Iraq report confirms Israeli fears of nuclear bomb : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Iraq report confirms Israeli fears

By Arieh O'Sullivan February, 25 2001

TEL AVIV (February 25) - Defense officials have welcomed the troubling report by German Intelligence that Iraq could have an atomic bomb within three years and develop a long-range ballistic missile that puts the capitals of Europe under threat by 2005.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said he hopes the report will move European states to act with more determination to restore sanctions on Iraq. He added that Israel and the United States need to work more closely to develop a better missile-defense system.

"We need to jointly improve the Arrow missile system and develop a system to destroy missiles in their boost stage as they are being launched," Sneh said in a statement.

The Arrow anti-ballistic rocket intercepts an incoming missile some 40 kms over its intended target. The next step in missile defense would be to shoot down the rocket as it leaves the launcher. This would be particularly effective if it were armed with a non-conventional warhead.

In Berlin, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) issued a report saying that Iraq is pushing ahead with plans to make a nuclear bomb. It said the work was centered at Al Qaim, and evidence showed they might be capable of producing an atomic bomb in three years.

The BND report also said that Iraq, with the aid of a company based in New Delhi, is building a medium-range rocket capable of carrying a warhead 3,000 kms by 2005. Iraq is also believed to be capable of manufacturing solid fuel, which would drastically cut down the time needed to launch to almost the push of a button.

The BND also echoed Israeli assessments that Iraq is putting much effort into making chemical weapons and has increased the number of sites involved from 20 to 80. It also speculated that Iraq has resumed production of biological weapons.

The report came as the United States appears to be stepping up its policy of attrition against Saddam Hussein and is signaling it may be initiating a new/old relationship to the Iraqi menace.

The assessment in the IDF is that the new Bush administration will shift its emphasis in the region from the Israeli-Palestinian peace track to the more traditionally Republican strategic interest of oil.

The main US concerns are seen to be preventing a regional deterioration and moving to stabilize the region. A nuclear-armed Saddam does not fit into that strategy.

Seeking stability, the Bush administration is apparently pressuring Israel to ease up on the Palestinians and even cease its assassination practice, particularly involving US-made attack helicopters.

Ironically, while the US air strikes were visually dramatic - but ultimately off target - they mainly served only to provoke Arab anger and European concern, which will make it harder for Powell to secure support for continued economic sanctions against Iraq.

According to Guy Bachor, an expert in Arab affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the Clinton administration was behind the regional deterioration because it ignored the other issues in the Middle East.

"Clinton's Middle East policy was seen through the prism of the Israeli-Arab conflict," Bachor said. "When the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians were invited to the White House over 70 times and the leaders of other pro-Western powers like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco were invited once or twice during the same period, this signals to them that they are marginal."

"The United States caused damage and lost some of its capabilities in the Middle East by putting too much weight on the Palestinian issue," Bachor said.

Bachor said Saddam Hussein is bent on getting a nuclear bomb in order to tactically paralyze Israel and become the regional power.

"If Hizbullah has paralyzed Israel's retaliatory capabilities with its Katyushas, then Iraq will paralyze the retaliation of the United States and other countries, including Israel, with its atom bomb," he said.

(Reuters contributed to this report.) \

-- Martin Thompson (, February 24, 2001

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