- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2003

President Bush prepared Americans yesterday for a war with Iraq by saying that if the U.N. Security Council does not disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the United States will.
"The United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, will take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.
The president's rhetoric came as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a speech at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, told Baghdad to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions to disarm and cautioned Washington against attacking Iraq on its own.
"War is always a human catastrophe, a course that should only be considered when all other possibilities have been exhausted and when it's obvious that the alternative is worse," Mr. Annan said in his speech.
"If war comes to Iraq again, it may cause terrible loss and suffering to the Iraqi people and perhaps to their neighbors, too. We all and first and foremost the leaders of Iraq itself have a duty to prevent this if we possibly can."
Mr. Annan said that if the United States does not stay within the multinational framework, it would squander the legitimacy of its cause.
"This is not an issue for any one state but for the international community as a whole. When states decide to use force, not in self-defense but to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the U.N. Security Council," he said.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said after Mr. Annan's speech: "Our position with respect to the coalition, the U.N. and enforcing resolution 1441 are quite clear. I would refer you back to the president's radio address today and his recent comments."
The American public's support for military action against Iraq appears to have grown in recent days.
Polls by CBS and Newsweek indicated that seven in 10 Americans support a military offensive. The CBS poll was of 831 adults, and the Newsweek poll was of 1,003 adults.
About six in 10 respondents in a Newsweek and Time/CNN poll said they were in favor of using ground troops. The poll was of 1,003 adults. All the polls had a margin of error of three percentage points.
The polls also showed that the public prefers that the nation have the backing of its allies or the United Nations, rather than going it alone.
The Time/CNN poll also found that 62 percent of Americans approve of the way Mr. Bush is doing his job, up from 55 percent in January.
Time/CNN did its most recent polling the day after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented the administration's case against Iraq to the United Nations, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush talked by phone yesterday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a key U.S. ally, about increasing diplomatic pressure on the Security Council.
Most of the 15 members of the Security Council are expected to support military action against Iraq if Saddam does not come clean about his possession of weapons of mass destruction, but France and Germany remain opposed.
France is one of five Security Council members that could veto military force.
In his Saturday radio address, Mr. Bush said, "The Iraqi regime's violations of Security Council resolutions are evident. They are dangerous to America and the world, and they continue to this hour."
He also gave some new information about Iraq's military buildup.
"The Iraqi regime has actively and secretly attempted to obtain equipment needed to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Firsthand witnesses have informed us that Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents: equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery," the president said.
As for Iraq's "elaborate campaign to conceal its weapons of mass destruction and to hide or intimidate key experts or scientists," Mr. Bush said the deception "is directed from the highest levels of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein, his son, Iraq's vice president and the very official responsible for cooperating with" weapons inspectors.
The president also expounded on Saddam's links to terrorists.
"Saddam Hussein has long-standing, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s," the president said.

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