GERMAN AND US FIRSM SUPPLIED ARMS TO SADDAM


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Posted by Tony from ? (167.88.192.30) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 at 12:10PM :

Published on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 by the lndependent/UK
Leaked Report Says German and US
Firms Supplied Arms to Saddam
Baghdad's uncensored report to UN names Western
companies alleged to have developed its weapons of
mass destruction
by Tony Paterson in Berlin

Iraq's 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign
companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that
supported Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, a
German newspaper said yesterday.

Berlin's left-wing Die Tageszeitung newspaper said it had seen a copy of the
original Iraqi dossier which was vetted for sensitive information by US
officials before being handed to the five permanent Security Council
members two weeks ago. An edited version was passed to the remaining 10
members of the Security Council last night.

British officials said the list of companies appeared to be accurate. Eighty
German firms and 24 US companies are reported to have supplied Iraq with
equipment and know-how for its weapons programs from 1975 onwards and
in some cases support for Baghdad's conventional arms program had
continued until last year.

It is not known who leaked the report, but it could have come from Iraq.
Baghdad is keen to embarrass the US and its allies by showing the close
involvement of US, German, British and French firms in helping Iraq develop
its weapons of mass destruction when the country was a bulwark against the
much feared spread of Iranian revolutionary fervor to the Arab world.

The list contained the names of long-established German firms such as
Siemens as well as US multinationals. With government approval, Siemens
exported machines used to eliminate kidney stones which have a "dual use"
high precision switch used to detonate nuclear bombs. Ten French
companies were also named along with a number of Swiss and Chinese
firms. The newspaper said a number of British companies were cited, but did
not name them.

"From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied
entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how
for Saddam Hussein's program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons of mass destruction," the newspaper said. "They also supplied
rockets and complete conventional weapons systems," it added.

The five permanent members of the Security Council the United States,
Britain, Russia, France and China have repeatedly opposed revealing the
extent of foreign companies' involvement, although a mass of relevant
information was collected by UN weapons inspectors who visited the country
between 1991 and 1998. The UN claims that publishing the extent of the
companies' involvement in Iraq would jeopardize necessary co-operation with
such firms.

German involvement outstripped that of all the other countries put together,
the paper said. During the period to 1991, the German authorities permitted
weapons cooperation with Iraq and in some cases "actively encouraged" it,
according to the newspaper which cited German assistance allegedly given
to Iraq for the development of poison gas used in the 1988 massacre of
Kurds in northern Iraq. It said that after the massacre America reduced its
military cooperation with Iraq but German firms continued their activities until
the Gulf War.

Die Tageszeitung quoted sources close to the US Vice President, Dick
Cheney, as saying the Bush administration was hoping to prove a German
company was continuing to co-operate with the Iraqi regime over the supply
of equipment allegedly useful in the construction of weapons of mass
destruction.

American weapons experts have recently voiced concern that the German
Government has permitted Siemens to sell Baghdad at least eight
sophisticated medical machines which contain devices that are vital for
nuclear weapons. The machines, known as "lithotripters", use ultrasound to
destroy kidney stones in patients. However, each machine contains an
electronic switch that can be used as a detonator in an atomic bomb,
according to US experts. Iraq was reported to have requested an extra 120
switches as "spare parts" during the initial transaction.

The delivery of the machines was approved by the European Commission
and the UN because sanctions against Iraq do not apply to medical
equipment. Siemens and the German Government have insisted that the
machines, which are being used in northern Iraq under a World Health
Organization program, cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.

2002 lndependent Digital (UK) Ltd

###



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