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Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 08:37:13 -0600
Message-Id: <199712031437.IAA17106@radish.interlink-bbs.com>
From: alghassa@sol.racsa.co.cr
Reply-To: Iraq-l@interlink-bbs.com
To: Iraq-l@interlink-bbs.com
Subject: IRQ-NEWS: U.S. tells NATO not to let up on Iraq

U.S. tells NATO not to let up on Iraq

Reuters, 2 December 1997

BRUSSELS, Dec 2 (Reuters) - NATO got a grim warning of Iraq's threat to global security on Tuesday in a presentation by U.S. Secretary of State William Cohen on Iraqi gas and germ warfare capabilities, a senior NATO official said.

He said Cohen's review of Iraq's plans to create weapons of mass destruction, some already thwarted, had ended a morning of talks by NATO defence ministers on a rather sober note. The 16 NATO members were also told that while Russia's strategic nuclear rocket forces appeared to be under secure guard by professionals, it was not so easy to account for its smaller, more transportable, tactical atomic weapons.

The alliance said it was taking steps along with the Russians to clarify just how many of these now exist, where they are and how secure.

The U.S. under-secretary of defence for international security affairs, Walter Slocombe, said Cohen had impressed on NATO allies why it was so important to keep up pressure on Iraq to permit full, unhindered inspections of its facilities by United Nations weapons inspectors (UNSCOM).

We will need the continuing support of our allies as UNSCOM moves forward to carry out its mission, Slocombe told reporters. The NATO official said Cohen's powerful presentation sobered the atmosphere around the table quite considerably, displaying to ministers that it would be a mistake to look on the administration of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a regional threat only.

Saddam's government said it had only a few drops of the super-toxin called VX when it had 3.9 tonnes of the poison, ministers were told. It had somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 gallons of deadly anthrax and had developed a means of weaponising the germ.

Iraq had also been working on a missile with a range of 3,000 miles (4,800 km) which could take it deep into alliance territory. Cohen told the meeting that high-altitude U2 surveillance flights over Iraq must continue until all of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction sites were discovered.

Saddam has ruled out inspection visits by UNSCOM to his many presidential palaces and Republic Guard bases. Officials said Cohen showed NATO's defence ministers U2 pictures of Saddam's elite Republican Guards in a facility making chemical weapons.

Another photograph showed a palace as big in area as greater Washington D.C., according to a NATO official.

Since Iraq's defeat in the Gulf war and the start of the U.N. weapons destruction programme, discovery has always brought about the realisation that the figures are higher not lower than estimated, the official said.