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Rumsfeld:  Iraqi Military May Use Chemical Weapons - 2003-03-25


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says intelligence information indicates the Iraqi military may use chemical weapons against coalition forces as they close in on Baghdad.

Mr. Rumsfeld says that the indications come from what he characterizes as intelligence scraps - and he says it is unclear just how accurate they are.

But he tells reporters at the Pentagon the information suggests the closer coalition forces get to Baghdad and Saddam Hussein's stronghold of Tikrit, the greater the likelihood chemical weapons might be used.

"Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

If it does happen, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, says coalition forces will have a special response. But he will not reveal details.

U.S. defense officials have repeatedly urged Iraqi commanders not to carry out any orders they might receive to use weapons of mass destruction.