- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

President Bush warned the world community yesterday not to give Saddam Hussein more time to disarm and predicted broad international support if the United States decides to attack Iraq.
"How much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming?" Mr. Bush asked reporters at the White House. "It is clear to me now that he is not disarming."
His comments came a day after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the most dovish senior member of the administration, warned the United Nations against being "shocked into impotence" on Iraq "because we're afraid of the difficult choices that are ahead of us."
Mr. Bush said yesterday that Saddam is merely continuing more than a decade of noncompliance with international demands that Iraq end its chemical-, biological- and nuclear-weapons programs.
"He is delaying; he's deceiving; he's asking for time; he's playing hide-and-seek with inspectors," the president said. "This looks like a rerun of a bad movie. And I'm not interested in watching it."
A day after French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said "nothing justifies envisaging military action," Mr. Bush insisted Saddam is just as dangerous to France as he is to America.
"He poses a serious threat to America and our friends and allies," Mr. Bush said. "The world came together, including the French, to say he must disarm."
He added: "Surely, our friends have learned lessons from the past. Surely, we have learned how this man deceives and delays."
France is not the only U.S. ally appearing to have second thoughts about attacking Iraq.
Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, also said yesterday: "Force must be used only when all other resources have been tapped. The potential for settlement has not been exhausted yet."
Mr. Bush shrugged off such talk and said that similar doubts were overcome late last year.
"It's very much like what happened prior to our getting a resolution out of the United Nations," he told reporters. "Many of the punditry of course, not you but other punditry were quick to say, 'No one is going to follow the United States of America.' And we got a unanimous resolution out of the United Nations."
The president's tough talk on Iraq was echoed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who outlined an administration report on Iraq titled "Apparatus of Lies."
"There is no sign, there is not one sign that the regime has any intent to comply fully" with the United Nations, Mr. Armitage said in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
"This is not about America and what we may or may not be prepared to do," he said. "This is about Saddam Hussein and what he is prepared to do and what he is not doing right now."
Mr. Amitage added: "He is not cooperating with the international community, and he's certainly not disarming his nation of the biological and chemical weapons and nuclear capabilities he continues to hold and to develop."
Demands that U.N. inspectors find a "smoking gun" overlook the evidence that Iraq has failed to account for chemical and biological weapons stocks it already has, he said.
"To the people who ask, 'Why now?' I say that we've already waited too long," Mr. Armitage said. "This is a dangerous situation, and today, right now, time is running out."
Mr. Powell, in a meeting yesterday at the State Department with new Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, said the United States plans to press its case in the coming days that Iraq is not cooperating.
"We will not be distracted by games, we will not be distracted by suddenly finding a few missiles here or suggesting a level of cooperation tomorrow that didn't exist yesterday," Mr. Powell said. "It's time for [Saddam] to come clean, stop playing games and stop trying to deceive the international community."
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan called on other nations to put the brakes on the U.S. push for war.
"It is up to the international community to ask the United States why there is such a buildup and beating drums of war," Mr. Ramadan said. "The aggression will take place at any moment." He added that the United States is ignoring the inspection process.
Mr. Bush, however, called Saddam's preoccupation with weapons inspectors a ploy.
"He wants to focus the attention of the world on inspectors," Mr. Bush said. "This is not about inspectors. This is about a disarmed Iraq."
The inspectors yesterday insisted they need more time to complete their work.
"We need quite a few months before we complete our job, and that is what I'm going to report to the Security Council next week," Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N.-based International Atomic Energy Agency, told Reuters news agency.
Mr. ElBaradei said the inspectors "understand that there is lots of impatience in the international community and there is mobilization."
"We are aware of that," he said, adding "I hope that will not affect our ability to continue to press for disarming Iraq."
Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister, whose country holds the presidency of the European Union, warned that war in Iraq could further destabilize the Middle East.
"Peace must be preserved," Costas Simitis said. "A conflict will result in delaying many developments and is a conflict that will not benefit stability and peace in the region."
The Greek leader added that war should not be waged against Iraq without the support of the United Nations. Although the White House maintains that another U.N. resolution is unnecessary, the United States will continue to consult with allies before deciding whether to attack Iraq.
"Our intention is to work with the world for Saddam to disarm," Mr. Bush said.
David R. Sands contributed to this report.

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