- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2002

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that there is sufficient evidence Saddam Hussein is working on nuclear weapons and called on other world leaders to support an effort to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Although Mr. Bush again refused to release information to prove Saddam poses an imminent threat to the United States and the world, Mr. Blair pointed to a new report by a nuclear watchdog group as evidence Iraq is making strides in attaining a nuclear capability.
"That threat is real. We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this morning showing what has been going on at the former nuclear-weapons sites to realize that," Mr. Blair said before his three-hour meeting with Mr. Bush at the presidential retreat in Camp David.
The report, which was released Friday, cites satellite photos showing construction at several Iraqi sites linked to Saddams development of nuclear weapons.
"We know that they were trying to develop nuclear-weapons capability. And the importance of this mornings report is that it yet again shows that there is a real issue that has to be tackled here," Mr. Blair said.
The president, however, said no new information is necessary to illustrate Saddams threat to the world. Citing a 1998 report by the same atomic agency, Mr. Bush said Iraq was "six months away from developing a [nuclear] weapon." "I dont know what more evidence we need," Mr. Bush said.
Both leaders played down calls for another attempt by the United Nations to resolve the problem by forcing Iraq to readmit weapons inspectors, kicked out by Saddam in 1998.
Mr. Bush noted that U.N. resolutions seeking to prevent Saddam from acquiring weapons of mass destruction have proved fruitless in the past — a fact, he said, that is well-known by other world leaders.
"A lot of people understand that this man has defied every U.N. resolution; 16 U.N. resolutions hes ignored. A lot of people understand he holds weapons of mass destruction. A lot of people understand he has invaded two countries. A lot of people understand hes gassed his own people. A lot of people understand he is unstable."
"So weve got a lot of support. A lot of people understand the danger," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Blair said yesterday that the United States and Britain will seek the "broadest possible international support" in how they deal with Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction.
"People should have confidence that we will approach this issue in a sensible and measured way," Mr. Blair told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Bush.
"We did so in respect of Afghanistan; we did so earlier in respect of Kosovo, and we will do so again, and [EnLeader] we will do it on the basis of the broadest possible international support," Mr. Blair said. The two leaders met just days before Mr. Bush will address the United Nations in New York to make his case against Saddam. Yesterday, both men sought to convince other world leaders that Iraq poses a threat to the world. "Its an issue not just for America, not just for Britain; its an issue for the whole of the international community," said Mr. Blair, who added that the United Nations could be a solution "but the U.N.s got to be the way of dealing with this issue, not the way of avoiding dealing with it."
Mr. Blair said Saddam cannot be trusted to cooperate with U.N. inspectors based on a past "catalog of attempts by Iraq to conceal its weapons of mass destruction, not to tell the truth about it over not just over a period of months, but over a period of years."
Mr. Bush noted that Congress — with the House voting 360-38 and the Senate voting unanimously — adopted resolutions in 1998 calling for regime change in Iraq.
"The Clinton administration supported regime change. Many members of the current United States Senate supported regime change. My administration still supports regime change.
"This man is a man who said he was going to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, and for 11 long years he has not fulfilled his promise," the president said.
Still, Mr. Bush, who has repeatedly said he has not decided on a course of action in Iraq, said there are plenty of options other than a military strike.
"Theres all kinds of ways to change regimes," he said.
Mr. Blair has said he will release documents within the next few weeks detailing the threat posed by Saddam. Mr. Bush — who aides say is planning to use his U.N. address to say that unless there is immediate multilateral action, the United States will act alone — sought to persuade Americans to back his call to oust Saddam. "Americans must understand that when a tyrant like Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction, it not only threatens the neighborhood in which he lives, it not only threatens the region, it can threaten the United States of America, or Great Britain for that matter," Mr. Bush said.
On Friday, Mr. Blair said his nation is prepared to back the United States "when the shooting starts." Britain is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with the United States, Russia, China and France. Each holds veto power over any U.N. resolution on Iraq. The other three council members came out Friday in opposition to the U.S. plan to oust Saddam.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell defended Washingtons mounting campaign for action against Iraq, saying Saddam — not Mr. Bush — is responsible for the growing talk of war. "It is not the United States who is bringing the battle to Saddam Hussein; it is Saddam Hussein who is bringing the battle to the entire international community," Mr. Powell said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde. Mr. Powell said Saddams continued defiance of U.N. resolutions has made Baghdads weapons program an issue that concerns the world.
A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected Mr. Bushs request for support of military action to oust Saddam, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the United Nations must decide the matter. "It is necessary to send weapons inspectors to Baghdad without conditions to check whether Iraq is producing mass-destruction weapons or not," Mr. Ivanov said.
In Iraq, Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said he doubted whether readmitting U.N. weapons inspectors would prevent a U.S. attack.

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