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 Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Iraq - The Countdown To War

Full text: UN security council resolution 1441 on Iraq

45 nations back war, U.S. says.The list of countries supporting war includes 15 that do not want to be publicly identified, a U.S. State Department official said.The only soldiers likely to pull a trigger in the coming war are the 250,000 Americans, 30,000 British soldiers, and the 2,000 Australians .Several other nations, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Albania and Romania, are offering military forces, but only specialized units such as chemical and biological warfare troops, not front-line forces. Spain, a crucial U.S. ally on the United Nations Security Council, opting to send medical and engineering specialists.Most of the other nations on the list are providing basing and overflight rights, while Japan, which is on the list, intends to help only after the fighting is over. It was unclear what contribution was being offered by impoverished countries such as Eritrea and Ethiopia. Turkey was also included on the list of 30, although its parliament is still considering whether to allow U.S. troops to use its territory to open a second front against Iraq, a decision it could make as early as today. No Arab countries are on the public list of 30, although several Persian Gulf states, including Kuwait and Qatar, are helping the war effort by allowing U.S. troops on to their territory and may be among the secretive 15 allies.

Having asserted the right of the United States to lead a coalition against Iraq without specific authorization from the UN Security Council, the Bush administration moved yesterday to justify the war by citing the UN's charter and past resolutions, in an apparent effort to preserve a legal framework to govern future use of force. While many expressed reservations about the legality of Bush's action, they were pleased that he felt the need to justify it at all.''I found it striking how much President Bush has invoked the United Nations charter to justify US intervention,'' said Diane Orentlicher, professor of international law at American University in Washington, D.C. ''He's not walking away from UN law; he's invoking the mantle of the UN charter.''

In a constantly interrupted speech to the Italian Parliament, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared his support for the United States' stance on Iraq.However, Mr Berlusconi told Parliament Italy would take no direct part in a US-led military assault on Iraq. Italy would instead provide logistical support for the United States.

When President Bush said Monday that a broad coalition is ready to wage war on Iraq, he provided no specifics. But if he had, it would not have taken him long to list America's partners.The roster of countries that have committed combat troops to the effort all but stops after Britain, Australia and Poland.Some other countries have vowed cooperation and other support such as allowing military personnel to be based on their soil or overflight rights for U.S. aircraft.The Bush administration has been reluctant to disclose the names of such countries.

The "most trusted man in America," retired CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, put aside his journalistic impartiality Tuesday night and issued a blistering dissent to President Bush's decision to wage war with Iraq.At a Drew University forum, Cronkite said he feared the war would not go smoothly, ripped the "arrogance" of Bush and his administration

Despite French opposition to a war in Iraq, the French military could assist a U.S.-led coalition should Iraq use biological and chemical weapons against coalition forces, the French ambassador to the United States said Tuesday.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has been given the go-ahead to pursue war against Iraq after the British parliament voted down a motion opposing military action. Legislators voted 396 to 217 to defeat a parliamentary amendment by Labour Party rebels that declared the case for war "has not yet been established." About 135 Labour Party members voted against the motion.

Turkey's government said Wednesday it would ask parliament to grant the U.S. military the right to use Turkish airspace in an Iraq war but would not immediately ask lawmakers to allow in American troops.Cabinet spokesman Cemil Cicek said a resolution allowing airspace rights would be put to a parliament vote by Thursday at the latest and that a separate motion on troop deployment could be considered later.

Iraq's leadership on Tuesday rejected the U.S. ultimatum for President Saddam Hussein and his family to leave Iraq or face war.

COLLEAGUES of barrister Cherie Blair yesterday said the Iraq war was illegal despite the Government's lawyer, Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, insisted three United Nations resolutions - two passed before and immediately after the last Gulf War - meant the Government would be acting within UN guidelines. But a lawyer and a QC from Mrs Blair's firm Matrix Chambers argues that the UN deliberately worded 1441 to stop it being used as a precursor to war. It leaves out the words "use all necessary means" normally required before authorising force.


Japan may scrap a historic joint declaration with North Korea if the communist nation violates the agreement by taking further threatening action, Japanese officials say. But they said unless it was aimed directly at Japan, a ballistic missile launch would not automatically prompt Tokyo to tear up the 2002 agreement, which is seen as paving the way to a normalization of ties.

The United States and South Korea kicked off another set of major joint military exercises Wednesday aimed at deterring threats from North Korea.The 8-day, computer-based command training drill, code-named Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration, coincided with ongoing monthlong joint field exercises of Foal Eagle that run through April 2.

Anti-terrorism police arrested three men Tuesday after finding two homemade bombs at an apartment outside London, police said.The men, described as Europeans, were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 in Crawley, less than 5 miles from London's Gatwick Airport.

The ultimatum issued to Iraq by the President George W Bush has led the Russian Parliament to put off ratification of a major nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States.Ratification of the so-called "Moscow treaty" had been scheduled for the end of the week. The treaty provides for a two-thirds reduction of both countries' long-range nuclear warheads by 2012.

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