France, Germany and Belgium an secret Oil-Deal?
France's TotalFinaElf was reported to have signed a deal with Iraq on oil development rights for Majnun, located 30 miles north of Basra on the Iranian border. Majnun oil field is estimated to have oil reserves between 12 to 20 billion barrels. Production as at May 2002 was at 50,000 barrels a day, with output possibly reaching 100,000 barrels a day today. Majnun is considered as Iraq's largest oilfields.
In July 2001, Iraq was also angered by France's perceived support for the US "smart sanctions" plan and Iraq subsequently announced that it would no longer give French companies priority in awarding oil contracts, and would reconsider existing contracts as well.
Iraq also announced that it was inclined to favour Russia, which has been supporting Iraq at the UN Security Council, on awarding rights to Majnun and another large southern oil field, Nahr Umar. This oilfield is expected to have an output of around 440,000 barrels a day but may reach 500,000 barrels a day with more extensive development.
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The Inspections Dodge
Why are France and Germany pro-Saddam? Follow the money.
BY KHIDHIR HAMZA
Tuesday, February 11, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST My 20 years of work in Iraq's nuclear-weapons program and military industry were partly a training course in methods of deception and camouflage to keep the program secret. Given what I know about Saddam Hussein's commitment to developing and using weapons of mass destruction, the following two points are abundantly clear to me: First, the U.N. weapons inspectors will not find anything Saddam does not want them to find. Second, France, Germany, and to a degree, Russia, are opposed to U.S. military action in Iraq mainly because they maintain lucrative trade deals with Baghdad, many of which are arms-related. Since the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 we have witnessed a tiny team of inspectors with a supposedly stronger mandate begging Iraq to disclose its weapons stockpiles and commence disarmament. The question that nags me is: How can a team of 200 inspectors "disarm" Iraq when 6,000 inspectors could not do so in the previous seven years of inspection? Put simply, surprise inspections no longer work. With the Iraqis' current level of mobility and intelligence the whole point of inspecting sites is moot. This was made perfectly clear by Colin Powell in his presentation before the U.N. last week. But the inspectors, mindless of these changes, are still visiting old sites and interviewing marginal scientists. I can assure you, the core of Iraq's nuclear-weapons program has not even been touched. Yesterday's news that Iraq will "accept" U-2 surveillance flights is another sign that Saddam has confidence in his ability to hide what he's got.Meanwhile, the time U.N. inspectors could have used gathering intelligence by interviewing scientists outside Iraq is running out. The problem is that there is nothing Saddam can declare that will provide any level of assurance of disarmament. If he delivers the 8,500 liters of anthrax that he now admits to having, he will still not be in compliance because the growth media he imported to grow it can produce 25,000 liters. Iraq must account for the growth media and its products; it is doing neither. Iraq's attempt to import aluminum tubes of higher tensile strength than is needed in conventional weapons has been brushed aside by the IAEA's Mohammed El-Baradei. He claims there is no proof that these tubes were intended for modification and use in centrifuges to make enriched uranium. Yet he fails to report that Iraq has the machining equipment to thin these tubes down to the required thickness (less than one millimeter) for an efficient centrifuge rotor. What's more, they don't find it suspect that Iraq did not deliver all the computer controlled machining equipment that it imported from the British-based, Iraqi-owned Matrix-Churchill that manufacture these units. Mr. Blix also discounted the discovery of a number of "empty" chemical-weapons warheads. What he failed to mention is that empty is the only way to store these weapon parts. The warheads in question were not designed to store chemicals for long periods. They have a much higher possibility of leakage and corrosion than conventional warheads. Separate storage for the poisons is a standard practice in Iraq, since the Special Security Organization that guards Saddam also controls the storage and inventory of these chemicals.
What has become obvious is that the U.N. inspection process was designed to delay any possible U.S. military action to disarm Iraq. Germany, France, and Russia, states we called "friendly" when I was in Baghdad, are also engaged in a strategy of delay and obstruction. In the two decades before the Gulf War, I played a role in Iraq's efforts to acquire major technologies from friendly states. In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the IAEA told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million. The French-controlled Habbania Resort project cost Baghdad a whopping $750 million, and with the same huge profit margin. With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam's regime? Germany was the hub of Iraq's military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attaché, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Mr. Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets, but because the technology was considered "dual use" he was fined only $32,000 and given five years probation. Meanwhile, other German firms have provided Iraq with the technology it needs to make missile parts. Mr. Blix's recent finding that Iraq is trying to enlarge the diameter of its missiles to a size capable of delivering nuclear weapons would not be feasible without this technology transfer.Russia has long been a major supplier of conventional armaments to Iraq--yet again at exorbitant prices. Even the Kalashnikov rifles used by the Iraqi forces are sold to Iraq at several times the price of comparable guns sold by other suppliers.
Saddam's policy of squandering Iraq's resources by paying outrageous prices to friendly states seems to be paying off. The irresponsibility and lack of morality these states are displaying in trying to keep the world's worst butcher in power is perhaps indicative of a new world order. It is a world of winks and nods to emerging rogue states--for a price. It remains for the U.S. and its allies to institute an opposing order in which no price is high enough for dictators like Saddam to thrive. Mr. Hamza, a former director of Iraq's nuclear-weapons program, is the co-author of "Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda" (Scribner, 2000).
The occupied territories...
France's, that is
BY MICHAEL FREUND
French President Jacques Chirac has, at last, outdone his predecessors. Not since June 1940, when Marshal Henri Petain signed an armistice agreement with Hitler's Germany shamelessly agreeing to collaborate with the Nazis, has a French leader demonstrated such moral cowardice and political opportunism.
Driven perhaps by faded memories of his country's once-glorious past, the French president has sought to make a name for himself by standing in the way of America's just, and necessary, war against Iraq.
But rather than burnishing France's image, Chirac has only succeeded in doing the opposite, reminding the world that while his nation may once have been a great power, it will never again bear that title.
For, rather than standing by the US as it stands up to Saddam Hussein, France has chosen to sit back and engage in diplomatic obstructionism, feigning concern over the morality and wisdom of such a move. Consequently, its primary objective has been to sow doubt about the righteousness of America's cause, in effect serving as Saddam Hussein's chief defender in the
But for anyone who has followed Chirac's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, this latest bout of French hypocrisy hardly comes as much of a surprise.
Chirac, after all, has long been one of Yasser Arafat's most ardent cheerleaders, frequently coming to the PLO leader's defense despite the ongoing wave of terror he has been directing against Israel.
In September 2002, after Israeli troops surrounded Arafat's compound in Ramallah, Chirac was among the first European heads of state to speak with him by telephone, offering support to the Palestinian leader. Chirac's office then issued a statement blasting Israel for having the nerve to defend itself, saying that the French president was "appalled" at the way Arafat was being treated.
Similarly, in December 2001, after Palestinian suicide bombings in Haifa and Jerusalem killed 26 Israelis and wounded 220 others, leading Israel to launch military strikes in Gaza, the bulk of Chirac's wrath was directed not against the perpetrators of terror but against its victims.
Incredibly, he accused Israel of "destroying what is left of the Palestinian Authority and the Oslo Accords," as though the wanton murder of innocent Jews was somehow not deserving of a response.
In that sense, then, one can at least say that Chirac is an equal-opportunity appeaser. He doesn't quite care if the casualties of terror are Israeli or American. Either way, you can be certain he will always come out on the side of the despots.
But if there is one issue where French hypocrisy been even more glaring, it is that of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. France has long been among the more vocal European supporters of rewarding Palestinian terror with national sovereignty, frequently hectoring Israel to yield control over what Paris refers to as the "occupied territories."
YET, ODDLY enough, when it comes to France's own "occupied territories," Chirac and his government are decidedly unwilling to make concessions.
What "French-occupied territories?" you might be asking. Well, how about Corsica, where separatist violence has been going on for three decades? Just last month, a group seeking Corsican independence from France detonated two bombs on the Mediterranean island.
While Chirac's government has agreed to grant the Corsicans some limited elements of autonomy, France has stubbornly refused to yield control over the territory.
Then there are the Basques, who long to establish their own state in the area of the Pyrenees, covering parts of northeastern Spain and southwestern France. But rather than greet the Basque cause with cries of Liberte,
Egalite, Fraternite, Paris has instead sought to repress it, intensifying cooperation with Spanish police in an effort to thwart Basque aims of achieving independence.
And on at least three other continents, far away from mainland Europe, France is involved in territorial disputes thanks to its own intractability.
Tromelin Island, located in the Indian Ocean off southern Africa, is an uninhabited sea-turtle sanctuary under French control; but both Madagascar and Mauritius assert it belongs to them. Paris, however, remains unmoved by their claims.
In South America, the state of French Guiana, which lies north of Brazil, is an overseas department of France. The neighboring country of Suriname lays claim to a strip of land in the western portion of the French territory but
there is no indication that France will agree to hand it over any time soon.
Even in cold and forbidding Antarctica, France has demonstrated an insatiable desire for territory.
Though they signed the December 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which bars nations from making claims to the region, the French insist that a 500,000 sq. km. area known as "Adelie Land" belongs to them.
There are several other examples of French territorial obstinacy, all of which raise the obvious question: If France is so concerned about the morality of Israel's "occupation," why doesn't it step forward and practice
what it preaches?
Why does it continue to press its claims to far-off sea-turtle sanctuaries and frozen Antarctic wastelands rather than relinquish them forthwith?
The answer, it appears, lies in a remark made by author Mark Twain over a century ago. "France," he noted, "has neither winter nor summer, nor morals.
Apart from these drawbacks, it is a fine country."
Thanks to Chirac's pro-Iraqi and pro-Palestinian stance, even that observation, once made in jest, now seems right on target.
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.