Perry: Iraq's action was 'clear and present danger'
September 3, 1996
Web posted at: 11:15 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry
said Tuesday that Iraq's attack on the northern Kurdish city
of Irbil threatened vital U.S. interests and Iraq's
neighbors. (242K AIFF or WAV sound)
"The issue is not simply the Iraqi attack on Irbil, it is the
clear and present danger that Saddam Hussein poses to his
neighbors, the security and stability of the region and the
flow of oil to the world," Perry said at a Pentagon briefing
on the U.S. missile strike against Iraqi military targets.
The U.S., Perry said, was closely watching Iraq's continued
military activity, and "reserves the right to conduct future
military operations" against Iraq if necessary.
Perry said Iraq was warned on August 28 not to use force to
aid a Kurdish faction in northern Iraq. Iraq moved
on Irbil last weekend to aid the Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP) in its fight against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK), which receives limited military support from Iran.
Perry said Iraq used about 40,000 troops plus tanks during
the operation in Irbil, and continued to shell another city
in the area.
In announcing the expansion of the no-fly zone in southern
Iraq (to begin at noon Wednesday), Perry said that Washington
considers Saddam's action in the north to be a potential
threat elsewhere in the country, as well.
"Our concern is that if Saddam is emboldened by what he would
see as his success in the north, he might strike out in areas
which are of greater strategic importance to him as well as
to us in the south," Perry said.
The U.S. targeted military and communications sites, south of
the 33rd parallel -- the new northern border of the southern
Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, the vice chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said expanding the southern no-fly zone
would deny Saddam a major training base and two other air
"By denying this air space to the Iraqi regime, we have given
ourselves more warning should (Saddam) decide to move to the
south," Ralston said.
The air strike was also intended to remove Iraqi air
defenses, to protect allied aircraft enforcing the expanded
no-fly zone, he said. (141K AIFF or WAV sound)
"Our objective was to reduce the defenses our aircraft would
encounter," Ralston said.
Ralston described the Tomahawk and Cruise missiles used in
the strike, and said that the Pentagon was "still doing the
battle damage assessment" and could not say how many of the
missiles hit their targets.
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