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next airstrikes

Dear folks,

Please read carefully - the next strikes may be only a heartbeat away.

Best wishes,

voices uk


By John Diamond
Washington Bureau
March 8, 2001
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is broadening the rules of engagement
against Iraq to include air raids against weapons production facilities or,
possibly, troop movements, Secretary of State Colin Powell told lawmakers

Outlining an evolving policy toward the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein,
Powell told the House International Relations Committee that it would not be
only in cases of provocation that U.S. forces could strike at Iraqi targets.
In the past, strikes were in response to Iraqi air defenses' challenges of
U.S. or British planes patrolling no-fly zones over Iraq.

The new rules would allow attacks on targets that could be involved in
activities banned under United Nations resolutions stemming from the 1991
Persian Gulf war, such as production of nuclear, chemical or biological
weapons, or troop movements threatening to Iraq's neighbors.

"If and when we find facilities or other activities going on in Iraq that we
believe are inconsistent with our [UN] obligations, we reserve the right to
take military action against such facilities and will do so," Powell said.

Although the United States has struck at suspected Iraqi weapons sites in
the past, those attacks stemmed from specific provocations.

In 1998, then President Bill Clinton ordered strikes on Iraqi military
targets, including suspected biological weapons and missile production
facilities, after Iraq expelled UN weapons inspectors.

In 1993, the United States sent cruise missiles into Iraq's intelligence
service headquarters after U.S. intelligence learned Iraq was plotting the
assassination of former President George Bush, the man who led the coalition
in the gulf war.

During the past three years, there have been repeated small-scale strikes on
Iraqi air defense assets in northern and southern Iraq in response to Iraqi
attempts to shoot down the patrolling war planes. Then, last month,
President Bush ordered strikes on Iraqi air defense targets, including
several close to Baghdad.

Powell was staking out new ground, indicating that U.S. planes would strike
at Iraq virtually anywhere and aim at virtually any type of target linked to
Hussein's regime and his military machine.

"The plain meaning of those words is that they're basically going to
substitute air strikes for weapons inspections," said John Pike, director of, an online national security think tank. Under the Bush
policy, Pike said, "strikes against Iraqi weapons facilities would become as
routine and as much a part of the standing policy as against air
defense--anytime, anywhere."

The administration wants weapons inspectors to return, Powell said, but "we
should not plead with the Iraqi regime to let them in."

Powell also said he had approved additional release of U.S. funds to the
Iraqi National Congress, a group opposed to Hussein and one that the Bush
administration hopes could form the nucleus of a credible opposition to the
Iraqi regime.

Powell also defended his support for a shift in sanctions policy that would
lift some sanctions on Iraq but strengthen the enforcement of others.

Republican lawmakers have raised questions about Powell's views on Iraq
after the secretary, on a trip last month to the Mideast, appeared to soften
the U.S. stance toward UN sanctions.

Initially, Powell spoke of the sanctions shift as new administration policy.
As criticism mounted in Washington, other administration officials,
including Vice President Dick Cheney, made clear that Powell had gone to the
region to listen and help develop a Bush administration position.

In Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the
International Relations Committee, opened the questioning of Powell.

"Regarding Iraq, what is our policy, to contain him or to remove him?" Hyde

"There are several policies, really," Powell replied. He went on to describe
"three baskets." The first is the U.S. support for UN-imposed sanctions and
resolutions passed after the gulf war requiring Iraq to give up its
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons technology. The second is the
enforcement of the no-fly zones, a policy under review by Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld. The third is the U.S. support for Iraqi opposition groups.

Powell defended his position on the Iraqi sanctions, saying that the array
of economic embargoes against Iraq was rapidly losing support in the
international community, from friendly Arab states such as Jordan and Saudi
Arabia, close allies such as France and major powers such as Russia and

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