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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 25 SEPTEMBER 2002

 

 

NATO-MINISTERIAL MEETING

         NATO chief talks U.S. language on "criminal states"

         NATO allies back Rumsfeld's plan for rapid response force

         Russia's Ivanov joins NATO defense talks focusing on terrorism, Iraq

         US, Britain pile pressure on NATO allies over Iraq
IRAQ

         Blair says Iraq must disarm or pay the price

OTHER NEWS

         US troops in West Africa, Ivory Coast fighting rages

 

 

NATO
 

         NATO Secretary General Robertson urged allies on Tuesday to take the danger of "criminal states" seriously as the United States prepared to brief its alliance partners on threats it sees from Iraq.  Robertson did not refer specifically to Iraq in his comments opening a meeting of defense ministers in Warsaw. "We need...to think very carefully about the role of this alliance in the future, not least in protecting our citizens from criminal terrorists and criminal states, especially where they are armed with weapons designed for massive and indiscriminate destruction," Robertson said. "Our common aim must be to maintain the will and the capabilities to deter those...threats where possible, to root them out and destroy them where deterrence has broken down."(Reuters 1412 240902 Sep 02 GMT)

 

         America's NATO allies gave broad support Tuesday to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's plans for a new multinational response force able to strike quickly against threats from terrorists or renegade states. Diplomats said the overwhelming majority of the 19 NATO defense ministers backed the plan. "If NATO does not have a force that is quick and agile, which can deploy in days or weeks, instead of months or years, then it will not have much to offer the world in the 21st century"" Rumsfeld warned the meeting. The force is expected to be operational within two years if it gets final approval at a NATO summit November in Prague. "We're talking about forces that would be aggressive fighting troops, self-sustaining and able to operate in a hostile climate," a NATO official said on condition of anonymity. NATO Secretary-General Robertson, said NATO had to act quickly to refocus its military muscle so it can "root out and destroy" terrorist threats.  "We must now transform our alliance so that it can play an equally pivotal part in the war against terrorism and the dangers of weapons of mass destruction.."(AP 241415 Sep 02 GMT)

 

 

         Russian Defense Minister Ivanov joins his NATO counterparts on Wednesday for talks expected to focus on the global fight against terrorism and the crisis over Iraq. The meeting will be held under the new partnership agreement signed between Russia and the 19-nation military alliance in May, which NATO officials say has been working better than expected in increasing defense ties between the former foes. Ivanov is also expected to raise the subject of Georgia, which Russia accuses of harboring Chechen terrorists responsible for attacks on its territory.(AP 250212 Sep 02 GMT)

 

         The United States and Britain used a NATO meeting on Tuesday to pile pressure on their European allies to take action over Iraq, and the head of the alliance urged a new, pre-emptive strategy against rogue states.   But France -- which insists that any action against Iraq must be mandated by the UN Security Council -- warned that launching a pre-emptive strike against Iraq could inflame the Arab world against the West and set a dangerous precedent.  "I think this is extremely dangerous because it could open all sorts of possibilities," French Defense Minister Alliot-Marie told a news conference.  She was speaking shortly before CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, flanked by  Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, briefed the ministers in a closed-door session on Iraq. "I have always found that when people are working off the same set of facts they tend to come to quite similar conclusions," Rumsfeld told reporters. "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about their own facts but if you are all on the same sheet of music you tend to sing the same song."  The ministers were also handed copies of Britain's long-awaited dossier on Iraq, published on Tuesday, which said President Saddam Hussein could launch a weapon of mass destruction at just 45 minutes' notice and was striving to get his hands on nuclear capability.(Reuters1927 240902 Sep 02 GMT)

 

IRAQ

 

         Britain published a long-awaited dossier on Iraq on Tuesday saying President Saddam Hussein could launch a chemical or biological warhead at just 45 minutes' notice and was striving to develop nuclear weapons.  Prime Minister Blair, facing disquiet from many in his Labor Party over a possible strike on Iraq, urged the international community to ensure Iraq disarms and said nobody wanted war.  But he said he had no doubt Iraq and its neighbors would be better off without Saddam and that while diplomacy was pursued, preparation for action must continue. Sixty-four legislators, including 53 from Blair's own party, registered a protest by voting against the government in a symbolic vote on adjourning the debate. Many said they would oppose their leader if he demanded military action. "At best it is a deeply flawed, partial and superficial document," Labor's Alan Simpson said. "It is heavy on supposition and light on fact. It is closer to propaganda than it is to scrutiny."  The dossier said Saddam was "ready to use" chemical and biological weapons and had tried to acquire uranium from Africa. "His military planning allows for some of the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair said.  "We know Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, though we do not know whether he has been successful," he added.(Reuters 2247 240902 Sep 02 GMT)

 

 

OTHER NEWS

 

         U.S. troops arrived in West Africa on Wednesday on a mission to protect Americans caught in Ivory Coast by a six-day military uprising that has left at least 270 dead.  Airport sources in neighboring Ghana said a Hercules C-130 cargo plane had arrived with 53 people on board. They said another four planes carrying troops and equipment were expected soon at the airport in Accra.  French troops, on standby to rescue foreigners, sent a unit closer to Bouake from their 200-strong base in the capital Yamoussoukro, 100 km (60 miles) south of the city and 250 km north of the main city of Abidjan. The Pentagon said it was moving forces to West Africa from its European Command to protect 2,000 to 3,000 Americans in Ivory Coast. "The United States is committed to ensuring the safety of its citizens...and remains ready for any and all contingencies," said U.S. Lt. Commander Donald Sewell, a Defense Department spokesman, in Washington.  A defense official said the force would go to Ghana first. (Reuters 0346 250902 Sep 02 GMT)

 

 

 

 

 

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