Washington was dying to find something. In the event, they found some empty shells which could have been used to deploy chemical weaponry. However, this is not a causus belli and both Washington and London have reacted with caution.
An UNMOVIC team found the empty 122 mm. Warheads at the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area on Thursday, declaring that they were “in excellent condition”, despite the fact that they were imported into Iraq at the end of the 1980s. Baghdad stated that these shells had been forgotten at the end of a large hangar, buried under a pile of pigeon excrement.
Other UNMOVIC teams found nothing at the Al Nidaa plant, the Nissan 17 Factory in Baghdad, the Rasheed State Company Plant or the Mosul Yechnical Institute.
As the pressure rises on the UNMOVIC inspection teams, who have to present their report to the ONU on 27th January, Moscow complains that too much pressure is being exerted on them by “certain American entities”. What needs to be done, according to Moscow, is to give the inspectors the time and materials necessary for them to carry out their task, without the accompanying hysteria.
Igor Ivanov, the Russian Defence Minister, declared that “We are concerned about the growing pressure exerted by certain American entities on the inspectors” because “certain publications and official statements put their work into doubt”.
He added that “This attitude contradicts the spirit of Resolution 1441” on the inspection process and reminded Washington that it promised to offer all assistance necessary for the teams to carry out their work.
Instead, Washington makes constant insinuations that Iraq has Weapons of Mass destruction, is hiding them and therefore refuses to collaborate with the UN teams. Donald Rumsfeld has even declared that if the UNMOVIC teams do not find any WMD, it is proof that they exist.
It is the duty of Washington, and the secret services of other countries, to provide whatever evidence they have for the UNMOVIC teams to find the weaponry, if such exists, and to destroy it. This is the mission. Washington has from the start applied pressure so as to hijack the operation and turn it into a legitimate excuse for military intervention, for which both Washington and London are preparing daily, ferrying tens of thousands of assault troops into the area. The notion that an attack will begin shortly after 27th January, whatever the UNMOVIC teams report, is growing.
Washington might decide to use Thursday’s incident as part of a wider accusation that Saddam Hussein has not complied with the conditions of the Security Council Resolutions, like the witch doctor who asks for a sign from the heavens, he might choose the sudden flight of a flock of birds from a tree to save himself if nothing else happens.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru