While biological and chemical arms can potentially wreak havoc on civilian populations, they're considered inefficient, especially when delivered by Saddam Hussein's favorite transport, the Scud. "The Scud is an inaccurate weapon and the wind has to be just right," says Thompson. Still, Israel is taking notice. Statements by the chief U.N. weapons inspector that Iraq has enough biological or chemical arms to "blow away Tel Aviv" has elicited Pentagon-like tough talk from Israeli officials. "Surely Iraq must know that it will not pay to attack Israel," government spokesman David Bar-Ilan told Reuters. Israelis are being told to obtain gas masks nonetheless.
Forget all the silo-rattling: TIME's Defense Department correspondent, Mark Thompson, says the United States won't deploy nukes against Iraq. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon had insisted that should Iraq use biological or chemical weapons, America's response would be "decisive and devastating." Asked if that would include nuclear weapons, he replied: "I don't think we've ruled anything in or out in this regard." Don't believe it, says Thompson: "It's just as it was during the Gulf War — the response will be strictly conventional and likely massive."