- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

NORTH KOREA

Defector cites Pakistan nuke deal

TOKYO — A North Korean defector said the North began a uranium-based nuclear-weapons program in 1996 with the help of Pakistan, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Hwang Jang Yop, a former mentor to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, told the Tokyo Shimbun that a top military official told him eight years ago about an agreement with Pakistan to develop an enriched-uranium weapons program.

Since 2002, the United States has held that Pyongyang has been developing uranium-based nuclear weapons to supplement its plutonium-based nuclear capability. North Korea has denied having a uranium-based project.

KUWAIT

U.S. supply contract is subject of probe

KUWAIT CITY — The oil ministry referred a Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) contract to supply the U.S. army with crude and gas products to the public prosecutor yesterday, said the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The probe will “provide the judiciary … a chance to have a final say on whether there was any abuse of power or of public funds,” KUNA quoted Energy Minister Sheik Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah as saying.

A U.S. draft audit in December found evidence that a subsidiary of the U.S. firm Halliburton might have overcharged by $61 million for bringing fuel into Iraq via Kuwaiti subcontractor Altanmia Commercial Marketing Co.

BRITAIN

Blix says Blair dramatized evidence

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government “dramatized” some of its prewar evidence about the threat posed by Iraq, former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said yesterday.

In a British Broadcasting Corp. interview, Mr. Blix questioned the claim in a September 2002 intelligence dossier that Iraq could deploy some weapons of mass destruction on 45 minutes’ notice.

“The intention was to dramatize it just as the vendors of some merchandise are trying to increase and exaggerate the importance of what they have,” he said. “From politicians, from our leaders in the Western world, I think we expect more than that — a bit more sincerity.”

VENEZUELA

Chavez says enemies receive U.S. funding

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said yesterday that opposition groups seeking a recall referendum to vote him out of office were receiving “millions of dollars” of U.S. funding.

Although he did not name any organization, the left-wing leader said he would present documents showing that this financing was being channeled through “institutions created by the U.S. state.”

“We will show, maybe in the next few days … how millions of dollars are coming from the United States to back all these efforts to get Chavez out of power,” he said during a weekly radio show.

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