News

Iraq News APRIL 10, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .


I.  L MYLROIE, THE THREAT OF BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM, JERUSALEM POST, APR 3
II. JESSICA STERN, BW TERRORISM IS STATE-SPONSORED, NYT APR 8
III. EXPERTS TO SENATE, BW TERRORISM IS STATE-SPONSORED, AP, MAR 5

    Today's NYT, in an article entitled, "Experts Deny Iraq has Ended 
its Germ Warfare Program," reported the results of the Mar 20-27 meeting 
of the bw technical evaluation mission.  Among other findings: Iraq's 
claim to have destroyed missile warheads containing bw could not be 
confirmed [i.e. Iraq still has them].  Also, Iraq acknowledged it had 
planned to deliver botulinum in a previously undisclosed manner, by 
spraying the toxin from airplanes.  Also, Iraq did not provide 
information on "either the current status of biological weapons programs 
or state conclusively when such projects were terminated if they no 
longer existed."  Is that to imply, as the article's title suggests, 
that Iraq's bw program is ongoing, or might be? 
   The article, however, contains an important inaccuracy. It was not 
Hussein Kamil's Aug 95 defection that alerted UNSCOM to the existence of 
an Iraqi bw program.  Already, on Apr 10 95, UNSCOM reported that Iraq 
had an undeclared bw program.  That report blocked the strong momentum 
that had been building to lift sanctions, as it was thought then that 
the other proscribed programs had been taken care of.  Hussein Kamil's 
defection in Aug merely revealed that the problem was much worse than 
anyone had thought.
  
  Why does Saddam hold on to that material, particularly as bw is the 
easiest of Iraq's proscribed weapons programs to reconstitute?  Possibly 
that is an implicit threat—-try to overthrow me and I will use this 
material.  The US should not give into such a threat, or be thought to. 
But maybe there is something more.  Maybe Saddam holds on to that 
material, because he intends to use it?
     One reader, a bw expert, expressed the following concern.  BW 
agents have genetic fingerprints.  If a terrorist attack occurred, the 
ability to link the agent used in the attack to the stockpile from which 
it came would allow authorities to determine who was behind the attack. 
His concern was that that might be the reason why Saddam keeps his 
entire stockpile, rather than release some of it as a gesture to UNSCOM. 
    Former CIA director, James Woolsey, speaking at the Apr 28 97. Sam 
Nunn Policy Forum, "Weapons of Mass Destruction and US Security," in 
Athens, GA, warned that if a major unconventional terrorist attack were 
carried out in the US, it would come as a big shock.  Woolsey suggested 
a cw attack could result in 50,000 fatalities, a bw attack 500,000.  He 
cautioned that the possibility of a false flag operation--Iraq using 
Iran or vice versa—could be a factor that might make it difficult to 
determine who was behind the attack and undermine prospects of 
retaliation, and therefore, deterrence.
    Fred Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, 
wrote in The National Interest, Spr 97, "A century and a half into the 
Industrial Revolution, advances in science and technology have reached 
the stage where leading industrial nations can make weapons of mass 
destruction that are so lethal relative to their size and weight that 
they can be used to circumvent defenses—even in clandestine ways—for the 
purpose of annihilating a country's society without first defeating its 
military forces.  . . .  The morning after a major biological or 
chemical [terrorist] attack, or after a nuclear weapon has been used, 
the rules of warfare throughout the world will be profoundly 
transformed.  Should such use go unpunished, or worse, should it benefit 
the perpetrator, tyrants, everywhere would be greatly tempted to acquire 
and eventually to employ these weapons."

   One would think that few issues could be more important than 
addressing the Iraqi bw problem—either take that material from Saddam, 
which is not really possible, or get rid of him. That, to be sure, is a 
major task and would make secondary every other Middle East issue, 
including the US Middle East policy perennial--the peace process, which 
has already supplanted Iraq on the US agenda.  No doubt the peace 
process crew, whether in the US or Israel, is moved by good intentions. 
But given that Clinton clearly wants to avoid dealing with a major 
problem--Saddam and his WMD--that crew helps the administration dodge 
the problem, even as it acts as if none existed.  For example, 
immediately after Kofi Annan's Feb 23 accord, the editors and columnists 
of Haaretz, the paper of Israel's center-left, wrote Feb 24, Feb 25, Feb 
26, Feb 27 and many days thereafter, that as Iraq had been taken care 
of, the US should get back to the real issue--the peace process.  
    But there is a serious Iraqi threat, including to Israel.  A senior 
official, who has had extensive exchanges with the Israeli government 
over the Iraqi WMD problem, told "Iraq News" that he believes the 
Israeli Gov't is very concerned about Saddam.  He believes that the 
position—-Iraq has only a handful of missiles which it is not going to 
use anyway, expressed by individuals like Hebrew U. Prof. Martin Van 
Crefeld, Wash Post, Mar 8, "Saddam's Not so Strong," ["Iraq News," Mar 
13], is a line put out for public consumption.   He believes that the 
Israeli Gov't does not want to reveal its concerns, lest that create 
public panic.  If so, and the man is well-informed, it is puzzling, as 
there is no evident policy manifestation of that concern.  
   Still, Iraq is a threat to Israel and others.   As I wrote in The 
Jerusalem Post, Apr 3, "In the last Iraq crisis, Israelis geared up for 
an attack by missiles, perhaps carrying biological agents.  But if 
Saddam meant to attack Israel with BW agents, wouldn't he be more likely 
to do so through terrorist means which are deniable and offer a 
technologically easier and more effective way to disperse such agents?"
   The consequences of such an attack, if carried out professionally and 
successfully, would be appalling, "Official US estimates for casualties 
produced by an airplane, flying upwind of a city, releasing an anthrax 
cloud, range from 100,000 to three million dead.  An individual driving 
a car around a medium-sized city spewing anthrax out the tailpipe would 
cause some 70,000 fatalities, two individuals in two cards in two 
cities, 140,000."  The sole effective protection is the anthrax vaccine, 
but it is in short supply.  What the US has is going to the US military. 
There is none for civilians. Moreover, given the time lag between the 
time the attack occurred and the time authorities recognized there had 
been an attack, those who carried it out would have fled.  It would be 
difficult to determine who was behind it.  And, therefore, it would be 
difficult to deter.
    In The New Republic, Jun 3, 91, the late Uriel Dann, professor of 
history at Tel Aviv University, warned of Saddam's revenge, on a massive 
scale.
  Saddam retains and hides his bw program—-baldly, blatently, in our 
face—-and we respond only by saying that we will keep sanctions on and, 
meanwhile, tend to the peace process? No one in Israel, also a potential 
target, suggests otherwise, at least not publicly?  And none of the 
major American Jewish organizations, save for JINSA, says a word? Why?

    The extreme severity of the bw terrorist threat underscores the 
importance of understanding the likely source of such a threat.  As 
Jessica Stern wrote in the NYT, Apr 8, it is difficult to carry out a bw 
attack, "Few countries, and even fewer terrorist groups, if any are now 
capable of launching an open-air attack that would create mass 
casualties. . . . The most troubling prospect is state-sponsored 
terrorist attacks of the kind Iraq has threatened to carry out against 
Britain—-for example, by putting anthrax in duty-free bottles of 
alcohol, cosmetics, and perfume."
   Similarly, Col. David Franz, deputy Commander of the Army's Medical 
Research and Materiel Command, told the Senate last month that bw 
terrorism is difficult to carry out.  Franz explained that for such an 
attack to be effective, it would require a "large well-funded terrorist 
program or state sponsorship," while  Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of 
the Senate Intelligence committee said, "For Saddam Hussein, biological 
agents may be the perfect terrorist weapon, because they require more 
time to take effect and could leave minimal telltale evidence 
implicating Iraq."
   But there is far from a consensus on that score.  Many, including the 
FBI, seem to believe that bw terrorism does not require much expertise. 
If there were a bw terrorist attack, the FBI would be in charge of 
investigating the attack.  At the height of the Iraq crisis, just before 
Annan's Baghdad accord, the FBI arrested two men in Las Vegas, claiming 
they planned to carry out an anthrax attack and blame it on Iraq.  It 
turned out to be nothing like that at all.  But it revealed something of 
the FBI's attitude concerning the expertise required to carry out a bw 
terrorist attack.  The NYT, Feb 21, quoting an FBI spokesman, reported, 
"With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of depravity, you have 
the makings of a horrendous event." 
    If the prior assumption were, as the FBI maintains, that almost any 
Tom, Dick, and Harry could carry out such an attack, then following a bw 
attack, the FBI investigation would presumably range over a vast number 
of suspects.  Chances of finding those responsible would be nil.  Also 
the FBI might fall for a false-flag operation.  A terrorist state might 
use American extremists, for example, to carry out such an attack.  The 
FBI might catch the extremists, but not understand they were minor 
figures, and present them instead as major figures.
    The Clinton administration, more than any other, has made terrorism 
a law enforcement issue.  That was noted and criticized in the Mar 1 96 
report of the presidential commission on the future of US intelligence, 
which recommended "that the President by Executive order reaffirm that 
global criminal activities such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, 
organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are 
national security matters and require a coordinated, multi-agency 
response.  A law enforcement approach is inadequate." 
   It is too easy to see how the U.S. is set up for a terrible scenario. 
Those in charge of Iraq policy don't seem to really recognize the 
possibility that Saddam might actually use the unconventional agents 
that he will not turn over to UNSCOM, perhaps in a terrorist attack, 
while those who would be charged with investigating such an attack do 
not seem to understand that that kind of attack, were it to occurs, 
would most likely be state sponsored, rather than the work of individual 
perpetrators.