U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says momentum is building for possible military operations to make Iraq give up its weapons of mass destruction.
The secretary said the international community has made enormous efforts over the past 12 years for a diplomatic resolution of the issue, but failed. He said the patience of the international community is running out.
Mr. Rumsfeld made his comments in Rome at a news conference following talks with Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino. The secretary said Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are far more lethal than conventional arms and said the international community should act to stop them.
Mr. Rumsfeld also warned Iraqi military commanders not to use chemical or biological weapons, saying in the event they do, they will wish they had not.
Later, the secretary told U-S troops at the Aviano air base in northern Italy the United States does not expect an extended conflict if one does break out. He said it is hard to tell how long fighting would last. He mentioned six days or six weeks, but said he doubts it will take six months.
Italy is the first stop of the secretary's European trip to press Washington's case for military action against Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld flies to Munich, Germany today (Friday) for a European security conference. There, he is expected to hold talks with European defense ministers including Russia's Sergei Ivanov.
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