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US Has Not Yet Decided on War with Iraq, says Powell - 2002-12-29

Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the Bush Administration has made no decision to go to war with Iraq, even as U.S. troops and aircraft are being deployed in the region.

U.S. and British warplanes have been carrying out near-daily strikes after being targeted in the no-fly zone in Iraq, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed an order last week moving thousands more troops, two aircraft carrier groups, and dozens of strike aircraft into the region.

Despite the allied military build up, Secretary of State Colin Powell told an interviewer on Fox News Sunday President George Bush has not decided to attack Iraq. "He hopes for a peaceful solution, but at the same time we are taking prudent actions, positioning our forces so that they will be able to do whatever might be required," Mr. Powell said.

In an appearance on the CBS television program Face the Nation, Mr. Powell said the United States is providing intelligence on a daily basis to U.N. inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

On Fox New Sunday, Secretary Powell said he expects to see a full accounting soon. While Iraqi President Saddam Hussein claims the programs have been dismantled, Mr. Powell said he believes Iraq has not stopped its weapons programs. He added on NBC's Meet the Press the stand-off with Baghdad "cannot go on indefinitely."

Last month, the U.N. Security Council gave Baghdad one last chance to reveal all of the details of its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs or face U.S.-led military action.