- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) — Public support for President George W. Bush's plan to disarm Saddam Hussein by force drifted upward late last week after the State of the Union address and the administration believes Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to the United Nations will garner additional support.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 855 randomly selected adults on Feb. 1 found that 66 per cent of Americans were in favor of taking military action against Iraq, up from 57 percent two weeks earlier. This poll, which had a 4 percent margin of error, found the greatest support for the war since mid-September.

The poll, published Sunday, reported that for the first time in Post-ABC News surveys, about half of all Americans say the United States should take military action even without the endorsement of the United Nations.

The president begins another week Monday with a plate full of critical issues. A special envoy of South Korea's president-elect Roh Moo-hyun left Seoul for Washington on Sunday to stress the need for time to settle the North Korean nuclear arms crisis through diplomacy.

Chyung Dai-chul, a senior member of Roh's ruling Millennium Democratic Party, might meet Bush, but by Sunday the White House had scheduled no time. The visit came at a time when there were signs the crisis was deepening. U.S. officials said last week spy satellites have detected North Korea moving fuel rods around a key nuclear complex in Yongbyon, the nuclear facility north of the capital, Pyongyang. When processed, enough plutonium could be extracted from 8,000 rods to make four or five nuclear weapons, they said.

The Bush administration has been riveted on its Iraq policy and has said that it believes the North Korean nuclear gamble is not a crisis and can be dealt with through diplomacy. But last week it was reported that the White House is considering sending additional troops to the region. The U.S, has 37,000 troops in South Korea.

The president continues building his Iraq coalition next week in meetings with the Bahrain's and Poland's prime minister.

But the centerpiece of the week will be Powell's appearance at the United Nations on Wednesday. Powell is expected to reveal some startling new intelligence on Iraq.

United Press International's Intelligence Correspondent, Richard Sale, was told last week that the Bush administration will finally reveal its tightly held intelligence on Iraq weapons programs.

The White House, he reported, will release sanitized excerpts of communications and signals intelligence intercepts that clearly show that while Iraq no longer has a nuclear program, Baghdad does retain small amounts of deadly chemical and biological weapons that are kept moving from place to place, according to well-placed U.S. serving intelligence officials.

The weapons are not locked away in bunkers but kept mobile and usually travel by truck, these sources said. The most deeply worrying items are missing weapons grade anthrax and VX nerve gas which Iraq has yet to account for, these sources said.

On Sunday, Iraq ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Aldouri, said his government is going to "demonstrate whatever we have as evidence about these remaining issues," when U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix returns to Baghdad on Feb. 8 and 9.

Aldouri, appearing on Fox News on Sunday, acknowledged that he is remote from Saddam. He said he has only met the head of his country twice, about the same number of times as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

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