- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

A day after the White House said there was no timetable for dealing with Saddam Hussein, President Bush yesterday said "time is running out" for the Iraqi dictator.
Meanwhile, as U.N. inspectors widened their search in Iraq yesterday for weapons of mass destruction, chief inspector Hans Blix said his agency's use of new U.S. and British intelligence information has begun to produce strong leads although no definitive proof that Baghdad has been amassing biological and chemical weapons.
"We have found several cases where it is clear that Iraq has imported weapons-related material in violation of the prohibitions of the Security Council," Mr. Blix said. "Whether these discoveries or items are related to weapons of mass destruction is a matter which we still need to determine."
Mr. Blix, who is in charge of hunting down any chemical, biological and long-range missile programs, said the "considerable amount of import in the weapons sector clearly is smuggling, and in violation, and they are in fact large quantities."
With U.N. inspectors declaring they need up to 10 more months to complete their work and several world leaders urging caution, the president made clear his definition of a "timetable."
"I'm sick and tired of games and deception that's my view of timetables," a stern-faced Mr. Bush said in the Oval Office.
"What I have in mind for Saddam Hussein is to disarm. The United Nations spoke with one voice. We said we expect Saddam Hussein, for the sake of peace, to disarm. That's the question: Is Saddam Hussein disarming? He's been given 11 years to disarm," the president said.
"And so the world came together, and we have given him one last chance to disarm. So far, I haven't seen any evidence that he is disarming. Time is running out on Saddam Hussein. He must disarm."
U.N. arms experts yesterday inspected 10 suspect sites in Iraq, including three missile bases, a military depot and a state company based inside a complex housing Baghdad's disarmament-monitoring body. On Monday, the inspectors visited nine sites, including three science and technology colleges in Baghdad, bringing the total number of inspections to more than 200.
But Mr. Blix says inspectors need months to finish searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. The U.N.-based International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) spokesman said the timetable is even longer, requiring up to 12 months from the beginning of inspections Nov. 27 to fully complete site surveys.
The IAEA on Jan. 27 will report to the U.N. Security Council on its first 60 days of inspections, but Bush administration officials downplay the date as merely a checkpoint in the process. Some senior officials say the U.S. military is not yet fully deployed and without the use of Turkish bases must alter plans for setting up frontline troops on the northern border of Iraq.
But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that while Jan. 27 is "not the end of an inspection process," it is "a very important date."
"We and other members of the Security Council will have to decide on steps at that point," he said.
IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei and Mr. Blix will travel to Baghdad this weekend to demand more evidence that Iraq has destroyed chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.
"We still need further cooperation on the part of Iraq," Mr. ElBaradei said in Moscow. "We need more information, we still need more interviews with Iraqis. We would like to see physical evidence of destruction of weapons of mass destruction."
At the United Nations yesterday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the buildup of U.S. troops in the Gulf region had already helped disarmament efforts by ratcheting up the pressure on Baghdad to cooperate.
The White House yesterday did not take issue with granting the inspectors' request for more time.
"The inspectors have more time. But time is running out. This is a question of not allowing Saddam Hussein to string the world along forever. And I don't think the two are at all hard to understand or incompatible," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer.


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