- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

In his televised press conference Thursday night, President Bush once again presented a compelling case that Iraq has failed to meet its disarmament obligations, and that there is no serious possibility that Saddam Hussein would agree to do so peacefully. Mr. Bush noted that Saddam has spent the past 12 years flouting U.N. resolutions that call for him to end his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and to comply with strict limits on the range of Iraqi missiles. While vowing to pursue "the last phase of diplomacy" to persuade the U.N. Security Council to make Saddam disarm, the president rightly declared that Washington is ready to move against Iraq without U.N. approval. Mr. Bush noted that, "when it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission." We agree.

Mr. Bush challenged the Security Council members to "stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council," adding that the United States wants a vote on a new resolution demanding Iraqi disarmament "regardless of what the whip count is."

It is increasingly likely that any U.S.-led war to disarm Iraq will occur without a prior U.N. endorsement, primarily because the United Nations desperately wants to avoid acting to enforce its own resolutions against Iraq. For example, the chief U.N. disarmament inspector for Iraq, Hans Blix, asserted that his UNMOVIC organization was making progress in disarming Iraq, but needed more time to get the job done. However, despite the absurdly positive spin from Mr. Blix, his own report and his speech yesterday to the Security Council actually help prove Mr. Bush's point: Saddam continues to thumb his nose at the world when it comes to disarmament.

Mr. Blix, for example, disputed Iraq's claim to have destroyed 21,000 liters of biological warfare agents, including anthrax, and said that Baghdad has failed to come clean about how much anthrax and VX nerve gas it actually produced. Mr. Blix said Iraq has not been forthcoming with documents and other evidence about its weapons programs. "Only a few new such documents have come to light so far, and have been handed over since we began inspections," Mr. Blix stated. "Surely, there must also remain records regarding the quantities" of items destroyed. He noted that, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, passed last November, Iraq has sought to attach conditions to its cooperation with inspectors.

Britain, in conjunction with the United States, is pushing for a second compromise Security Council resolution that would give Iraq until March 17 to fulfill its disarmament commitments. But French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says his government will veto this resolution and demand more time for inspections.

The Security Council is rendering itself irrelevant when it comes to disarming Saddam Hussein. It's time for Mr. Bush and the rest of the allied coalition to take action on their own.

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