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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deputy: U.S. May Use Nuclear Arms on Iraq

A senior State Duma lawmaker on Friday urged the Kremlin to maintain its firm opposition to a possible U.S. military strike on Iraq, which he claimed may involve the use of low-power nuclear weapons.

"I am not excluding the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons of extremely low power in the operation against Iraq," said retired General Andrei Nikolayev, head of the Duma's defense affairs committee, the Interfax-Military News Agency reported.

"Nuclear weapons might be used primarily for the destruction of underground facilities such as control posts and storehouses. As to the latter, Americans will claim that this is where Iraq stores weapons of mass destruction," Nikolayev was quoted as saying. Nikolayev warned that a U.S. nuclear attack could trigger retaliation from the Iraqis or others.

"The Americans should not be surprised that Arab people, for instance, the Iraqis, will respond in nontraditional ways, including terrorist warfare," he was quoted as saying. "Even a rabbit bites when it is taken by the ears. A country fired at from all directions chooses the means of return strike that is available."

Nikolayev predicted Washington would launch an attack on Iraq in no later than three to four weeks because of "political, military and other considerations." Nikolayev urged the Kremlin to pool efforts with the European nations, China and India to avert the war.

"We must definitely be consistent until the end, we must work for not letting Americans hold a military operation," he said, Interfax-Military reported.

Moscow had insisted the Iraqi crisis should be resolved through diplomacy without the use of force, but President Vladimir Putin said earlier in the week that it "may change its position" if Baghdad hampers United Nations weapons inspectors and work out new, tougher decisions together with the United States and other UN Security Council members.

A nationwide poll of 1,600 Russians completed last week by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center had 52 percent of respondents saying they were "outraged and angered" by the U.S. plans to attack Iraq, Interfax reported. Only 3 percent said they support the plans, while 20 percent said they do not have enough information about them. Seventeen percent neither praised nor condemned them and 8 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.