Pentagon Accuses Iraq of Burying Scuds, Nuclear Items To Defy UN
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Defense Department on Thursday accused Iraq of burying Scud ballistic missile launchers, nuclear equipment and ″all kinds″ of other military items near Baghdad in defiance of Gulf War ceasefire requirements.
″They’ve been hiding things since the U.N. inspection started″ last year, Pete Williams, the department’s public affairs chief, told reporters. ″They’ve been burying parts of their nuclear capability. They’ve been burying all kinds of things, ballistic missile capability right along with everything else.″
Williams was responding to questions about a report in Thursday’s Washington Times that the United States is actively hunting for more than 100 Scud missiles that intelligence agencies believe may be hidden underground near Baghdad.
″We have been interested in the number of Scuds, but in fact the search is going on by the United Nations, not the United States,″ Williams said.
The spokesman said the U.S. government has offered guidance on where the U.N. inspection teams should look for hidden Scud missiles and Scud missile launchers, but that there was ″no new energized effort or sudden concern about Scuds.″
Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia during the war. A U.N. ceasefire resolution accepted by Iraq requires that it permit destruction of ballistic missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers, or about 90 miles.
Iraq also is required by U.N. resolution to eliminate its nuclear weapons capability.
Iraq’s ambassador to the Arab League, Nabil Najm, said this week that Iraq is ″completely and seriously committed″ to implementing the U.N. resolutions. But U.N. observers say Iraq has defied all U.N. efforts to force compliance.
Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, and a senior delegation from Iraq are expected at the United Nations next week to address the issue.