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Friday, 10 January, 2003, 08:22 GMT
Q&A: Will Iraq action be delayed?

Could an attack on Iraq now be delayed after UN weapons inspectors said they had no "smoking gun" evidence of weapons of mass destruction?

That was followed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for more time for the inspectors to do their jobs.

Defence analyst Colonel Andrew Duncan explains whether any attack on Iraq is likely to be put back.

Was the US not hoping to go to war in February or March?

Once President Bush went along with the UN inspectors' line - and he's also been giving hints that he'll accept a second UN resolution before he attacks Iraq - he knew he was in for a waiting game.

There are various signals coming out, not just the ones in London from Tony Blair.

There was something in the papers yesterday saying the Americans were now quite happy to fight during the heat because they would only fight at night because their night vision aids were so good.

There are signs that delay is in the air.

What else can US hawks do to prove their case?

I think the Americans are trying to have it both ways.

If the UN finds some weapons then there's the excuse - we can go in because they've lied.

But if the UN, after however many months it takes, says we don't think there's anything there, the Americans cay say we know there is something there, we're going to go and find it ourselves.

It doesn't really matter what happens with the inspectors, the Americans still have the chance to go in.

What are the options militarily - would any action have to be before March, or after autumn, because of weather conditions?

I don't think you do have to wait, personally.

I've lived in that part of the world and it certainly didn't stop the British Army training in the summer - although admittedly we weren't wearing our chemical weapons suits.

And if you remember World War II they fought across the Western Desert during the summer, so it's not that difficult.

It obviously makes it worse for the soldiers, but that's what they've got to do.

So do the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction?

I would be very, very surprised if there isn't something - maybe not actual weapons, but certainly development going on; research going on.

There could be small stocks of chemicals and perhaps biological weapons, in very small laboratories which could be hidden anywhere or even mobile.


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See also:

09 Jan 03 | Middle East
09 Jan 03 | Politics
06 Jan 03 | UK
09 Jan 03 | Middle East
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