Iraq has agents in place on the UN inspections team and has learned in advance which facilities
the inspectors planned to visit, senior U.S. officials said.
The officials said an Iraqi security organization used bribery and blackmail to turn some of the inspectors and their
superiors in New York into Iraqi agents and learn in advance which suspected
weapons of mass destruction facilities would be visited.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz referred to Iraq's agents and to its strategic concealment operations in a speech Thursday to the Council on Foreign Relations.
"In the 1990s, there were reports that Iraqi intelligence recruited U.N. inspectors as informants, and that Iraqi scientists were fearful about being interviewed," Wolfowitz said. "Recent reports that Iraq continues these kinds of efforts are a clear sign that it is not serious about disarmament."
Much of the information on Iraq's infiltration of UN inspectors as well
as Baghdad's concealment and deception policy comes from foreign
intelligence services, the officials said. They said Western and Middle East
agencies are providing valuable intelligence information on Iraqi methods, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The effort of concealment is led by none other than Saddam's own son,
Qusay, who uses a Special Security Organization under his control for that
purpose," Wolfowitz said.
In his speech, Wolfowitz referred to "anti-inspectors" who he said outnumber the inspections team and help run a "shell game."
"Other security organizations contribute to these anti-inspection activities, including the
National Monitoring Directorate, whose ostensible purpose is to facilitate
inspections," Wolfowitz said
He said Iraq has succeeded in intimidating witnesses questioned
by the inspectors and employs thousands of security officers to conceal WMD
documents and materials from inspectors.
"Indeed, the anti-inspectors vastly outnumber the couple of hundred of
UN personnel on the ground in Iraq," Wolfowitz said. "We have reports and
other evidence of prohibited material and documents being relocated to
agricultural areas and private homes or hidden beneath mosques and
hospitals. Furthermore, according to these reports, the material is moved
constantly, making it difficult to trace or find without absolutely fresh
intelligence. It is a shell game played on a grand scale with deadly serious
Wolfowitz referred to "current intelligence that comes not only from American intelligence,
but many of our allies. Intelligence that comes not only
from sophisticated overhead satellites and our
ability to intercept communications, but from brave people who told us the
truth at the risk of their lives. We have that; it is very convincing. At
some point we can probably talk about more of it."
The Bush administration has been bracing for the prospect that a UN
inspection report scheduled to be relayed to the Security Council on Monday
would not contain any evidence of significant Iraqi WMD. UN inspections
chief Hans Blix has suggested that his team would need several more months
to continue their work in Iraq.
Officials said Iraq has targeted UN computer systems in offices
operating throughout Iraq. They said Iraqi security agents seek to steal
inspections methods, criteria, and findings of the UN personnel. At least
one company, Babylon Software Company, was established in the 1990s to break
into foreign computers and download sensitive data.