Skip to comments.Rumsfeld says Iraq mulls chemical arms 'dilemma
Posted on 04/03/2003 3:20:00 PM PST by kattracks
Rumsfeld says Iraq mulls chemical arms 'dilemma'
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - Iraq has not used chemical weapons despite American fears that it would unleash them as U.S. troops neared Baghdad, prompting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to speculate on Thursday that the Iraqis are holding back in vain hope of a peace deal.
Defense officials and analysts said the failure of the Iraqis to use chemical or biological weapons might mean their military command-and-control system has been shattered or that officers in the field are refusing to carry out orders.
Analysts said the failure to use these weapons also might mean Iraq simply does not possess them, as it maintained before the U.S.-led war to rid the country of them.
"The real question is maybe they don't have any. It's a possibility -- probably a very slim possibility, but one that is still there, nonetheless. After all, we haven't found any chemical or biological weapons," said Charles Pena, a defense analyst at the Cato Institute think tank.
"It also could be that (President Saddam Hussein) buried them so deeply and made them so difficult for U.N. inspectors to find that he also made it difficult to get them back in a timely fashion and get them to his troops to use," Pena added.
A key justification for the war cited by President George W. Bush was depriving Saddam of the large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons that he contends Iraq possesses.
The Pentagon has cited intelligence data that the Iraqi leadership had authorized its military to fire chemical weapons at the U.S.-led invasion force as it reached Baghdad.
"Well, needless to say, the last thing anyone would want to see is chemical weapons used in this conflict," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing. "We've always believed that the chances of their being used increase the closer that coalition forces got to Baghdad."
But U.S. soldiers and Marines on Thursday reached the outskirts of Baghdad, and no chemical weapons were used.
Rumsfeld speculated that the Iraqi leadership was conflicted about whether to dip into its alleged arsenal of chemical weapons, which experts have said may include VX and sarin nerve agents, mustard gas and other poisons.
"I suspect that the regime has a dilemma," Rumsfeld said. "If, on the one hand, they are holding out hope with their people that there might be a deal cut, the use of chemical weapons would certainly end that prospect."
"Do they want to not use all their weapons and hope that they can get a deal when it's not even a remote possibility?" Rumsfeld asked. "Or will they go ahead and use them and totally eliminate the perception in their people that he (Saddam) might survive? Because once he uses those, it's pretty clear there can't be a deal."
Rumsfeld ruled out any such deal with Saddam's government.
'IT MAY STILL COME'
Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, vice director for operations for the U.S. military's Joint Staff, cited several possible explanations for why suspected chemical weapons have not been used.
"We are not sure whether or not our deterrence has worked, we're not sure whether or not our disruption of his command and control may have stopped him, it may be a conscious decision -- can't tell. We are assuming at this point that it may still come," and U.S. troops will take precautions, he said.
McChrystal said the United States has sent messages to the Iraqi military that anyone who used such weapons would be treated as a war criminal. He added that U.S. forces have aggressively tried to destroy artillery and missile-launching equipment that Iraq could use to deploy such weapons.
U.S. officials have said special forces have been combing Iraq in an effort to find hidden stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, but have come up empty so far.
John Pike, director of the GlobalSecurity.org think tank, said he had expected Iraq to use chemical weapons "on day one" of the war, including firing missiles carrying chemical weapons into Kuwait and Israel, and is puzzled that they have not.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Phil Anderson, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Iraq may not want to risk providing a reason for countries opposed to the war to rally behind the U.S.-led war.
"Saddam Hussein can still play the psychological game and act as though he's a victim, that his country's been invaded, until he uses weapons that he claimed not to have," he said.
04/03/03 18:16 ET
BANG! I told you to put your hands up... didn't I, oh well.
I hope if we find any (and I think we may have already) that Bush, Rummy & Co. keep it under their lids for a while after V-Day. Let the fascist/marxists and the UN exult for a while.
Then slam 'em with facts, photos, test results and iron anvils to their heads.
Whoever is at the helm now cares about a post-war Iraq, and donesn't have the will or ability to instill the fear to obey that Saddam did. Chemical weapons, at this point, would ensure a far harsher peace, and far harsher justice, for people who might otherwise survive the war. I think the likelyhood of WMD use has become very low.
It also signifies a "technical foul." My understanding is that if you try to "T" up a Ranger or a Seal, you get a depleted uranium round in the brain pan.
Well, just because Rummy says that it in a press conference, doesn't mean it's so. For all we know, Bush could be on the phone to Putin right this minute, saying: "Vlad, how's the negotiations going?"
This has become a now infamous Pres. Bush tactic which to my amazement continues to work over and over again. How stupid can the rats be to keep falling for it?
That's it. Our ultimate fallback position. He buried them so deep we will probably never find them! Oh well. Maybe we should check Syria just to make sure.