Has To Go
CAMP DAVID, Maryland
|U.N. weapons inspectors, before
they were denied access to Iraq, concluded that Saddam was “six months
away from developing a weapon. I don't
know what more evidence we need”
|(CBS) President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday the world must act against Saddam Hussein, arguing that the Iraqi leader has defied the United Nations and reneged on promises to destroy weapons of mass destruction.|
|“We owe it to future generations
to deal with this problem,” Mr. Bush said as he greeted Blair
at Camp David for a hasty brainstorming session on Iraq.
“The policy of inaction is not a policy we can responsibly subscribe to,” Blair said as he joined Mr. Bush in trying to rally reluctant allies to deal with Saddam, perhaps by military force.
“A lot of people understand that this man has defied every U.N. resolution. Sixteen U.N. resolutions he's ignored,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush said U.N. weapons inspectors, before they were denied access to Iraq, concluded that Saddam was “six months away from developing a weapon.
“I don't know what more evidence we need,” Mr. Bush said.
Separately, administration officials tell The New York Times in its Sunday editions that Iraq has intensified its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb.
Over the past 14 months, Iraq has tried to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Times says. American officials said several efforts to arrange the shipment of the high-strength tubes were blocked or intercepted, but they declined to say, citing the extreme sensitivity of the intelligence, where they came from or how they were stopped, according to the newspaper.
The attempted purchases are not the only signs of a renewed Iraqi interest in acquiring nuclear arms, the Times reports. Saddam has met several times in recent months with Iraq's top nuclear scientists and, according to American intelligence, praised their efforts as part of his campaign against the West, the Times explains.
Iraqi defectors who once worked for the nuclear weapons establishment there have told American officials that acquiring nuclear arms is again a top Iraqi priority. American intelligence agencies are also monitoring new construction at potential nuclear sites, the Times adds.
Blair encouraged allies to join the U.S. and Britain in challenging Iraq. “This is a problem and we can't ignore it,” he said while en route to the U.S.
The Bush-Blair meeting came five days before Mr. Bush addresses the U.N.
The Washington Post reports in its Saturday editions that Mr. Bush plans to say that unless world leaders take quick, unequivocally strong action to disarm Iraq, the U.S. will be forced to act on its own. The newspaper quotes senior administration officials.
The dominant view within the administration is that the time for inspections has passed and that ultimately Hussein, who has barred inspectors since 1998, will have to be forcibly deposed, the Post says. But White House officials have been persuaded that working through the U.N., for the moment at least, is advisable and may ultimately facilitate military action, the Post adds.
Aides involved in writing the speech tell The Associated Press that one early draft of the speech refers to Iraq as a “ticking time bomb.”
“He's going to be very clear about the responsibilities of the United Nations and the flagrant defiance of Saddam Hussein,” a senior administration official is quoted by Reuters as saying. “Whether the United Nations wants to be relevant or not depends on how they respond to this real threat and a decade of defiance by Saddam Hussein.”
Senior Bush advisers acknowledge to the AP that Mr. Bush is setting the stage for a confrontation with Saddam while knowing the outcome eventually will lead to military force, perhaps early next year. The U.N. speech is a last-ditch attempt to build an international coalition, the aides said.
The Washington Post also reported on Saturday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office on Friday night withdrew a 2,300-word article he had written for Sunday's editions making the case for pre-emptive military action.
The article cited the three countries Mr. Bush has called the “axis of evil” - Iraq, Iran and North Korea - as well as Libya and Syria.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Rumsfeld withdrew the article because the timing “was not right,” the Post reported.
Dressed casually and preceded by a military escort in formal dress, Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Mr. Bush welcomed Blair Saturday as he got off a helicopter to a brilliant late-summer afternoon at the secluded presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin mountains. After under four hours of discussions and dinner at the compound's Laurel Cabin, Blair was returning to London late Saturday.
Blair cited satellite photos, released Friday by a U.N. agency, said to show unexplained construction at Iraq sites that weapons inspectors once visited to search for evidence Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms.
“The threat from Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons capability - that threat is real,” Blair said.
Mr. Bush said the U.S. policy continues to call for Saddam's removal from power, but that there are options short of military action to achieve that goal. “There's all kinds of ways to change regimes.”
Blair, in contrast to other U.S. allies urging caution, has said the U.S. should not have to act unilaterally and pledged British troops to any future effort.
Blair cast doubt on whether Iraq would ever allow U.N. weapons inspectors the freedom to work effectively.
“I have to point out that we have got to see this in the light of experience. Why did the inspectors go? It was because the inspectors found they couldn't do their work. Whatever weapons inspection regime is put in has to be one that's very effective,” Blair told reporters as he flew to the U.S.
Saddam refuses to allow inspectors into his country and says Iraq has already destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. << He lies like too many Arabs! - a-j/D >>
However, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in Italy that he believed there is a “strong possibility” weapons inspectors will be allowed to return to Iraq and have unlimited access to “whatever sites” they wanted to see. << Just like the last time! - a-j/D >>
Homeland security chief Tom Ridge said he had a “very appropriate” meeting with Moussa and that Mr. Bush had yet to decide on a possible U.S. attack. << BS, MS, Piled High & Deep - a-j/D >>
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