- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) — President George W. Bush challenged the United Nations Security Council on Thursday to back up its words with deeds in the showdown with Iraq if it wants to retain international credibility.

"The game is over," he said of Saddam Hussein's cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game with U.N. weapons inspectors searching for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam, he said, would continue with new ploys to stall and deceive the international community, but time for action had come.

"On Nov. 8th by demanding the immediate disarmament of Iraq, the United Nations Security Council spoke with clarity and authority," Bush said. "Now the Security Council must show whether its words have any meaning. Having made its demands, the Security Council must not back down when those demands are defied and mocked by a dictator."

The United States argues that a new Security Council resolution is not needed to authorize force to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, but many other countries are pushing for such a resolution before committing themselves to action.

Bush said Thursday, "The United States would welcome and support a new resolution" that makes clear the Security Council stands behind its previous demands on Iraq.

"Yet resolution means little without resolve," Bush said. "And the United States, with a growing coalition of nations, is resolved to take whatever actions are necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime."

In November, the 15-member council voted unanimously for Resolution 1441, which finds Iraq in material breach of earlier disarmament mandates and invokes unspecified "serious consequences" for any new failure to cooperate fully with weapons inspectors.

A preliminary report by U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix said full cooperation with inspectors, who returned to Iraq two months ago after a four-year hiatus, was not being given. Nor had Iraq accounted for chemical and biological weapons it was known to have at the end of the 1990s.

In addition, Iraq was shown to have imported military items prohibited by earlier U.N. mandates.

"Saddam Hussein was given a final chance — he is throwing that chance away," Bush said. "The dictator of Iraq is making his choice. Now the nations of the Security Council must make their own."

Bush appeared Thursday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had earlier testified on Capitol Hill.

Bush virtually repeated the charges made by Powell against Iraq on Wednesday, during a dramatic appearance before the Security Council.

The president also added that intelligence showed that Saddam had given Iraqi field commanders permission to use chemical agents against U.S. and other troops if they entered Iraq to force disarmament.

"The danger Saddam Hussein poses reaches across the world," Bush said.

The president's remarks were part of a full diplomatic push against Iraq.

The White House said the offensive, described earlier as the "final phase" of diplomacy, would feature heightened government-to-government contacts, as well as high-level ones between administration officials and foreign representatives and telephone calls by Bush.

"I think the president would hope that a diplomatic solution can be found," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "The question is, if Saddam Hussein is not willing to be a partner to a diplomatic solution, does the world sit by and do nothing as Saddam Hussein continues to arm up and develop weapons, which as we saw from the secretary's presentation yesterday, involves some of the most horrible chemical and biological weapons that mankind could ever imagine.

"The president is continuing through the secretary of state and through his own efforts to consult with friends and allies around the world about what course should come next. And the consultation process continues."

Powell, in the riveting show-and-tell appearance Wednesday before the Security Council, presented satellite photographs and audiotaped conversation among Iraqi military officers to buttress Washington's contention that Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and is hiding them from international inspectors.

The United States says Iraq is in violation of Resolution 1441 and that if it doesn't reverse course, a military expedition would be necessary to blunt a grave and growing threat to U.S. national security and world peace.

Many of America's Western European allies — Germany and France, for example — oppose force and want inspectors to continue indefinitely.

Blix is expected to give a new report to the Security Council next week.

Also against military action are Russia and China, who with France hold veto power on the council, which could thwart any U.S. hopes of gaining a new resolution specifically authorizing the use of force.

The post-Powell diplomatic offensive also coincides with the Army's elite 101st Airborne Division receiving orders to deploy to the Gulf from their base in Kentucky.

The 101st troops will join more than 100,000 others either already in the region or on their way to force disarmament if necessary.

Fleischer, when asked earlier why Washington continues to deal with the United Nations over Iraq given Saddam's continued defiance of its wishes, said Bush believes it important that international organizations dedicated to non-proliferation of weapons and peace enforce their mandates to remain a viable institution.

" … he believes they have to have teeth, they have to have a way to enforce what they say," Fleischer said. "Otherwise they quickly become irrelevant in the reality of the world."

Following Powell's presentation Wednesday, 10 East European countries issued a joint statement supporting the United States in its position on Iraq. Italy, Spain, Portugal and a number of others also support the U.S. position.

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