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Europe

War Clouds Loom

The likelihood of an American attack on Iraq was strengthened as the British daily, "The Observer" reported that Blair will fly to Washington in April to finalise with Bush details of military action against Iraq.

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Together through war and peace: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, with US Secretary of State Colin Powell

There was no confirmation of the report from Blair's Downing Street office, but a spokesman did indicate that Britain would continue its loyal support for the US "war on terror", even if it was widened to encompass Iraq.

Britain shares America's concerns about Iraq's support for terrorism and its developments of weapons of mass destruction, the office is stated to have said.

"The Observer" also quoted a senior government official as saying that the two leaders would finalise "Phase Two" of the war with Iraq being the focus.

The report makes the likelihood of a US military attack on Iraq appear almost imminent.

Military experts reckon that in case of military action, a possible attack should take place by the end of May or then after September, considering that the period in between is the hottest in Iraq. Sweltering weather would make for unsuitable conditions for a war.

Britain not critical of America

Last month Bush branded Iraq as belonging to an "axis of evil" along with Iran and North Korea. Ever since there has been an outpouring of criticism by European leaders of Bush's plans to expand his "war on terror".

But Britain, America's staunchest ally has withheld flaying Bush's policy.

"The Observer" also reported that to counter the growing criticism and scepticism around the world, the British government would furnish proof of the covert Iraqi weapon development programme.

Iraq has consistently refused to allow United Nations weapons inspectors into the country since 1998.

What will America do next?

Speculation is rife about America's next step in the "war against terror".

The German newspaper, "Die Welt" reported on Saturday that the US Defence Ministry has begun acquiring about 1,5 million barrels of aeroplane fuel for US air bases in the Middle East and Asia.

This is more than a sure sign for experts that the Americans are planning massive bomb attacks on Iraq.

Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein is said to have derided America's latest threats. The new US slogan "We'll topple the regime" is better than the old one, "We'll attack Iraq and its people", he is believed to have said.

Meanwhile suspicion is growing that Iraq might actually be actively producing mass weapons of destruction.

The German daily, "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung" reported recently about a new nuclear programme. Relying on trustworthy reports of the Federal German News Service (BND) from January, the newspaper said that Iraq was buying "nuclear relevant basic chemicals".

Intelligence sources had also found indications that Iraq is continuing with its "Bio-Toxin-Programme" and is "building a mobile B-weapons capacity", the newspaper said.

This could mean that Iraq could achieve the high nuclear status of 1990.