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U.N. Says ‘No’ to NATO Strikes Without Warning With AM-Yugoslavia

October 12, 1994

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The United Nations opposes a NATO proposal to change the mandate in Bosnia allowing air strikes without warning and increasing the kinds of targets that can be hit, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

NATO sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali last week calling for more aggressive raids. It said NATO should be given four targets to strike, instead of one, when air raids are called in and said no warning should be given before the attacks.

A high-level NATO delegation is expected to visit the United Nations later this week to discuss the request.

The United Nations ″would consider an increase in targets if they were directly related to the offense which led to the strike,″ a U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But the official added: ″Surprise is a principle of war and not of peacekeeping.″

The official, who has worked closely with the 38,000-member peacekeeping force in Bosnia, said Bosnian Serbs were given a 15-minute warning Sept. 22 before NATO jets bombed and destroyed a Bosnian Serb T-55 tank.

The warning was given to avoid any possibility of civilian casualties.

NATO also wants to expand the range of targets to include back-up facilities such as fuel or ammunition dumps, a move the United Nations opposes, saying it could lead to civilian deaths.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia ″will always be reticent to get into a position in which it will be taken as an enemy by one side,″ another U.N. official said.

The United Nations also opposes giving NATO final say in which targets are attacked. Under the present rules, air strikes must be approved by the United Nations and targets have been limited to those that are actually involved in violations.

NATO has been threatening air strikes since June 1993, but its war planes have struck only half a dozen times.