- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) — President George W. Bush on Monday sent a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council, which was intended to be an "affirmation" of the council's unanimous vote last November to disarm Saddam Hussein, according to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The United States, Britain and Spain introduced a draft resolution late Monday afternoon during a meeting of the Security Council in New York. In the terse, carefully crafted one-line statement, the three nations declared that: "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Res. 1441."

Rice told reporters at a White House briefing: "In that sense, it is an affirmation of the council's willingness to enforce its own resolution."

Earlier, Bush called Saddam's failure to comply with previous demands to disarm a threat to peace and stability.

"One way or the other, Saddam Hussein, for the sake of peace and for the security of the American people, will be disarmed," Bush said.

CBS News reported on Monday that Saddam had challenged Bush to a political campaign-style debate. The challenge came during a three-hour interview with anchorman Dan Rather. Part of the interview will be aired Monday evening, CBS said.

Saddam also told Rather that U.N. inspector Hans Blix was wrong that the al-Samoud 2 missile is in violation of U.N. mandates.

"We do not have missiles that go beyond the proscribed range," the partial CBS transcript quoted Saddam as saying.

According to CBS, Saddam told Rather that "Iraq is allowed to prepare proper missiles, and we are committed to that."

U.N. Resolution 1441, adopted Nov. 7, states that Iraq "has been and remains in material breach" of its commitment to disarm and gives the Arab nation "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations."

The resolution also established an inspection regime to bring Iraq into compliance.

Rice dubbed the simply written new resolution "efficient" in that it is linked to Resolution 1441, which spells out clearly what Iraq's obligations are to the Security Council and international community. No arguments have been made that Saddam has fully complied with the demands of the resolution, Rice said.

"If you agreed to 1441 and you agree that Iraq did not file a full and complete declaration … and you agree that Iraq is not fully cooperating and complying, for instance still refusing to allow scientists to be interviewed privately, still refusing to make available documentation for a variety of past programs that are unaccounted for, negotiating with the inspectors with how the U-2 will fly … If you accept that, then you have to accept they are not in full compliance, you have to accept they have failed to take their final opportunity. I think it would be hard to vote against it," Rice said.

The United States needs nine votes and no veto in the Security Council on the new resolution. A vote on the new resolution will likely not be held until after Blix delivers his report to the full council March 7.

Inspectors uncovered al-Samoud missiles in Iraq that they say violate earlier disarmament mandates to which Iraq had agreed, and gave Iraq a deadline for destroying them.

Rice said he wasn't surprised at media reports that Saddam has said he would not destroy the missiles. She said Saddam has been in contempt of resolutions for 12 years and this was no different.

"As to missile destruction, it would be a good thing if he destroyed the missiles. It is obvious that inspectors have decided they are proscribed and go beyond the limited range. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, the beginning of a long list of things that would constitute disarmament," Rice said.

Blix has given Iraq until March 1 to vow the destruction of the missiles.

While the White House says Bush will attempt to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict, the administration is showing clear signs that it is prepared to disarm the Arab leader by force. The president's strategy will be diplomacy, aides said, adding that he believes in the U.N. process.

The United States has repeatedly called on Iraq to account for chemical and biological weapons and destroy them. Bush has said repeatedly that he is only interested in "complete and total disarmament and regime change," the White House said.

Earlier this month, Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, delivered a report on the progress of inspections to the U.N. Security Council. Blix, who is chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, told the panel his inspectors hadn't found any weapons of mass destruction, but that large quantities of banned chemical and biological agents remain unaccounted for.

"The fact is with Saddam Hussein, he still has not shown the world that he has disarmed from the VX, the nerve agents, the botulinum, the anthrax, all of which the United Nations found that he had in his possession in the late 1990s … " said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Of the five veto-holding permanent members of the 15-country council, only the United States and Britain believe forcible disarmament of Iraq is increasingly becoming necessary given Baghdad's failure to cooperate with international inspectors, who returned to Iraq in December after a four-year hiatus.

French President Jacques Chirac said a second resolution is not justified and it was up to the inspectors to set a deadline.

France, Russia and Germany submitted a memorandum proposing ways to tighten up the inspections and make them more effective. Introduced by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, the proposals included tripling the number of inspectors, adding more offices in Iraq, and using aircraft for aerial surveillance.

Bush said that he would work with the members of the Security Council to make it clear to Saddam that the demands of the world would be enforced.

The inspectors have complained of less than full, pro-active cooperation in verifying destruction of chemical and biological weapons Iraq was known to have had in the late 1990s.

Britain, the United States' closest ally, has deployed troops in support of potential action, but France and Russia — both veto-wielding powers on the council — along with Germany, say they want more time for inspections to work.

The Bush administration has laid the groundwork for military action by moving about 150,000 troops into the Gulf region for use against Iraq, in addition to hundreds of combat aircraft and ships. Britain has sent 40,000 troops and Australia 2,000.

Washington has carried out a massive public-relations campaign to convince the American public and the international community that Saddam is a danger to the Middle East and the world.

Bush has telephoned and held meetings with many world leaders to make his case for a military offensive. On Saturday, he met with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at Bush's Texas ranch.

Aznar is a strong backer of the U.S. position that the world must act to deal with the threat posed by Saddam, and he has helped champion that cause in NATO and the European Union despite public opposition at home.

Bush said he and Aznar spoke early Saturday by telephone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a four-way conference call on the strategy for presenting the new resolution to the Security Council.

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