Top Iraqi scientist turns himself to US forces; Saudi Arabia: Sanctions should continue
A top Iraqi scientist involved in the country's development of a sophisticated nerve agent has turned himself in to American authorities, a U.S. official said Friday, according to AP.
Emad Husayn Abdullah al-Ani was believed to be deeply involved in Iraq's chemical weapons program. U.S. officials also have accused al-Ani of involvement with an alleged chemical weapons plant in Sudan with links to al-Qaeda.
Al-Ani was involved in Iraq's development of the nerve agent VX. He once headed the research and development program at Iraq's Muthanna State Establishment, a key chemical weapons laboratory, and later headed Iraq's Fallujah 2 chemical weapons plant.
In 1998, U.S. officials said al-Ani had links with executives of the Shifa Pharmaceuticals plant in Khartoum, Sudan. Then-President Clinton alleged that the plant was making a key precursor chemical used in manufacturing VX, a claim that was never substantiated. The officials said the executives who had contact with al-Ani also had ties to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
At the time, Iraq's government denied al-Ani was working with Sudanese authorities and said he had never visited Sudan.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq should end only when it has a legitimate government.
"Now Iraq is under an occupying power and any request for lifting sanctions must come when there is a legitimate government which represents the people," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters after a meeting on Iraq by eight Middle East nations, including Iraq's six neighbors.
The United States wants a quick end to the U.N. sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, to allow oil sales to help fund reconstruction.
A joint statement after the Riyadh meeting said U.S.-led forces in Iraq had no right to exploit its oil and that the U.S. had to reestablish security and withdraw as soon as possible, allowing Iraqis to form their own government.
"If what they (the occupying forces) intend is the exploitation of Iraqi oil, it will not have any legitimate basis," Faisal said after the talks ended.
"(The ministers) affirmed that the Iraqi people should administer and govern their country by themselves, and any exploitation of their natural resources should be in conformity with the will of the legitimate Iraqi government and its people," Faisal said, reading from the joint statement.
Asked if the eight countries planned to play a role in shaping a new Iraq, Faisal said: "We will not permit ourselves to interfere in its (Iraq's) internal affairs." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)