Iraq ready for bio-war despite U.N.s efforts

JERUSALEM — Iraq President Saddam Hussein is building up secret stockpiles of weapons that will enable him to wage germ warfare on a vast scale, while retaining such delivery systems as Scud missiles — despite the renewed presence of United Nations arms inspectors in Iraq, according to the Iraqi opposition.

To evade the international probe of his unconventional arsenal, Saddam has successfully camouflaged his entire network of military industries as bogus civilian firms, according to the sources.

Ahmad Allawi, an anti-Saddam activist who regularly debriefs Iraqi defectors upon their arrival at his base in Suleiminiya, a city in northern Iraq under U.N. control, contends that Baghdad's clandestine military buildup far outstrips the inspectors' ability to check, verify and stop it. And that spells danger for Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Allawi described the cases in which Iraqi authorities were compelled to blow up illicit weapons as marginal, compared to the pace at which weapons of mass destruction are being produced.

The opposition Iraqi National Congress, which has an office in London, reported these infractions of the post-Gulf War restrictions to the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), headed by Australia's Richard Butler, but to no avail, he said.

Contacted in London where he has been updated by the INC, Allawi said the allies were able to destroy 80 percent of Iraq's military production centers after the war. But he said Saddam immediately repaired them, changed their names and put them back to work.

The Al-Kindi facility in Mosul, for one, has been fully reconstituted and now produces two biological agents capable of causing outbreaks of bubonic plague in animals and humans, said Allawi. He estimated that 50 tubes a day, each containing 5 cubic centimeters, are coming off the plant's assembly line. In addition, it is churning out bacteria and viruses that cause measles, pneumonia and mad cow disease in humans.

Allawi charged that the Iraqi regime has been concealing large quantities of these weapons in the Badoush Dam, near Mosul. He estimated that Iraq has 1,200 facilities making lethal substances, of which only seven were visited by UNSCOM inspectors.

"Thirty percent of these sites were built for the Iraqis by Russian and French firms and the rest were built by Iraq itself," he said.

He credited UNSCOM with having destroyed three million liters of materials destined for chemical warfare. However, he contended that Iraq's El Yarmuk and El Kassir plants produce seven to eight million liters a month.

He cited two major plants that operate under phony names: El Assir, which supposedly makes insulin, and Hejr, which purports to produce agricultural products.

Turning to the reported UNSCOM's destruction of Iraq's Scud missile inventory, Allawi described it as a virtual hoax. He conceded that 140 Scud missiles were destroyed by UNSCOM, but charged that the Iraqis had removed their engines in advance and replaced them with bogus replicas brought from the El Kaaka plant, which is part of the military's vast network of production facilities.