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Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger
Human Events ^ | 8/1/03 | Terence P. Jeffrey

Posted on 08/01/2003 12:57:34 PM PDT by Jean S

Wissam al Zahawie, the Iraqi official whom the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says went on a "trade mission" to uranium-exporting Niger in 1999, had a record of promoting resentment against America and Israel and of making Iraq's case for building a nuclear bomb.

Zahawie's record raises questions about the thoroughness of the IAEA investigation of his trip to Niger and its candor in reporting the findings of that investigation.

At a 1995 UN conference on extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Zahawie (sometimes spelled "Zahawi") argued that unless Israel was stripped of nuclear weapons, other states would need to engage in "a secret or public" arms race to "restore a certain balance."

In an official UN summary of the April 24, 1995, session of this conference—provided to me by the United Nations Library—Zahawie sometimes referred to Israel as the "entity." "In that entity," the summary cites him as saying, "there was a powerful opposition party which was expected to win the forthcoming elections and which was urging that not a single inch of the occupied territories should be surrendered, and was ready, in its fanaticism, to go to any lengths, whatever the cost. It was not hard to see what that party would do with its nuclear bomb."

'Secret or Public'

"[B]y exempting one State [Israel] from applying the provisions of the Treaty while expecting others to respect it forever," the UN summary cites Zahawie as saying, "there would inevitably be attempts to restore a certain balance. That meant an arms race, whether secret or public."

"Efforts must therefore be made either to establish equity and equilibrium," the UN summary reports Zahawie as saying, "or—preferably—to attain the ultimate goal sought by all mankind, namely the complete and permanent elimination of the nuclear threat."

Citing what he characterized as belligerent statements by various U.S. leaders of the Cold War era, Zahawie argued that the U.S. refrained from using nuclear weapons only out of fear of Soviet retaliation. "Apparently, the military and civilian leaders of the United States were very attached to the idea of atomic bombing designed to destroy a city or an entire country, since their experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," the UN summary reports him saying.

"If there had been any equilibrium at the beginning," it cites him as saying, "the world would not have experienced the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Zahawie's belligerence did not go unnoticed at the time. "Iraq's delegate at the conference, Wissam Al-Zahawi," reported Agence France Presse, "warned that if the international community allowed Israel to remain outside the NPT it would lead to 'inevitable attempts' to reestablish 'some kind of equilibrium' in the region, followed by a 'secret or open' arms race."

In a letter published on Nov. 12, 1997, in the International Herald Tribune, Zahawie, identified as Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican, was more direct. "Iraq has shown that there are Arabs who refuse to bow to American bullying," he wrote. "It has challenged a Zionist-American diktat by trying to achieve the forbidden strategic balance that would enable Arabs to resist Israeli aggression."

In a letter published in the International Herald Tribune on Feb. 10, 1998, he objected to columns by William Safire and Thomas Friedman that advocated the use of force to disarm Saddam. "The present rabid braying and warmongering will surely serve to stiffen Iraqis' resolve, to increase their hatred of their American tormentors and to rally people around their president," he wrote.

On December 30, 1999, 10 months after his trade mission to Niger, the International Herald Tribune published a letter from Zahawie objecting to resumption of UN weapons inspections. "It should come as no surprise that Iraq should resist the return of the so-called inspectors who were relaying to the United States and Britain the information they need to choose the targets for their systematic bombing of Iraq," Zahawie wrote.

But Zahawie won attention in the United Nations, and the IAEA, long before Saddam's invasion of Kuwait sparked conflict between Iraq and the United States. On November 12, 1981, in a surprise maneuver, Iraq won a vote in the General Assembly inserting an amendment condemning Israel's destruction of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor into a routine declaration on the IAEA. The Associated Press quoted Zahawie as saying, "The Zionist act of aggression is also an attack against the IAEA."

In 1984, he tried to block Israeli President Chaim Herzog from speaking to the General Assembly. "Wissam Zahawie of Iraq objected on the ground that, according to United Nations resolutions, Israel's claim that Jerusalem was its capital was 'null and void,'" reported The New York Times.

In the March 7 report to the Security Council in which he revealed that documents purporting to show an Iraq-Niger uranium deal were forgeries, IAEA General Director Mohamed ElBaradei also mentioned that an Iraqi official had visited Niger in 1999. But he did not name Zahawie as that official and did not state that Zahawie was on a trade mission.

Given Zahawie's record, why did ElBaradei make these omissions?

In this column last week, I reported that IAEA Senior Information Officer Melissa Fleming, in response to written questions from me, did state that Zahawie was the Iraqi official who went to Niger in 1999. He went, she said, as "a part of a trade mission and also he was accredited to Niger as Ambassador." IAEA, she said, had interviewed him in Baghdad in the presence of Iraqi monitors.

'Confidential Information'

This week, I sent follow up questions to IAEA. Among them: What did Zahawie say Iraq hoped to import from Niger? What other African countries did he visit? Did any Iraqis go with Zahawie, and did IAEA interview them? Was Zahawie, or any companion, ever involved in procuring any material relevant to Iraq's nuclear weapons program?

I also asked if the IAEA had investigated a second possible contact between Iraq and Niger in 1999. (According to a July 11 statement by CIA Director George Tenet, an outside investigator whom the CIA sent to Niger last year—who former Amb. Joseph C. Wilson has identified as himself in a New York Times op-ed—reported that a former Niger official he spoke with "said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss 'expanding commercial relations' between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales." This alleged June overture, trying to set up a subsequent Iraq-Niger "commercial relations" meeting, would have taken place four months after what the IAEA described as Zahawi's February 1999 "trade mission.")

Ms. Fleming responded by e-mail: "I have discussed your questions with colleagues here and am afraid we will not be in a position to provide answers to them," she wrote. "This information was never in our reports to the Security Council and has not been made public. You are requesting confidential information from our investigations and interviews that we, as a general policy, do not provide unless it is felt the information is necessary to reveal to the Security Council or to IAEA member States."

On July 27, the London Sunday Times reported that Zahawie has written a letter to friends explaining his trip to Niger. "In February 1999, I was instructed to visit four west African countries to extend an invitation on behalf of the Iraqi president to their heads of state to visit Baghdad," the Times quotes the letter as saying. "I had no other instructions and certainly none concerning the purchase of uranium."

The paper did not name who received the letter, or the place from which it was sent.

TOPICS: Breaking News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 16words; alzahawie; antiamericanism; bushdoctrineunfold; iaea; iraq; memoryhole; niger; un; uranium; warlist; wmd
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1 posted on 08/01/2003 12:57:34 PM PDT by Jean S
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To: JeanS
We can surely expect this story to run above the fold in tomorrow's NY Times. Just as I fully expect to win the lottery tonight.
2 posted on 08/01/2003 12:58:47 PM PDT by dirtboy (Who's that big cat I saw roaming around here again? I thought he went extinct...)
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To: JeanS; *Bush Doctrine Unfold; *war_list; W.O.T.; Dog Gone; Grampa Dave; blam; Sabertooth; ...
Bush was right!

Bush Doctrine Unfolds :

To find all articles tagged or indexed using Bush Doctrine Unfold , click below:
  click here >>> Bush Doctrine Unfold <<< click here  
(To view all FR Bump Lists, click here)

3 posted on 08/01/2003 12:59:59 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (All we need from a Governor is a VETO PEN!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Oh, this can't be right. The democRATS keep telling us that President Bush lied about this. They wouldn't lie, would they? (/sarcasm)
4 posted on 08/01/2003 1:04:16 PM PDT by MizSterious (Support whirled peas!)
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To: MizSterious
Tom Daschle is disappointed.
5 posted on 08/01/2003 1:05:35 PM PDT by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might.)
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To: JeanS
Well, I guess we may come to a point where the administration might have to apologize for apologizing in the first place.
6 posted on 08/01/2003 1:10:58 PM PDT by b4its2late (I am a partisan. Part right and the other part right.)
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To: JeanS
"Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger" I'll bet thats the first time that phrase has been said in human history.
7 posted on 08/01/2003 1:12:52 PM PDT by isom35
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To: William McKinley; Miss Marple; Howlin
:-), more egg for the liberals
8 posted on 08/01/2003 1:13:44 PM PDT by MJY1288 (The Enemies of America can Count on the Democrats for Aid and Comfort)
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To: dirtboy
I'm sure the Houston Chronicle would have run this news if they weren't so busy trashing Tom DeLay everyday.
9 posted on 08/01/2003 1:18:35 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: MJY1288
:-), more egg for the liberals

Methinks they'll be shaving with the stuff fairly soon.

10 posted on 08/01/2003 1:19:23 PM PDT by dirtboy (Who's that big cat I saw roaming around here again? I thought he went extinct...)
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To: JeanS
He probably just went there to enjoy the climate or something.
11 posted on 08/01/2003 1:25:09 PM PDT by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Chancellor Palpatine
Guess we aren't going to hear more about the corruption in the Food for Oil scheme, and where the billions are stored. Vatican Bank for one?

Here's something from 1998 mentioning Zahawie...
Vatican envoy in Iraq denounces embargo again, June 25, 1998

VATICAN ( -- The Vatican's envoy in Baghdad has once again lashed out against the international embargo on Iraq.

In a video message, played at the screening of a new documentary on the effects of that embargo, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto called upon Christian to show their solidarity with the people of Iraq.

The documentary film, "Iraq Solidarity Action," was produced by Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, a French-born priest serving the diocese of Rome. It was screened today in the presence of the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Wissam Chawket al-Zahawie.

In his video message to the film audience, Archbishop Lazzarotto urged all Christians to "multiple their gestures of solidarity," in order to break through "the isolation created by the embargo." Those who travel to Iraq, he said, would find their a rich culture which deserves understanding and preservation.

The practical effects of the embargo, the papal nuncio continued, have not been changes in government policy, but rather the death of the society's most vulnerable people. As a result, he reported, people are losing their confidence in the future. The best hope for the Iraqi people, he said, would lie in a return to the normal life they enjoyed before the Persian Gulf War.

12 posted on 08/01/2003 1:28:01 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
A FRENCH priest. Somehow, I don't think he is a conservative.
13 posted on 08/01/2003 1:31:01 PM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: dirtboy
What gets my goat about this whole subject and no one else seems to be picking up on this, is the statement from Stephen Hadley, Bush's #2 guy on National close attention to the second sentence...

An unsigned CIA memo on Oct. 5 advised that "the CIA had reservations about the British reporting" on Iraq's alleged attempts in Niger, Hadley said. A second memo, sent on Oct. 6, elaborated on the CIA's doubts, describing "some weakness in the evidence," such as the fact that Iraq already had a large stock of uranium and probably wouldn't need more, Hadley said.


The CIA determined that Saddam was not seeking uranium because he already had a large stock? And the Dems are complaining that Bush misled the nation into going to war on the "sought" charge? Why wasn't this info included in the speech instead of the "sought" charge? It is much more damning IMHO.
14 posted on 08/01/2003 1:32:25 PM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: The Old Hoosier
... and saddened.
15 posted on 08/01/2003 1:33:41 PM PDT by watchin
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To: ravingnutter
such as the fact that Iraq already had a large stock of uranium and probably wouldn't need more, Hadley said.

Yeah, ain't that a kick in the head? There's a trap waiting to be sprung there, if someone in the GOP is smart enough.

16 posted on 08/01/2003 1:35:33 PM PDT by dirtboy (Who's that big cat I saw roaming around here again? I thought he went extinct...)
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To: dirtboy
If the liberals continue getting this much egg on their faces, before long the poultry farmers are gonna have to start beating their chickens in order to get them to lay more eggs :-)
17 posted on 08/01/2003 1:35:56 PM PDT by MJY1288 (The Enemies of America can Count on the Democrats for Aid and Comfort)
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To: Miss Marple
He's got a web site. It mentions he set up that disgusting Aziz-Pope meeting this year.
18 posted on 08/01/2003 1:38:11 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: MJY1288; Miss Marple; dirtboy; archy; Ernest_at_the_Beach; aristeides; Chancellor Palpatine; ...
Here's something verrrrrry interesting about this Iraq-connected Roman priest:

"....Father Benjamin first came to my attention a few days after the attack on the World Trade Centre, when the Vatican’s Online News Agency, Zenit, posted a strange little article claiming that Father Benjamin had been officiating at a high-powered wedding attended by European judges and politicians just a few days before September 11, and that he had told the guests that he’d been tipped off that a major US target would be attacked in the next few days using hijacked planes..."

19 posted on 08/01/2003 1:42:25 PM PDT by Shermy
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ITALY: Muslims warn of an attack on the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons

September 7, 2001: Father Jean-Marie Benjamin is told at a wedding in Todi, Italy of a plot to attack the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons. He isn't told time or place specifics. He immediately passes what he knows to a judge and several politicians. He states: "Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically. I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government." Benjamin has been called "one of the West's most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world." Two days after 9/11, he meets with the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He says he learned the attack on Britain failed at the last minute. [Zenit, 9/16/01] He has not revealed who told him this information, but could it have been a member of the al-Qaeda cell in Milan (see August 12, 2000 and January 24, 2001), which appears to have helped with the 9/11 attacks?
ROME, SEPT. 16, 2001 ( A priest who has worked in charities in Muslim countries had openly warned about a possible terrorist attack on population centers in the United States and England -- four days before the horrific raids on New York and Washington.

On Sept. 7, when he officiated at a wedding in Todi, Italy, French-born Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, 55, explained informally to a judge and several politicians that he had been told that a terrorist commando was preparing an attack, with hijacked passenger planes, on U.S. and British population centers.

Father Benjamin is regarded as one of the West´s most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world. He was a U.N. employee from 1983 to 1988, and then decided to consecrate his life to God, being ordained a priest in 1991. Since 1997, he has been working with the people of Iraq, many of whom suffer hunger because of the embargo and Saddam Hussein´s regime.

On Sept. 11, a quarter-hour after the first attack on the Twin Towers, a former European parliamentarian called the priest in great distress, realizing his prediction came true. The priest would not name the official out of respect for his privacy.

Last Thursday, the priest held a 70-minute meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero.

The priest said he had no idea where the attacks would take place specifically. The individuals he met -- whose identity and country he did not reveal to the press -- only mentioned the United States and England, and the use of suicide planes.

According to what the priest has learned, the attack on Great Britain failed at the last minute.

Father Benjamin told ZENIT that in recent months the organization of Muslim terrorist groups has changed.

"In the past, these organizations had autonomous activity, without any links to other bodies," he explained. "But now they have developed a very different apparatus."

"Bin Laden alone is linked to 70 of his organizations in some 30 countries," he added. "In turn, these groups are in touch with some 900 Muslim organizations, located in all the continents, and they have thousands of militants, some of whom are Westerners, who do not have an Arab surname and who don´t even believe in Islam."

The priest also said that bin Laden is not the only point of reference of these organizations. If he should be killed or arrested, the organization -- with thousands of volunteers and activists in 30 countries -- would continue to operate.

This situation makes it extremely difficult to respond to the attacks. The priest recalled: "They told me, ´We do not need atomic bombs or laser-guided missiles. We have enough volunteers and organization to react and put an end to the West in three days.´"

The priest said he believed they were exaggerating on the last point.

"Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically," he added. "I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government."

The priest lives most of the time in Assisi.

In April 2000, Father Benjamin was the first to violate the embargo imposed on Iraq, when he took medicines to Baghdad to people whose lives were in danger.

20 posted on 08/01/2003 1:47:23 PM PDT by Shermy
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