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Wednesday, 28 April 2004


Burning with anger: Iraqis infuriated by new flag that was designed in London
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad and David Usborne in Baghdad

28 April 2004
For many Iraqis it was the final insult. Again and again they expressed outrage yesterday that Iraq's United States-appointed and unelected leaders had, overnight, abolished the old Iraqi flag, seen by most Iraqis as the symbol of their nation, and chosen a new one.
"What gives these people the right to throw away our flag, to change the symbol of Iraq?" asked Salah, a building contractor of normally moderate political opinions. "It makes me very angry because these people were appointed by the Americans. I will not regard the new flag as representing me but only traitors and collaborators."
The outburst of fury over the flag highlights the extraordinary ability of US leaders and the Iraqi Governing Council to alienate ordinary Iraqis, already angered by the bloody sieges of Fallujah and Karbala. And yesterday, in the hotbed of Iraqi rebellion, the flag was burnt in public in a demonstration of public anger.
When, as expected, the controversial new flag is hoisted inside the security of the Green Zone in Baghdad today, there is little prospect that the flag will be fluttering over other Iraqi cities. When security officers at the United Nations undertake the daily ritual this morning of raising the standards of the 191 member countries up the white poles arrayed outside UN headquarters in New York's First Avenue, for Iraq it will be the familiar flag of Saddam Hussein's rule that is unfurled.
"So far, we haven't received anything about this from Baghdad," said Igor Novichenko, who is in charge of such matters in the UN's protocol unit. For now, he added, the old Iraqi flag of green and black, with "God is Great" in Arabic script across it, will retain its place outside UN headquarters.
That is not to say that the new version may not be fluttering on First Avenue one day. There are no great formalities involved in changing a country's flag. All that is required is for the mission of that country in New York - and the Iraqi mission is still open - to inform the UN of the new design.
But in Iraq greater problems loom where insurgents will be able to strengthen their patriotic credentials by sticking with the old and popular Iraqi flag and portraying the new one as a sign of subservience to foreign occupiers.
Already anti-US guerrillas are adopting the old red, white and black banner as their battle flag, tying it to their trucks and sticking it in the ground where they have their positions. This blend of nationalism and religion has proved highly successful in spreading resistance to the occupation.
It is increasingly unlikely that the Allies will have any legitimate Iraqi authority to whom they can transfer power on 30 June, as President George Bush has promised.
As the security situation deteriorates in Baghdad, Iraqis are more often refusing to reveal their family names when interviewed. Jassim, standing behind the counter in his grocery shop, said: "That flag is not Saddam's flag. It was there before Saddam and it represents Iraq as a country. The whole world knows Iraq by its flag."
A further reason for popular anger is that many Iraqis are convinced that their new flag is modelled on the Israeli flag. It is white with two parallel blue strips along the bottom representing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers with a yellow strip in between symbolising the Kurds. Above the stripes is a blue crescent to represent Islam. Iraqis say the blue stripes are suspiciously like those on the Israeli flag. They also ask why the Kurds have a stripe in the new flag but not the 80 per cent of Iraqis who are Arabs. Could it be because the Kurds are the only Iraqi community fully supporting the US?
The old Iraqi flag was modified but was otherwise unchanged by Saddam Hussein. It had red and black bands across the top and bottom and three green stars on the white stripe separating them. Just before the 1990-91 Gulf War the words "Allahu Akbar",God is Great, were added to boost the religious credentials of Saddam Hussein's secular regime.
The flag won the loyalty of many Iraqis who did not support the old regime. Dhurgham, a 23-year-old student, said: "We cheered Iraqi footballers under that flag for a long time. I feel it represents me as an Iraqi. I don't like this new flag. It does not look Iraqi. It is more like the Turkish or Israeli flags. The main reason I don't like it is that it comes from the Americans."
When the idea of getting a new flag was first talked about last year, it stirred up strong feelings against change. But the Iraqi Governing Council, made up of former opponents of Saddam Hussein and Iraqis in exile during his rule, has a well-established reputation for being wholly out of touch with Iraqi opinion. The council approved the new flag, only asking the artist to make the crescent a deeper blue.
"This is a new era," said Hamid al-Kafaei, the spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council yesterday. "We cannot continue with Saddam's flag." The new flag is the work of an Iraqi artist resident in London called Rifat Chadirji whose design was the best of those considered. He is also the brother of Nassir al-Chaderchi, the chairman of the IGC committee charged with choosing a new flag for Iraq. "I had no idea about a competition to design the flag. My brother just called me and asked me to design a flag on behalf of the IGC. Nobody told me about a competition," Mr Chadirji told The Independent yesterday.
A cogent reason for changing the flag was that it was said to be unacceptable to Kurds who saw it as a symbol of oppression. But Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish member of the governing council, said yesterday that the leadership should have waited until a parliament was elected before a decision on the flag was made.
* American aircraft and tanks attacked Fallujah last night, just hours after a US deadline expired for rebels to hand over their heavy weapons.
In the holy city of Najaf, 64 fighters loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr were killed hours after Washington issued an ultimatum to him to clear his militia and their arms from mosques there, a US spokesman said.

GAO Cites Cost Risks in Undefined Iraq Contracts

By Mary Pat Flaherty and Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page A15
The U.S. Army has yet to reach a final agreement on price or the exact work to be done under nearly $1.8 billion worth of contracts for Iraq reconstruction projects that are already underway, a situation that exposes the government to cost risks and reduces the chance for savings, according to a draft report by the General Accounting Office.
The work encompasses oil fields, the electrical grid, training for the Iraqi army and support for the occupying authority, the draft report states.
GAO auditors also found several instances in which Defense Department contracting officers "overstepped" their authority and ordered millions of dollars of no-bid reconstruction work that appears unrelated to the contracts, according to a copy of the draft obtained by The Washington Post.
The draft cites problems with oversight, including on work done as part of a $24 million contract in which some experts hired to advise occupying authority officials and Iraqi ministries failed to report for duty, did not do the work as expected or had stopped working.
The draft concludes that federal agencies "generally complied" with the laws and regulations governing no-bid or limited-bid contracts -- an issue that has drawn congressional attention. But the GAO reviewers do note shortcomings in the tasks ordered under various existing contracts.
The GAO review covers nearly $3.7 billion worth of private contracting work committed to as of last September -- a sliver of the $20 billion that Congress has appropriated for rebuilding since April 2003. The auditors attribute some failures to pressures to start reconstruction quickly in a hostile and shifting setting. The report says that both the military and contracting staff were short-handed and were working 15-hour shifts.
The report says that some challenges have been overcome, but that staffing and security remain "major concerns" that could ultimately affect reconstruction efforts.
GAO spokesman Jeff Nelligan said yesterday that his office will discuss only the final report, which is set to be released in May and could include changes after the various agencies have a chance to comment on the draft. Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Diane Battaglia said the Army does not usually comment on drafts, a position echoed by Lt. Col. Joseph M. Yoswa, a Pentagon spokesman for the occupying authority.
Among other shortcomings cited by the GAO is a $1.9 million no-bid deal with KBR made in November 2002 -- four months before the war in Iraq -- to develop a contingency plan to repair Iraq's oil pipelines. Work done by KBR -- formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root -- has been a flashpoint on Capitol Hill during several hearings on the reconstruction efforts. KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., which Vice President Cheney headed between 1995 and 2000.
The contingency plan was ordered under a preexisting super-contract that KBR has to supply support services to the U.S. military worldwide. But the GAO auditors say that umbrella contract -- which was competitively bid -- would not have covered the no-bid contingency plan award.
KBR's work on the contingency plan, in turn, positioned it to win a subsequent no-bid contract from the Army Corps of Engineers in March 2003 to control oil fires and do emergency pipeline repairs in Iraq, the GAO report says. The company has been given $2.5 billion in work under that contract as of last month -- paid for mainly with Iraqi funds.
Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said fighting the oil fires is part of its expected work for the Pentagon in the event of war. "We were selected for this work because of our unique combination of business experience in defense contracting, engineering and construction and oilfield services," she said.
The draft GAO report does not address allegations now under criminal investigation that KBR overcharged the U.S. government for meals that were never served to troops and for fuel from Kuwait that was purchased at excessive cost.
The GAO criticizes two contracts awarded to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) of San Diego: The $24 million contract for expert advisers -- which has drawn criticism from the Pentagon's inspector general -- and an $82 million contract to establish a media network for Iraq.
Under the media contract, the draft states, SAIC bought about $7 million in unauthorized equipment and services, including an H-2 Hummer and a pickup truck. The work was done "in compliance with the direction of government officials," said Ron Zollars, an SAIC spokesman.
He added that previous criticisms of the contract were "baseless or taken out of context."
A spokeswoman for Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) -- a critic of no-bid Iraq contracts, particularly those awarded to Halliburton -- declined to comment yesterday.
David Marin, a spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who held the first hearing to review Iraq contracting, said Davis will not comment on the specifics of the draft, but he said it is his understanding "that GAO will paint a predictable good-news, bad-news picture. . . . At the end of the day, Davis anticipates this report supporting what he's been saying all along. That procurement in a war zone, where lives are literally at stake, is a tremendously complex matter prone to mistakes."
Marin added: "As things improve on the ground in Iraq, we'll see fewer and fewer sloppy acquisitions -- and less reliance on emergency procedures."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


More Armor Urged for U.S. Forces in Iraq
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page A22
As insurgents continue to use improvised bombs to attack U.S. military vehicles in Iraq, officials are growing increasingly concerned that the lack of heavy armored vehicles is putting U.S. forces at risk.
Defense officials said yesterday they are working to increase the number of armored Humvees for Operation Iraqi Freedom but said the 2,000 specially armored trucks there account for only half the Army's estimated requirements. Standard Humvees, considered utility vehicles similar to jeeps, are too vulnerable to attack, officials said.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that every armored Humvee in the inventory has been sent to Iraq and more are being built. In a Pentagon briefing, Myers said the enemy's changing tactics have highlighted the need to shore up transport vehicles.
Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also responded to concerns raised by Gen. Larry R. Ellis at Army Forces Command. Ellis wrote the Pentagon that commanders in the field have found the armored Humvee "is not providing the solution the Army hoped to achieve" and that red tape could "fail our soldier and our nation." Ellis suggested the purchase of hundreds of eight-wheel Stryker combat vehicles instead.
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said yesterday it is vital to the protection of soldiers to immediately increase the number of hardened vehicles in Iraq, whether that means more armored Humvees or Strykers. "Soldiers are dying because they're in a war zone," Simmons said, "but the risks they face increase when the equipment they have is inadequate for the threat."

-- Josh White

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


Canadians Allow Islamic Courts To Decide Disputes
Sharia Gains Foothold in Ontario

By DeNeen L. Brown
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page A14
TORONTO -- Suad Almad, her head wrapped in a blue silk scarf, was discussing her beliefs with a group of friends. She said fervently that she thought the lives of all Muslims should be governed by Islamic law, known as sharia.
"It's something nobody can change and we must follow," said Almad, who came to Canada from Somalia, then engulfed by war, more than 12 years ago. "We come to Canada and we become lost . . . We need our own court and we need our own law," she said, her voice strong and certain. "That's what I believe."
Almad and thousands of other Muslims, taking advantage of a provision of the law in the province of Ontario, can now decide some civil disputes under sharia, including family disagreements and inheritance, business and divorce issues, using tribunals that include imams, Muslim elders and lawyers. While it is less than full implementation of sharia, local leaders consider it a significant step.
Muslim promoters of sharia arbitration said that no cases had been decided but that the process is set. Islamic leaders created an Islamic Court of Civil Justice last fall and that organization, in turn, has chosen arbitrators, who have undergone training in sharia and Canadian civil law, according to organizers and participants.
Sharia is based on the Koran, which includes the teachings of Islam and revelations by the prophet Muhammad. According to Muslim beliefs, the Koran provides the divine rules for behavior, including rules about marriage, business and inheritance. Muslims must abstain from stealing, lying, killing, adultery and drinking alcohol.
Some Muslim leaders in Canada said that there should be no controversy about the new arbitration process, but some opponents expressed concern that people might feel coerced into accepting sharia-based arbitration. Government officials said that the decision to submit to such a process was subject to mutual consent.
A 1991 Ontario arbitration law permits such arbitration according to religious principles, just as rabbis in Jewish communities and priests in Christian communities help to resolve civil disputes, said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario attorney general.
"People can agree to resolve disputes any way acceptable," Crawley said in an interview. "If they decide to resolve disputes using principles of sharia and using an imam as an arbitrator, that is perfectly acceptable under the arbitration act."
Crawley said the arbitration act establishes a number of safeguards, including the requirement that parties enter into arbitration only on a voluntary basis. Any decisions by arbitrators are subject to court ratification.
Canadian officials said that no criminal matters would be considered by sharia arbitrators and no corporal punishment could be imposed. Crawley said that legal provisions in other provinces also permit such tribunals.
Jewish courts, using the same methods, have been operating in Ontario for years. Such a court, called a Beit Din, deals with monetary, business and family disputes, but no criminal matters. "Jewish courts have been operating in Toronto for as long as Jews have been here, hundreds of years," said Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, secretary of the Beit Din of Toronto. He said he had not heard of cases decided by arbitrators in Jewish courts that had been overturned.
"A court will not enforce a decision in violation of the Charter of Rights," Crawley said, referring to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the nation's constitution. He also said there were limits to arbitrators' powers. They cannot, for example, rule on matters regarding third parties. "The rights of children cannot be arbitrated," he said.
Supporters say the tribunals in Canada will make official a process that is already happening informally among Canada's estimated 600,000 Muslims. But critics said they feared that recognizing the tribunals could lead to discrimination, and particular concerns were raised about the rights of Muslim women.
Alia Hogben, a board member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said she opposes the religious tribunals. "It is difficult to speak up because we don't want to feed into anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic stuff that is developing now," she said. "We are religious Muslim women. We don't want to come across as anti-Muslim. On the other hand, we cannot be quiet about something that worries us."
Although advocates of the sharia process stressed that participation in the tribunal process would be voluntary, some critics expressed concern that many Muslims would be labeled disobedient if they refused participation in such sharia-based arbitrations.
"If I am a woman of faith, and the community of people who see themselves as leaders say that if I do not follow the sharia court here, the Islamic Institute, then I will be tantamount to blasphemy and apostasy," Hogben said in a debate shown on Canadian television. "And you know that in some countries, apostasy means death sentence."
Homa Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, complained that there was little public discussion before the tribunals were created. "This vague idea of sharia court is what bugs me," Hoodfar said. "Because having worked on sharia law and family law in the Middle East, I know there is no one set [of laws]. Which country will they use as a basis? They don't answer. But also, the Canadian government does not question. They think sharia law is written in the Koran. But sharia is the interpretation of the law and practices."
Hoodfar said she was concerned that recent female immigrants could be forced into participating in tribunals and possibly victimized because they don't speak English or are not aware of their legal rights. "It won't affect my life or educated women who know their rights," Hoodfar said. "It will affect the rights of women who are new and need protection. They are much more subject to community pressure.
"I just feel this is completely 'black box' and nobody knows what is in it, and yet the government is giving the go-ahead for it. They didn't consult the Muslim community. They didn't put out a discussion. Nobody knows what it is."
Syed Mumtaz Ali , the president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, began circulating the idea for the court two years ago. In a statement on his organization's Web site, he said that the tribunals would allow Muslims to practice freedom of religion. "Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim countries like Canada are like wandering Bedouins," he wrote. "Although they are free to live according to the Divine Law to practice their faith unhindered in their homes" and mosques, he said, "they have practically no say in the making of the laws of the land and governmental institutions do not cater to their needs."
Ali said the creation of the Islamic Court of Civil Justice would allow this "without violating any Canadian Law." Ali told the Canadian Law Times that sharia tribunals were important for practicing Muslims in Canada. He said that Muslims would no longer have an excuse not to follow sharia because it would no longer be impractical in Canada.
"The concession given by sharia is no longer available to us because the impracticality has been removed," Ali said. He has written that Muslims who choose not to be governed by sharia "for reasons of convenience would be guilty of a far greater crime." Ali said in a telephone interview that no tribunal cases have been heard yet. He would not elaborate.
"There has been a lot of fear and skepticism about it with regards to women's rights," said Ayesha Adam, a mediator in Toronto. "Islamic belief does not allow women to be treated badly," she said. "Islamic law is based on equality, fairness and justice. I don't see how people just take out something from a particular part of the Koran and not look at it holistically. There are certain things that can't be dealt with here. Criminal code is one thing, so it doesn't apply."
Adam said that Muslim women are among those being trained as arbitrators, and their presence should ease the concern that women might not be treated fairly.
Almad and the other members of the Somalia Women's Organization in Toronto said they preferred to live by laws based on their religious beliefs. "No stealing, no drugs, no sex without marriage. No pork. This is our law," said Hamida Ainshe, another of the Somali women. "A man may take a second or third wife if he is able to support them financially. Yes, there is jealousy, but it is allowed under sharia."
The women said they did not know much about the tribunal and had not heard any information about how it would be run, but said they still welcomed it. "We are Somali and we are Muslim. When we go to court, the judge understands the secular system, but doesn't understand sharia law," she said. "If we have a court that understands our Islamic beliefs, it is good."
"This is what we believe," Almad said. "If you cannot do what you believe, you become a flower."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Probe notes lapses in chemical arms disclosures

By Bill Gertz

Russia, China and Iran have failed to fully disclose details of their chemical weapons programs and arsenals that are to be destroyed under a 1997 treaty, raising proliferation risks, according to a congressional report.
Russia also is working on new chemical weapons that may circumvent the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), according to an investigation by Congress' General Accounting Office.

The report revealed that many of the 161 signatories to the convention, including Russia and the United States, will not meet a treaty deadline of 2012 for destroying all chemical weapons, such as nerve, blister and blood agents.
The report, to be made public this week and obtained by The Washington Times, was produced for Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Russia has failed to provide full details of its chemical agent and weapons inventory as required by the treaty, which mandates complete disclosures of production and development facilities and chemical agent and weapons stocks.
Without elaborating, the report added that Russia is thought to be working on "a new generation of agents that could circumvent the CWC and possibly defeat western detection and protection systems."
U.S. intelligence officials think that the threat of terrorists obtaining chemical weapons is growing.
"The lack of a credible Russian chemical weapons destruction plan has hindered and may further delay destruction efforts, leaving Russia's vast chemical weapons arsenal vulnerable to theft or diversion," the GAO stated.
The report said China "maintains an active chemical weapons research and development program, a possible undeclared chemical weapons stockpile, and weapons-related facilities that were not declared."
Iran also failed to provide accurate information on its chemical arms and "is seeking to retain and modernize key elements of its chemical weapons program," and Sudan has a program to develop chemical weapons indigenously, said the report, which credited the State Department with the information on the covert chemical arms activities.
The GAO noted that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is in charge of monitoring the treaty implementation, has had problems in conducting inspections at military and civilian chemical facilities.
Mr. Hunter said Moscow is abusing assistance in eliminating chemical weapons.
"The facility we have built them is sufficient to destroy their entire nerve gas stockpile," he said. "Instead, they look at the plant and see the large number of jobs it created. Some Russians keep arguing that U.S. taxpayers should duplicate the plant in other locations around Russia."
Russia has been offered $585 million for chemical destruction from the United States, Germany and other nations, the reports said.
As of September, Russia had one operational destruction facility and had destroyed 1.1 percent of its 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. The United States has destroyed 25 percent of its chemical arms, said the report, noting that Russia and the United States hold more than 95 percent of the world's declared stocks.
Less than 40 percent of the signatories to the convention have passed laws that criminalize chemical weapons activities, the report said.

N. Korea Nuclear Estimate To Rise
U.S. Report to Say Country Has At Least 8 Bombs

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page A01
The United States is preparing to significantly raise its estimate of the number of nuclear weapons held by North Korea, from "possibly two" to at least eight, according to U.S. officials involved in the preparation of the report.
The report, expected to be completed within a month, would reflect a new intelligence consensus on North Korea's nuclear capabilities after that country's decision last year to restart a nuclear reactor and plutonium-reprocessing facility that had been frozen under a 1994 agreement. Among the evidence used in making the assessment is a detailed analysis of plutonium byproducts found on clothing worn by members of an unofficial U.S. delegation that was allowed to visit North Korean nuclear facilities several months ago.
The increase in the estimate would underscore the strides North Korea has made in the past year as the Bush administration struggled to respond diplomatically while waging a war against Iraq in an unsuccessful effort to search for such weapons there.
Intelligence officials also have broadly concluded that a separate North Korean uranium-enrichment program will be operational by 2007, producing enough material for as many as six additional weapons a year, one U.S. official said.
With Democrat John F. Kerry's presidential campaign planning to highlight the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the leap in Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities during President Bush's tenure could leave the administration vulnerable to charges that it has mishandled the North Korea crisis. Experts said an arsenal of eight weapons means that North Korea could use its weapons to attack neighbors, instead of merely deterring a possible attack.
But some Bush administration officials believe the new estimate will help pressure North Korea's neighbors to back the U.S. position that Pyongyang's weapons programs must be dismantled without concessions. During a tour of Asia two weeks ago, Vice President Cheney warned that time is running out for diplomacy as an increasingly cash-strapped North Korea might seek to peddle its nuclear technology or fissile material -- including, Cheney said, to terrorist groups.
The estimates are guesswork based largely on circumstantial evidence, and administration officials in several agencies have yet to agree on specific numbers. The Energy Department has pressed for a higher estimate of North Korea's weapons and the Defense Intelligence Agency believes the uranium program will be operational at the end of this year, but the State Department's intelligence arm has been the most skeptical. The differences in the estimates depend in part on determinations about the power and efficiency of the North Korean design.
Work on the report began late last summer, after the first round of six-nation talks on the North Korea crisis, when various government agencies sought a unified position on the extent of Pyongyang's programs. Much of the report will not be made public, but its conclusions will guide official statements on North Korean capabilities.
In many ways, the official U.S. estimate of "possibly two" weapons lags significantly behind private-sector reports.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London concluded this year that North Korea's nuclear arsenal could reach four to eight bombs over the next year and increase by 13 bombs per year by the end of the decade. The Institute for Science and International Security in Washington recently estimated that North Korea has a maximum of eight or nine weapons.
"It's long overdue for them to do something," David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said of the administration.
Albright said that the January visit of the unofficial delegation -- which included Siegfried S. Hecker, a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory -- brought back evidence that North Korea has reprocessed all 8,000 spent fuel rods that had been held in a cooling pond under a 1994 agreement negotiated by the Clinton administration.
In late 2002, Pyongyang evicted international inspectors observing the pond after the United States suspended shipments of fuel oil because, officials said, North Korea had nullified the 1994 deal by having a clandestine uranium program.
In February, CIA Director George J. Tenet told Congress: "The intelligence community judged in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons. The 8,000 [spent fuel] rods the North claims to have processed into plutonium metal would provide enough plutonium for several more." Tenet added that North Korea is "pursuing a production-scale uranium enrichment program" using technology provided by A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist who recently admitted to making millions by providing nuclear equipment and know-how to other countries.
The delegation members provided samples of the clothing they wore during their tour of the Yongbyon facility, when the North Koreans showed Hecker a jar that they said contained recently reprocessed plutonium. Albright said traces of plutonium byproducts, such as americium, that collected on the clothing could be analyzed to indicate how recently the plutonium had been processed.
"I think it is generally accepted the North Koreans are probably telling the truth when they say some reprocessing activity took place," said Gary Samore, a weapons expert who was the principal author of the London institute's report.
The earlier estimate was based on calculations derived from the amount of plutonium North Korea was believed to possess -- about seven to 11 kilograms -- and the new estimate essentially reflects the number of additional weapons North Korea could produce from the plutonium derived from the 8,000 spent fuel rods. The calculation in part depends on determining how much plutonium is lost during reprocessing.
Albright said he reached his estimate of a maximum of nine weapons by calculating that North Korea possesses about 37 to 39 kilograms of plutonium and would need at least four kilograms per weapon.
U.S. officials have said Khan told interrogators that in the 1990s the North Koreans showed him three devices they identified as nuclear weapons. The report, which has not been confirmed, would suggest North Korea was more efficient in its use of plutonium than previously thought.
But Samore said he thought it was implausible that North Korea would show its weapons to an outsider, let alone keep them all in one place. He added that it was in Khan's interest to assert that North Korea already had nuclear weapons when he began supplying materials for the uranium-enrichment program.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company


General Says Missile Defense Could Be Ready Soon

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 28, 2004; Page A19
The general in charge of the Pentagon's missile defense programs said yesterday that upcoming flight tests are likely to have little bearing on plans to field a national antimissile system later this year.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said top administration and military officials have yet to decide when to declare the system on alert -- that is, ready to engage ballistic missiles fired at the United States. But he said such a move could come as early as this summer, when the first missile interceptors are installed in newly built silos in Alaska.
By September, five interceptors are to be in place at Fort Greely near Fairbanks, Kadish said. By the end of 2005, 16 interceptors are slated for Fort Greely and four are planned for Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The interceptors, along with several ground- and ship-based tracking radars and an extensive network of electronic links, are intended to give the United States the ability to destroy enemy warheads in space by ramming into them. But the system has come under fire from some lawmakers, scientists, military specialists and others for being largely unproven.
Although eight intercept tests have occurred since 1999, all have involved surrogates for the interceptor. The first flight test of the actual interceptor -- which consists of a small "kill vehicle" attached to a large booster rocket -- is due this summer. Then comes the first intercept attempt using the system's actual components. Both tests have been delayed several months this year as a result of problems with a redesign of the kill vehicle.
"If they both fail, we've got big problems," Kadish told a breakfast meeting of journalists. He went on to express confidence that both tests would succeed but made it clear that successful outcomes are not necessary for proceeding with deployment. "They're parallel paths," he said of the testing and fielding efforts.
Voicing frustration with the charges of insufficient testing, Kadish said the main reason for building the Alaskan site was to allow for flight trials under more realistic conditions. President Bush later decided to turn the site into an operational one, while keeping its initial purpose as a "test bed."
"The criticism we get is that we're not operationally testing the system before we put it in place," the general said. "My response to that -- which people don't seem to want to accept -- is, you can't operationally test the system until you put it in place."
Kadish, who is due to retire this summer, said a large amount of information has been gathered through ground tests and flight trials of individual components. This has led to extensive computer modeling and simulations of likely system performance.
Although the Pentagon's chief weapons evaluator has questioned the validity of these models in the absence of more real data, Kadish said they have proven very accurate in predicting test results.
The Bush administration has attached considerable urgency to erecting the antimissile system, citing a growing threat from hostile states trying to acquire long-range missiles. Although two states -- Iraq and Libya -- are no longer the concern that they were, Kadish said the two most worrisome threats remain -- North Korea and Iran. He declined to discuss recent information about missile developments in either country.
Initially, the limited availability of tracking radars will restrict the interceptors in Alaska and California to countering only North Korean missiles.
The planned addition to the system next year of a radar in Britain will enable interceptors to go after missiles launched from the Middle East as well, Kadish said.

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

G.O.P. Protesters Plan to Infiltrate Convention as Volunteers
It is accepted as an article of faith among protesters planning to demonstrate against the Republican National Convention this summer that agents seeking to undermine their efforts have infiltrated their ranks. But now the protesters are talking about infiltrating the convention to undermine the event itself.
"Really?" said Kevin Sheekey, president of the New York City Host Committee, when told that protesters were talking about flooding the ranks of volunteers to disrupt convention operations.
The city is obligated to find a total of 8,000 New Yorkers to volunteer to help things run smoothly, and would-be protesters are hoping that by signing up, they can work from the inside during the convention, scheduled Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.
"A lot of people are talking about it in general," said William Etundi Jr., a founder of, a Web site that serves as a bulletin board for anti-convention activities. "The Republicans are coming to New York City, so maybe the real New York should come to them."
Until now, the host and the guest have been treating each other with kid gloves, each insisting that it is a relationship of choice that benefits everyone. As the convention preparations quicken and the organizers reach out beyond the city leadership with the volunteer drive, that sense of mutual advantage may be revealed as more wishful than actual.
It is hard to know exactly how much traction the idea of protesters posing as volunteers will have.
Still, there is evidence that the idea of volunteering, then not showing up, or showing up and using anti-Republican language has interested many people.
The biggest public proponent of the idea is a 37-year-old computer consultant from Philadelphia, David A. Lynn, who has created a Web site called It is calling on protesters to volunteer at both the Republican convention and the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Boston earlier in the summer. Mr. Lynn has issued press releases, and tried to sell his idea across the Internet, where it has picked up some momentum.
Boston appears largely immune to the tactic since the host committee there had signed up 12,000 volunteers by the end of March, the host committee said.
But New York, which has a long way to go to reach its target, has so far registered only about 1,400 potential volunteers. Marilyn Shaw, director of volunteer services for the host committee, said all volunteers would be vetted by law enforcement before they are signed up. She also said volunteers would be expected to attend many meetings before getting their volunteer shirts.
"I'll be honest with you," she said. "We meet and greet them so many times they become our best friends."
Some people are thinking more Trojan horse than friend.
"I think they don't understand either just how much of New York City is not prepared to welcome them," said Amanda Hickman, who described herself as a community gardener from Brooklyn. "I don't think that has clicked."
Hard feelings or not, the city host committee is going ahead with its recruiting efforts. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called last week on a predecessor, Edward I. Koch, to help recruit volunteers. But officials said they never considered the prospect that the effort might be co-opted by protesters.
"Those sort of things would harm the city," Mr. Sheekey said. "Those wouldn't be anti-R.N.C. protests. Those would be people protesting New York City."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

On the Friday before his MEET THE PRESS appearance, Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry flew his Washington, DC hairdresser to Pittsburgh for a touch-up, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
Cristophe stylist Isabelle Goetz, who handles Kerry's hair issues, made the trek to Pittsburgh, campaign sources reveal.
"Her entire schedule had to be rearranged," a top source explains.
A Kerry campaign spokesman refuses to clarify if Goetz flew by private jet on April 16 or on the official Kerry For President campaign plane.
The total expense for the hair touch-up is estimated to be more than $1000, insiders tell DRUDGE.
One source suggests the hairdresser was flown to Pittburgh on Teresa Heinz Kerry's 'Flying Squirrel', a Gulfstream V private jet.
[The 'Flying Squirrel' is worth about $35 million. A deluxe model; plasma TV, two bathrooms, fancy mahogany and burlwood paneling, gold-plated fixtures.]
"Senator Kerry thinks Isabelle does a superb job," a campaign source said.
Goetz grew up in a small town in eastern France. She also does Hillary Clinton's hair.

Filed By Matt Drudge

Posted by maximpost at 1:08 AM EDT

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