Powell to declare U.S. decision regarding Iraq weapons report; 50,000 U.S. soldiers to deploy in Gulf region
Saddam Hussein missed his "last chance" to come clean with the world, the White House said Wednesday, as President Bush debated whether to formally declare Iraq in violation of a U.N. arms resolution that threatened war unless Saddam disarms.
In a series of meetings, the president and his advisers discussed the question of whether Iraq is in "material breach" of the United Nations, which would provide what Bush considers legal justification for war.
Senior administration officials told AP Wednesday afternoon that Bush had decided to strongly condemn Iraq's weapons disclosure as full of omissions and deceptions but would not immediately assert that Saddam is in "material breach."
Later, those same officials and others involved in the talks said the issue was reopened for debate Wednesday night, and some officials were pushing Bush to find Saddam in violation of the resolution. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell planned to announce the decision Thursday.
Powell said the U.S. analysis of the Iraqi declaration "shows problems with the declaration, gaps, omissions, and all of this is troublesome."
"My guess is that the United States will take some time and will talk to some of our friends and allies around the world about the (Iraqi) declaration and share ideas and thoughts about what's in it and what may not be in it," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on CNN.
Rumsfeld added the U.S. analysts reviewing the declaration "are still trying to find things ... that they expected to be there that weren't there."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon continued preparations for possible war. As many as 50,000 troops may be deployed in early January for duty in the Gulf region, according to U.S. sources. Some 60,000 U.S. troops are already in this region.
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