- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2001

President Bush yesterday told Saddam Hussein to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into his country and warned the Iraqi leader that "he'll find out" the consequences if he did not.
However, Mr. Bush deflected questions about whether Iraq was the next target in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
"First things first," Mr. Bush said in a Rose Garden session with reporters. "We're going to make sure that we accomplish each mission that we tackle."
Mr. Bush also braced the country for military casualties in Afghanistan, saying the campaign against terrorism had entered a "dangerous" phase.
With Marines choking off Kandahar, "this is a dangerous period of time. This is a period of time in which we're now hunting down the people who are responsible for bombing America," he said during a short appearance with two women rescued by U.S. special forces in Afghanistan.
The women, Heather Mercer, 24, and Dayna Curry, 30, had been jailed on charges of preaching Christianity.
"No president or commander in chief hopes anybody loses life in the theater, but it's going to happen," Mr. Bush said. "I said this early on, as the campaign began: America must be prepared for loss of life."
But, he said, "Afghanistan is still just the beginning."
Reporters looking beyond the war in Afghanistan repeatedly asked Mr. Bush whether the next target would be Saddam. Mr. Bush's father stopped short of removing the Iraqi leader during the Gulf war a decade ago.
Mr. Bush repeated his doctrine that any nation that harbored or aided terrorist groups was itself a terrorist. He also reiterated that the main targets were groups in some cases, nations that could wreak global damage through weapons of mass destruction.
"If they develop weapons of mass destruction that will be used to terrorize nations, they will be held accountable. And as for Mr. Saddam Hussein, he needs to let inspectors back in his country, to show us that he is not developing weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Bush said.
Asked the consequences if Saddam refused, the president said "he'll find out."
The White House said Mr. Bush's comments on Iraq were no different from previous remarks and rejected interpretations to the contrary.
Said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer: "It's nothing new. It's a reaffirmation, a restatement of the long-standing American policy, and I think it should be readily understood that every American president has spoken out strongly about Iraq Saddam Hussein can figure out the rest of it if he wants," he said.
Mr. Fleischer also said the president was not widening his definition of terrorists to include those who possessed weapons of mass destruction. Still, some White House TV reporters mused that Mr. Bush's comments on Iraq were a trial balloon directed at U.S. allies in the war on terrorism.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush grouped Iraq with other countries that supported and sheltered terrorists.
Asked about his "message" to Iraq, which the State Department had labeled a state sponsor of terrorism, Mr. Bush said: "My message is, is that if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist, you're a terrorist. Terrorism is terrorism. In this country, we'll deal with it."
Iraq agreed after its defeat in the Gulf war in 1991 to allow weapons inspectors into the country to ensure that Baghdad dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear-weapons programs.
Saddam expelled the inspectors in December 1998 in response to a three-night bombing campaign by the United States and Britain. The air assault was in retaliation for what U.N. weapons inspectors called years of noncooperation, obstruction and dithering by Iraq.
Despite its complaints that Gulf war-era economic sanctions were killing its children by the hundreds of thousands, Iraq in 1999 rejected a U.N. resolution that called for suspending the sanctions if it allowed weapons inspectors to return.
Many Republicans have been pressing the Bush administration to make Iraq its next target in the war on terrorism, but U.S. officials have said repeatedly they have no evidence of any link between Iraq and the September 11 assaults or the anthrax attacks.
Mr. Bush's comments came as the United States tried but failed yesterday to persuade Russia to support its proposals for tightening U.N. controls on military imports in Iraq while easing the flow of civilian goods.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell discussed the sanctions yesterday by telephone with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov of Russia, whose government blocked the changes at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in June.
"We're still trying to work that and to get agreement as soon as possible that would bring Russia into alignment with" the other permanent members of the Security Council, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"We're still working on trying to achieve a resolution that precisely targets Iraq's acquisition of weapons and materiel that makes them, particularly weapons of mass destruction, and which can allow a smoother flow of civilian goods for the Iraqi people. We also continue to support strongly the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq," he said.
Twice this year, the United States has tried to persuade the Security Council to strengthen the sanctions but, in the face of opposition from Russia, has had to accept extensions of the existing oil-for-food program. The current six-month phase of the program expires Friday.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri vowed Sunday that Baghdad would stop the oil-for-food program if this week's U.N. vote included provisions of the targeted sanctions it opposed.
During the presidential campaign, Mr. Bush said about Saddam: "If I found in any way, shape or form that he was developing weapons of mass destruction, I'd take 'em out. I'm surprised he's still there."
Mr. Bush made the same demand for weapons inspections to North Korea.
"We want North Korea to allow inspectors in, to determine whether or not they are. We've had that discussion with North Korea. I made it very clear to North Korea that in order for us to have relations with them, that we want to know, 'Are they developing weapons of mass destruction?'"


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