WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton said today the U.S. military is prepared to act against Iraq if Saddam Hussein does not resume cooperating with United Nations weapons inspectors.

In a Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, Clinton made no mention of a deadline for Iraq to comply with U.N. demands, but he made clear that failing to take strong action would undermine U.N. credibility and embolden Saddam to ``act recklessly'' against his neighbors.

``We continue to hope _ indeed, pray _ that Saddam will comply,'' Clinton said. ``But we must be prepared to act if he does not.''

As the president spoke, additional U.S. warships were headed toward the Persian Gulf, and Pentagon planners were considering a major buildup of military forces that could include more combat planes.

Today, the State Department began withdrawing nonessential personnel and their families from embassies in Israel and Kuwait, citing the mounting tensions since Iraq on Oct. 31 stopped all cooperation with weapons inspectors of the U.N. Special Commission charged with disarming Iraq. Today at least 400 weapons inspectors and other U.N. staff left Baghdad in a major pullout of nonessential U.N. workers.