PM: TROOPS TO IRAQ IN WEEKS
BRITISH troops could be in Iraq within weeks, Tony Blair signalled last night.
[Sunday Mirror - 8 Sept 2002]:
Speaking as he flew out here for a council of war with President Bush, the PM backed a new plan for "coercive inspections" to destroy Iraq's weapons sites.
His hawkish words followed a lighter moment earlier in the day when Mr Blair raised eyebrows by packing his electric guitar for the Camp David summit.
The bizarre sight of his favourite instrument being loaded on his plane sparked speculation of a campfire sing-a-long with Mr Bush.
But on a much more serious note, Mr Blair referred to his belief that Saddam Hussein is developing a secret arsenal of nuclear weapons. "Work of a highly suspicious nature is being done," said the PM, adding Saddam could be within months of possessing a nuclear device.
Speculation is mounting that Mr Bush plans to send a 12,000-strong contingent of US Army Rangers and elite Delta Force troops from Kuwait into Iraq for a "short, sharp raid". The two leaders were due to discuss options to remove Saddam from power ahead of Mr Bush's crucial speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday in New York.
Both leaders are battling to win international support for military action amid warnings that any strikes against Iraq must be backed by a UN mandate.
Mr Blair stressed that fresh satellite evidence showed Saddam had been building new nuclear weapons facilities. He said: "The threat is very real and is not just to America or the international community but to Britain.
"If these weapons are developed and used, there is no way in any conflict that Saddam initiated that using these weapons would not have direct implications for us in Britain."
Mr Blair gave no hint of when he would publish Britain's long-awaited dossier on Saddam's weapons, but promised it would go into "some detail".
But his fears were not echoed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell who said Saddam's military machine was "much weaker" than in the Gulf War 12 years ago.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is due to meet his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday for more talks on Iraq.
10 SONGS HE COULD HAVE SUNG1. Universal Soldier
2. Oh, What a Lovely War
3. War (what is it good for?)
4. Give Peace A Chance
5. Don't Look Back In Anger
6. Boom Bang a Bang
7. When I Need You
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9. Me And My Shadow
10. Puppet On A String