President Bush's spokesman called Iraq's continued cease-fire violations "a matter of extreme concern" and reiterated Tuesday that Baghdad will get no further warnings to stop its provocative behavior.
Press Secretary Marlin Fitz-water spoke out as Iraq, for the third time in as many days, sent work crews in civilian clothes into disputed border territory in Kuwait to remove equipment from a naval base.U.S. officials reported separately that Baghdad has been moving anti-aircraft missile batteries around in both its southern and northern no-fly zones, in an apparent effort to confuse and provoke the U.S.-led allies flying patrols there.
Fitzwater told reporters at the White House, "There is a clear pattern of violation, whether it's missiles or these raids into warehouses or other actions they've taken.
"It remains to be seen exactly what may come of that, but as we said, there will be no warnings."
The U.N. Security Council on Monday night condemned the border incursions but rejected military retaliation.
Fitzwater, in an interview on "Fox Morning News," said the U.N. action "really put the world community on record in saying this is not acceptable. We are now in a position of watching to see how he (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) may proceed from here. But it is a matter of extreme concern."
Bush met Monday afternoon with CIA Director Robert Gates and with other top advisers to weigh his options.
Bush was told that while Iraq did move some of its Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles out of the southern restricted airspace, which was designated by the allies as a protected zone for Shiite Muslims, it had not removed all the weapons from south of the 32nd parallel.
Iraq has periodically moved missiles into the northern zone in recent weeks, but U.S. officials became concerned when missiles also were moved into the south, suggesting a deliberate pattern of provocation, said one official.
"This is vintage Saddam," said another official.
The United States, Britain, France and Russia warned Iraq last week to remove the missiles from south of the 32nd or risk retaliation. Iraq appeared to defuse the crisis over the weekend by moving most of the missiles out and dispersing the remaining batteries in such a way that they no longer posed a threat to allied over-flights.
But government analysts said Iraq was constantly moving around the remaining missiles and could regroup them quickly to form a renewed threat.
In addition, Iraq was moving around surface-to-air missile batteries it deployed in the northern no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel, which the allies have cordoned off to protect the country's Kurdish minority.
The United States appeared to differentiate between a possible response to the Iraqi raids into Kuwait where Iraq seized weapons and confronted U.N. guards and its possible retaliation for the alleged violation of the no-fly zones.
For the first, the United States left the response up to the Security Council, which late Monday issued a strong condemnation and demanded that Iraq return anti-ship Silkworm missiles and other weapons it had removed.
For the latter, the United States appeared prepared to strike back in conjunction with France and Britain, both of which also patrol the skies over those zones.