A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a US invasion. \nThe strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack. At the same time, Saddam retained the technical know-how and brain power to restart the programs at any time. \nUS defense officials and weapons experts are considering this guessing-game theory as the search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons continues. If true, it would indicate there was no imminent unconventional weapons threat from Iraq, an argument US President George W. Bush used to go to war. \nSaddam's alleged weapons bluff was detailed by an Iraqi official who assisted Saddam for many years. The official was not part of the national leadership but his job provided him daily contact with the dictator and insight into the regime's decision-making process during the past decade and in its critical final days. \nThe official refused to be identified, citing fear of assassination by Saddam's paramilitaries who, he said, remain active throughout Iraq. But in several interviews, the former aide detailed what he said were the reasons behind Saddam's disinformation campaign -- which ultimately backfired by spurring, rather than deterring a US invasion. \nAccording to the aide, by the mid-1990s "it was common knowledge among the leadership" that Iraq had destroyed its chemical stocks and discontinued development of biological and nuclear weapons. \nBut Saddam remained convinced that an ambiguous stance about the status of Iraq's weapons programs would deter an American attack. \n"He repeatedly told me: `These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong,'" the aide said. \nPublicly Saddam denied having unconventional weapons. But from 1998 until 2002, he prevented UN inspectors from working in the country and when they finally returned in November, 2002, they often complained that Iraq wasn't fully cooperating. \nIraqi scientists, including those currently held by the US military, have maintained that no new unconventional weapons programs were started in recent years and that all the materials from previous programs were destroyed. \nBoth Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have come under fire in recent weeks as weapons hunters come up empty handed and prewar intelligence is questioned. \nBefore the invasion, the British government claimed Saddam could deploy unconventional weapons within 45 minutes. The Bush administration insisted the threat was so immediate that the world couldn't afford to wait for UN inspectors to wind up their searches. Despite the warnings, Iraqi troops never used such weapons during the war. \nUS intelligence officials at the Pentagon in Washington, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some experts had raised the theory that Iraq put out false information to persuade its enemies that it retained prohibited chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. \n"That explanation has plausibility," said Robert Einhorn a former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation. "But the disposition of those missing weapons and materials still has to be explained somehow." \nIraq's claims that it destroyed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons materials could never be verified by UN inspectors who repeatedly requested proof. \nHowever, UN inspectors, who scoured Iraq for three and a half months before the war, never found any evidence of renewed weapons programs. \n"The longer that one does not find any weapons in spite of people coming forward and being rewarded for giving information, etc., the more I think it is important that we begin to ask ourselves if there were no weapons, why was it that Iraq conducted itself as it did for so many years?" Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector, told AP in June.
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
INFORMATION LEAKED: Documents from Xinjiang purportedly showed top leaders in Beijing calling for a forceful crackdown and even orders to shoot to kill Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday held a videoconference with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as she visited Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uighur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and lawmakers in other Western nations have labeled a “genocide.” China denies the allegations. Bachelet was expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on a six-day tour. The US
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks