- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

NEW YORK President Bush said yesterday that he wants deadlines of "days and weeks, not months and years" in a U.N. resolution against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, as the Security Council agreed to set a time limit for the global body to resume arms inspections.
But Iraq yesterday flatly rejected Mr. Bush's demand for a swift and unconditional return of U.N. arms inspectors.
"We do not accept Bush's conditions," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in a television interview in Baghdad that was broadcast yesterday.
Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council met yesterday with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss Iraq a day after Mr. Bush demanded the council enforce its demands that Baghdad disarm or face unilateral U.S. action.
There was "complete unanimity about the imperative of getting the weapons inspectors back into Iraq," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters after lunching with the ministers of China, France, Russia and the United States.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had earlier said he would demand a "very tough" resolution, complete with a deadline for compliance.
"We have to work on resolutions that hold Iraq to account" for any activities related to developing weapons of mass destruction, "and it can't be resolutions of the kind we have seen in the past," Mr. Powell said yesterday.
There must be a new resolution "that has a deadline to it, that has firm standards to it and that would be tough, very tough," he added.
In other developments:
Mr. Bush said he was "highly doubtful" that Saddam would meet all of the demands of the United States.
Mr. Bush also said it would be a losing election strategy for congressional Democrats to defer a vote on Iraq until after the United Nations makes a move.
Mr. Powell and Mr. Straw made clear that discussions on a new Security Council resolution were in a very early stage and have not yet focused on specific wording or addressed the key issue of possible military action against Iraq.
Egypt and Jordan yesterday pressed Iraq to let U.N. weapons inspections resume their work and avert the possibility of an attack by the United States.
The foreign ministers reaffirmed in their meeting that Saddam has flouted U.N. resolutions.
"There is unanimity about the patent, flagrant breach by Saddam Hussein of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions in respect of weapons of mass destruction and much else," Mr. Straw said.
Asked whether the five agreed to present Iraq with a deadline, a key goal of the United States, Mr. Straw replied:
"We didn't come to a conclusion about that. But, it is fair to say, a very clear understanding that if we are going to set an imperative to get those weapons inspectors back that has to mean a time limit."
Mr. Powell met with Mr. Straw, along with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in Mr. Annan's office.
In a brief formal statement on behalf of the five, Mr. Ivanov said "ministers agreed that Iraq's noncompliance with Security Council resolutions is a serious problem and that Iraq should implement the resolutions."
"Today, we started consultations to decide how the Security Council of the United Nations can implement all the resolutions," he said.
Continuing the administration's campaign against Saddam, the president yesterday called on Democrats to vote on a congressional resolution before the United Nations acts.
"I can't imagine an elected member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying, 'I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision,'" Mr. Bush told reporters during a meeting with leaders of Central African nations at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
"If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people, say, 'Vote for me and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act,'" he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush said he wants the United Nations to draft a new resolution against Saddam "as soon as possible."
"There will be deadlines within the resolution," Mr. Bush said. "We must have deadlines, and we're talking days and weeks, not months and years."
The president's remarks came a day after he challenged the U.N. General Assembly to join his effort to disarm Saddam or risk irrelevance. The Iraqi dictator has been flouting U.N. resolutions against weapons of mass destruction since the end of the Gulf war in 1991.
During Thursday's address to the United Nations, Mr. Bush demanded Saddam destroy his weapons, end support for terrorism, stop persecuting Iraqi civilians, and release or account for those missing since the Gulf war, including U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher.
"I am highly doubtful that he'll meet our demands," the president said yesterday. "I hope he does, but I'm highly doubtful.
"The reason I'm doubtful is, he's had 11 years to meet the demands," he added. "For 11 long years, he has basically told the United Nations and the world he doesn't care."
But Iraq remained defiant yesterday, as it escalated its confrontation with the United States.
"The unconditional return of the inspectors will not solve the problem," Mr. Aziz said, adding that Mr. Bush's speech to the United Nations was "full of lies and fabrications."
Two key Arab nations Egypt and Jordan say that Iraq should allow for the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
"We have sent an appeal, and we ask our brothers in Iraq to respond to this invitation and accept the return of the U.N. inspectors in accordance with Security Council resolutions," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told reporters.
Jordan, one of Iraq's Arab neighbors, has also repeatedly told the Iraqis they would be wise to let the inspectors back, Reuters news agency quoted a senior Arab official as saying.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Iraq's continued intransigence was underscored by its latest refusal to let U.N. officials resume unconditional inspections for weapons of mass destruction.
"Obviously, they have something to hide," Mr. Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Mr. Bush took pains to emphasize the gravity of the looming conflict with Iraq.
"I hope the world community realizes we're extremely serious about what I said yesterday, and we expect quick resolution to the issue," the president said. "And that's starting with quick action on a resolution."
For the second day in a row, Mr. Bush tried to shame the United Nations into standing up to Saddam or risk becoming as ineffective as the old League of Nations. He predicted the reaction of member nations "will help determine the fate of this multilateral body, which has been unilaterally ignored by Saddam Hussein."
"He's put the credibility of the United Nations on the line," the president added. "Will this body be able to keep the peace and deal with the true threats, including threats to security in Central Africa and other parts of the world, or will it be irrelevant?"
Mr. Bush expressed incredulity that Senate Democrats would wait for the United Nations to act before voting on a resolution against Saddam. After initially promising to vote before adjourning for the November midterm elections, some Democrats now want to wait until afterward.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush tried to cajole Congress into action the same way he tried to pressure the United Nations with shame.
"It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States," he added. "My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as soon as possible.
"It's in our national interests that we do so," he added. "I don't imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, 'Gosh, I think I'm going to wait for some resolution.' He's a threat that we must deal with as quickly as possible."
This article is based in part on wire service reports

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