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In light of the current situation, I thought I'd post this recent exchange in the Glasgow Herald. Spot George Robertson's unsubtle threat in the 3rd paragraph. ------------------------------------------ Glasgow Herald,Thursday, December 10, 1998. Britain was set for nuclear strike at Iraq EXCLUSIVE IAN BRUCE Geopolitics Editor BRITAIN was prepared to use three tactical nuclear warheads on targets in Iraq if Baghdad had launcbed a chemical or biological attack on UK or allied forces massing in the Gulf last month. A warning in the House of Commons from Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that nothing could be ruled out² in response if Saddam Hussein chose to use weapons of mass destruction is understood to have been relayed to Baghdad and may have been instrumental in Iraq¹s eleventh-hour climbdown over UN weapons inspections. Defence Secretary George Robertson confirmed the implied threat yesterday: ³The Foreign Secretary made our position clear in Parliament during the crisis. I don¹t think I need to go beyond what was said then. But there was an SSBN Trident missile boat in Gibraltar last week.² The Vanguard-class submarines usually patrol the North Atlantic. A Vanguard-class missile submarine, believed to be HMS VICTORIOUS, from the Clyde Submarine Base at Faslane was at sea last month and is understood to have been ordered to programme one of its American-made Trident2 D5 missiles for a retaliatory strike on key Iraqi military installations and suspected research sites away from centres of civilian population. The missile was tipped with three two-kiloton ³battlefield² warheads capable of being independently targetted over a wide area. They are designed to split from the ³bus² - the missile body - as the Trident re-enters the atmosphere and are computer-guided towards their separate objectives. Each is theoretically accurate to within 100 metres of the selected point on the ground, but were pre-set to explode 5000 feet above the targets to produce a pressure and blast wave capable of collapsing underground bunkers. Nuclear air-bursts also minimise radioactive fallout downwind of the explosion. The warheads themselves are known in military jargon as ³sub-strategic² and originally meant for localised use on battlefields dur-ing the Cold Wasr They would typically be employed to destroy massed tank attacks or take out headquarters complexes or heavily defended bridges. They are not the city-killers for which the Trident system was originally conceived. Its purpose was to deluge Soviet population centres, military targets and com-mand bunkers and swamp defences with 192-warheads per submarine, each 15 times more powerful than the weapon which wiped out Hiroshima. Britain has three operational Tridents with a fourth due to enter service next year. The end of the Cold War meant that such immense firepower was no longer valid. The UK has since come up with a strategy which fits the new world situation while maintaining a credible deterrent Meanwhile, a 12-strong team of UN inspectors was turned back yesterday when it tried to carry out a no-notice search of one of four major offices of Iraq¹s ruling Baath Party in Baghdad. An Iraqi spokesman claimed later that³a mistake² had been made and that the site was not regarded as sensitive. ------------------------------- >From George Robertson (letters page): IAN Bruce appears to have seriously misinterpreted my remarks in relation to Britain's nuclear deterrent (Britain was set for nuclear strike at Iraq, December 10). Any suggestion that Britain had targeted Trident missiles towards Iraq during the recent Gulf crisis is totally wrong. All Trident missiles have been de-targeted since 1994 and we have no plans to change this policy. As I said in my interview with Ian Bruce, an SSBN was in Gibraltar on November 26. However, that visit was made as part of the new post-Cold War role for our Trident force announced in the Strategic Defence Review. It was not related to events in the Gulf. The SDR announced a reduced operational tempo and wider deployment of Trident submarines, and the possibility of port visits as a means of providing rest and recreation for SSBN crews was raised in the House of Commons Navy debate of November 12. The visit to Gibraltar was simply made as part of that new policy. While I am sure my remarks were not deliberately misinterpreted, I am afraid that on this occasion The Herald has put two and two together and got five. George Robertson, MP, Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, London. IAN BRUCE, Geopolitics Editor, writes:- I am delighted to see that Sir Humphrey is alive and well in Whitehall and still committed to obfuscation in the national interest. However, as beautifully crafted as the missive is, it fails to refute the points made in my report on December 10. I did not state that Britain had targeted "Trident missiles" on Iraq, only that Britain was prepared to launch three tactical warheads if Iraq struck at the allied build-up in the Gulf last month with chemical or biological weapons. It is also disingenuous to state that "all Trident missiles have been detargeted since 1994". The process of punching in new co- ordinates and confirming the submarine's position relative to the target by global positioning satellite takes just a few moments to complete. Mr Robertson's letter does not deny that the UK was prepared to use nuclear firepower, merely that "missiles had been targeted towards Iraq". In the interests of accuracy, I would refer him - as he referred me during the interview - to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's statement at the time that no response, including a nuclear response, could be ruled out if Iraq employed weapons of mass destruction. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html