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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 01:42 GMT
Rumsfeld warns on Iraq arms
Donald Rumsfeld making his address
Iraq's neighbours will stay out of a war, Rumsfeld predicted

Baghdad's chemical and biological weapons capabilities are likely to be "more lethal" now than in the 1991 Gulf War, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said.

However, he said Iraq's conventional military strength was "something under 50% of what its capability was in 1991 during the Gulf War".

Speaking to the Hoover Institution think tank in Washington DC, Mr Rumsfeld said: "With respect to chemical-biological capabilities, one knows that they have advanced, and they are, in my judgment, probably more lethal and dangerous today than they would've been back in '91".

Such weapons could be delivered by unpiloted drone aircraft, he said.

Mr Rumsfeld also said that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may try to move some banned weapons out of Iraq.

"There's no question but that he does have some things that he doesn't want inspectors to find, and it's entirely possible that he could try to move those off into some other country," he said.

He did not specify which other countries might be involved, but noted that Iraqi military planes were flown to neighbouring Iran ahead of the 1991 conflict - only for Iran never to return them.

"So, my guess is that he'll be more careful this time if something were to happen," Mr Rumsfeld said.


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