First Published: 2003-07-22

 
Perle: Finding Iraqi WMD may take 200 years
 

Top Pentagon adviser says US won't leave Iraq while Saddam's 30,000 armed supporters remain active.

 

Middle East Online

We never did know where to look for them: Perle

MOSCOW - Top Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said here Tuesday that US troops could not leave Iraq while a band of what he said were some 30,000 armed supporters of Saddam Hussein's fallen regime remained active.

He added that Washington has a generally positive view of President Vladimir Putin - who opposed the Iraq war - but would in the future judge the Russian leader on his actions rather than his public pronouncements.

"There were of course many reasons for starting the war in Iraq," Perle told reporters when asked about US and British troops' failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq more than three months after the campaign began.

"We are clearly starting to see that up to 300,000 people were killed and buried" by Saddam's regime, he said.

Perle added that "we are absolutely certain" that weapons of mass destruction are hidden in Iraq - Washington's motive for launching the offensive against Baghdad - but that it may take dozens of years to find them.

"We don't know where to look for them and we never did know where to look for them," he admitted.

Asked by a reporter when he thought the evidence of those weapons may be found, Perle joked: "I hope this will take less than 200 years."

Perle is recognized as one of the main architects of Washington's campaign to launch the offensive in Iraq although he has since played down his role in hatching the war plan.

The chief US hawk gave no time frame for when US troops may leave Iraq, saying they would do so only once Washington felt the country was safe and that its citizens could start forging a democracy without Western help.

"It will not be easy to bring democracy to Iraq after 30 years of tyranny," he said.

He further estimated there were still some 30,000 hardcore Saddam supporters who were undermining US efforts to restore peace and order in the nation.

"It would be irresponsible to leave while 30,000 of the most brutal supporters of Saddam are sabotaging the country," he said.

He did not state specifically how the US troops intended to put them out of commission.

Turning briefly to Russia-US relations, Perle said Washington in general supported Putin's policy but also had some concerns - in particular that most independent Russian media had been shut down under his rule.

Perle toned down those remarks by saying that problems in Russia-US relations "are very small especially if one considers the problems we had in the Cold War."

Perle was in Moscow to present a lecture at a prestigious Russian foreign relations institute.

 

Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison