- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

KILLEEN, Texas, Jan. 3 (UPI) — President George W. Bush launched a renewed assault Friday on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, accusing him of acting with "contempt" and defiance to international will and warning again of America's determination to disarm Iraq by force if necessary.

Iraq, in its December declaration to the United Nations on weapons of mass destruction, failed to account for chemical and biological weapons caches left over from the 1991 Gulf War, Bush said, thus spurning the path to peace.

"The Iraqi dictator did not even attempt to submit a credible declaration," Bush said in remarks at Fort Hood. "We can now be certain that he holds the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council and its resolutions in contempt.

"Saddam Hussein was given a path to peace; thus far, he has chosen the path of defiance."

Bush, in Texas over the New Year's holiday, traveled to Fort Hood, located near the town of Killeen, in mid-morning. He made his remarks to soldiers after reviewing the troops and a collection of armored fighting vehicles.

U.S. service personnel, he said, had the appreciation of the American people for their sacrifice, and he assured them that if a war against Iraq were to become necessary, they would be fighting to liberate a people from oppression, not occupy a country.

Fort Hood, located between Waco and Austin, is home to more than 40,000 troops, among them soldiers of the 1st Cavalry and the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).

About 1,300 soldiers from the units at Fort Hood were already deployed overseas, Bush noted, and about 1,600 more were slated for deployment soon.

"Fort Hood and the units that call it home have a special place in our country's military history. For decades, soldiers from the first team (1st Cavalry) … and from other units have fought America's battles with distinction and courage. Now, you're called again into action to defend America and the cause of freedom in the first war of the 21st century.

"For this country and for our friends around the world who love freedom like we do, the stakes are great; the terrorists have shown what they intend for us, and we're not going to forget."

Bush resurrected template remarks on the war against terrorism, including successes in Afghanistan, in hunting down terrorists, in disrupting their ability to regroup and in disrupting their channels for funding.

The United States was in a "great contest of will and purpose" and was being tested, he added, but would act decisively and would be "relentless in our pursuit of the enemy — that's what we owe the American people."

"We're not waiting for another attack (by terrorists), we can't wait for another attack to employ the full power of America in this cause.

"This war, like others, is not going to be won on the defensive."

Iraq and North Korea, he which he called "outlaw regimes," represented another challenge and each be dealt with using strategies tailored to the circumstances.

In the case of North Korea, which is resuming its nuclear arms program after violating a 1994 agreement with the United States, "the world must continue to speak with one voice to turn that regime away from its nuclear ambition," the president said.

"In the case of Iraq, the world has already spoken with one voice," he said.

The Bush administration is attempting to follow a diplomatic track with North Korea, using allies and friendly states in the region to pressure the Pyongyang regime to drop its attempt to produce new weapons. The United States believes it already possesses one or two nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them regionally.

The carrot is desperately needed international aid. Resumption of the nuclear program has cost North Korea fuel supplies from the United States, Japan and the European Union, and other economic assistance.

Washington believes North Korea is playing a game of brinksmanship to obtain more economic assistance as well as more prominent international recognition for the isolated regime — it has demanded direct talks with the United States and a formal non-aggression pact.

So far, Bush has refused to cave in, saying that it would reward misbehavior. He has also ruled out military action for the time being, saying Pyongyang's actions were a "diplomatic issue."

Iraq, however, is a "real threat," he said, because of its past use of WMD against dissident minorities and its earlier attack and occupation of neighboring Kuwait. The administration also argues Iraq could become a conduit for terrorist groups to obtain WMD.

"We certainly prefer voluntary compliance by Iraq," Bush said Friday. "Yet if force becomes necessary to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and enforce the will of the United Nations, if forces becomes necessary to secure our country and keep the peace, America will act deliberately; America will act decisively; and American will prevail. … We are ready, we are prepared."

Following his remarks Bush, together with the first lady, had lunch with the soldiers before returning to his ranch.


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