Bush says diplomacy failed to disarm Saddam
US President George W. Bush said the UN Security Council was in the final stages of deciding whether to back a war against Iraq and accused Saddam Hussein of making a "willful charade" of disarmament.
"We are days away from resolving this issue at the Security Council," Bush told a press conference Thursday at the White House, adding that he would press for a vote soon on a new resolution on Iraq.
It was "the final stages of diplomacy," he declared. Bush said later that "diplomacy has not worked, we have tried diplomacy for 12 years."
The UN Security Council will meet Friday to hear the latest report from the chief UN weapons inspectors and stage a new debate between opponents and supporters of the use of force against Iraq.
But he said the United States would call for a vote on a new resolution submitted by the United States, Britain and Spain whatever the level of support in the Security Council.
"Yes, we will call for a vote, no matter what the whip count is," Bush told the news conference.
"We are calling for the vote, we want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council." "It's time for people to show their cards and let people know where they stand," the president said.
He challenged France, Germany and other skeptical allies to stand with him. "If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks," he said.
Bush conveyed UN inspectors would be given time to leave Iraq before any military action is launched. "We will give people a chance to leave. We don't want anybody in harm's way," he said.
The US president again insisted that the Iraqi president has failed to disarm. "This is a fact. It cannot be denied."
"Saddam Hussein's response is to produce a few weapons for show while he hides the rest and builds even more," Bush said in an opening statement. "Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes.
"He possesses weapons of terror, he provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists, terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace loving countries."
"These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade," Bush insisted, saying that he would be happy for Saddam to go into exile, but expressing doubt that it would happen.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)