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Forces Prepares for Strike Against Iraq

News from:
Thursday, November12,1998,

Gloom Broods Over US Goals in Iraq

Forces Prepares for Strike Against Iraq

WASHINGTON (AROL) -- The clear goal that appears behind the United 
States possible air strikes against Iraq is raining destruction on 
facilities and forces linked to Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction.

But beyond that, the US strategy for the use of military force against 
Iraq is murky . And administration officials from the president on down 
have been reluctant to articulate broader US objectives if air strikes 
are called.

More ambitious goals, like toppling the regime of Iraqi President Saddam 
Hussein, are viewed as asking more of air power than it can deliver, 
Pentagon officials say.

Even eliminating Iraq's ability to build an arsenal of chemical, 
biological and nuclear weapons is considered an impossible task, since 
the knowledge needed to make them can be hidden in a computer disk or 
locked in the mind of an Iraqi scientist.

"Only two outcomes are acceptable," said Anthony Cordesman, an expert on 
the region. "To get the monitoring function back by inspection, and if 
not, to do so much damage to his apparatus of control and military 
forces that he ends up with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, 
perhaps billions that he can't replace."

Asked Tuesday what air strikes could accomplish, US Defense Secretary 
William Cohen would say only that "we certainly would consider the 
possibility of degrading his capability of manufacturing these weapons 
of mass destruction or delivering them and posing a threat to the 

Air strikes would wreak "significant" damage to Baghdad's capabilities 
in those areas, he said.

That would mean targeting not only suspect facilities but also Iraq's 
military, particularly the elite special Republican Guard units and 
Interior Ministry units that both protect Saddam Hussein and provide 
security for his weapons programs, a Pentagon official said.

Cohen has cast the latest confrontation with Iraq as a test of US and UN 
credibility that "cannot go on forever".

Without inspections by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), Pentagon 
officials warn they may have little alternative but to use force.

So far, though, it remains unclear whether Washington would use air 
strikes to try to compel Iraq to allow UN inspections to resume or 
whether it will shift to a strategy of containing Iraq from the outside 
with a combination of force and sanctions.

"They say they will take action when they see Iraq reconstitute 
proscribed weapons. But how are they going to know that," said Laurie 
Mylorie, an Iraq expert at the Foreign Policy Institute in Philadelphia.

The CIA estimates that absent UN arms inspections Iraq could begin full 
scale production of nerve gas within months and production of biological 
weapons "virtually overnight."

It also suspects Iraq has a covert supply of Scud-type missiles, and 
could be conducting covert nuclear research and development that would 
be difficult to detect.

"Air strikes could disrupt that, but it doesn't solve the long-term 
problem, unless it's done with the specific intention of getting UNSCOM 
back in," Mylorie said.

12.11.98 R..A.

(News agency dispatches)

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