Annan welcomes destruction of missiles while U.S. sends additional forces to the region
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that Iraq's destruction of missiles is a "positive development." Annan welcomed Iraq's acceptance of the U.N. chief inspector's order to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles.
But asked whether Baghdad's destruction of 19 missiles so far could avoid war, he said it's up to the Security Council to make a decision. "I think the council's decision will be based on the totality of the presentation by the inspectors," Annan told reporters. "The council has the right to declare a further military breach at any time based on the reports of the inspectors."
Top inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei are scheduled to report to the Security Council on Friday. "Let's see where it goes from there," Annan said.
He noted that Blix had indicated that Iraq's destruction of the Al Samouds was a positive development. Blix "has indicated there is much more to be done, but this is a positive development and he will be reporting to the council on Friday and I expect he will have more to say," Annan said.
"The inspectors have to report the facts and as I've indicated this is a positive development," he said.
Meanwhile, the United States has ordered another 60,000 troops, including tank divisions from Germany and Texas, to join a massive U.S.-British military build-up in the Gulf for possible war with Iraq, defense officials said on Tuesday.
The U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division based in Germany and the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, with about 15,000 troops each were the biggest units in the latest deployment package, Pentagon and military officials told Reuters.
The officials said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had also ordered thousands of Marine Corps and reserve troops already called to active duty to go to the Gulf, bringing the total new deployments to 60,000.
Spokesmen for the U.S. Army in Europe confirmed that the 1st Armored Division and its 160 tanks had been told on Tuesday to prepare to deploy to the Gulf from Wiesbaden.
The latest U.S. deployment orders came as the U.S. 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas, awaited final word to also join the build-up.
Heavy U.S. B-52 bombers began arriving in Britain in recent days. Other B-52s along with B-1 bombers are already in the Gulf area and radar-evading B-2 "stealth" bombers have been told to go to the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia within striking range of Baghdad. (Albawaba.com)
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