(VOA Editorial)  (410)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America July 19,

reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

Much has been done to destroy or disable Iraqi weapons of mass

destruction since the end of the Persian Gulf war two years ago.  U.S.

Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, Robert

Gallucci, said recently that the International Atomic Energy Agency has

sought to deter any efforts by Iraq to regenerate its nuclear weapons

program.  Gallucci said that 20 nuclear-related inspections since April

1991 "have forced Iraq to disclose, destroy, or render harmless all of the

major nuclear weapons facilities and equipment that we are aware of,

including several enrichment sites, research facilities, and weapons design

facilities."  Also there is currently in Iraq a U.N. chemical-destruction

group, which is destroying thousands of chemical munitions.  Other

inspection teams have been sent to monitor Iraqi missile development.

Despite such progress, Iraq still represents a potential threat.  Iraq

retains skilled personnel and a basic industrial capability to support

programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.  U.N. Security Council

Resolution 687 prohibits Iraq from developing such weapons or the missiles

to deliver them.   U.N. Security Council Resolution 715 reasserted the need

for long-term monitoring and inspections.  The United States believes that

Iraq will continue to test the U.N. resolve to persevere in its

inspections.  In the past, Iraq has used such tactics as delaying or

refusing access to sites, denying information and harassing inspectors.

Most recently, Iraq has prevented U.N. arms inspectors from sealing two

missile testing sites.  Earlier, Iraq barred a U.N. team from installing

cameras at these sites to allow monitoring.  In response, Vice President Al

Gore said that Saddam Hussein "should understand very clearly that he

cannot trifle with the world community where these inspections are

concerned."  Vice President Gore said the United Nations could ask Iraq to

destroy the missile testing facilities if it will not allow the

inspections.  Gore said that if Saddam Hussein "will not do that, the

United Nations could consider a range of options, one of which could

include the use of force against those facilities."

As President Bill Clinton has made clear, "the United States will continue

to lead international efforts aimed at ensuring that the Iraqi regime does

not threaten international peace and security."