- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The White House yesterday warned that time was running out for the United Nations to draft a resolution against Iraq and ridiculed the notion that Saddam Hussein could stay in power if only he disarmed.
"The United Nations does not have forever," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One. "It is coming down to the end."
But even as the White House toughened its rhetoric on Iraq, a key U.S. ally complained that administration officials were sending conflicting signals on the president's resolve.
"On one hand they are continuously giving an impression of a military action," said Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. "On the other hand they are saying: An intervention may not happen; we have not yet made a decision.
"President Bush and the U.S. administration should make their decision immediately, and this uncertainty should be eliminated," Mr. Ecevit, who is campaigning for re-election, told a Turkish newspaper.
"Turkey is affected most negatively by this contradiction. We are left in the middle and under great pressure," he said.
Mr. Ecevit's country shares a border with Iraq and plays host to several American military bases. It also was an important U.S. staging ground for the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
The White House continued to insist that complaints about mixed signals were "much ado about nothing." Mr. Fleischer emphasized that the administration's long-standing policy of regime change effectively meant the ouster of Saddam.
"Let me cut to the bottom line," Mr. Fleischer said. "In the event Saddam Hussein gives the order, and under his leadership and direction disarms Iraq, gives up its weapons of mass destruction, has no more chemical weapons, no more biological weapons, stops using hostility as a way to deal with its neighbors, stops repression of minorities with his own country, give me a call."
He added: "If you want to fool yourselves into believing that's what Saddam Hussein would do in policy, that's an interesting way to approach it.
"But this is probably the mother of all hypotheticals," he said. "This is a question of how many devils can dance on the head of a pin."
In the past week, administration officials have described the U.S. stance toward Saddam in a variety of ways.
John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, last week said change would require removal of Saddam as well as the "de-Nazification" of the entire regime. "It's not just the one person," he said. "It's the top people around him."
Mr. Fleischer has said regime change in Iraq could be realized at the cost of "one bullet" or one plane ticket.
On Sunday's political talk shows, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice both said that Saddam could stay in power if his regime were to abide totally by U.N. resolutions on disarmament.
"All we're interested in is getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction. We think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off with a different leader, a different regime. But the principal offense here are weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The secretary of state said this stance was Mr. Bush's and attributed the goal signal regime change to President Clinton.
After a meeting Monday with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, Mr. Bush finessed all those positions by saying that disarmament would be regime change.
"If he were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I've described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed," he said. But he added that "we don't believe he is going to change."
In an attempt to win support from France and Russia, the administration last week submitted a softened resolution on Iraqi disarmament to the U.N. Security Council.
The reworded resolution does not explicitly threaten force but mentions less-explicit "consequences" and requires consultation with the Security Council again before any U.S. military action. The administration also dropped its demand that council members be allowed to send their own inspectors into Iraq for every search.
Mr. Bush told the United Nations on Sept. 12 to draft a resolution against Iraq in a matter of "weeks, not months" or risk becoming as irrelevant as the old League of Nations. Nearly six weeks later, members of the Security Council continue to squabble over language and format.
The administration's overtures were rejected yesterday, with Russia's top diplomat, Igor Ivanov, calling the latest American draft resolution unacceptable. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that "much work remains to be done," and China also expressed reservations.
Any of those three countries can veto a Security Council resolution, but the White House discounted such rhetoric.
"You can anticipate as we've seen throughout this multiweek process a series of statements, sometimes which are not supported by what is said in private," Mr. Fleischer said. "The United Nations is entering the final stages on this, and we would like to see an agreement reached."
The administration continued to insist on a single, strong resolution instead of a pair of weaker resolutions favored by France.
"One resolution is appropriate," Mr. Fleischer said. "We'll continue to work it and see, when we get an agreement if we get an agreement how to proceed."
Even if no agreement is reached, the administration has said, it has every intention of proceeding against Iraq, with Britain and other allies.

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