- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) — President George W. Bush said Sunday the United Nations was facing a "moment of truth" over the Iraq issue and the world body had to decide if it would remain relevant.

"It is clear that not only is Saddam Hussein deceiving, it is clear he's not disarming," Bush told congressional Republicans at a policy conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "And so you'll see us over the next short period of time working with friends and allies and the United Nations to bring that body along."

The United States maintains that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted and must be disarmed with force if necessary.

Saddam "wants the world to think that hide-and-seek is a game that we should play," Bush said Sunday. "And it's over."

Washington says if the United Nations doesn't act against Iraq, then it will do so unilaterally.

"It's a moment of truth for the United Nations," he said. "The United Nations gets to decide shortly whether or not it is going to be relevant in terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean anything … one thing is certain, for the sake of peace and for the sake of security of the United States and our friends and allies, we will disarm Saddam Hussein if he will not disarm himself."

U.N. inspectors are in Iraq following the passage last November of U.N. Security Council Res. 1441, which calls for Iraq's disarmament beginning with the return of the inspectors for the first time in four years and threatening "serious consequences" if Baghdad failed to cooperate with them.

Bush's comments came as Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told a news conference in Baghdad he expected the U.N. Security Council to give the inspectors more time "as long as we are registering good progress."

Also Sunday, there was mixed reaction to a Franco-German plan to end the threat of war. The plan, to be presented Friday to the U.N. Security Council, calls for sending thousands of U.N. troops — so-called "blue helmets" — and hundreds, possibly thousands, more inspectors to enforce U.N. resolutions calling for Iraq's disarmament.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the proposal "a diversion, not a solution."

"The issue is not more inspectors," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The issue is compliance on the part of Saddam Hussein."

He said France and Germany should "read 1441 again."

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