Pentagon on Iraq: Don't Let Up Now

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: The discovery of traces of VX nerve gas on Iraqi warheads seemingly settles one debate -- yes, Iraq's VX production had advanced sufficiently before the Gulf War that it could arm missiles with the deadly gas. But the Pentagon knew that weeks ago; the leak that landed the report in today's Washington Post was meant to remind the U.N. anew that Iraq is still not to be dealt with honestly. "It looks like it came straight from the Pentagon," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell, "timed to turn up the pressure on UNSCOM on the day before Richard Butler addresses the Security Council."

The U.N., pushed by sympathetic nations such as France, Russia and China, is trying to map out an end to Iraq sanctions; the Clinton administration would prefer to keep the heat on a while longer. And the VX report, which Iraq disputes, certainly seems to bolster the latter case. Asked about the leaked report, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the finding "demonstrates how important it is for sanctions to remain in place until Iraq cooperates with UNSCOM." Which is wonk-speak for "We told you so."