U.S. Will Attack Iraq in February, Russian Military Source Reports

| January 2003

Russian military officials have obtained information indicating that the United States and its allies have already decided to launch an attack in Iraq in mid-February, reports the Reuters news agency.

?According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of February. The decision to launch it has been taken but not yet been made public,? said a high-ranking source in the Russian general staff. The attack would be launched, he said, as soon as the Pentagon was able to amass a force of 150,000 in the area.

The primary target of the military action, according to this source, was not Saddam Hussein but Iraq?s oil fields. ?Hussein is the pretext. The real aim of the military action is control over Iraqi oil,? he said.

He did not indicate whether the information had been obtained through Russian intelligence agencies or through White House sources in Washington, though the news agency noted that the Bush administration ?would be keen to avoid any misunderstandings with Moscow if it does launch a war.?

The military operation would involve air, land, and sea strikes, he said, and would last no longer than a month.

The White House has been lobbying key allies on the United Nations Security Council in recent weeks in order to build support for the military action, but President Bush has said repeatedly that he has not yet made the decision to attack.