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'Nothing Off Table' in Iraqi Confrontation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 1998 – U.S. officials stressed nothing is off the table -- meaning military force is a possibility -- in resolving the latest standoff with Iraq.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has met with allies in London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Mike Doubleday said President Clinton asked Cohen to make the trip to give allies the U.S. position on Iraq and get their feelings on the crisis.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has again refused to allow U.N. weapon inspectors to do their jobs. The inspectors are in the country to ensure Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce those weapons. The U.N. position is Iraq must comply with all Security Council resolutions.

Cohen cut short a trip to the Far East to travel to the Gulf region. A statement following Cohen's meeting with British Defense Minister George Robertson said Iraq's actions threaten the credibility of the United Nations and threaten regional stability.

Doubleday said no U.S. troops have been alerted to deploy to the region. "We have a very robust force in the region," he said. It includes carrier- and land-based aircraft and Tomahawk-capable ships. He said 23,000 U.S. service members are in the area from all services. The aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower anchors the naval forces in the area. A Marine Amphibious Ready Group is aboard the USS Essex.

"This is a serious situation," Doubleday said. "Iraq has been condemned around the world. I expect we will see quick action in the U.N. Security Council." He said Cohen will continue to consult with allies in the Gulf and Europe.

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