EDGEWOOD, Md. – A delegation, which included several members of European parliaments, were turned away here Feb. 23 when they attempted to inspect one of the Pentagon’s most notorious chemical and biological weapons (CBW) plants. The facility violates a U.S.-Soviet treaty banning the development or stockpiling of CBW, otherwise known as weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Among the 12 members of the inspection team were British MP Alan Simpson, chair of Labour Against the War, a bloc within the ruling British Labour Party that has sharply opposed Prime Minister Tony Blair backing of George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.

When an Edgewood official ordered the delegation to leave, Simpson said, “Had this inspection taken place in Iraq, and had we been denied access to such a site, President Bush would have declared material breach of (UN Security Council) Resolution 1441 and authorized a war on Iraq. This is the scale of double standard the disarmament movement has to address.”

The confrontation here is part of the surging worldwide anti-war movement that The New York Times recently dubbed the second “superpower in the streets” after it mobilized 11 million or more demonstrators Feb. 15-16 in 600 cities around the world. Organizers are already planning huge follow-up demonstrations in early March as the UN Security Council debates a Bush war resolution.

One of the inspectors, Ed Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project in Austin, Texas, told the World, “All countries that have weapons of mass destruction or research on weapons of mass destruction must open themselves to inspections. It’s hypocritical for the U.S. to demand that other countries open their facilities while denying inspectors the right to inspect facilities in this country. What we support is rigorous UN or multilateral inspections of all countries that produce and store weapons of mass destruction.”

Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation who recently led a “Citizen Weapons Inspection Team” to the gates of the supersecret Livermore nuclear weapons laboratory in California, said, “While U.S. officials try to cast the worst light on the UN inspectors’ generally favorable reports, they have prepared contingency plans to use nuclear weapons in Iraq.” She linked it to Bush’s “increasingly aggressive and unilateral ‘national security’ policy which tears down the wall between nuclear and conventional weapons … the U.S. is actively pursuing ‘more usable’ nuclear weapons for use against seven named countries in blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

She concluded, “Which country poses a greater threat to global security? Why aren’t international weapons inspectors in the U.S.? Who will disarm America?”

Others who joined in the attempted inspection here included Libby Davies, a member of the Canadian Parliament representing Vancouver, B.C., Sen. Francesco Martone and Graziela Mascia, members of the Italian Parliament, and Pernille Rosenkrantz, a member of the Danish Parliament. The delegation was put together by Rooting Out Evil, a Canadian-based coalition opposed to the development, storage, and use of weapons of mass destruction.

The confrontation came just one day before the Bush administration presented a tough new resolution to the UN Security Council accusing Iraq of having “failed to take the final opportunity” to comply with UN resolutions ordering elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration and Blair have unleashed a ferocious campaign to garner the nine Security Council votes needed to win a simple majority on the 15 member Security Council for a second U.S. war resolution, while rushing ahead to build up military forces in the Persian Gulf and Turkey for war on Iraq.

However, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder convened a news conference in Berlin, to express outright opposition to the Bush war drive. France, a permanent member of the Security Council, can veto the Bush war resolution. France and Germany submitted a memorandum backed by China and Russia calling for a larger UN inspection force and four additional months of inspections with reports to the UN every three weeks.

The latest danger in the war of nerves is the discovery of an estimated 120 al-Samoud missiles which arms inspectors charge violate the ninety mile range imposed on Iraqi missiles. Blix gave Saddam Hussein until March 1 to destroy the missiles.

In his White House news briefing, Feb. 24, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer faced a sharp grilling. One reporter asked if the Pentagon plans to use nuclear “bunker busters” in Iraq. “We rule nothing out and nothing in,” Fleischer replied blandly, thus confirming that nuclear weapons are a threat. Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas hammered Fleischer with a series of questions, demanding why Bush is “buying” Turkey’s agreement to use its territory as a base for war when the overwhelming majority of Turks are opposed to war. A majority in the U.S., too, is opposed to war, she said. “Why is the President pushing us into a war that is opposed by 95 percent of the people around the world?” Fleischer glumly acknowledged the surging anti-war sentiment at home and abroad but asserted that Bush will wade deeper into the Big Muddy.

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.

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