Nuclear and chemical weapons may be used in a military conflict in Iraq. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by Russian Air Force Lieutenant-General Vasily Kliuchenok at a press conference in Moscow today.
He pointed out that both the main protagonists of the conflict have used weapons of mass destruction before: Iraq used chemical weapons in 1983 in the Persian Gulf while the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan in 1945.
Mr Kliuchenok said that intelligence has appeared recently suggesting that in the event of war Iraq would use chemical weapons in towns and built-up areas with a large Kurdish population. 'If weapons of mass destruction are used then the consequences could be catastrophic,' he emphasised. The general mentioned that many countries possess such weapons. 'Currently they are only being held as a defensive shield, a form of protection, but there could be a temptation to use them for achieving one's aims,' he said. Mr Kliuchenok did not discount the possibility that the Iraqi conflict could trigger a third world war.
Chairman of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee Victor Ozerov said that even if the war in Iraq does not lead to a third world war, it will at least bring about another arms race. Evidence of this, he said, is the situation in North Korea, where a nuclear programme has been resumed.