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Leaked Report Says War May Be Near in Mideast

From Platt's Oilgram News
Vol. 75, No. 17
Friday, Jan. 24, 1997
Page 1


New York--A secret Dec 10 report by an eight-member Republican "Task Force on Terrorism & Unconventional Warfare" of the U.S. House of Representatives warns the Middle East "may well be on the verge of a major regional war."

The report details an ominous level of unusual military maneuvers, deployments and alliances in recent months by Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and other Arab states, in anticipation of war with Israel.

It also reveals that Iran has purchased "numerous" nuclear weapons from "former Soviet Central Asia" and that Pakistan also has nuclear weapons. Whether they are operational, as the report says Tehran is convinced, the mere threat of their use could offset Israel's own assumed nuclear deterrent and thus create an "umbrella" for conventional war.

The report, titled "Approaching the New Cycle of Arab-Israeli Fighting," was posted Jan. 22 on an internet web site: http://www.aci.net/kalliste/. It reportedly also has been mentioned in recent days on Israeli radio.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for Rep. Jim Saxton of New Jersey, chairman of the task force, confirmed the report is authentic but it is still "secret". Its leak was an apparent shock. "We were still in the process of sharing it with the appropriate agencies," the spokesman said: "We were not ready to release it to the public. I've been instructed not to talk about it."

The report says mounting frustration with the long-deadlocked peace talks, rising Islamic fundamentalism, anti-US sentiment and waning fear of Israel's military might all have contributed to this war mood. The report says this all "makes a dramatic breakout inevitable".

In recent weeks, various Platt's sources have noted curious telltale signs of war-worries in the oil markets. The most obvious has been the sharp runup in crude prices since mid- 1996, from $17/bbl to a high of almost $27. Prices have eased in the past week. But they remain at least $1.50/bbl or more higher than warranted by market fundamentals, according to Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, senior economist with Washington-based Petroleum Finance Co. . . .

Posted here January 25, 1997
Web Page: http://www.aci.net/kalliste/