Inspectors anticipate Saddam’s response

LARNACA, Cyprus

The chief U.N. weapons inspector landed in Cyprus yesterday to assemble his team for a return to Baghdad and said the “question of war and peace” awaits an answer from Saddam Hussein.

President Bush has warned that Saddam faces military action if he fails to cooperate fully with the inspectors, who will fly to Iraq today. Saddam faces a three-week deadline to reveal weapons of mass destruction or provide convincing evidence he no longer has any.

Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, overseeing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s search for nuclear arms, flew to Cyprus from Vienna, Austria. They joined about two dozen other members of the advance team assembling here to prepare for a resumption of inspections after a nearly four-year absence.

“The question of war and peace remains first of all in the hands of Iraq, the Security Council and the members of the Security Council,” Blix said.

Blix, who will lead the overall mission, said his team was prepared to meet the challenge of ensuring Iraqi compliance. But he said he hoped Iraq would not try to hide anything. The 74-year-old Swedish diplomat said inspectors would be taking along much more sophisticated equipment than was available when the inspection program was suspended in December 1998.

Iraq possesses chemical weapons knowledge

WASHINGTON

Iraqi scientists know how to make chemical weapons that can penetrate military protective clothing, and Iraq imported up to 25 metric tons last month of a powder that is a crucial ingredient to such “dusty” weapons.

Iraq told the United Nations the powder was destined for a pharmaceutical company that a former weapons inspector says was ordered by President Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War to work on chemical and biological weapons.

The powder, sold under the brand name Aerosil, has particles so small that, when coated with deadly poisons, they can pass through the tiniest gaps in protective suits.

Experts inside and outside the U.S. government say they are not certain Iraq has dusty chemical weapons. Declassified U.S. intelligence documents say Iraq produced a dusty form of the blister agent mustard in the 1980s and used it during its eight-year war with Iran.

If Iraq made and used a powdered form of its deadliest nerve agent, VX, it could kill U.S. troops dressed in full protective gear, according to a 1990 Defense Intelligence Agency assessment. Although the military’s protective suits have been improved since then, experts say dusty weapons could penetrate the new suits.

Journalist discovers Saddam’s e-mail

DURHAM, N.H.

Even Saddam Hussein gets spam.

He also gets e-mail purporting to be from U.S. companies offering business deals, and threats, according to a journalist who figured out a way into an Iraqi government e-mail account and downloaded more than 1,000 messages.

Brian McWilliams, a free-lancer who specializes in Internet security, says he hardly needed high-level hacking skills to snoop through e-mail addressed to Saddam.

While doing research late one October night, the Durham resident clicked on the official Iraqi government website, http://www.uruklink.net/iraq.

The site, which worked last week but was off line yesterday, included links that allow visitors to send e-mail to Saddam and allowed users of the government-controlled site, which is hosted in Dubai, to check their own accounts.

Doctors grant new life to extinct heart

CHICAGO

Doctors testing a new treatment for heart attacks said yesterday they have restored life to seemingly dead heart muscle by seeding it with cells borrowed from patients’ own thigh muscles or bones.

The idea is to find an alternative to transplants for people whose hearts are so damaged that they fail to pump blood forcefully enough. This condition, called heart failure, is a growing health problem that afflicts an estimated 5 million people in the United States alone.

Two years ago, a French doctors described a novel alternative: He put millions of immature skeletal muscle cells into the badly damaged heart of a 72-year-old man. His heart began to pump more powerfully, although it was unclear whether the benefit came from the new cells or from coronary bypass surgery he received at the same time.

Pioneering Israeli diplomat dies at 87

JERUSALEM

Abba Eban, the famously eloquent statesman who helped persuade the world to approve creation of the Jewish state and dominated Israeli diplomacy for decades, died yesterday, hospital officials said. He was 87.

Eban was known for his dovish views about Israel-Arab relations. Yitzhak Herzog, a nephew who served as Israeli Cabinet secretary, said Eban “was a pragmatist who believed in pragmatism on the one hand and the need to talk and talk and talk, and on the other hand, to stand firm on the basic principles of Israeli defense and foreign affairs.”

Born in South Africa on Feb. 2, 1915, Eban grew up in England, attaining honors at Cambridge University, where he honed his oratory as a leader of the Cambridge Union.

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