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Britain Tells Armed Forces to Prepare for War, Just in Case - 2002-12-20

Britain is telling its armed forces to get ready for war, in case Iraq fails to comply with a U.N. disarmament resolution. Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered the message Friday in a Christmas broadcast to the troops.

Prime Minister Blair told the armed forces they need to make all the necessary preparations, and build up capacity in the Persian Gulf region, in case of war with Iraq.

In an address over the British Forces Broadcasting Service, Mr. Blair apologized to the servicemen for the current uncertainty. But he said an Iraqi violation of the U.N. disarmament resolution could lead to war, and they must be ready.

"We will be prepared to use force, in order to ensure that they are disarmed of all chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons," said Tony Blair.

As part of those preparations, British defense officials this week put troops on short notice for transfer to the Gulf, and began hiring ships to haul heavy weaponry to the area.