Skip to comments.Attack Iraq soon, Sharon aide says
Posted on 08/17/2002 3:08:58 AM PDT by kattracks
WASHINGTON - The United States should attack Iraq soon to stop dictator Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons, Israeli officials said yesterday.
"Postponing the action to a later date would only enable Saddam to accelerate his weapons program, and then he would pose a more formidable threat," said Ranaan Gissin, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Gissin said Sharon sent the U.S. Israeli intelligence estimates this week that Saddam had boosted production of chemical and biological weapons in anticipation of war with the U.S.
Gissin also charged Saddam ordered Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission last week to speed up work on developing nuclear weapons.
"Saddam's going to be able to reach a point where these weapons will be operational," he said.
The Israeli view contrasted with growing Republican opposition to President Bush's pursuit of a so-called regime change in Iraq.
At his Crawford, Tex., ranch, Bush took note of the "healthy debate." Top Republicans, including former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, have warned that an attack on Iraq would derail the war on terrorism.
"I listen carefully," Bush said.
But, he said of Saddam, "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind that this man is thumbing his nose at the world" and "that he desires weapons of mass destruction."
Israel fears Scud attacks
In deciding on whether to go to war, Bush said, "I'll be making up my mind based upon the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country, plus our friends and allies."
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Saddam almost certainly would aim Scuds again at Israeli cities if the U.S. attacked, as happened during the Gulf War in 1991.
"We will be one of the main targets," Ben-Eliezer told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. Israel did not retaliate in 1991, but Ben-Eliezer said the military would respond to new attacks.
"What I told the Americans, and I repeat it: 'Don't expect us to continue to live with the process of restraint. If they hit us, we reserve the right of response,'" Ben-Eliezer said.
In recent months, Iraq has sent mixed signals about whether it will allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors who left in 1998.
Iraqi UN Ambassador Mohammad Al-Douri said yesterday that his country had renewed an invitation for the inspectors "to discuss practical arrangements for their work ahead in the future."
With News Wire Services