US Says Iraq Still Poses Threat to Allies
The United States says Iraq is upgrading its military technology and developing weapons of mass destruction in the absence of international monitoring.
The US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was quoted by reports as saying that Iraqi efforts were gathering pace since UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in late 1998.
"They have an appetite for weapons of mass destruction," Rumsfeld told Fox television.
"They have been, every period since they have been able to get the inspectors out of there, working diligently to increase their capabilities in every aspect of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technology. And as they get somewhat stronger, the problem becomes somewhat greater."
"And that problem, particularly biological weapons, over the coming decade is going to be an increasingly serious one," he said.
Airstrikes have limited effectiveness against sites where the weapons are developed or deployed, Rumsfeld said, because some of those sites are underground or mobile.
The problem "will have to be attacked from a whole range of methods," he said.
"To the extent other countries keep trading with him and improving his fiber optics and improving his ability to cue and network, the risk level goes up," Rumsfeld told CNN television later Sunday.
"And then the United States and (Britain) are forced to go in and take out those capabilities."
Rumsfeld was speaking shortly before US and British warplanes carried out a further airstrike on surface-to-air missile sites in southern Iraq on Sunday.
The BBC.online cited a Pentagon official as saying that US Air Force F-16, Navy F-18 and British Tornado GR-4 aircraft hit missile sites near AL Numinayah, AL Kut and Tallil, all southeast of Baghdad. The planes returned safely to base, he said.
US and British warplanes have carried out four other attacks on Iraqi air defenses since 25 August to enforce the no-fly zones imposed after the 1991 Gulf War.
The zones are not mandated by any UN Security Council resolution – Albawaba.com