Friday 28 March 2003

Coalition may use WMD

Iraq's information minister said Friday that coalition forces -- not Iraqis -- might resort to weapons of mass destruction out of frustration and defeat.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf disputed U.S. reports that Iraq might be planning to use chemical weapons or nerve agents because U.S. forces found 3,000 chemical protective suits and nerve agent antidote injectors.

"The Iraqi soldier is prepared and supplied with the latest including a gas mask," he said. "[The U.S. knows] that soldiers in war should be prepared for any situation that might arise ... and the masks are part of this."

Al-Sahaf said U.S. forces could use weapons of mass destruction "because of frustrations and their defeat and the resistance that will increase day by day."

Britain's Defense Ministry denied al-Sahaf's claim. "We have enough conventional weapons in theater but even if the going got tough we'd never make first use of weapons of mass destruction," a spokesman told CNN.

"We've said before that if Iraq made first use of weapons of mass destruction we'd consider using them too. We don't have them in theater at the moment but we could get them there pretty quickly."

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