "talking points" for Reagan's envoy:

    A major objective in the meeting with Saddam is to initiate a dialogue and establish personal rapport. In that meeting [Ambassador] Rumsfeld will want to emphasize his close relationship with President Reagan and the president's interest in regional issues. . . .

    [Among the talking points]: The [U.S. government] recognizes Iraq's current disadvantage in a war of attrition since Iran has [easy] access to the Gulf while Iraq does not, and would regard any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West.

  • On December 21, 1983, a U.S. diplomat in London reports on the meeting the day before in Baghdad between Rumsfeld and Hussein, at which the U.S. envoy handed over a conciliatory letter from Reagan:

    In his 90-minute meeting with Rumsfeld, Saddam Hussein showed obvious pleasure with president's letter and Rumsfeld's visit and in his remarks removed whatever obstacles remained in the way of resuming diplomatic relations. . . . [Rumsfeld expressed] interest in seeing Iraq increase oil exports, including through possible new pipeline across Jordan. . . . Our initial assessment is that meeting marked positive milestone in development of U.S.-Iraqi relations and will prove to be of wider benefit to U.S. posture in the region.

    [Hussein] used a direct quote from Rumsfeld's statement to the foreign minister the previous evening when he said "having a whole generation of Iraqis and Americans grow up without understanding each other had negative implications and could lead to mix-ups."

  • On December 26, Eagleton cables the State Department that:

    Ambassador Rumsfeld's visit has elevated U.S-Iraqi relations to a new level. This is both symbolically important and practically helpful. . . . We must now maintain some momentum in the dialogue and relationship.

  • On March 5, 1984, the State Department condemns Iraqi use of chemical weapons - but also blasts Iran's determination to pursue regime change in Iraq:

The United States has concluded that the available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons. The United States strongly condemns the prohibited use of chemical weapons wherever it occurs. While condemning Iraq's resort to chemical weapons, the United States also calls on the Government of Iran to put an end to the bloodshed. The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims.

This piece ran in the Baltimore Sun Magazine on February 27, 2003

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Revealed: 17 British Firms Armed Saddam With His Weapons
Neil Mackay
Home Affairs Editor,
Sunday Herald UK

Seventeen British companies who supplied Iraq with nuclear, biological, chemical, rocket and conventional weapons technology are to be investigated and could face prosecution following a Sunday Herald investigation.

One of the companies is Inter national Military Services, a part of the Ministry of Defence, which sold rocket technology to Iraq. The companies were named by Iraq in a 12,000 page dossier submitted to the UN in December. The Security Council agreed to US requests to censor 8000 pages -- including sections naming western businesses which aided Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme.

The five permanent members of the security council -- Britain, France, Russia, America and China -- are named as allowing companies to sell weapons technology to Iraq.

The dossier claims 24 US firms sold Iraq weapons. Hewlett-Packard sold nuclear and rocket technology; Dupont sold nuclear technology, and Eastman Kodak sold rocket capabilities. The dossier also says some '50 subsidiaries of foreign enterprises conducted their arms business with Iraq from the US'.

It claims the US ministries of defence, energy, trade and agri culture, and the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, supplied Iraq with WMD technology.

Germany, currently opposed to war, is shown to be Iraq's biggest arms-trading partner with 80 companies selling weapons technology, including Siemens. It sold medical machines with dual-purpose parts used to detonate nuclear bombs. The German government reportedly 'actively encouraged' weapons co-operation and assistance was allegedly given to Iraq in developing poison gas used against Kurds.

In China three companies traded weapons technology; in France eight and in Russia six. Other countries included Japan with five companies; Holland with three; Belgium with seven; Spain with three and Sweden with two, including Saab.

The UN claims publicly naming the companies would be counter-productive. Although most of the trade ended in 1991 on the outbreak of the Gulf War, at least two of the five permanent security council members -- Russia and China -- traded arms with Iraq in breach of UN resolutions after 1991. All trade in WMD technology has been outlawed for decades.

UNSCOM found documents showing preparations by the Russian firms Livinvest, Mars Rotor and Niikhism to supply parts for military helicopters in 1995. In April 1995, Mars Rotor and Niikhism sold parts used in long-range missiles to a Palestinian who transported them to Baghdad. In 2001 and 2002, the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies sent supplies to Iraqi air defence.

Foreign companies supplied Iraq's nuclear weapons programme with detonators, fissionable material and parts for a uranium enrichment plant. Foreign companies also provided Iraq's chemical and biological programmes with basic materials; helped with building labs; assisted the extension of missile ranges; provided technology to fit missiles with nuclear, biological and chemical warheads; and supplied Scud mobile launch-pads. Nearly all the weapons that were supplied have been destroyed, accounted for or immobilised, according to former weapons inspectors.

The Foreign Office said: 'The UK will investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute any UK company found to have been in breach of export control legislation.' The Department of Trade and Industry said details on export licences, including information on weapons sold to Iraq, was unavailable.

A spokesman for one of the British companies named, Endshire Export Marketing, said it had sold a consignment of magnets to a German middle-man who sold them to Iraq. Responding to claims that magnets could be used in a nuclear programme, the spokesman said: 'I've no idea if this is the case. I couldn't tell one end of a nuclear bomb from the other.' The company was included on a US boycott list in 1991.

He said the company considered the deal 'genuine business' at the time but that, with the 'benefit of hindsight', the firm would not have taken part in the deal. A spokesman for the MoD's International Military Services said he could not comment as no staff from 1991 were on the payroll and no documents from then existed.

Mick Napier of the Stop The War Coalition said: 'How can we support a government which says it's against mass murder when its record is one of supporting and supplying Iraq? This government depends on public mass amnesia.'

Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, said: 'The evidence of British armament companies, with central government support, arming the Butcher of Baghdad lays to rest the moral garbage spewed from the British government. It exposes the fact that Britain, along with America, France and Russia, armed Saddam to the teeth while he was butchering his own people.'

Labour MP Tam Dalyell said: 'What the Sunday Herald has printed is of huge significance. It exposes the hypocrisy of Blair and Bush. The chickenhawks who want war were up to their necks in arms deals. This drives a coach and horses through the moral case for war.'

UK firms that sold arms to Iraq:

A -- nuclear
B -- biological
C -- chemical
R -- rocket
K -- conventional

  • Euromac Ltd-UK (A)
  • C Plath-Nuclear (A)
  • Endshire Export Marketing (A)
  • International Computer Systems (A, R, K)
  • MEED International (A, C)
  • Walter Somers Ltd. (R)
  • International Computer Limited (A, K)
  • Matrix Churchill Corp. (A)
  • Ali Ashour Daghir (A)
  • International Military Services (R)
  • Sheffield Forgemasters (R)
  • Technology Development Group (R)
  • International Signal and Control (R)
  • Terex Corporation (R)
  • Inwako (A)
  • TMG Engineering (K)
  • XYY Options, Inc (A)
This piece ran in the Sunday Herald UK on Sunday 23 February 2003

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Preparing for a BioChemical War Against Israel
Amir Rappaport
News Analyst Maariv

After a series of delays and the worldwide wave of protests notwithstanding, it is nigh upon us.

The United States is going to attack Iraq in the second half of March.

While the message coming from the direction of the Kirya is calming, it would be premature to store away your gas mask kit. The talk about the negligible possibility that Iraq will try to attack Israel by means of long-range missiles could be misleading. The security establishment is troubled by a far more palpable danger. The danger of a wave of world terror.

Iraq sent in advance sleeper agents to various places around the world. Upon the eruption of the war these agents will operate against the enemy not on the front lines of the war but in its home front,inside the United States, Britain and other countries.

This kind of terrorism could use chemical or biological weapons. That is the reason for the panic that has gripped the West recently about possible terror attacks. Israel and Israeli and Jewish facilities abroad might be targeted by Iraq. And we mustn't forget either that al-Qaida could show that it won't stay silent at a time when the United States is busy attacking an Arab country.

Last week a series of situation assessments were held by the security establishment. The bottom line is that Israel has two weeks left to prepare for the war. The psychological warfare failed to cow Saddam. The scenario in which Saddam folds and seeks political asylum in an Arab state no longer looks plausible now. The Israeli security establishment is convinced that the 200,000 a.m.erican troops who have been transported to the Persian Gulf will not return home with their tails between their legs.

President Bush's room to maneuver has also become more restricted. He cannot attack before the current stage of the show surrounding the UN weapons inspectors work is over. Conversely, the Iraqi winter is about to end and the American generals definitely do not want to send their troops in to broil in the desert in the middle of a blistering Iraqi summer. An attack in the second half of March is now inevitable.

In practice, the security establishment and other state systems, such as the health system, have completed their preparations for the war already. Aside from raising the level of alert in the IAF and completing the deployment of the Patriot missiles, top officials in the security establishment are troubled by another central task on their agenda-what instructions should they give the concerned public.

This is a very sensitive subject. On the one hand, explicit instructions to prepare sealed rooms could evoke the trauma from the 1991 Gulf War and raise the level of anxiety in Israel to a degree that paralyzes routine life. On the other, instructions to open the gas mask kits could be issued too late. The security establishment does not want the first time Israeli citizens see their gas masks to be the moment that Israel is under missile attack.

These complex issues seem simple when compared to the dilemma that the security establishment and the political echelon will face once the war begins: should routine life be paralyzed deliberately by means of closing schools, for example, or should a chance be taken and should the schools be kept open, at least until a missile falls here.

What ultimately will tip the scales principally is intelligence.

According to foreign sources, far away from the drama that has accompanied the war preparations, the United States and Israel have been monitoring by means of satellite pictures and other intelligence gathering means every change in western Iraq. The information that is received about the turn of events in that part of Iraq is what ultimately will determine in the moment of truth which instructions will be given to the public.

In the last few weeks that remain (really, this time) until the war breaks out we would do well were we not to become complacent. The media throughout the world is busy guessing what kinds of surprises the United States has prepared for Saddam. We also ought to assume that Saddam hasn't been lazy these past few months. Even though his military capabilities appear to be limited, he may have an "ace"" up his sleeve that will surprise the world.

This appeared in Maariv on March 2, 2003

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Syria Has Missile With 700 Km Range
Itai Asher
Correspondents, Maariv

[On October 30, 1995, during his last presentation at the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee before his assassination, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned against the Syrian scud capability, as described below- DB]

Syria has acquired a new Scud missile with a 700 kilometer range that is capable of carrying a chemical warhead. This new missile has the entire State of Israel within its range.

The security establishment has been monitoring the Syrian army's development and acquisitions of Scud D ballistic missiles. The missile, which was developed in conjunction with North Korea, is believed to have improved capabilities as opposed to its precursors, the Scud B and C, which the Syrian army has in stock.

"The missile's warhead separates from the engine and, as a result, has a different trajectory. Anti-missile systems that are not prepared for that could be confused", explained a security official.

Officials in the security establishment said they believed that Syria is not interested in escalating the situation with Israel or in clashing [militarily] with Israel.

"The Syrian army is relatively weaker than it used to be and with every day that passes the gap between us increases", said the high-ranking security source.

"Syria has no interest in creating a conflict with the State of Israel, but they are interested in keeping Hizbullah on the back burner and on having it equipped with surface-to-surface rockets", said the official. "If Bashar Assad convenes his general staff they will recommend that he take no action against Israel".

Alongside of the Syrian development, the Israeli security establishment carefully monitors the investments being made across the Arab world, particularly in Iran (sic) and Libya, to develop and acquire long range ballistic missiles.

This appeared in Maariv on March 2, 2003

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