- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

President Bush yesterday accused Saddam Hussein of authorizing Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons against U.S. forces and bluntly warned the Iraqi dictator that "the game is over."
"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have," Mr. Bush said.
The president was joined for remarks to the press in the Roosevelt Room of the White House by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
Mr. Bush's remarks came just hours after Mr. Powell pressed the administration's case against Iraq to Congress, where he said that the standoff with Iraq over its failure to disarm will be brought to an end "within weeks … one way or another."
Earlier in the day, the State Department warned Americans at home and abroad of continuing terrorist threats.
With the clock ticking toward war within a matter of weeks, the president urged the U.N. Security Council to make good on its Nov. 8 resolution, which promised "serious consequences" if Saddam did not disarm.
"Now, the Security Council will show whether its words have any meaning," Mr. Bush said. "Having made its demands, the Security Council must not back down when those demands are defied and mocked by a dictator.
"The United States would welcome and support a new resolution which makes clear that the Security Council stands behind its previous demands," he said. "Yet resolutions mean little without resolve."
Administration officials cautioned that Mr. Bush considers a second resolution helpful, but not necessary. They pointed out that the administration is already paving the way for war by conducting the final round of Security Council consultations spelled out in the earlier text, Resolution 1441.
Mr. Bush made clear that he would not be deterred from war if Saddam makes a partial, last-minute disclosure of weapons of mass destruction, or suddenly drops his objection to U2 surveillance flights over Iraq.
"Saddam Hussein can now be expected to begin another round of empty concessions and transparently false denials," he said. "No doubt he will play a last-minute game of deception. The game is over."
The warning was aimed at pre-empting Saddam from making an 11th-hour play for international sympathy. One senior U.S. official said Saddam could abruptly "discover" weapons programs and even say he had executed underlings for hiding the programs from him.
"Judging by Saddam Hussein's efforts in the past to conceal and to deny and to cheat and retreat, it would not surprise anybody if all of a sudden Saddam Hussein showed a little bit of the tip of his iceberg," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
Such a disclosure would merely "underscore the fact that Saddam Hussein is again lying to the world," he said.
The spokesman added: "There's only one thing that counts, and that is the complete and total disarmament of Iraq."
Mr. Powell did not speak in the Roosevelt Room. Polls show that more Americans trust Mr. Powell than Mr. Bush on the issue of the looming war.
Mr. Powell on Wednesday delivered a detailed indictment against Saddam to the Security Council, and Mr. Bush reiterated and summarized much of the evidence presented by the secretary.
"Saddam Hussein has made Iraq into a prison, poison factory and a torture chamber for patriots and dissidents," Mr. Bush said. "Saddam Hussein has the motive and the means and the recklessness and the hatred to threaten the American people. Saddam Hussein will be stopped."
The public appearances by Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell were the latest manifestations of an intense push for international support that began with the president's State of the Union address last week. Mr. Bush appears determined to enlist as many allies as possible before waging war as early as the end of this month.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Powell said that the visit to Iraq by chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei this weekend will be crucial for determining the course ahead.
"It will start to come to a head when Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei return from Baghdad, and we see whether or not there is any chance of serious progress and not just progress on process, but a serious change of attitude and a commitment to comply," the secretary said.
"I would say that within weeks … we will know enough to bring this to a conclusion one way or the other. We are reaching an endgame in a matter of weeks, not a matter of months."
Mr. Powell dismissed the French proposal to boost the presence of weapons inspectors in Iraq, arguing that it will not work unless Baghdad has a change of heart.
"Twice [or] three times as many inspectors, as was suggested by my French colleague and seconded by my German colleague [Wednesday], might be useful if there was a change in attitude," Mr. Powell said. "But if there is no change in attitude, we don't need to hire more detectives. That's not the purpose of it."
He noted that the administration is ready to "work toward" another Security Council resolution if the other council members insist on it, even though "there is more than enough authority for military action" in Resolution 1441, which was adopted unanimously.
Mr. Powell was praised yesterday by every member of the Senate committee not only for his U.N. presentation, but also for his role in the Iraq deliberations.
The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, said he is "proud to be associated with" the secretary.
"I think you did better than anyone could have because of your standing, your reputation and your integrity as it is understood by our European friends, as well as others around the world."
The administration received good news yesterday from Turkey, whose parliament voted to allow the United States to upgrade military bases and ports for use in a war against Iraq.

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