- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld showed the world yesterday graphic proof of Baghdad's long defiance of the United Nations in the form of surveillance video of Iraqi missiles and shells launched at American aircraft.

He said that since Iraq issued a letter offering to let U.N. weapons inspectors re-enter the country "without condition," the regime has fired 67 times on allied planes, 14 this past weekend.

"With each missile launched at our air crews, Iraq expresses its contempt for the U.N. resolutions," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.

"It bothers me to think that these folks are having to put their lives at risk every day, and yet the firing continues," he said. "And simultaneously the Iraqis are out telling the world that they want to have everyone inspect everything and without conditions, which is so, just patently false."

Mr. Rumsfeld is skeptical that inspections alone will find and destroy Iraq's arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear-weapons components.

The four videos of Iraqi air-defense volleys in the U.N.-authorized northern and southern no-fly zones marked a continued Bush administration offensive to build support for military action to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Bush, who is weighing several war plans, has gone before the United Nations to urge members to enforce long-neglected resolutions prohibiting Iraq from owning weapons of mass destruction.

The White House wants a new resolution authorizing military force if Saddam again uses deceit and trickery, as he did in the 1990s, to foil an impending weapons-inspection team.

Mr. Rumsfeld's role has been to remind the public of Saddam's reported treachery and defiance. Last week, the defense secretary for the first time detailed ties between the regime and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which carried out the September 11 attacks.

Yesterday, Mr. Rumsfeld also pressed the United Nations when he said, "Here you have U.S. and British planes flying daily to enforce the U.N. resolutions, putting their lives at risk, these pilots and air crews, day after day for years, and the U.N. not enforcing its own resolutions."

In the past, the Pentagon had declined to show footage of Iraqi air-defense firings for fear the clips would reveal American ability to evade fire. In 10 years of enforcing the two zones, Iraq has failed to knock down a single manned aircraft, although it did strike a Predator spy drone.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, displayed four videos at the press conference from incidents in 2000 and last year. One showed anti-aircraft artillery in the northern zone; the other three were of two surface-to-air missile firings and one artillery burst south of Baghdad.

Pilots often find it difficult to attack Baghdad's mobile batteries. In recent months, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized commanders to bomb not just the offending anti-aircraft site, but also the command facilities that direct the shooters.

"They don't often move the surface-to-air missiles into the no-fly/no-drive zones," Gen. Myers said. "When they do, they move them around very, very quickly. I'm not going to go into tactics, but we've had some recent success going after some of their surface-to-air missile systems."

He said Operation Southern Watch, which was largely instituted to protect the minority Shi'ite population, involves more than 6,000 personnel and 150 aircraft.

Operation Northern Watch, which protects the minority Kurdish population, requires 1,400 personnel and 45 aircraft. Pilots in the two zones have been fired on a combined 406 times this year.

Asked why the years of bombing radars and guns have not further depleted Iraq's air defenses, Mr. Rumsfeld said that just last week the United States bombed a mobile radar installation at a military airport in Basra but that the Iraqis are likely to replace it soon.

Gen. Myers said the twin missions of enforcing the no-fly zones, while running last year's air war on Afghanistan's Taliban, did tax the available squadrons in the Persian Gulf.

"When we were heavily involved in Afghanistan there weren't as many air sorties available for response as there are today," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld said Iraq's ability to rebuild air defenses is an example of how U.N.-imposed sanctions since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 have not prevented weapons-related equipment from reaching Baghdad.

"They simply don't stop everything from going in. I mean, fiber optic can be used for a cueing of a radar to an anti-aircraft or a surface-to-air missile, but it can also be used for communications between hospitals, if you will," he said. "Saddam Hussein has gotten many, many billions of dollars illegally and legally under the food-for-oil arrangement, and he has been buying capabilities that have increased his net capability."

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