Iraq said Tuesday that an allied prisoner of war being held at the Ministry of Industry building in Baghdad was killed during raids on the Iraqi capital, and Saddam Hussein warned that in the future his Scuds could carry chemical, biological and nuclear warheads.
U.S. military officials, meanwhile, said as many as 100 Iraqi aircraft were in Iran but remained puzzled why the planes were there. "I haven't the foggiest idea," Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said before a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.Allied officials said the giant Persian Gulf oil spill they maintain was unleashed by Saddam has been stopped by a weekend bombing raid.
Baghdad Radio, in a broadcast monitored in Cairo, did not give the nationality of the allied airman allegedly killed in the air raid on Baghdad, but it speculated that the POW may have been British because the British government had directed the Iraqi ambassador in London to explain the report and provide more details.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Pat Stevens IV, logistics director for the U.S. Central Command in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said he could not confirm the report on the death of the allied POW.
Baghdad Radio said, "We hold the United States responsible for the crime of killing this captured pilot and injuring others . . . because it attacked civilian and economic installations, such as the Ministry of Industry, in which a number of (allied) pilots were held."
A previous Iraqi radio broadcast Tuesday said several captured allied airmen had been injured in the raids.
Iraq has provoked outrage by parading captured allied airmen on state-run television and saying it would use them as human shields against allied attack at strategic sites.
Saddam granted his first interview Monday night to a Western news organization since the war began Jan. 16 (Jan. 17 in the Middle East), speaking with Peter Arnett of the Cable News Network at a house in suburban Baghdad.
Videotape of the complete interview was not available early Tuesday, but Arnett quoted Saddam as saying the missiles fired into Israel and Saudi Arabia could have been equipped with "nuclear, chemical and biological" warheads.
But he said Iraq had not done so yet because such tactics were unnecessary and that his forces had "maintained our balance using conventional weapons."
"All the air superiority you see now that has come upon us has failed," the Iraqi president was quoted as saying. "We pray that we shall not be forced into taking a force measure."
Western experts say Iraq has yet to develop nuclear weapons but believe it possibly could build some sort of crude nuclear device.
Asked if his forces would use chemical weapons in a land war, Arnett quoted Saddam as saying only, "Iraq will use weapons that equate the weapons used against us."
Asked about this renewed threat at the Riyadh briefing, Stevens said, "We will never ignore a single capability that he may have . . . and make every effort to guard against his ability to use it against us."
Saddam defended the use of oil as a weapon of self-defense, the report said. But when asked if he had unleashed the spill in the gulf, he responded that the United States had used oil as a weapon by attacking Iraqi oil installations, Arnett said.
On the subject of the Iraqi pilots who had flown into Iran, Saddam said that was natural in a conflict between Muslims and infidels but avoided a direct response to questions about whether the planes would return to the conflict.
While offering no timetable, Saddam predicted that he would win the war, saying he had no doubts, "not even one in a million," Arnett said.
Saddam spoke Monday as Iraq resumed Scud missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia.
One missile launched toward Riyadh was shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile. Another heading toward Tel Aviv, Israel's most populous city, apparently fell short, U.S. officials said. There were no injuries.
Powell said he was not worried about the growing number of Iraqi planes on Iranian soil. When it was suggested that Saddam had many arrows in his bow, Powell quipped: "Not as many as I do."
Iran has said any planes landing in its country would remain there until the war is over. Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said Monday that Iran has reaffirmed this through intermediaries and so far Iran was carrying out its word.
"We don't know the intention of the pilots," Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Kamal Kharrazi, said Monday. "It seems that some of the Iraqis are saving their lives and their airplanes."
At Tuesday's Riyadh briefing, Stevens said the pilot of the AV-8B harrier, a U.S. Marine aircraft, was lost in action over an unspecified location, bringing to 8 the number of U.S. airmen missing. A total of 19 allied aircraft have been lost in battle, including 12 U.S. warplanes.
A total of 50 Iraqi warplanes have been destroyed, 27 in air-to-air combat and 23 on the ground, Stevens said, and that U.S. Navy A-6 fighters destroyed two Iraqi Silkworm missile sites.
Stevens said the number of allied sorties had increased Tuesday by 2,600, bringing the total number of missions to nearly 28,000. He said allied bombing raids also had inflicted "some damage" to Iraq's elite Republican Guard and were hampering supply efforts to Iraqi troops in occupied Kuwait.
Allied bombing of pipes in occupied Kuwait feeding the 10- by 30-mile oil slick in the Persian Gulf had stopped the flow of crude, and the fire near the sources of the spill, Sea Island of the Kuwaiti coast, has been put out, Stevens said. He added that the slick appeared to be breaking up.
Allied forces Saturday night bombed inland pipes feeding the source of the giant oil slick, an offshore Kuwaiti tanker terminal. The allies say the slick was unleashed by Iraq in an act of environmental terrorism; Iraq says the discharge resulted from U.S.-led bombing.
The allies have sent experts and equipment to the gulf area to help contain the spill, believed the largest in history.