Britain says Iraq's weapons dossier contains lies, but that alone will not trigger a war. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says diplomacy and arms inspections must continue to try to resolve the Iraq crisis peacefully.
Mr. Straw says Iraq's 12,000-page document on its weapons programs is full of omissions and falsehoods. However, he says Iraq must also interfere with arms inspections before it would be in what is called "material breach" of a U.N. Security Council resolution. If Iraq is declared in material breach, it could provoke a U.S.-led war.
Mr. Straw said he expects U.N. inspections chief Hans Blix to report there are big gaps in the Iraqi dossier.
But Mr. Straw told British radio the international community will not rush into military confrontation with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "What we've got today is a further step in a very calm and deliberate process, to try by every means possible to get Iraq to comply with its international law obligations peacefully and therefore and thereby to resolve this crisis in a peaceful manner," he said. "Nobody wants war."
Mr. Straw said the diplomatic procedures may take a long time, and the U.N. will not get its first full report on the inspectors' progress until January 27.
He also repeated Britain's desire for a second U.N. resolution authorizing military force if Iraq is found in material breach, a process that could require extensive negotiations.
The United States and Britain do not rule out going to war against Iraq without further U.N. authorization.
In a related development, British military chief of staff Admiral Michael Boyce says he is frustrated that he cannot properly plan for military action given the uncertain future of the showdown with Iraq.
British officials say Saddam Hussein must face a credible threat of military force or he will never comply with the disarmament resolution.
But British radio reported Thursday that the first shipment of British heavy weapons to the Persian Gulf area will not depart before mid-January, and at that pace could take months to deploy an armored division.