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Rumsfeld has doubts about Iraq inspections Mon Feb 25, 6:16 AM ET Barbara Slavin and Dave Moniz USA TODAY WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cast doubt Sunday on the ability of United Nations inspectors to find banned Iraqi weapons. He also suggested the U.S. military could overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein despite depleted stocks of satellite-guided smart bombs. ''You can be sure that the United States of America is going to be capable of doing anything that the president asked them to do,'' Rumsfeld said on CBS' Face the Nation. Iraq experts say the Bush administration is laying the diplomatic groundwork for a military confrontation with Iraq in part by setting the bar high for new inspections of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles banned after the Gulf War in 1991. Iraq is said to have accelerated arms development since U.N. inspectors left before U.S. and British airstrikes in 1998. The Bush administration will ''define an inspection regime so intrusive'' that Iraq will have trouble accepting it, says Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Rumsfeld said past inspections had failed and was doubtful more intrusive inspections would work. ''Under the best of circumstances, inspectors have a very, very difficult time, because you're dealing with a regime that . . . kills people, that lies, that's had years to hide things,'' Rumsfeld said. Vice President Cheney will visit the Middle East next month to discuss a more aggressive policy toward Iraq. And the United Nations is due in May to consider a tougher list of military-related items barred for export to Iraq. Senior Pentagon officials said Sunday that a depleted stock of satellite-guided smart bombs would not necessarily deter the United States from attacking Iraq in the near future. The officials were reacting to a story in The Washington Post on Sunday that said it would take at least six months to build up the necessary arsenal. The Pentagon has used about 11,000 precision-guided bombs, half of them satellite-guided, to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. Relatively cheap at about $20,000 each -- compared with cruise missiles at $1 million apiece -- the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) can be dropped day or night in any kind of weather. Bombs can also be dropped at 40,000 feet, above the range of many anti-aircraft weapons. Pentagon officials say production has ramped up to 2,000 per month but would not say how many JDAMs are left. ''We may not have all the preferred munitions, in terms of JDAMs, that you would want, but we have other munitions we can substitute,'' Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC's This Week. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk