WASHINGTON – Iraq is not complying with United Nations demands that it rid itself of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday.
Rumsfeld said a U.S.-led war with Iraq "clearly is not inevitable," but said that American troop buildups in the Persian Gulf would continue. But he refused to say how many U.S. troops are there now or will be sent to the region in coming weeks.
"We're prepared to provide the president as much flexibility as possible," should he decide to wage war, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers and Rumsfeld stressed that President Bush has not made that decision.
Still, Rumsfeld said there were few signs that Saddam Hussein's regime would cooperate and disarm peacefully.
"What they've been doing has been fairly consistent, and I would characterize it as not being forthcoming or particularly cooperative," Rumsfeld said.
Great Britain announced Tuesday it was calling up 1,500 reservists to be sent to the Persian Gulf, and U.S. units have begun being activated for Persian Gulf duty in recent weeks. The number of countries committed to helping in any military conflict in Iraq grows each week, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference.
Many U.S. allies, such as Canada and Gulf states like Qatar, have said they want U.N. approval for any military action. Myers said the United States was capable of waging war in Iraq without that U.N. action, though he acknowledged a U.N. imprimatur would be helpful.
Rumsfeld said he did not know what, if any, evidence Bush would make public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction should he decide on military action. Going public with such evidence could make it harder to fight a war and endanger troops, Rumsfeld said.
"There is no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons," Rumsfeld said.
Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes bombed two Iraqi anti-aircraft radars that threatened pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone.
The planes used precision-guided weapons to target the mobile radar equipment Monday near Al Amarah, about 165 miles southeast of Baghdad, a statement from U.S. Central Command said. The airstrike happened at about 3:30 p.m. EST Monday.
It was the second airstrike this year by American planes patrolling the southern no-fly zone, which was set up to prevent Saddam Hussein's government from attacking restive Shiite Muslims in the region. A strike on Saturday targeted three Iraqi air defense communications sites in the same general area as Monday's strike.
American planes also dropped leaflets in the Al Amarah area Sunday giving Iraqis the frequencies of U.S. propaganda radio broadcasts.
U.S. and British warplanes patrol another no-fly zone in northern Iraq to protect minority Kurds. Iraq considers the no-fly zones violations of its sovereignty and frequently tries to shoot down the planes, though it has never shot down a piloted plane.