March 5: Latets News From Iraq
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US-UK Military Deployments
1) American Force in Gulf Approaches 300,000 (March 4: Reuters)
2) More US Troops Head to Persian Gulf
(March 5: Assoicated Press)

United Nations
3) US May Reconsider Iraq War Resolution (March 4: Assoicated Press)
4) Iraq starts destroying nine more banned missiles (March5: Reuters)

Peace Appeals
5) Japan-15,100 petitioners seek peace, not military action, on Iraq
(March 5: Kyodo)
6) White House Rejects Vatican War Argument (March 5: Assoicated Press)
7) NY Man Arrested for Wearing Peace T-Shirt (March 5: Assoicated Press)

1) American Force in Gulf Approaches 300,000

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Army's oldest armored division, ``Old Ironsides,'' got orders Tuesday to head for the Persian Gulf as the total of U.S. land, sea and air forces arrayed against Iraq or preparing to go neared 300,000.

The commander who would lead the war, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and was to consult with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday. Last week Franks reviewed his war plan with commanders at his Gulf command post.

The pace of troop movements and high-level consultations suggested the military was close to ready for the opening of what would be a multidirectional assault to disarm and depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In addition to the U.S. troops based in Kuwait and every other country on the Arabian Peninsula except Yemen, there are five aircraft carrier battle groups nearby, each with about 50 strike aircraft aboard and including 30 to 40 vessels armed with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.

A sixth carrier, the USS Nimitz, is heading to the Gulf to relieve the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Still to be resolved was the important question of whether Turkey would allow its territory to be used for tens of thousands of U.S. ground forces to open a northern front against Iraq. Three dozen ships carrying weaponry and equipment for the Army's 4th Infantry Division, which would spearhead the attack from Turkey, are waiting in the Mediterranean for a Turkey decision.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a war against Iraq would be won even without Turkey's help, but he indicated he remained hopeful Turkey would change its mind.

``It will be much more difficult'' to execute the war plan without Turkish bases, ``and we prefer to have Turkey with us,'' Myers said in an interview at the Pentagon with WMAL radio's ``Chris Core Show.'' He said U.S. commanders have multiple backup plans if Turkey refuses.

Speaking on the same show, Rumsfeld said that of the many things that could go wrong for the United States in a war against Iraq, the one that worries him most is the ``very sizable risk'' that Saddam would use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. troops or neighboring countries.

In Wiesbaden, Germany, home of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division, known as ``Old Ironsides,'' officials said the unit received orders Tuesday to deploy to the Central Command region. No dates were released.

Portions of another Germany-based Army unit, the 1st Infantry Division, already are in Turkey to help receive and move forward the weaponry and equipment of the 4th Infantry Division. But that is on hold pending a final decision by the Turkish government on hosting U.S. forces.

The Army also received orders this week to deploy the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas. The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Polk, La., also received deployment orders. Together, the 1st Armored, 1st Cavalry and 2nd Armored Cavalry will deploy about 60,000 troops, officials said.

That is in addition to the approximately 230,000 U.S. air, land and sea forces already on Iraq's periphery. Those include about 65,000 Marines afloat and in Kuwait, which would be the main launching pad for any ground assault into southern Iraq.

The main Army combat unit in Kuwait is the 3rd Infantry Division, although it is being joined by about 20,000 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division this week. There also are elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in Kuwait.

If the 4th Infantry Division, whose soldiers are still at their home base at Fort Hood, Texas, is unable to position itself in Turkey it may be redirected to Kuwait. A decision is expected within days.

The Air Force has F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers, as well as F-117A stealth fighter-bombers, at Al Udeid air base in Qatar, as well as F-15s, F-16s and a wide variety of surveillance and other support planes at Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia. The Air Force also has more than 200 aircraft at two air bases in Kuwait, and other planes in Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The Navy has two aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean - the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Theodore Roosevelt - and three in the Gulf - the USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Constellation and the USS Kitty Hawk.

03/04/03 23:42 EST

2) More US Troops Head to Persian Gulf

.c The Associated Press

In more signs that the United States intends to go to war to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the Army's oldest armored division headed for the Persian Gulf while a Bush administration official indicated the U.S. might not call for a vote on a United Nations resolution backing war.

The United States had been pressing for a vote on the United Nations Security Council resolution to use force against Iraq, but doesn't currently have the nine ``yes'' votes needed.

But with other nations solidifying their opposition to the resolution, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday the vote was ``desirable'' but ``not necessary.''

Officials are seriously considering giving Saddam a final ultimatum in an address next week, according to White House officials.

The U.S. land, sea and air forces in place in the Persian Gulf neared 300,000 as ``Old Ironsides,'' the Army's oldest armored division, got orders Tuesday to send troops.

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who reviewed his war plan with commanders last week, met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and was to consult with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday. U.S. troops are based in every country on the Arabian Peninsula except Yemen.

Turkey's involvement in a possible war is still unclear. The country's top politician, Justice party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told lawmakers the government may again ask parliament to vote to allow 62,000 U.S. troops in, after a weekend vote shot down the plan. Fleischer said Turkey would lose a $15 billion aid package if it refuses the troops.

In Baghdad, Iraqi workers crushed three more Al Samoud 2 missiles, a launcher and five engines used for the missile, according to inspectors' spokesman Hiro Ueki. Since Saturday, Iraq has destroyed 19 of about 100 Al Samoud 2 missiles, as U.N. weapons inspectors have ordered.

In a letter read on Iraqi television Tuesday, Saddam said Iraq will defeat ``the tyrant'' who invades his country.

``The tyrant thinks he is capable of enslaving the people and hiding the decisions, freedoms and legitimate choices (they were born with) when their mothers delivered them as free people,'' Saddam said in a letter read on Iraqi television Tuesday.

``Tyranny will be defeated. ... Arrogance will be of no help to it.''

Fleischer countered: ``Saddam Hussein is the one that has created a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship in which people cannot speak, people are not free to exercise rights.''

At an Islamic summit in Qatar on the Iraqi crisis, Iran proposed Tuesday to hold U.N.-supervised elections and urged Iraqi opposition to reconcile with Saddam. Leaders gathered for the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the third high-level meeting in a week seeking to avert a war.

Kurdish soldiers on Tuesday shot and killed five members of an allied group whom they mistook for terrorists, the Kurdish autonomous government said. Officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said they mistook the five people for militants of the al-Qaida-linked group Ansar al Islam.

At the U.N., Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to the deeply divided Security Council on Tuesday to find common ground on Iraq, saying he was ``optimistic'' an agreement could be reached.

Bulgaria's U.N. Ambassador Stefan Tafrov, whose country is believed to back the U.S.-led resolution, disagreed.

``Everybody talks about compromise but I can't see one,'' he said. ``I'm afraid that positions have hardened instead of coming closer, and it's harder now to achieve the unity of the council.''

03/05/03 03:36 EST

3) US May Reconsider Iraq War Resolution

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - With other nations' opposition hardening, the Bush administration left open the possibility Tuesday that it would not seek a United Nations vote on its war-making resolution if the measure was clearly headed for defeat.

U.S. troop strength in the Persian Gulf neared 300,000, and President Bush and his advisers were looking beyond the diplomatic showdown in the U.N. to make plans for a public relations buildup to potential war with Iraq.

One option under serious consideration was Bush giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a final ultimatum, perhaps with a short-term deadline, in an address next week, two senior White House officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stressed that a variety of options are on the table and all depend on the outcome of a U.N. Security Council debate on the U.S.-backed war resolution. In a new blow, Russia's top diplomat said Moscow may use its veto against the measure.

Even without a veto from Russia, China or France, the United States still doesn't have the nine votes needed to win approval of the resolution, according to both supporters and opponents. Many undecided council members are looking for a compromise.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with RTL television of Germany, said that early next week U.S. leaders would ``make a judgment on whether it's time to put the resolution up to a vote.'' But he also said the United States was inclined to push for a vote ``in the absence of compliance on the part of Saddam Hussein.''

At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer said, ``The vote is desirable. It is not necessary.''

Once the vote is resolved one way or another, Bush will intensify his case for war, officials said, barring unforeseen events such as Saddam suddenly disarming or going into exile.

In addition to a possible address, they have discussed a presidential news conference and a Cabinet meeting as ways for Bush to communicate his plans to the nation next week. He may stop short of a specific ultimatum, officials said, but would make it clear that war is imminent in other ways, such as warning journalists and humanitarian workers to get out of Iraq.

Meanwhile, Bush telephoned leaders of India and Egypt to discuss his plans. And officials said Powell had had two telephone conversations and a one-on-one meeting in recent days with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez in his search for Mexican support.

The Army's oldest armored division, ``Old Ironsides,'' got its orders to head for the Persian Gulf, and Pentagon officials said U.S. land, sea and air forces were approaching 300,000 in the region.

Tommy R. Franks, the commander who would lead the war, met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and was to consult with Bush on Wednesday.

Still to be resolved was the military question of whether Turkey would allow its territory to be used for U.S. ground forces to open a northern front against Iraq.

At the White House, Fleischer said Turkey would lose a proposed $15 billion aid package unless it went along.

``The particular package that we've been talking to them about was predicated on assistance and cooperation in any plan for the use of force against Iraq,'' Fleischer said.

Until Tuesday, the spokesman had suggested part of the package would be available to Turkey regardless of whether 62,000 American troops are allowed in the country. White House officials said they were turning up pressure on Turkey in hopes that the parliament would grant the U.S. request on a second vote.

At the United Nations, meanwhile, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Baghdad's destruction of missiles ``a positive development,'' putting him at odds with Bush's assessment.

Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, renewing Moscow's opposition to quick military action, indicated Russia may use its veto against the U.S.-backed U.N. resolution.

Both developments further complicated Bush's efforts to win passage of the resolution, adding significance to talk of what the administration would do if U.N. opposition hardens.

``The president has made clear, that ... whether the United Nations votes or does not vote, that we will disarm Saddam Hussein with a coalition of the willing,'' Fleischer said. ``We are proceeding with all the plans for the vote.''

``Now, if you are asking me if all of a sudden support around the world crumbles and there is absolutely no one for it, I can't predict with metaphysical certitude every eventuality,'' Fleischer said.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte was asked whether the United States would withdraw the resolution if it didn't have the votes to pass it.

``We believe that support should be there and we're not facing that kind of situation; and I think we'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it, but we don't think we should have to come to that point,'' he said.

03/04/03 23:39 EST

4) Iraq starts destroying nine more banned missiles

BAGHDAD, March 5 (Reuters) - Iraq began destroying nine more banned surface-to-surface al-Samoud 2 missiles on Wednesday under the supervision of U.N. weapons inspectors, an Iraqi official said.

"The process of destroying missiles started at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) this morning and it is continuing," Uday al-Ta'ae, a senior Information Ministry official, told Reuters. "We hope that nine missiles will be destroyed today."

Baghdad began on Saturday to scrap some 120 missiles, meeting a key U.N. deadline. Nineteen of the missiles, whose range exceeds the 150 km (93 mile) limit allowed by U.N. resolutions, had been scrapped before Wednesday's batch.

03/05/03 04:55 ET

5) 15,100 petitioners seek peace, not military action, on Iraq

.c Kyodo News Service

TOKYO, March 5 (Kyodo) - Representatives from two Tokyo-based groups Wednesday called on Japan to support a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi weapons crisis, jointly presenting antiwar petitions bearing about 15,100 signatures.

The two networks of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) submitted the petitions to the Foreign Ministry, urging the government to oppose the use of military force against Iraq as it violates Japan's peace-advocating constitution.

Tensions are building as the United States and Britain are gearing up for a possible attack on Iraq, alleging that it has not yet rid itself of weapons of mass destruction in violation of a U.N. resolution.

Although Japan has not officially come out in favor of a U.S.-led military attack on Iraq, there have been signs that it is supportive of the U.S. stance.

The NGO No-War Net Japan gathered the signatures of about 13,700 individuals and the support of 149 groups, and the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) collected some 1,400 signatures and the endorsement of 72 groups.

Maki Sato of the Japan International Volunteer Center, which is part of the NGO No-War Net Japan and also collaborates with JANIC, told reporters before submitting the petitions that children should not die for the sake of eliminating Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Already, there are children who cannot go to school because their families face financial difficulties and others who are suffering from malnutrition, said Sato, who visited Iraq last month.

03/05/03 03:21 EST

6) White House Rejects Vatican War Argument

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush rejects the Vatican's argument that pre-emptive war with Iraq has no moral justification, but officials promise that he will listen carefully when he meets Pope John Paul II's envoy.

Bush was meeting behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon with Cardinal Pio Laghi, a former papal nuncio to the United States, who said he would relay the pope's admonition on the war. Laghi is also an old family friend of the Bushes.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Bush respects the opinions of those who disagree with him and said the president is eager to ``find out what the message of the Pope is on this topic.''

``If there are those who differ with the president on this, the president respects their opinion and respects their ideas and respects their thoughts,'' Fleischer said. ``He listens. He listens carefully.''

The meeting comes on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent for Roman Catholics. The church has asked its followers to mark the day through fasting and prayer for peace.

The pope has said a war would be a ``defeat for humanity'' and that the conflict would be neither morally nor legally justified. He wants Iraq to be disarmed through methods short of military force.

Fleischer suggested such methods were not effective.

``Clearly, the fact that Saddam Hussein has violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions means he is not following the legal path that the world has set out to preserve peace,'' he said Tuesday.

``The president thinks the most immoral act of all would be if Saddam Hussein would somehow transfer his weapons to terrorists who could use them against us,'' Fleischer said. ``And so, the president does view the use of force as a matter of legality, as a matter of morality and as a matter of protecting the American people.''

The meeting and Laghi's message pose a thorny political problem for Bush, who has aggressively courted Roman Catholic voters after splitting the Catholic vote in 2000 with Democrat Al Gore. Catholics made up a quarter of the 2000 electorate.

03/05/03 03:59 EST

7) Man Arrested for Wearing Peace T-Shirt

.c The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A man was charged with trespassing in a mall after he refused to take off a T-shirt that said ``Peace on Earth'' and ``Give peace a chance.''

Mall security approached Stephen Downs, 61, and his 31-year-old son, Roger, on Monday night after they were spotted wearing the T-shirts at Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, the men said.

The two said they were asked to remove the shirts made at a store there, or leave the mall. They refused.

The guards returned with a police officer who repeated the ultimatum. The son took his T-shirt off, but the father refused.

``'I said, `All right then, arrest me if you have to,''' Downs said. ``So that's what they did. They put the handcuffs on and took me away.''

Downs pleaded innocent to the charges Monday night. The New York Civil Liberties Union said it would help with his case if asked.

Police Chief James Murley said his officers were just responding to a complaint by mall security.

``We don't care what they have on their shirts, but they were asked to leave the property, and it's private property,'' Murley said.

A mall spokeswoman did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Monday's arrest came less than three months after about 20 peace activists wearing similar T-shirts were told to leave by mall security and police. There were no arrests.

03/05/03 01:00 EST

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