- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Iraq is hiding at least two weapons scientists in Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces, U.S. intelligence officials have told The Washington Times.
The intelligence officials also said there are signs that Iraq's military forces recently moved chemical and biological weapons materials to underground storage areas unknown to arms inspectors from the United Nations.
"They've moved the scientists to two palaces," said an intelligence official familiar with internal U.S. government reports on Iraq sent to senior officials last week.
Intelligence reports about the scientists support the Bush administration's conclusion that Iraq is violating the terms of the latest U.N. resolution requiring Baghdad to cooperate fully with weapons inspections.
The Iraqis are hiding the scientists apparently to prevent the arms inspectors from questioning them, the officials said.
The two scientists were not identified by name. The officials said one is believed to be involved in Iraq's covert nuclear arms program and that the second is a specialist in chemical and biological weapons.
The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, agreed yesterday to tighten restrictions on the humanitarian oil-for-food program for Iraq. The resolution is aimed at blocking Iraq from obtaining military items under the guise of purchasing humanitarian goods.
The new restrictions were added at the request of the United States and were contained in a resolution approved at the world body's headquarters in New York.
The resolution added items to the U.N. "goods review list" aimed at preventing Iraq from acquiring medical supplies that could be used to inoculate its troops against chemical and biological weapons, and blocks the importation of such goods as work boats that could be used in terrorist attacks.
The restrictions come amid preparations for U.S. military action against Iraq and follow recent intelligence reports indicating that Baghdad had obtained a special silicon powder through the oil-for-food program that could be used to enhance chemical and biological weapons.
Iraq also obtained trucks from the program that were converted into mobile missile launchers, according to U.S. officials.
Weapons inspectors searched six sites in Iraq yesterday, some for the second time, looking for banned weapons. The inspectors visited a missile plant, a water-treatment facility south of Baghdad and a communications plant near the Iranian border, according to wire service reports.
It could not be learned whether the information about the two Iraqi scientists was supplied to the inspectors or whether it was specific enough to merit any response from them.
The administration has in the past withheld intelligence from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as Unmovic.
Iraq supplied the United Nations with a list of 500 weapons scientists last weekend.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said in a Sunday television interview that Iraq has been cooperating with the inspectors but that it is not clear whether the cooperation will continue.
"There's been some resistance in recent days to some of the things the inspectors are looking for, and we are providing more information and intelligence to the inspectors to cue their visits, and we'll see whether that attitude of cooperation continues," Mr. Powell said on ABC's "This Week."
In another television interview, Mr. Powell said the United States has begun supplying intelligence to the arms inspectors.
He also disputed Saddam's assertions that Iraq has halted work on weapons of mass destruction.
"Well, we'll establish whether or not that is the case," he said. "We do not believe he has stopped, but the inspectors are hard at work, and we have intelligence information that we are sharing with the inspectors to assist them in their work."
Additional U.N. reports on Iraq's weapons programs are due at the end of January, Mr. Powell said.
Asked whether time is running out for Iraq, Mr. Powell said, "I think that this can't go on indefinitely. We are anxious to see the results of the inspectors' work, and the president has not made a decision yet with respect to the use of military force, or with respect to going back to the United Nations. But it's a situation, of course, we are monitoring closely, and, of course, we are positioning ourselves and positioning our military forces for whatever might be required."
Mr. Powell also said there are questions about whether Iraqi weapons technicians being interviewed in Iraq by the arms inspectors are free to talk.
"The first one who came in had a minder with him, somebody with him," Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday."
The U.S. government wants Iraq's "key" arms officials to be questioned outside the country and to have their families protected from retribution by Baghdad, Mr. Powell said.
Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, the Iraqi official in charge of monitoring the inspectors, said yesterday that any interviews with scientists should be held in Iraq.
"They met thousands of scientists for thousands of hours, with the presence of the Iraqi side, without intervention from the Iraqi side," Gen. Amin told Arab satellite TV channel Al Jazeera.
The list of arms technicians provided by Iraq on Saturday includes names of experts who have taken part in building ballistic missiles and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
It was required under Security Council Resolution 1441, passed in November to restart arms inspections.
President Bush said in October that to learn the truth about Iraq's arms programs, "the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside the country."
"And these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them so they are beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder," Mr. Bush said. "And inspectors must have access to any site, at any time, without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions."
U.S. intelligence agencies have identified as many as 46 palaces used by Saddam. Some of the facilities are up to 50 square miles.
The latest U.N. arms inspection resolution reversed an earlier ban on conducting inspections at Saddam's presidential sites. Earlier this month, the weapons inspectors tested Baghdad's willingness to allow full access to any site.
Inspectors were delayed about 10 minutes at a presidential compound west of Baghdad on Dec. 3 before being allowed inside.

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