Rumsfeld says air attacks couldn't destroy Iraqi arms

July 31, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that Iraq now has mobile biological weapons laboratories that would be very difficult to bomb - an example, he said, of why air power alone would not destroy all of Iraq's hidden weapons of mass destruction.

"It's safe to say that Saddam Hussein and his regime have developed the ability to make any number of things mobile. They have mobile missiles. They have mobile radars. They move around a lot of things to avoid detection or, if not detection, at least to avoid having them attacked," Rumsfeld said at a news conference yesterday afternoon.

Even if Iraq ultimately agreed to allow international inspectors back into the country, Hussein has taken such steps to conceal his weapons program that inspections would be ineffective, Rumsfeld said.

"They have chemical weapons and biological weapons, and they have an appetite for nuclear weapons and have been working on them for a good many years, and there's an awful lot we don't know about their programs," he said.

He added that many of Iraq's weapons sites are buried deep underground or the weapons are manufactured in factories that also make legitimate commercial products.

Rumsfeld's remarks were the most extensive he has offered on the challenges facing the Pentagon's war planning for unseating Saddam Hussein and eliminating his clandestine arsenal, though he also made it clear that the military has not settled on any specific plan.

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