U.S., Britain step up military preparations for war against Iraq
Presidnet Bush had given the go-ahead to double the 50,000 U.S. troop deployment in the Persian Gulf region in early January, a senior administration official said Friday. In addition, the White House canceled Bush's planned trip to Africa next month, saying he did not want to be out of the country in the buildup toward the late-January, early-February period for deciding whether to go to war to disarm Iraq.
The deployment will include tens of thousands of reservists and give Bush the option to start combat operations against Iraq, said an American official.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, meanwhile, told British troops he was making "all the preparations necessary" for war.
In his message to the military, Blair wrote: "The key thing at the moment is to make all the preparations necessary, and to make sure that we are building up the capacity in the region."
"At the moment we simply don't know whether the (UN weapons) inspectors will find the breach or not," Blair said. "We will be prepared to use force in order to ensure that they (the Iraqi regime) are disarmed of all chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons," he said.
The United States and Britain have declared Iraq in "material breach" of its United Nations obligations because of omissions in its weapons declaration. The two are leading preparations for a possible war.
The Times newspaper said Britain would seek UN approval for war on Iraq in a second resolution at the end of January if arms inspections showed Saddam was in breach of UN Security Council resolution 1441. (Albawaba.com)
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