Defections Spur Saddam to Open Germ Warfare File

Article excerpt

Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has abandoned its confrontational stance toward the United Nations following the defection of several key officials to Jordan, the top U.N. weapons inspector said Monday.

The defectors, in interviews with The Associated Press, predicted a popular uprising was imminent in Iraq and said Saddam had been planning to invade Kuwait and Saudi Arabia this month. They said he backed down only because of the defections.

Since the defections, the Iraqis have turned over documents detailing their secret biological weapons program.

Rolf Ekeus, who heads the team of U.N. weapons inspectors assigned to Iraq, said he was surprised by the size of the germ warfare program and sophisticated delivery system disclosed in the documents handed over in Baghdad last week.

"We are talking about a very dangerous capability which had been assembled and which had been concealed," Ekeus said in an interview broadcast Monday on Cable News Network.

He did not say when the weapons were developed or whether they were still in existence. Experts were still sifting through the documents, he said.

Ekeus plans to meet in Jordan with the top Iraqi defector, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, who headed Iraq's secret weapons programs. But there was no word on when the meeting would occur.

Al-Majid, one of Saddam's sons-in-law, arrived in Jordan Aug. 8 with two other top Iraqi officials following a reported power struggle in the ruling clan. King Hussein granted them asylum.

Despite their history of close involvement in Saddam's regime, the defectors have sought to portray themselves as the new vanguard of Iraqi opposition. …