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Saturday, 1 February, 2003, 04:32 GMT
US Pacific chief seeks more troops
USS Kitty Hawk
The USS Kitty Hawk could be sent to the Gulf
The commander of United States forces in the Pacific has asked for additional troops, aircraft and ships in the event of a US-led war with Iraq, US defence officials said.

Admiral Thomas Fargo asked the Pentagon to strengthen the US military presence in the region to deter North Korea from engaging in any "adventure" while a conflict was underway, they said.

He feels it would be a prudent step

US defence official
"The admiral wants to be sure that the North Koreans don't launch any adventure to take advantage of what they might see as preoccupation with Iraq," said one of the unnamed officials.

Tensions between North Korea and the US have risen markedly in recent months after Washington reported the Stalinist state had announced its withdrawal from a 1994 pact on nuclear non-proliferation.

Bomber planes

On Friday Washington again expressed concern that North Korea was engaged in a secret nuclear weapons programme after reports that US spy satellites had detected lorries taking on cargo at the Yongbyon nuclear power plant.

Satellite photo of Yongbyon power plant
The US is concerned about recent activity at Yongbyon

Admiral Fargo, who is based in Hawaii, is said to have urged Washington to beef up his forces in response to possible plans to move the USS Kitty Hawk to the Persian Gulf in the event of an attack on Iraq.

The aircraft carrier is currently based in Yokosuka, Japan.

According to reports from Reuters news agency Admiral Fargo, who oversees all US military in Asia and the Pacific Rim, had asked for B-1 and B-52 bombers as well as extra troops.

"He feels it would be a prudent step," one defence official said of Admiral Fargo's decision.

So far Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is reported to have not yet made a decision on whether to supply the extra troops.

The US already has 37,000 troops based in South Korea.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

26 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
24 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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