Tags: Bush: | Final | Test' | for | Iraq

Bush: 'A Final Test' for Iraq

Friday, 08 November 2002 12:00 AM

Bush indicated that peace or war was now solely in the hands of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who, Bush said, would use any unraveling of resolve among Security Council members to avoid compliance.

"The resolution approved today presents the Iraqi regime with a test, a final test. Iraq must now, without delay or negotiations, fully disarm, welcome full inspections and fundamentally change the approach it has taken for more than a decade," Bush said in

"Iraq can be certain that the old game of cheat and retreat, tolerated at other times, will no longer be tolerated. Any act of delay or defiance will be an additional breach of Iraq's international obligations and a clear signal Baghdad has once again abandoned the path of voluntary compliance.

"Now comes the hard part," he said. "The Security Council must retain its unity and sense of purpose ..."

Bush, speaking with Secretary of State Colin Powell at his shoulder, reiterated Iraq's history of non-compliance with international mandates it agreed to following the 1991 Gulf War and the U.S. determination that such defiance end.

"The only question for the Iraqi regime to decide is how" it is disarmed, he said. He would prefer voluntary disarmament, but was prepared to use military force if necessary.

"With the passage of this resolution, the world must not lapse into unproductive debates over whether specific instances of Iraqi non-compliance are serious," he said. "Any Iraqi non-compliance is serious because such bad faith will show that Iraq has no intention of disarming.

"If we are to avert war, all nations must continue to pressure Saddam Hussein to accept this resolution and to comply with its obligations, and his obligations.

"America will be making only one determination: Is Iraq meeting the terms of the Security Council resolution or not," he said.

Under the resolution, any act of Iraqi non-compliance or deceit is automatically, in and of itself, a material breach of the resolution, which could lead to "serious consequences."

Senior administration officials, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the Security Council would then be convened to decide what action to take. However, they stressed, that process would not tie the president's hands from acting militarily with allies while the council considered the issue.

"We never gave up any of the president's authority, and there was no confusion about that" among Security Council members: the four other permanent members as well as the 10 other nations currently making up the body.

Britain, another of the permanent members, sided with the United States early.

Bush has insisted repeatedly that the United States, while committed to acting with the so-called international community, would not abrogate its right to protect its own security interests and those of its allies.

The senior administration officials said agreement on U.S. language in its resolution on Iraq for Security Council consideration appeared close on Wednesday, when words were changed to met the president's demand of freedom of action, but also meet the concerns of France, Russia and China that there be no wording in it that would act as an automatic trigger for U.N. sanctioned military operations.

One of the officials said he received a favorable nod from France on Wednesday, and that Russia signed on in a telephone call about 9 a.m. Friday.

Just before the vote, Syria, a non-permanent member of the council, without veto power, also signed on, leading to the unanimous vote the United States desired.

The official described the seven weeks of consultations and negotiations with allies and Security Council states "excruciatingly difficult" at times.

Bush, in his Rose Garden remarks, again said confronting Iraq was part and parcel of the war against terrorism, launched in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks on New York and the Washington area.

"Americans recognize what is at stake," he said. "In fighting a war on terror, we are determined to oppose every source of catastrophic harm that threatens our country, our friends, and our allies. And we oppose a uniquely dangerous regime, a regime that has harbored terrorists and can supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. ...

"The United States of America will not live at the mercy of any group or regime that has the motive and seeks the power to murder Americans on a massive scale."

The president said the threat of Saddam also extends to other countries in the region and the world. If the United States must act because of Saddam again defying the world, it would do so for all.

"In confronting this threat, America seeks the support of the world," Bush said. "If action becomes necessary, we will act in the interests of the world."

Bush over the past few weeks has often referred to the future of the Iraqi people if Saddam were removed from their lives.

On Friday, he said again that disarmament and compliance with U.N. mandates instituted after the Gulf War would be to their benefit, and asked all who had information about weapons of mass destruction to pass on that knowledge to international inspectors any way they could.

Officials Friday said the administration's stance on the new resolution was simple: "zero tolerance" for any attempt to skirt its provisions or delay full compliance.

"The full disarmament of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq will occur," Bush said. "The only question for the Iraqi regime is to decide how.

"The United States prefers that Iraq meet its obligations voluntarily, yet we are prepared for the alternative. In either case, the just demands of the world will be met."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Bush indicated that peace or war was now solely in the hands of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who, Bush said,would use any unraveling of resolve among Security Council members to avoid compliance. The resolution approved today presents the Iraqi regime with a test, a...
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