Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Saddam 'Is Hiding His Weapons in the Homes of Loyalists'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Saddam 'Is Hiding His Weapons in the Homes of Loyalists'

Article excerpt

Byline: JEREMY CAMPBELL;CHARLES REISS

SADDAM HUSSEIN was today accused of a massive and sophisticated operation to conceal an armoury of mass destruction.

US officials revealed secret intelligence information to show that key weapons components are being hidden in the homes of Iraqis loyal to the regime. Other components, it is claimed, are being ferried around the country in trucks to keep one jump ahead of the United Nations weapons inspection teams.

The charges came as the move to war quickened on every front.

. In Paris, the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said that Iraq must do more to show that it has done away with its biological and chemical weapons, warning: "There is not yet confidence, there is not yet certainty."

. In Iraq, in a televised speech to mark the 12th anniversary of the Gulf War, Saddam warned that any invaders would "commit suicide on the walls of Baghdad".

. Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, part of a massive battle group in the Gulf, America's top naval commander, Admiral Vern Clark, told cheering sailors: "Be ready to go write some history."

Today's charges from Washington homed in on Saddam's personal heartland, the city of Tikrit, 90 miles from Baghdad. One US official said the Iraqi leader had buried "critical materials" there, kept safe by his supporters.

America is urging the UN inspection team to start an aggressive house-to-house search in the city.

Tikrit was a confrontation point last time, when Iraq refused to allow UN inspectors to visit Saddam's palace there, prompting the inspectors to leave the country in 1998. The city is defended by 4,000 troops, armoured vehicles and antiaircraft artillery and is expected by some to be a final refuge for Saddam in the event of an invasion.

Downing Street said today that they expected the UN search to intensify, with more than 100 inspectors now in place, backed by intelligence from the US and Britain and using helicopters for the first time.

The effort to wheel the Security Council behind a new resolution to authorise military action if Iraq fails to comply will intensify next week. …

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