- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 26 (UPI) — Iraq said Wednesday that it handed the United Nations more documents about the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction, but continued equivocating over whether it would destroy its al-Samoud 2 missiles, which inspectors say travel beyond the permitted range.

Presidential adviser Brig. Amer al-Saadi told a delegation of Spanish human shields that his government promised arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei to provide them with new reports about Iraq's banned weapons.

"We have already sent them six letters about all programs of Iraq's non-conventional armament," al-Saadi said.

When asked if Iraq will destroy the controversial al-Samoud 2 missiles which are believed to have more than the permitted range of 150 kilometers, or 93 miles, al-Saadi repeated what Iraqi officials have been saying: "The matter was still under consideration and Iraq will respond in due time."

However, Blix has given Iraq a March 1 deadline to start destroying its al-Samoud 2 missiles, while former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin said in comments published Tuesday by the Financial Times that the destruction of the missiles is "a black-and-white test from which (Saddam) cannot escape and that will help the world decide whether Iraq can be disarmed peacefully or only by force."

Rubin continued, "Baghdad must destroy missiles that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and that would be of military value in a war. If (Saddam) persists in rejecting Blix's demands, which even the French have supported, Washington and London will have the clear evidence they need of Iraqi intransigence."

In the meantime, Iraqi and South African arms experts resumed technical talks on Wednesday aimed at benefiting Iraq from Johannesburg's long experience in the voluntary destruction of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Iraq invited the South African team over in a fresh attempt to show its goodwill to disarm and honor U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Also Wednesday teams from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency searched nine sites suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, 260 miles north of the capital.

The teams conducted a radiation survey in the region of Zaafarania, 15 miles south of Baghdad, and inspected a center for the sale of computers in the posh al-Arsat neighborhood as well as the closed installation of al-Muthana where plastic containers with poisonous mustard gas residue were destroyed in the past few days.

Human shields have also continued their deployment Wednesday in and around Baghdad's vital installations to guard them from being targeted in the event of war.

Spanish activists visited the Spanish teaching center at the University of Baghdad as well as al-Amiriya shelter, which was bombarded by U.S. warplanes during the 1991 Gulf War, killing more than 400 civilians.

A former British Air Force pilot who participated in the 1991 war held a news conference in Baghdad Wednesday during which he vowed to sue former U.S. President George H.W. Bush for committing crimes against humanity.

Ken O'Kavy said Bush ordered the allied forces at the time to use non-conventional weapons containing depleted uranium, which allegedly resulted in thousands of cancer cases among Iraqis, especially in southern Iraq where the weapons were tested.

O'Kavy said he will file the lawsuit against the senior Bush through the International Court of Justice or the Court of International War Crimes.


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