- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2002

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The United States will send an extra 50,000 troops and more military hardware to the Gulf by early January to be ready for a war against Iraq, a U.S. defense official said yesterday.
The deployment will include tens of thousands of reservists and give President Bush the option of starting combat operations against Iraq in late January or early February, the official said.
There are about 65,000 U.S. forces in the Gulf, including 15,000 in Kuwait on the border with Iraq. The new deployment will take the force to more than 110,000.
"We want to be ready, but, of course, it's up to the president to decide about a war, and he has not made a decision," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, speaking during an inspection visit to the 4,000 U.S. troops in Qatar, said yesterday that the U.S. military buildup in the Gulf was "to reinforce diplomacy" in the standoff with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The deployment is intended to help the "diplomatic angle," making sure the Iraqi regime "understands the options we have," he said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Thursday that the United States wanted to remain within the United Nations as it presses its campaign against Saddam's suspected weapons of mass destruction program.
Administration officials said the United States would increase pressure on Iraq in coming weeks to prove it did not have weapons of mass destruction, as it has said in a declaration to the United Nations.
U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is expected to give the U.N. Security Council his main assessment of Iraq's weapons declaration Jan. 27.
In a preliminary assessment to the council Thursday, Mr. Blix said the Iraqi declaration lacked "supporting evidence" for its assertion that it has no chemical, biological or nuclear arms.
The United States said afterward that Iraq was in "material breach" of its obligations to the United Nations by not giving a full and accurate report on its weapons as promised.
From 200,000 to 250,000 reservists might be needed to support a military campaign and fulfill security missions at U.S. military bases that did not exist during the Gulf war 11 years ago that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, according to published reports.
Meanwhile, the United States has insisted that it will share intelligence with U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq but will not provide secrets that put at risk its sources for future data.
"It is entirely in the interest of the United States, of this government, to give the inspectors the tools they need to do their job," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.
The defense came after Mr. Blix complained that the United States and Britain were not providing enough intelligence about Iraqi weapons sites.


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