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Secret units in desperate hunt for banned arsenal

by C/O Diogenes Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 5:57 PM

It is a sign of the desperation in London and Washington to find a "smoking gun" to justify the war that the Anglo-American team has already conducted three inspections in the past two weeks. No banned weapons have so far been found.



Weapons teams scour Iraq

Secret units in desperate hunt for banned arsenal

Nicholas Watt, Owen Bowcott and Richard Norton-Taylor

Saturday April 12, 2003

The Guardian

Britain and the United States have bypassed the United Nations to establish a secret team of inspectors to resume the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

It is a sign of the desperation in London and Washington to find a "smoking gun" to justify the war that the Anglo-American team has already conducted three inspections in the past two weeks.

No banned weapons have so far been found.

The decision to set up a new group of inspectors, dubbed US-movic because they are an American-led rival to Unmovic, will infuriate the UN.

Kofi Annan, the secretary general, pointedly reminded Britain and the US this week that Unmovic still has a mandate to carry out inspections.

Last night the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, added his criticism by saying that war against Iraq was a foregone conclusion months before the first shot was fired.

In a scathing attack on Britain and the US, Mr Blix accused them of planning the war "well in advance" and of "fabricating" evidence against Iraq to justify their campaign.

Mr Blix told the Spanish daily El Pais: "There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about their attitude to the [weapons] inspections."

He said Iraq was paying "a very high price _ in terms of human lives and the destruction of a country" when the threat of banned weapons could have been contained by UN inspections.

The role played by the new inspectors, who set up a base in Kuwait a week before the war began, was disclosed to the Guardian by David Kay, the former head of Unscom, the arms inspections team which left Iraq in 1998 after Iraq accused it of being infiltrated by spies.

No mention has been made of the new group by ministers or military spokesmen, who have indicated that weapons inspections are carried out by military forces. But the group, headed by Charles Duelfer, a former deputy head of the Unscom weapons inspectors, has travelled extensively in Iraq.

It is understood that Mr Duelfer's team was called in to inspect weapons and papers found at an airbase in Iraq's western desert two weeks ago. In the past week it has made two separate visits to sites on the road between Kuwait and Baghdad.

US and British special forces are also engaged in fierce exchanges in largely unnoticed fighting in Qaim, a strategic town on the border with Syria.

British defence officials were unusually coy last night about the fighting, which involved units of Iraq's Special Republican Guard, according to senior US military sources.

One explanation is that Iraqi forces are trying to protect either material which could be used for chemical or biological weapons or evidence of Iraq's attempts to develop a nuclear bomb. Another is that they are defending senior members of the regime trying to escape to Syria.

The failure to find any weapons of mass destruction after three weeks of war has raised questions about the casus belli. But British intelligence officials said it might be months before evidence was uncovered.

A cabinet minister has told the Guardian that Saddam Hussein's failure to use chemical weapons was not an indication of their absence. They had been dismantled and their contents hidden around the country.

"The regime has not had time to reassemble the things," a British official said.

"You will not find a factory of gleaming missiles," a source said. "They would have been broken down ages ago."

Mr Kay described the new inspectors as a "robust group of people". "There are special forces teams that carry out [immediate] inspections. But they are not as technically based as the Kuwait team, who are heavily science-based civilians."

A spokesman for Mr Blix, Ewen Buchanan, said the US-led team had tried and failed to recruit some of his staff.

Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, said the existence of the secret team would lead to a major dispute. "You are more likely to find what you want if you do it yourself," he said. "If this team finds a smoking gun, people will not believe it."

The disclosure is likely to embarrass British ministers, who are officially committed to allowing Unmovic a role.

Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, would only say yesterday that Britain and the US had set up a "machinery" for resuming inspections. "It may take some time," he added.

The US-Kurdish advance in the north meanwhile brought the front to within 60 miles of Tikrit, where some of Saddam's backers were believed to be taking refuge. Coalition aircraft have been striking Republican Guard positions in the area, and roadblocks have been erected to prevent Iraqi leaders from reaching the city to stage a last stand.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 68 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Where's all that great... Diogenes Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:00 PM
Just curious fresca Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:22 PM
Oh, C'mon fresca... Diogenes Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:27 PM
Actually I'm not fresca Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:37 PM
I'm not inclined to get... Diogenes Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:47 PM
It would if... fresca Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 6:56 PM
No pinpointing, just intel.. Keyser Soze Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 7:04 PM
Yeah Pissed Off in Ohio Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 7:22 PM
POIO fresca Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 7:27 PM
Of course Pissed Off in Ohio Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 7:41 PM
That's all I'm saying fresca Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 7:52 PM
CNN part of pro sadam conspiricy Scottie Sunday, Apr. 13, 2003 at 11:17 PM
POIO Servant Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 12:48 AM
I just love... daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 1:09 AM
Well, let me get this straight systemfailure Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 1:46 AM
Remember last November? daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:05 AM
Thanks for helping me prove my point systemfailure Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:13 AM
*sigh* daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:28 AM
ES-TUP-ID-IOT systemfailure Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:36 AM
They are in transit. OzzyTeppics Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:37 AM
Do you get to... daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 2:56 AM
What dumdasses NEO Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 3:38 AM
And NEO... daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 3:45 AM
Caveman and sNeo Hairy Balls Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 5:08 AM
Come on people... Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 5:16 AM
Sheepdog daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 6:32 AM
Hmmmm Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 6:37 AM
Oh. Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 7:24 AM
How many... Parmeinides Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 7:40 AM
I'll keep asking... daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 7:49 AM
Thanks Daveman and Company Stop the Bullshit Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 7:56 AM
Why do the leftists here insist on making fun of conservatives' handles? Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:00 AM
No problem, StB daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:00 AM
For you? Parmenides Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:00 AM
Sheepdog daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:09 AM
And now Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:23 AM
So... Sheepdog Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 8:53 AM
Send your How Many Helecopters Will Crash Lotto Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 9:05 AM
Hey there Neocons systemfailure Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 12:37 PM
You can tune a Piano but you can't tune a NeoCon/Fascist Charley Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 3:16 PM
Charley daveman Monday, Apr. 14, 2003 at 4:21 PM
systemfailure Scottie Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2003 at 8:04 PM
UN Scottie Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2003 at 8:09 PM
Charlie daveman Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2003 at 12:27 AM
So How Many Helicopters Will Crash Lotto Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2003 at 4:34 AM
Don't tell anyone semper fuck Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2003 at 4:50 AM
semper fuck daveman Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2003 at 5:09 AM
Or.. How Many Helicopters Will Crash Lotto Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2003 at 5:13 AM
Daveman your hired!!! systemfailure Sunday, Apr. 20, 2003 at 1:26 AM
daveman= H@cKeD MuThaFuCkAAA!! systemfailure Sunday, Apr. 20, 2003 at 1:45 AM
*sigh* daveman Sunday, Apr. 20, 2003 at 2:18 AM
daveman=NEO IP CHECKER Sunday, Apr. 20, 2003 at 9:18 AM
Nope. daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 2:19 AM
thats what you think systemfailure Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 2:53 AM
Okay, bright boy... daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 3:02 AM
Still... daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 3:19 AM
Still... daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 3:38 AM
C'mon, systemfailure! daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 3:59 AM
Gee, systemfailure... daveman Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 6:44 AM
Parm er Dio fresca Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 7:20 PM
BTW fresca Monday, Apr. 21, 2003 at 7:23 PM
fascist fresca systemfailure Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 1:48 AM
One more time, SF daveman Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 1:58 AM
Do you even know what this article is about? systemfailure Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 2:50 AM
OK, I'll post something relevant... daveman Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 2:55 AM
geez your dumb systemfailure Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 3:02 AM
Why? fresca Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 6:36 AM
fresca fresca Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003 at 11:17 AM

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