News



DATE=3/24/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-228633
TITLE=BRITAIN / IRAQ (L-ONLY)  
BYLINE=ANDRE DE NESNERA
DATELINE=LONDON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  BRITISH OFFICIALS HAVE CONFIRMED REPORTS OF A POSSIBLE 
IRAQI CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACK ON BRITAIN, BUT STRESSED THERE IS  
NO  IMMINENT OR SPECIFIC THREAT TOWARDS THE COUNTRY. V-O-A'S 
ANDRE DE NESNERA REPORTS FROM LONDON.

TEXT:  BRITONS WOKE UP TO A BANNER HEADLINE IN THE MASS 
CIRCULATION TABLOID SUN NEWSPAPER WHICH PROCLAIMED, "SADDAM'S 
ANTHRAX IN OUR DUTY FREES."

IN AN EXCLUSIVE REPORT, THE SUN WARNS THAT HUGE AMOUNTS OF THE 
DEADLY BIOLOGICAL AGENT ANTHRAX COULD BE SMUGGLED INTO BRITAIN IN
DUTY-FREE PERFUME SPRAYS, CIGARETTE LIGHTERS, COSMETICS AND 
BOTTLES OF SPIRITS. 

///  OPT  ///   ANTHRAX IS A BACTERIA THAT CAN KILL WITHIN A FEW 
DAYS OF INHALATION AND IS FATAL IN 80 PERCENT OF CASES.   ///  
END OPT   /// 

THE SUN SAYS THE EXTENT OF THE THREAT WAS REVEALED IN A WARNING 
APPROVED BY BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR AND SENT OUT MARCH 
18TH TO ALL BRITISH SEA AND AIR PORTS.  THE NEWSPAPER OBTAINED A 
COPY OF THE WARNING WHICH SAID, "IRAQ MAY LAUNCH CHEMICAL AND 
BIOLOGICAL ATTACKS USING MATERIAL DISGUISED AS HARMLESS LIQUIDS. 
COULD OFFICERS THEREFORE BE ALERT FOR ANY ITEMS WHICH MIGHT 
CONTAIN HARMFUL SUBSTANCES."

SENIOR BRITISH OFFICIALS CONFIRMED THE SUN'S REPORT.  BUT AT THE 
SAME TIME, JUNIOR HOME OFFICE MINISTER MICHAEL O'BRIAN TOLD 
BRITISH RADIO THERE IS  NO  CAUSE FOR ALARM AND THERE IS  NO  
EVIDENCE THAT ANTHRAX HAS BEEN BROUGHT INTO BRITAIN.

                      ///  O'BRIAN ACT  ///

         IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE SHOULD  NOT  TAKE THIS THREAT 
         LIGHTLY.  BUT AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS IMPORTANT TO AVOID
         SCAREMONGERING.  AND I DO  NOT  THINK THERE IS ANY 
         LIKELIHOOD THAT SADDAM OR SADDAM'S AGENTS WOULD BE 
         LIKELY TO PUT THE ANTHRAX IN THE DUTY FREES IN THE VAGUE
         HOPE THAT SOME BRITISH TOURIST WOULD PICK IT UP. I DO  
         NOT  THINK THAT IS PRACTICAL. 

         ///  OPT  ///   EVERYONE HAS KNOWN THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN 
         HAS BEEN DEVELOPING BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS FOR 
         SOME TIME, AND THAT IS WHY WE HAVE BEEN SO TOUGH IN 
         CHALLENGING HIM OVER UNITED NATIONS INSPECTIONS.  BUT 
         OUR INFORMATION IS   ///. END OPT  /// 

         THERE IS  NO  SPECIFIC THREAT TO BRITAIN.  A NUMBER OF 
         COUNTRIES HAVE RECEIVED INTELLIGENCE ABOUT A POSSIBLE 
         THREAT FROM IRAQ.  WE PERIODICALLY RECEIVE TERRORIST 
         WARNINGS  (EDS: REFERENCE TO NORTHERN IRELAND) AND WE 
         ARE THEREFORE CAREFUL  NOT  TO CAUSE UNNECESSARY ALARM.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

///  OPT  ///   MR. O'BRIAN SAID BRITAIN REMAINS VIGILANT AND 
THERE ARE  NO  GROUNDS FOR FRIGHTENING PEOPLE.   ///  END OPT  
///

BUT A BRIEF SOUNDING ON LONDON'S BUSY FLEET STREET INDICATED SOME
PEOPLE ARE WORRIED. 

                     ///  VOX POP ACTS  ///

         (MAN)  I AM VERY CONCERNED, OBVIOUSLY.  YOU DON'T KNOW 
         GOING OUT AND BUYING A NORMAL 'COKE' OR ANY SANDWICH OR 
         SOMETHING -- AND YOU FIND OUT THERE IS SOMETHING IN 
         THERE WHICH IS REALLY DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH AND TO 
         OTHERS YOU KNOW AS WELL. SO I AM VERY CONCERNED. 

         (WOMAN)  IF THAT WAS TO GET RELEASED IN THIS COUNTRY - 
         OR ANYWHERE AT ALL -- GOD KNOWS HOW MANY PEOPLE IT COULD
         KILL.  I THINK IT IS A VERY REAL POSSIBILITY. 

         (MAN)   I DON'T BELIEVE IT.  IT SEEMS A BIT UNLIKELY, 
         DOESN'T IT?  I AM STILL DRINKING THE DUTY FREE I BOUGHT 
         ON THE WEEKEND. 

                        ///  END ACT  ///

AS FOR THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT, IT DENIED IT IS PLANNING TO SEND 
ANTHRAX TO BRITAIN, DESCRIBING THE NEWSPAPER REPORT AS 
RIDICULOUS.  A SPOKESMAN IN BAGDHAD ACCUSED BRITAIN OF WANTING TO
SPOIL WHAT HE CALLED THE NEW SPIRIT OF COOPERATION BETWEEN IRAQ 
AND THE UNITED NATIONS OVER WEAPONS INSPECTIONS.  (SIGNED)

NEB/ADEN/JWH

24-Mar-98 9:50 AM EST (1450 UTC)
NNNN

Source: Voice of America
.