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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 06:54 GMT
US surveillance for Iraq inspectors
US Predator drone
The US role may be confined to aerial reconnaissance

US defence officials have suggested that the most likely support the Pentagon would give to the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq would be surveillance capabilities and intelligence.

The Pentagon has been looking at how it might support the UN weapons inspectors even as it continues planning for the possibility of a military showdown should the inspection process collapse.


The most significant capability the Pentagon is likely to bring to the inspection process is still the big stick

UN official

And senior US defence officials have suggested to the BBC that that support would most likely be in the form of surveillance aircraft and intelligence rather than any actual military protection.

It is unlikely the inspectors would ask for such protection from Washington.

Pentagon officials say as yet they have not had any formal requests from the inspectors but one of the capabilities Washington lent to the previous inspectors was a U2 reconnaissance aircraft - much to the annoyance of the Iraqis.

Spies in the sky

The new UN resolution raises the possibility that the inspectors could use different types of aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

The Americans already use unmanned predator surveillance drones over Iraq to help police the no-fly zones.

The inspectors are likely to approach a number of countries for different types of assistance, just as they did during the previous inspections.

Still one senior UN defence official told the BBC that the most significant capability the Pentagon is likely to bring to the inspection process is, as he put it, the big stick - the overall threat of possible military action.


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05 Nov 02 | In Depth
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