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Pentagon Says Iraq May Destroy Oil Fields If War Begins

The Pentagon says Iraq may have begun preparations for the destruction of its oil fields in anticipation of war.

The Pentagon says it has information suggesting Iraq has not only planned acts of eco-terrorism but may already have begun preparations for carrying them out.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the Defense Department reported what it termed "recent information" that Iraq has received 24 railroad boxcars full of powerful explosives to be used in the destruction of its oilfields.

The statement gives no additional details. But it recalls that Iraq set fire to Kuwaiti oilfields in the 1991 Gulf war. It says the destruction of Iraq's own oilfields this time would have both economic and environmental effects, not just on Iraq but also on neighboring countries.

The Pentagon says it has developed plans to prevent the destruction of Iraq's oilfields in the event of war. It says if U.S. forces are unable to prevent this, then there are plans to extinguish oilfield fires and minimize the overall damage.

Meanwhile Defense officials say they have also learned Iraq is acquiring uniforms identical to those worn by U.S. and British troops.

They claim Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein intends to issue the uniforms to some of his forces who could then carry out reprisals against Iraqi civilians that would be blamed on U.S. led coalition troops.

In recent weeks, U.S. officials have also reported other Iraqi disinformation efforts, including charges that U.S. leaflets being dropped over the country are tainted with poisonous chemicals.

Pentagon sources said that to underscore their warning, Iraqi authorities dispatched troops in chemical protective gear to collect some of the leaflets.

U.S. officials say the leaflets are harmless. Some of the most recent dropped over Iraq have urged Iraqi soldiers to desert their posts.