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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Forces Preparing for Iraq War

Aired November 8, 2002 - 12:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And the Iraq resolution makes military force a last resort, but U.S. forces are already preparing just in case.
Joining us now, the former NATO supreme allied commander and CNN military analyst, General Wesley Clark.

General Clark, I guess nobody, at least here in Washington, is very, very confident the Iraqis are going to comply. I assume that means the Pentagon has to gear up for the potential of military action?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think that's right, Wolf. And I think it's even more than that because it's the act of gearing up for the military action, the continuing flow of logistics into the area, the training and so forth that's creating the pressure that's generating the diplomatic progress both in the United Nations and hopefully inside Iraq.

BLITZER: Do you believe that this show of support, this historic unanimous vote today, including Syria and China and Russia and France, will convince Saddam Hussein to comply?

CLARK: I think it's tough to predict that. My guess is that we'll see several more bouts of diplomacy here as he attempts to piecemeal compliance and partially comply and take the edge off and break the coalition that's been established there and so evident in the United Nations Security Council. And so we in the -- we're a long way from seeing the end of the diplomatic game here.

BLITZER: Yes, as you know, the February 21 is the date when the U.N. chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is supposed to make his report to the Security Council on compliance, noncompliance, how he's done, assuming the inspections even get off the ground and they proceed. There's a -- there's not only that kind of deadline that's set but there's a weather timetable that the U.S. has in mind as well, January, February. Starting March, it gets pretty warm in that part of the world.

CLARK: Well, it does. But I think we have to be careful of making too much over the temperatures in that part of the world. It would be ideal, of course, to fight in cooler weather. But if you recall back in 1991 during the Gulf War, the cooler weather also brought dust storms and brought problems. And so if the battle were to slip and we were to fight in March, April, May, I'm very confident that our troops, our equipment could handle that desert heat. We could do that. BLITZER: Yesterday on this program, exactly this time, Dr. Helen Caldicott, an anti-war activist, pediatrician, was on this program saying that the U.S. Army's use of these depleted uranium shells, these tank shells during the Gulf War a dozen years ago have caused enormous problems, cancer problems for young kids in that -- in southern Iraq. What can you tell us about the dangers from these depleted uranium shells which, of course, are stock equipment in the U.S. Army?

CLARK: Well we've looked at this extensively over a number of years. We use it not only for the tank shells but also for the armor of the tanks because it's a very effective material. And the honest truth is depleted uranium has less radioactive material in it than naturally occurring uranium. There's been study after study after study done and none of it substantiates the claim that this depleted uranium causes cancer.

In fact, during the Gulf War we had a number of U.S. soldiers exposed to the dust of the depleted uranium shells after they had struck targets. I think some 60 soldiers in a study. They've been in this study since the Gulf War. There's no evidence of any sign of cancer there or any of the radiation types of cancer in those troops and we're continuing the study. But I think, although certainly any environmental hazard is a concern, there's no reason in this case to believe that depleted uranium is a significant environmental problem.

BLITZER: All right, General Clark, as always, thanks for joining us.

CLARK: Thank you, Wolf.

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