News

Various Developments

Iraq News MAY 20, 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.  CABINET REJECTS UNSC STATEMENT, REITERATES MAY 1 LETTER, INA, MAY 17
II. NAT'L ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: IRAQ WILL TAKE ACTION, INA MAY 18
III.NAT'L ASSEMBLY MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF USURPATION, IRAQ TV, MAY 16
IV. AZIZ VISIT TO PARIS "IMPORTANT BREAKTHROUGH," LIBERATION, MAY 13
V.  IRAQ WANTS TO BUY TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQPT UNDER 986, REUTERS, MAY 19

   The full text of the May 17 Iraqi cabinet statement, which 
constituted Iraq's reply to the UNSC's statement on its nuclear program 
and which reiterated Iraq's May 1 "open letter" to the UNSC, was 
reported by INA.  In contrast to the belligerency of the May 1 letter, 
the cabinet statement said simply, "The Council of Ministers took 
cognizance of the statement issued by the president of the UN Security 
Council on 14 May 1998 on the plan to move the activity of the 
International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq to the stage of permanent 
monitoring in July [ED: there is no such commitment; the issue is only 
to be considered in July.]  The Council of Ministers has found that this 
statement does not meet the minimum level of Iraq's rights following the 
immense sacrifices it has made.  Iraq is still waiting in accordance 
with the concepts included in the open letter it addressed to the UNSC 
on 1 May 1998."  The statement then detailed the rest of the Cabinet's 
rather ordinary agenda that day.
   On May 18, INA, summarizing an interview the speaker of Iraq's Nat'l 
Assembly had given to an Egyptian paper, reported that he had said that 
"Iraq is considering all the possible measures and steps to confront the 
perpetuation of the unjust embargo and Iraq will not let the issue go by 
without taking any action."

  On May 16, Iraq's National Assembly issued a statement on "the 50th 
anniversary of the usurpation of Palestine."  It said, "All the Arabs 
should turn 15 May into a starting point to escalate their struggle, 
upgrade the official and popular Arab stands to the level of fateful 
struggle against the Zionist entity . . . and reject the Zionist-US 
hegemony and the so-called new world order, which fragmented the world 
and imposed blockades on the Arab nation's countries in Iraq, Libya, and 
Sudan, as part of the plan in support of the Zionist entity . . . "

    On the diplomatic front, Tariq Aziz visited Paris, May 10 to 17.  As 
the French paper, Liberation, May 13 explained, "It is by the scale of 
Tariq Aziz' visit to Paris that the diplomatic benefits which Baghdad 
has derived from the last Gulf crisis are to be measured. . . . As the 
highlight of the visit, he will meet Thursday morning with Jacques 
Chirac. . . The fact that the Iraqi deputy prime minister is meeting 
with the French president for the first time gives his visit particular 
significance.  Chirac certainly received Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad 
al-Sahhaf during the last crisis, but that was in an emergency.   . . . 
Diplomatic relations, severed at Iraq's initiative during the Gulf 
crisis, have constantly improved over the past few years.  If we take 
into account just the French interests section in Baghdad, set up in 
1995, this now looks like an embassy, which lacks only an ambassador."
   Aziz left Paris for Rome May 17, where he met Pope John Paul and 
top Roman Cahtolic officials and "found a sympathetic ear," according to 
Reuters.  Meanwhile, Iraq's Foreign Minister visited Gambia and Kenya, 
both on the UNSC, as well as Tunisia.  

    Regarding UNSCR 986, up for renewal in early June, a US effort to 
have it extended for 18 months, rather than six, was rebuffed, while 
Iraq rejected a UN suggestion that it use the much increased revenues it 
will receive under the new plan to raise the calorie content of food 
rations, as Reuters reported.  Instead, among the things Iraq wants to 
buy are telecommunications equipment and spare parts for its oil 
industry.  

I. CABINET REJECTS UNSC STATEMENT
Baghdad, INA in Arabic 1647 GMT 17 May 98
[FBIS Translated Text]  Baghdad, 17 May (INA)~-The Council of Ministers 
took cognizance of the statement issued by the president of. the UN 
Security Council (UNSC) on 14 May 1998 on the plan to move the activity 
of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in Iraq to the stage of 
permanent monitoring in July.
   The Council of Ministers has found out that this statement does not 
meet the minimum level of Iraq's rights following the immense sacrifices 
it has made.  Iraq is still waiting in accordance with the concepts 
included in the open letter it addressed to the UNSC on 1 May 1998
   During its 15th session, chaired by President Saddam Husayn, the 
council discussed several issues, including the issue of securing 
drinking water to citizens in some governorates.
   The president said:  When we talk about our people's health, our talk 
should not be linked to economic factors   Even in the economic aspect, 
we should start with the people's health, beginning with water, not 
medicine.  This is because fresh drinking water and health awareness can 
reduce disease.
    His excellency instructed the council's industrial committee to 
discuss the building of drinking water complexes today and to submit the 
results of its discussion to the Council.
   INA has learned that the industrial committee met today and submitted 
its recommendations on this  issue to the Council of Ministers.
   The Council of Ministers also discussed the issue of handling 
revenues generated from votive offerings  at holy shrines.  It approved 
doubling the share of workers at holy shrines, the share allocated for 
maintaining the shrine, and the share of the poor.
   The Council of Ministers reviewed the assessment of a state 
enterprise, which is affiliated with one of the ministries and which 
committed legal and administrative violations, something which reflected 
on the administrative and financial situation of this enterprise.   The 
Council of Ministers discussed two options:  dissolving the enterprise 
in accordance with the principle of dissolving failing enterprises, or 
giving it a chance in accordance with specific conditions.   The council 
adopted the second alternative.
   The Council of Ministers studied a report by the Industry and 
Minerals Ministry on the state of the sugar industry in Iraq.  The 
council discussed the report and the idea of adopting a pricing policy 
with the producers of sugar beet and cane with the aim of encouraging 
the production of these two products to reflect positively on sugar 
production in Iraq.  The council decided to update and complete the 
report which seeks to expand the production of sugar in Iraq, as well as 
to present the report again to the Council of Ministers.
   The Council of Ministers reviewed the issue of assigning university 
professors to government departments during the summer vacation to 
maintain interaction between know1edge and application, universities and 
government departments.  The council decided to distribute teachers to 
the government departments which are in harmony with their specialties 
during the summer vacation.
   The Council of Ministers followed up the harvest campaign of 
strategic products, developing poultry production, and facilitating the 
marketing of these products.  It also followed up the production 
programs for table eggs and gave the necessary instructions to the 
competent ministers.

II. NAT'L ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: IRAQ WILL TAKE ACTION
FBIS-NES-98-138
Baghdad INA in Arabic 0712 GMT 18 May 98
Cairo, 18 May, (INA)--Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly [INA] 
Sa'dun Hammadi said that President Saddam Husayn's last letter to the 
Security Council is straightforward and speaks the truth for all states.
In a statement to the Egyptian paper al-Siyasi al-Masri, Hammadi said 
that Iraq is considering all the possible measures and steps to confront 
the perpetuation of the unjust embargo and Iraq will not let the issue 
go by without taking any action.
  He added that Iraq is very much willing to hold immediate dialogue 
with any party, including the United States, pointing out that it is the 
latter that refuses to hold such a dialogue.  Hammadi affirmed the INA's
willingness to hold dialogue with the Kuwaiti Parliament with a view to 
clearing the air between the two states.
  Hammadi said Iraq's ties with the Arabian Gulf states are good and 
that relations with Iran are improving a great deal, in spite of the 
fact that some issues still need to be resolved, such as the issue of 
Iraqi prisoners of war in Iran.
  Sa'dun Hammadi spoke about the abnormal situation in the self- rule 
area of Kurdistan, which was an upshot of the US and UK interventions.  
He said: It is the United States, and not the Kurds, that is placing 
obstacles in the path of finding solutions to the Kurdish affair.  
Hammadi was referring to US attempts to abort any previous agreement 
reached between the government and the Kurdish parties.
   Hammadi said that relations with Egypt were advancing and that 
positive progress was being made.  He urged the Arab states to set up an 
Arab economic bloc and a common Arab market.
   The INA speaker criticized the Turkish Government's attitude toward 
Iraq and the rest of the Arab world.  He said that Turkey's negative 
policy harms the Turkish as well as Arab interests. Speaking about 
relations with Syria, Hammadi said that the INA is willing to exchange 
visits by parliamentary delegations with Syria to help enhance bilateral 
relations.
[Description of source:  Official news agency of the Iraqi Government]

III. NAT'L ASSEMBLY MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF USURPATION
Baghdad Iraq Television Network in Arabic 1700 GMT 16 May 98
[Announcer-read report over video]
[FBIS Translated Text]  The Iraqi people's representatives have called 
on the Arab parliamentarians to confront the Zionist-US scheme, which 
threatens the Arabs, their present and future, and seeks to Judaize holy 
Jerusalem.
   In a statement today during the evening session the National Assembly 
held under Assemb1y speaker Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi on the 50th anniversary 
of the usurpation of Pa1estine, they said:  All the Arabs should turn 15 
May into a starting point to escalate their struggle, upgrade the 
official and popular Arab stands to the level of fateful struggle 
against the Zionist entity, close ranks, achieve solidarity, and reject 
the Zionist-US hegemony and the so-called new world order, which 
fragmented the world and imposed blockades on the Arab nation's 
countries in Iraq, Libya, and Sudan, as part of the plan in support of 
the Zionist entity.
   The statement noted that the massacres perpetrated by the Zionist 
Occupation gangs throughout 50 years through US and British support are 
aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem and usurping the Palestinian national and 
pan~Arab rights.  The statement added that these massacres have 
continued on Jabal Abu Ghunaym and elsewhere in defiance of the whole 
world.   
  The statement said: The burning of al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969, the 
massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the killing of Palestinian workers in 
'Uyun Qarah [Eishon LeZiyyon], the killing of worshipers at the al-Aqsa 
Mosque, and the building of settlements constitute a defiance and 
rejection of the international resolutions.  This shows that the United 
States and Britain seek to entrench the Zionist entity in the heart of 
the Arab world so as to act as a base for the US-Zionist ambitions in 
the region, to fragment the Arab nation, and to strike at its base of 
liberation, which is represented by great Iraq.
   The assembly also discussed a number of the National Assembly 
delegations' reports on their recent visits to a number of Arab states.