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Evgeny Primakov, president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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Mar. 01, 2006
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Evgeny Primakov Named in International Scandal
Former U.S. undersecretary of defense Gen. John Shaw was the main speaker at the Intelligence Summit conference held in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC, last week. Current and former employees of 16 U.S. intelligence organizations gathered at that conference. Shaw told those assembled that the Americans were unable to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because Russian intelligence agents had removed them shortly before the U.S. invasion began. Shaw based his conclusions on his own investigation in Baghdad after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein and on information provided by the British MI6 intelligence service, a high-placed Ukrainian source close to the late OSCE representative in Ukraine David Nicholas, former British ambassador to Ukraine Julian Walker (also formerly ambassador to Qatar and Iraq) and former Ukrainian military attach in Washington Igor Smeshko.
According to Shaw, Operation Emergency Exit had been ready since Soviet times. In December 2002, former Russian prime minister and then Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Evgeny Primakov flew to Baghdad with former deputy defense minister Vladislav Achalov and former air defense chief of staff Igor Maltsev. Primakov remained in Baghdad until the American invasion in March 2003 and the generals who accompanied him remained even after the invasion began. While they were there, several convoys of trucks were dispatched to Syria. According to Shaw, they carried weapons, and the ingredients and equipment for their manufacture. Two Russian ships departed from the Iraqi port of Umm-Qasr in March 2003 as well and dumped weapons of mass destruction into the Indian Ocean.

Shaw was not the first to expose Operation Emergency Exit. In August 2003, as the search for weapons was still underway in Iraq, Ion Michai Pacepa, former deputy head of Romanian foreign intelligence who fled to the United States in 1978, accused Russia of removing the weapons in an article in The Washington Times. Pacepa claimed to have taken part in a similar operation in Libya and characterized it as a standard procedure for countries of the former Soviet bloc. Pacepa wrote that the discussed the operation for Iraq with Nicolae Ceausescu, Yury Andropov and Primakov, who was involved in the program to arm Iraq with weapons of mass destruction in the 1970s. The 78-year-old Pacepa's article was not taken seriously at the time because he was the author of rather fanciful memoirs and had long ago been thoroughly debriefed by U.S. intelligence. His account matches closely with Shaw's, however.

Shaw said that the U.S. administration was well informed of all Russian secret operations in Iraq at the time, including Primakov's. However, not only was no action taken to prevent the operation, but Shaw was told that the information was Israeli disinformation. Furthermore, the CIA attempted to discredit his Ukrainian and British sources.

Richard Pearl, former undersecretary of defense and now chairman of the Pentagon's defense policy board, told Kommersant guardedly that Shaw's information deserves interest, but noted that there is no independent confirmation of it. A Soviet defector who wished to remain unnamed told Kommersant that he had never heard of that type of operation. Primakov told Kommersant that all of Shaw's sensational revelations are complete nonsense. To begin with, I was never in Iraq in 2002. I went there three weeks before the American invasion to deliver an oral message to Saddam from President Putin urging him to resign. Talk that the USSR equipped anyone with nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction is also nonsense. The USSR didn't even give China anything at the height of the crisis. It's a joke to think that we gave anybody there anything. Sometimes it is even absurd. They even accused me of selling Saddam nuclear weapons for $800,000 when I was foreign minister! First of all, the head of the foreign ministry can't sell those types of things. Second, the sum is altogether unlikely. The U.S. has gotten stuck there and now it can't justify what it has done in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and now they are looking for way to explain that they had been there.

Many in Washington believe that Shaw's departure from the Pentagon was related to corruption charges. Besides searching for the Russian link in Iraq, Shaw undertook personally to verify contracts to restore telecommunications in Iraq. The American pres claimed that he did so at the request of a firm he had ties to that had lost the competition for those contracts. One of the members of the board of directors of the firm in question was Julian Walker.

All the Article in Russian as of Feb. 28, 2006

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