12-26-2002, 09:28 PM
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<h2><font color=red>Iraqi Army Prepares for War</font></h2>
The Iraqi army said Thursday it has been holding exercises in central Iraq aimed at countering an American attack, another sign that Saddam Hussein's government may believe war is inevitable.
The soldiers showed they were ready "to foil the schemes of America and its evil allies and to respond to the aggressors and bury their low schemes," Fadel Mahmoud Ghareib, in charge of the ruling Baath party's Babil province branch, was quoted as saying in the army's Al-Qadissiya newspaper.
The newspaper said Baath party militias had been practicing fighting in rural and populated areas and rehearsing techniques of "distracting the enemy in different directions by using light and medium weapons."
The newspaper did not say when the games were held, whether they were still underway or how many troops participated.
Meanwhile, U.N. inspectors toured labs and spoke with experts at an Iraq university Thursday, and Baghdad promised to produce within a few days a list of scientists for inspectors to interview in their hunt for Iraqi weapons programs.
Hossam Mohammed Amin, Iraq's top liaison with the inspectors, told reporters the list of scientists who have worked on nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs would be handed over within "two or three days."
Under the toughened U.N. inspections that resumed Nov. 27, inspectors can speak privately with scientists and workers associated with Iraq's weapons -- and even take them abroad for interviews.
U.S. officials have said they hope the privacy would prompt scientists to reveal hidden weapons programs.
Amin said inspectors for the first time asked for a private interview when they met Wednesday at Baghdad's University of Technology with Sabah Abdel-Nour who had worked in a nuclear program Iraq says is now closed down.
Abdel-Nour, however, refused to be interviewed without the presence of an Iraqi official.
Amin said that it is up to the individual scientists to consent or not to an interview with the inspectors.
Thursday, the inspectors returned to the University of Technology and toured the chemistry, engineering and computer departments and several labs, checking equipment tagged during U.N. inspections years ago, university head Mazen Mohammed Ali told reporters.
In the first round of inspections in the 1990s, after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, the United Nations destroyed tons of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
Ali said the inspectors spoke with heads of departments and with university staff Thursday, asking how the institute was organized and what research it undertook for the government.
Saddam added Iraqis should be shielded from foreign ideas that might shake their resolve.
The statement followed a decision to maintain a ban on satellite television dishes in Iraq.
Odai Saddam Hussein's Babil newspaper had reappeared only last Saturday after being banned for a month for printing an objectionable story.
Full Article <font color="red"><u>Here</u></font>