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Moscow Continues Cold War Era Support of Saddam Regime -- No surprise
August 15, 2002

International News Analysis Today Special Report
By Toby Westerman
© 2002 International News Analysis Today

Moscow is continuing its policy - extending back to the era of the Soviet Union -- of firm support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, while characterizing the U.S. as "searching for a pretext" to attack Iraq, according to official Russian sources.

American claims that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction "have not been substantiated," and are "baseless," Moscow declared.

In its latest denunciation of U.S. policy toward Baghdad, Moscow declared that "there is an impression that the Americans are…searching for a pretext to unleash a war against Iraq." Referring to the question of the presence of U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, Moscow asserted that "once the U.N. inspectors' problem in Iraq has disappeared, another one will be found, without doubt."

The statements were carried by the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.

In its most recent broadcast, Moscow belittled Washington's concern that Iraq is developing atomic and biological weapons, as well as the means to deliver them, chiding the U.S. over the "so-called Iraqi problem."

In an earlier broadcast, the Voice of Russia declared that U.S. allegations of Iraqi development of mass destruction "have not been substantiated with any reliable evidence."

Moscow has also broadly condemned U.S. anti-terror policies following the attacks of September 11 as "oriented toward world supremacy," and "designed to force American will on other countries."

The Bush administration has adopted a policy of actively pursuing terrorists, and even staging preemptive strikes against terrorist operations to forestall a possible devastating attack.

Moscow stated its demand for a "political solution" regarding Iraq, and cited U.S. allies' strong opposition to any U.S. attack against the Saddam Hussein regime.

Despite the reluctance to support an attack against Iraq, there is a palpable sense of apprehension in the international community that Iraq does pose a threat, and that international inspectors are needed to asses Iraqi arms facilities.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has informed Baghdad that weapons inspectors must be allowed to return, while U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has demanded specific details from the Hussein regime as to how the inspectors are to carry out their duties, should they be readmitted.

Baghdad has lashed out against international concern over the existence of Iraqi atomic and biological weapons development projects.

Iraq's Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, denounced U.S. president George Bush as lying about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and declared that there is "no need" for U.N. weapons inspectors to return to Iraq, according to an Associated Press report.

While Baghdad remains defiant toward both the United States and the United Nations, Moscow remains firmly committed to Saddam Hussein's regime. Despite reports appearing both before and after September 11 that Baghdad had close relations with terrorist organizations, Moscow pledged shortly after September 11 to "develop and deepen" ties with Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is reported to have even received a terrorist organization as a birthday present from his son, Uday. In April 2000, Uday presented his father with the "al-Qari'a (Day of Judgement) organization, which is reputedly skilled in sabotage, urban warfare, hijacking, and kidnapping, according to a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report based upon Kurdish news sources.

U.S. officials have questioned the actual connection between readmitting U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, and insuring an end to Iraqi atomic and biological research and development programs. U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell has recently declared that "inspection is not the issue, disarmament is," according to the Associated Press.

A former director of Saddam Hussein's atomic weapons program, Khidhir Hamza, has repeatedly stated that the presence of weapons inspectors would not guarantee Iraqi disarmament.

Hamza, who fled Iraq in 1994, stated that the Saddam Hussein regime has hidden its atomic and biological weapons programs in separate units throughout Iraq, making detection extremely difficult for non-Iraqi inspectors.

Hamza estimates that, barring outside interference, Saddam will have acquired three atomic weapons by 2005.

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