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Pentagon hints at new strikes on Iraq Official: Friday’s bombing failed to eliminate threat to U.S. pilots MSNBC NEWS SERVICES WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — The Pentagon said Tuesday that more air strikes against Iraq are possible after preliminary assessments showed Friday’s bombings failed to do the job, NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reported. OFFICIALS AT THE Pentagon said that last week’s attack took out only one-third of the radar sites and less than half of the command-and-control structures at five locations in Iraq. The Pentagon initially said there was no need for additional strikes. But a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday, “We wish he wouldn’t have said that.” Iraq resumed firing on allied air patrols in the southern “no-fly” zone over the weekend, hardly hesitating after the joint U.S.-British air strikes. Britain and the United States, facing widespread criticism of their hawkish Iraq policy, were scheduled to discuss ideas for easing sanctions on Baghdad, imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. A senior British diplomat will meet with U.S. officials in Washington Thursday to explore focusing largely on banning arms imports and removing controls on civilian goods, British sources said. “We will see if there is room to sharpen the sanctions around weapons of mass destruction,” a British official said. President Saddam Hussein blames existing sanctions for a humanitarian disaster, which he says has killed more than one million people. Britain and the United States blame Saddam’s policies for the situation. The impact of sanctions already has been eased in the last four years by an “oil-for-food” arrangement that allows Iraq to sell oil and buy food and medicines with the proceeds. Washington and London insist sanctions cannot be lifted until Iraq fully complies with the provisions of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire and allows U.N. weapons inspectors to oversee elimination of its weapons of mass destruction. But Iraq, which refused to let the inspectors back in after a wave of U.S.-British air strikes in December 1998, argues it already has met its obligations and has rallied international support for a complete end to sanctions. SADDAM’S DEFIANCE On Tuesday, the Pentagon said Iraq fired surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery at allied pilots on Saturday and Sunday. The allied planes were not hit and did not fire back, said spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dave LaPan. Although Iraq does not recognize the legitimacy of “no-fly” zones — north of the 36th parallel and south of the 33rd parallel — it has not contested U.S. and British air patrols as frequently in the north. According to U.S. European Command, which manages air patrols over northern Iraq, Iraqi air defenses in that area have fired on allied planes only twice this year, most recently on Feb. 12. Friday’s U.S.-British attacks against five air defense sites in the south were timed to avoid killing or injuring Chinese civilian and military workers who were helping install underground fiber-optic cables to significantly improve the effectiveness of Iraq’s air defenses, a senior defense official said Monday. “On a Friday you have the lowest number of people present — both Iraqis and Chinese,” the senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The goal wasn’t to kill people, the goal was to bust up stuff.” WashPost: U.S. sends Iraq a message The official said some portion of the fiber-optic network already was operating at the time of the bombing. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the director of operations for the Joint Staff, said Friday that the targets struck by American and British planes were long-range surveillance radar and other sites that provide the command-and-control links to Iraqi surface-to-air missile batteries. He said these facilities had helped Iraq coordinate its defenses and had resulted in numerous near misses against allied air patrols in recent weeks. CHINESE HELP FOR IRAQ In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said he had no knowledge of Chinese military and civilian experts supposedly helping Iraq’s military install underground fiber-optic cables. The sensitivity of potential Chinese casualties is linked to the May 1999 U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia — an attack that the United States said was a mistake and which the Chinese government insisted was a deliberate assault. That bombing killed three Chinese and injured more than a dozen. It poisoned U.S.-China relations for months. The Wall Street Journal reported in Tuesday’s editions that China’s assistance to Iraq in establishing fiber-optic links to its air defense network is a clear violation of U.N. sanctions against Iraq. U.N. sanctions forbid contracts that would help rebuild Iraq’s military. U.N. officials, who told the Journal they were unaware of the Chinese assistance, insisted there was no way -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk