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Saddam's One Reason DoD Boosts Counterproliferation Push

By Steve Hara
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 1997 – Iraq's Saddam Hussein lost in his recent tiff over U.N. weapons inspections, and he'll keep losing until he complies fully with U.N. provisions, Defense Secretary William Cohen said Nov. 25.

Reporters quickly and totally focused attention on the Iraq-U.N. faceoff at a Pentagon press conference announcing the release of DoD's updated "Proliferation: Threat and Response" booklet. At issue in the dispute was an Iraqi demand that U.S. members be cut from U.N. weapons inspection teams.

"Saddam lost. This time he gained three weeks' delay, but look back. That's been the pattern for six years," Cohen said. The United Nations made no concessions and held sanctions in place, he said. More importantly, Saddam lost before the world.

"People are now aware why it's so important U.N. inspectors needed to be in there. Now they know that a small bit of anthrax can kill you in five days," he said, holding up two pinched fingers. "[Saddam] succeeded in enlightening the world to the problem. This is not Iraq vs. the United States, but [Iraq vs.] the United Nations and the world."

The U.S. effort to deal with the Iraqi proliferation problem is not short-term, Cohen said; it will go on for some time. Saddam has done everything possible to thwart the United Nations, he said. U.S. responses include consulting with allies and possibly seeking even tighter U.N. controls.

"Military force is always an option, but the last one, not first," Cohen said. "If military force is necessary, you can be reasonably assured it will not be a pinprick."

Iraq is prominently featured in the 1997 DoD proliferation report, which assesses regional threats from the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Other proliferants reviewed include North Korea, China, India, Pakistan and Iran. All have missiles and weapons of mass destruction that can threaten regional neighbors, many of which are U.S. friends, according to the report.

"The front lines are no longer overseas. They are anywhere," Cohen said. He called nerve and chemical weapons "a poor man's atom bomb" and said they're no longer just a potential threat.

"They are a clear and present danger today," he said.

The secretary outlined DoD responses:

  • The recent Quadrennial Defense Review flatly calls chemical and biological weapons likely conditions U.S. troops will encounter in future operations, and it commits a $1 billion increase over five years in counterproliferation spending, including protective measures.
  • DoD's Counterproliferation Council will monitor U.S. training and plans to improve U.S. responses to threats.
  • The new Threat Reduction and Treaty Compliance Agency will integrate several programs to improve their effectiveness. The new agency, whose creation was announced Nov. 10, consolidates the On-Site Inspection Agency, Defense Special Weapons Agency and Defense Technology and Security Administration.
  • The National Guard will assume significant, new, but unspecified, responsibilities on the domestic preparedness front. DoD also will train medical, fire and police and other key "first responder" representatives in 120 cities.

The 1997 DoD report is available online at http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/prolif97/index.html. The 1996 report is at: http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/prolif/index.html. For the Quadrennial Defense Review, go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Staff Sgt. Robert L. Davis (right) explains the M- 31E1 Biological Integration Detection System, or BIDS, to Edward Warner (center), assistant secretary of defense for strategy and requirements. The BIDS is used to detect large-area biological attacks. It is in the developmental stage and scheduled for initial fielding in fiscal 1999. Davis and Cpl. Kelly L. Thorn briefed several officials including Army Lt. Gen. Patrick M. Hughes, Defense Intelligence Agency director, Warner's principal deputy, Frank Miller, and John J. Hamre, deputy defense secretary. The Pentagon exhibits Nov. 24-25 depicted DoD advancements in troop protection and defenses and were keyed to the release of DoD's 1997 report on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Davis and Thorn are assigned to the 20th Chemical Detachment, Fort McClellan, Ala. Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA  
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