WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday he had sketched out for President Bush a long list of risks to using military force against Iraq, including the possibility that Saddam Hussein would launch gas or germ attacks.
Rumsfeld said the chances of Saddam's using chemical or biological weapons are greater than in the 1991 Gulf War because the obvious objective today of a U.S. invasion would be to destroy his rule. Iraq had chemical weapons in 1991 but did not use them when an allied attack ousted Iraqi occupation forces from Kuwait.
Rumsfeld said he presented his list of risks to Bush many months ago.
"They run the gamut from concerns about some of the neighboring states being attacked; concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction against those states or against our forces in or out of Iraq, either in Iraq or in neighboring countries," he said.
--the Iraqi president's use of weapons of mass destruction against his own people and blaming it on the United States, "which would fit a pattern."
--Saddam blowing up his own oil fields, depriving postwar Iraq of important revenues with which to rebuild the nation.
Rumsfeld said the administration has made clear to the Iraqi military that it should not carry out any order from Saddam to use gas or germ weapons.
"Let there be no doubt, the message to anyone in that chain of command, at the highest level or at the lowest level, is, `Don't even think about it. Don't go near it. Disobey the orders. Because if force is used and he uses weapons of mass destruction, anybody connected with that process will wish they hadn't been," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld said his list had grown to four or five pages with additions by the deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, as well as Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard Myers and Myers' top deputy, Gen. Pete Pace.
Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander who would run a war against Iraq, is planning ways of dealing with all of the risks, Rumsfeld said.
Iraq's biological stockpiles, particularly anthrax and botulinum toxin, are deemed to be the greatest threat. It also is thought to possess mustard, tabun, sarin and possibly VX gases. The government denies it has any such weapons.
Officials say Saddam's military probably also has hidden away a few old Scud missiles capable of reaching targets 400 miles away. That would pose a danger to Israel and Iraq's other neighbors.