Sunday, April 18, 1999 Published at 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Shea: Nato will not admit defeat
The bombing is going to go on, said Mr Shea
Nato is not going to stop its bombing of Yugoslavia and admit defeat, the alliance told the BBC on Sunday.
Nato has been bombing Yugoslavia for some 25 days over President Slobodan Milosevic's failure to accede to international demands formulated at peace talks in France to grant substantial autonomy to the province of Kosovo.
Answering questions put by users of BBC News Online and listeners to the World Service, Mr Shea said: "The bombing is going to go on."
"Nobody in Nato is enthusiastic about doing this," he admitted.
Even during the French peace talks, the Yugoslav president had been building up and arming his forces in Kosovo, said Mr Shea.
He said that Nato members were "reluctant to embrace the use of force".
"But when we do so we can be as tenacious as Milosevic himself," he warned.
Ground troops no 'panacea'
However he once again made it clear that the alliance was not considering implementing ground troops to take out Yugoslav forces.
"The ground option is not a panacea," he said.
It would take several weeks or months to put Nato troops into the region, Mr Shea said, and "we don't have the time that that might take.
"We're faced with a very difficult situation which we have to try and face immediately."
The alliance has come under fire this week for its accidental attack on a refugee convoy. It admitted that a single, laser-targeted bomb dropped by an American F-16 hit a civilian target in a convoy travelling north of Djakovica on Wednesday.
Mr Shea denied that Nato was attempting to withhold information on the incident.
"I want to be able to put the facts on the table in a clear comprehensive way when I have them. There is an attempt to conduct an investigation which is going to set the facts straight."
"We have acknowledged that we were responsible for hitting a civilian vehicle, although we don't know how many civilian casualties could have resulted from that and I have apologised for it, so there is no question of trying to escape responsibility."
'Not a risk-free operation'
"Nato of course regrets any loss of life, particularly by our own forces, but we are there primarily because Milosevic is forcing people to flee."
"If we hadn't had that systematic campaign of repression in the first place, those Nato pilots would not have been flying over Kosovo at 3 o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon," he argued.
"It's not a risk-free operation," he underlined.