Cheney: Washington still to Decide how to Proceed on Iraq
The United States has not yet decided how to proceed with regard to Iraq in the war against terrorism, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday, reported AFP, citing an interview.
"We've not yet made a decision about how best to proceed," Cheney told NBC, indicating that the United States is concerned about Saddam Hussein's "aggressive pursuit" of weapons of mass destruction.
"Given the events of September 11, given the vulnerability of the United States ... given the increasing linkage between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction," he said, "we have to be very deliberate as to how we proceed to make certain the United States in not vulnerable to that kind of attack."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Wednesday that President George W. Bush had not taken any decision yet on the next phase of the US-led campaign on terror which is now focusing on Afghanistan.
Cheney confirmed that the United States is providing some funds to the Iraqi opposition, and said more money will be spent soon.
Baghdad has rejected the US accusations that it possesses biological weapons, saying the charge was aimed at paving the way for a US attack on Iraq once Washington had wrapped up its war on Afghanistan.
"This campaign ... aims at preparing the climate in and outside the United States for an aggression against Iraq after the end (of the war) in Afghanistan," Salem Al Kubaisi, who heads the Iraqi parliament's Arab and international relations committee has been quoted as saying.
The United States has also accused Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria of violating the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which bans the development, stockpiling and use of biological weapons, by developing a germ warfare capability.
Israel is reportedly preparing for an attack by Iraq if the Arab country comes under a US attack.
Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz has ordered civil defense forces to be on stand-by by "mid-January" for an expected attack, which another officer said could come from Iraq, a newspaper reported Friday.
"Be ready by mid-January," Mofaz told civil defense officials during a meeting a few weeks ago, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said.
The paper linked Mofaz's instructions to the eventuality of an Iraqi strike on Israel in retaliation for a possible US attack on Iraq as part of Washington's anti-terror campaign.
Another senior Israeli military officer told the daily that two possibilities were being examined, a missile attack and biological warfare.
The United States is doing all it can to stop Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from obtaining weapons of mass destruction but no decision was taken on Iraq, he said.
Earlier this month Bush warned Saddam that he must let UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq or face unspecified repercussions. Asked for more details Bush said: "He'll find out.”
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the end of November that he was convinced that the United States will warn Israel well in advance ahead of any eventual attack on Iraq.
During the 1991 US-led Gulf war on Iraq, the Iraqi army fired 39 Scud missiles on Israel, killing two people, wounding dozens of others and damaging hundreds of buildings in the Tel Aviv region -- Albawaba.com
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