Iraq has sabotaged a Kuwaiti supertanker terminal, dumping several million barrels of oil from ships and storage facilities into the Persian Gulf and creating a potential environmental disaster already several times larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, U.S. government officials said yesterday.

Military officials publicly insisted that the spill would not affect allied military operations in the Persian Gulf War, although planners privately said it could constrain options available for an amphibious assault. A visibly angry President Bush described the Iraqi action as a symptom of President Saddam Hussein's desperation. "It looks last gasp. . . . It's kind of sick," Bush told reporters.

News of the oil release came as a volley of Scud missiles -- Iraq's other disruptive weapon in the war so far -- exploded in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Patriot missiles apparently destroyed most of the seven Scuds streaking toward Israel from western Iraq, but shrapnel spattered across Tel Aviv, reportedly killing one person and injuring more than 65 others.

Several hours later, at 10:25 p.m. (2:25 p.m. EST), at least two Scuds rocketed toward Riyadh from southern Iraq. A Patriot missile intercepted one, but the other demolished one wing of a six-story office building, killing one person and injuring about 30 others, Saudi officials said. Two more missiles fired at the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran were demolished with a volley of five Patriots, briefly lighting the night with a ball of fire and debris.

While Iraq's Scud launchers continued to elude scores of allied planes known to be hunting them, the oil spill dominated yesterday's Pentagon briefing. Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams described the spill as "likely to be more than a dozen times bigger" than the 11 million gallons dumped into Alaska's Prince William Sound two years ago. By late last night, the vast oil slick, which officials said began Wednesday, had spread southward at least 20 miles, where oil was fouling the Saudi coastline.

Crude oil is gushing from the Sea Island Terminal about 10 miles off the Kuwaiti coast, with half the oil coming from storage facilities and the rest pumped through undersea pipes from five tankers berthed at the occupied Kuwaiti port of Mina al Ahmadi, officials said.

In a complaint to the United Nations yesterday, Iraq blamed the United States for the spill, claiming that U.S. planes bombed two Iraqi tankers in the gulf on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy had reported damaging a tanker in the gulf, although officials said the relatively small slick that resulted was of refined petroleum rather than crude oil.

Bush, who huddled with government experts and policy-makers in an emergency meeting, declared that "every effort will be made" to contain the damage. Administration sources last night said the two principal tactics under consideration are to blow up the tankers and storage facilities, and to "torch" the slick in an effort to keep the oil from fouling Saudi desalination plants and other industrial facilities.

Some dramatic counteraction -- perhaps an incendiary strike on the spill or a bombing raid on the terminal -- could come today, the sources said. But they said that igniting the oil slick becomes increasingly difficult as time passes and may no longer be possible.

Allied officials, groping for an explanation of what Williams called "environmental terrorism," suggested that Saddam could be trying to provoke a premature ground attack or thwart an amphibious landing by U.S. Marines. Some experts said the sabotage is consistent with past Iraqi military engineering tactics, which often appear unconventional or irrational to Westerners.

Videotaped scenes of the Saudi coastline showed cormorants and other waterfowl coated in black goo, as wave after wave of crude oil lapped at the shore. Military officers assured Bush that the spill will not inhibit the war effort. "We'll be able to work through it and we don't expect much problem," Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly, senior operations officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters yesterday.

One government analyst said "it's generally going to make life difficult there," by potentially clogging ship machinery and intake valves. But Maj. Gen. Robert B. Johnston, chief of staff for U.S. forces in Operation Desert Storm, said the Persian Gulf "is a very large body of water and I don't see that it will have any impact on our naval operations." Two Die in Scud Attacks

The Scud attack on Israel was the fifth launched against Israel in the past eight days and the first that directly caused a death; three other Israelis died of heart attacks during a barrage Tuesday night. Witnesses reported a dazzling and terrifying scene played out across the night sky, as Patriot missiles streaked toward the bright pinpricks of incoming Scuds before exploding in a shower of flame and debris.

The Saudi death was the first reported from the 23 Scuds that have been launched against that country. Last night's casualties underscored U.S. military warnings that the Patriot, an early hero of the allied cause, is not foolproof -- and that Iraq may have hundreds of missiles and dozens of still undetected launchers. Searching for patterns in the Scud attacks, U.S. intelligence analysts believe Iraqi forces have appeared more likely to fire the missiles on cloudy nights, presumably to hide from reconnaissance planes and satellites.

Another weather front pushing across the Middle East disrupted some allied air activity yesterday, as well as efforts to fly reconnaissance missions over the oil spill. The continuous pounding of Republican Guard formations in southern Iraq and northern Kuwait has triggered "secondary explosions," possibly from ammunition and fuel dumps, although Johnston said yesterday that U.S. intelligence really knows "little" about effects of the barrage.

Many of the 111 Iraqi soldiers now in allied custody -- including 30 deserters -- "are covered with lice and they have some open sores," Johnston added. Some also have reported "pretty slim rations, a few saying that they're down to one meal a day," he added. U.S. military officials again declined to release details about the on-going allied bombing or damage assessments from the first nine days of the war.

British and French commanders offered optimistic assessments of the allied progress. Iraq's civil and military communications, anti-air defenses, refinery capacity and chemical weapons potential has been cut by three-fourths in the first nine days of bombing, according to Gen. Maurice Schmidt, the French military commander in Saudi Arabia.

His British counterpart, Gen. Sir Peter de la Billiere, declared, "We are winning and we're going to go on winning." But after losing five Tornado bombers in 600 combat missions -- proportionately the worst losses of any allied air force in the war -- British pilots are switching from dangerous low-level raiding tactics to higher altitude bombing, de la Billiere added. The Iraqi surface-to-air missile network is "ineffective at the moment and is not concerning our pilots," the British commander added.

Reports continuing to trickle out of Iraq suggest the thousands of bombing sorties are having a far more devastating impact than Baghdad acknowledges. The Kurdistan Democratic Party, a resistance group long at war with Saddam, said yesterday that the strikes have killed or wounded nearly 10,000 Iraqi troops, with many of the dead buried in mass graves to minimize sagging morale on the home front. The claim could not be confirmed. Iraq's most recent communique on military casualties put the death toll at 90 after five days of fighting.

The arrival of the war's second weekend was expected to herald another wave of U.S. anti-war protests. In Washington, police said they expected a crowd of 50,000 to 75,000 to join a march down Pennsylvania Avenue. In San Francisco yesterday, police in riot gear arrested 60 demonstrators trying to shut down the world headquarters of Chevron Corp., ostensibly targeted for war profiteering. The arrests brought to nearly 2,000 the number of San Francisco protesters taken into custody in the last two weeks.

In planning a possible military operation to plug the spewing Sea Island Terminal, Pentagon officials said the opened spigot has a capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil an hour. Much of the oil is being tapped from the five tankers, which have been berthed in Kuwait since October and have a combined capacity of several million barrels. Those ships are now "riding high in the water," an indication that much of their cargo has already been dumped, an official said last night.

Bush blamed the disaster personally on Saddam and said it followed a pattern of actions that are "outraging the world."

"First he uses Scud missiles . . . . Then he uses the lives of prisoners of wars, parading them and threatening to use them as shields . . . . And now he resorts to enormous environmental damage," the president said.

Earlier yesterday, in remarks to members of the Republican National Committee, Bush emotionally recounted a debate he had with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Edmond L. Browning, over the morality of going to war against Saddam. "Well, how can you say it is not moral to stop a man who is having children shot in the streets in front of their parents, how can you say it is not moral to stop this man?' " one person who attended the private meeting quoted Bush as saying he told the bishop.

Bush said yesterday he is particularly outraged by the treatment of allied prisoners. "That one hit me right square in the heart," he added.

Iraqi Video Shows Prisoners

Iraq yesterday released another video of three American prisoners, all of whom appeared to be in good condition. The men identified themselves as Col. David W. Hibberly, Lt. Lawrence R. Slade and Maj. Thomas E. Griffith. Iraqi authorities, who delivered the tape by hand to Jordan, said the footage would be the last time Iraq would show interviews with allied prisoners. Iraq has offered rewards of up to $90,000 for each airman surrendered to authorities.

Baghdad Radio claimed yesterday Iraqi citizens had captured another British airman after his plane was shot down. The government-run station declared Iraq is winning the war and warned, "The coming days will witness the defeat of the covetous invaders."

U.S. officials again ruled out any halt to the fighting in the gulf, saying such a pause would only give Iraq time to regroup. "Obviously many people believe . . . it would just afford him {Saddam Hussein} an opportunity to dig in deeper and to rebuild and to retrench," State Department spokesman Margaret Tutwiler said. She added that such a delay could be "costly in terms of human lives of coalition forces."

No administration official had previously used such a rationale to rule out a temporary cessation of the fighting, arguing instead only that Iraq had been given plenty of time for diplomacy before the Jan. 15 United Nations deadline for withdrawing its forces from Kuwait.

Yesterday's Scud attack on Israel followed a report that Germany had offered some of its Patriot batteries to help defend that nation. In Tel Aviv, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said the Germans showed "preparedness to assist" during a visit this week by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

In Paris, a bomb exploded early today outside the entrance of the liberal French newspaper Liberation in what police said was the first war-related act of terrorism in France, the Associated Press reported.

The bomb caused considerable damage but no injuries, and police said a leaflet at the scene in central Paris led them to believe the attack was related to the war, AP said.

The Bush administration continued to duck questions about how much the gulf war could cost and how the president intends to finance it. Bush said only that the Pentagon would report to Congress on the estimated cost and financing.

Discussing the continuing efforts by allied forces to isolate Iraqi troops in greater Kuwait, Kelly, the Joint Chiefs operations director, noted yesterday that bombers had intensified attacks on supply depots, bridges and critical roads. But he said that gauging the effectiveness of the raids against troops remains difficult because "anybody that's getting shot at knows how to dig."

Staff writers William Booth, Ann Devroy, Barton Gellman, David Hoffman, Thomas W. Lippman and R. Jeffrey Smith, correspondents Caryle Murphy in Saudi Arabia, William Claiborne and Jackson Diehl in Israel and staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.