News

ACCESSION NUMBER:00000

FILE ID:95081005.POL

DATE:08/10/95

TITLE:IRAQI BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS DATA INCOMPLETE, EKEUS TELLS U.N.



TEXT:

(Says there is no proof Iraq destroyed the weapons) (970)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent



United Nations -- Iraq's recent declaration to the United Nations on

its biological weapons program is incomplete and contradictory, the

head of the U.N. Commission overseeing the destruction of Iraqi

weapons (UNSCOM) told the U.N. Security Council August 10.



Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, UNSCOM chairman, said that the information he

was given during his visit to Baghdad earlier this month has

"shortcomings, especially on the production side" with about five tons

of complex growth medium for producing the biological warfare agents

not accounted for.



At a news conference after meeting with the council, Ekeus said that

there are other contradictions and doubts about the production numbers

provided by Iraq that cause UNSCOM to question whether Iraq may have

hidden other production lines or production sites.



In July 1995 after four years of denying that such a program existed,

Iraq admitted for the first time that it had an offensive biological

weapons program with research beginning in late 1985 at the Muthanna

site (where it also produced chemical weapons) and then transferred to

Salman Pak in early 1986. Iraq admitted it produced biological warfare

agents Clostridium botulinum and Bacillus anthracis at a site in al

Hakam in 1989 and 1990 and stored them there in concentrated form

until they were destroyed in October 1990 in anticipation of

hostilities after its invasion of Kuwait. It promised UNSCOM a

complete, full, and final accounting of its biological weapons program

by the end of July.



Ekeus said that while UNSCOM welcomed the declarations presented

during his visit August 4 to 6, "according to (resolution) 687, Iraq

was obliged to make that declaration immediately -- in April 1991, so

it is an overdue declaration."



According to the new information Iraq provided to UNSCOM, the

biological warfare agents it produced at al Hakam in May 1989 used the

growth medium in a large scale, producing in an 18-month period

500,000 liters of botulinum and 50,000 liters of anthracis.



However, Ekeus said, "Iraq has not provided us with supporting

evidence" of the destruction of the biological warfare agents that it

has said took place in September and October of 1991. "We don't have

any proof Iraq destroyed any biological weapons," he said.



Among other things, UNSCOM wants to see the written orders from top

officials to destroy the warfare agents and the documentation on the

problems, methods, and the sequence in which they were destroyed,

Ekeus said.



The ambassador added that Iraq's claims that it destroyed the

biological weapons in anticipation of the Persian Gulf war were "in

contradiction" to its decision at the same time to expand its chemical

weapons program and to prepare missile warheads for chemical use in

any battle over Kuwait.



Another concern, Ekeus said, "is that Iraq has not admitted

weaponization in the sense of munitions production. We have

requested...in detail the Iraqis' explanation" of their thinking on

how these warfare agents were to be delivered.



"This credibility problem can only be solved through further

verification," he said.



Ekeus also reported new political problems with Baghdad that threaten

another conflict with the Security Council and undermine any chance

that the council's mandatory oil embargo will be lifted in the near

future.



"The Iraqi side expressed concern that all banned weapons had been

destroyed and it was time now for the Security Council and UNSCOM to

believe that enough was enough and it was time to immediately and

fully and unconditionally implement paragraph 22 (of resolution 688 on

lifting the oil embargo) by the end of August or September," Ekeus

said.



The next council review of sanctions, which is conducted every 60

days, is set for early September. It appears highly unlikely that

UNSCOM's questions could be answered in time for it to provide the

council with assurance that Iraq has fully complied with the weapons

destruction demands, thereby moving the council closer to lifting the

embargo.



"It is very difficult to verify the information provided on August 4

in such a short time, especially in light of Iraq's denial until July

1 of existence of the program," Ekeus said. "It has created a

credibility problem and Iraq must understand the need for further

verification."



"It will take a long time if Iraq cannot provide us with that

information. If Iraq is positive and helpful, it will be quick," he

said.



Speaking with journalists after the council meeting, U.S. Ambassador

Madeleine Albright said, "Iraq is, all of a sudden, acting as if it's

in charge of the schedule of the Security Council and threatening that

they will no longer cooperate with the Security Council's resolutions

as well as their obligations to abide by them."



"It is not up to Iraq to threaten us with non-cooperation. It is the

Security Council that passes the resolutions and makes the rules. The

agenda and timetable is determined by the members of the Security

Council not Iraq," the ambassador said.



Ekeus said that on his next visit to Baghdad he was scheduled to meet

with Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel Hassan, a son-in-law of Iraqi

President Saddam Hussein and the head of Iraq's chemical, biological

and nuclear weapons programs, who defected to Jordan August 10.



Ekeus said he is still willing to meet with Hussein Kamel at any time.



"He has extremely important information," the UNSCOM chairman said.

"He was mastermind of their missile program that was a remarkable

success technologically...then in charge of chemical and biological

weapons research programs and commander and instructor for those

starting the programs...and in late 1988 he had full responsibility

for nuclear weapons. He is a key person."

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