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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 01:46 GMT
Bush piles pressure on Saddam
USS Abraham Lincoln
The USS Abraham Lincoln is heading for the Gulf
President George W Bush has sent a tough new message to Iraq in the face of mounting reservations from his international partners over military action.

Don't expect Germany to approve a resolution which would give legitimacy to war

Chancellor Schroeder

Mr Bush said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was delaying, deceiving, and "playing hide-and-seek with the UN inspectors", but time was running out for him to disarm.

Mr Bush's statement comes amid rising resistance to war from France and other allies, many of whom want United Nations inspectors to have more time to do their work.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose country is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council, declared for the first time on Tuesday that he would not back a UN resolution authorising war.

Earlier, Turkey - a key Nato partner - expressed its own fresh reservations, and announced that representatives of Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordan will meet in Istanbul on Thursday to try to find a way to prevent war in the region.

They made their remarks as two more US aircraft carriers were ordered to the Gulf region for a possible attack on Iraq.

More time

Earlier on Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told a parliamentary committee in London that intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had grown, and that it was necessary to keep up the pressure on Baghdad.

100,000 US troops including:
12,000 4th Infantry division troops
2,000 Marines trained for chemical and biological warfare
26,000 UK troops including:
Royal Marines, tanks and an air assault brigade
Speaking after both the UK and US announced new troop deployments to the Gulf, Mr Blair said he reserved the right to join in military action, even if a UN Security Council member vetoed such a move.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin - whose country is one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council - said nothing so far justified military action and he did not rule out a French veto.

China and Russia, also permanent members, say the inspectors should be given more time.

One of the leaders of the UN inspection teams for Iraq, Mohamad ElBaradei, says the teams are only half way through their work.

Speaking in Athens, Mr ElBaradei said that both he and chief inspector Hans Blix would make this clear to the Security Council next week.

Military build-up

Tuesday's announcement that the US is sending another two aircraft carriers - the USS Abraham Lincoln and another thought to be the USS Theodore Roosevelt, each with about 75 aircraft on board - will bring to four the number of US carriers within striking distance of Iraq.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Full size graphic showing key areas of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier
As well as their aircraft, the carriers usually operate with a battle group of escorting ships and submarines that also carry Cruise missiles.

The BBC's Nick Childs, at the Pentagon, says the ships could operate in the Gulf, the Mediterranean, or the Red Sea, and thus be able to attack Iraqi targets from a wide variety of directions.

The US had already announced it was to send nearly 37,000 personnel to the Gulf in addition to the 62,000 troops ordered to mobilise earlier this month.

  President George Bush
"This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching it"
  The BBC's Barnaby Mason
"The US is unlikely to be deterred by other governments queuing up to voice opposition"
  Terence Taylor, former UN weapons inspector
"The inspectors could go on playing cat-and-mouse for years"

Key stories





See also:

21 Jan 03 | Europe
21 Jan 03 | Business
19 Jan 03 | Middle East
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