President Bush Makes Case Against Iraq, Calls for U.N. Vote
Saying the diplomatic effort to disarm Iraq was “in its final days,” Mr. Bush told reporters the U.S. would bring a new resolution to a vote in the Security Council, even if the measure faced defeat or veto.
“No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote,” the president said. “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, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.”
The measure faces increasing difficulty as China joined two other veto-holding states, Russia and France, in saying it would oppose any new resolution that appeared to endorse a military action.
Despite the Chinese decision, the president declared that although war was a last choice, the danger it represents was less than the threat of taking no action.
“The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow, that inaction will make the world safer is a risk I’m not willing to take for the American people,” the president said.
Mr. Bush said Friday’s meeting of the Security Council was an “important moment” in the standoff with Iraq, but he challenged U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to report on the critical issue facing the international body.
“The world needs him to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441 or has it not?” the president asked.
Although the president repeatedly said no decision had been made on the issue of military action against Iraq, the president left no doubt that the United States would remove Saddam from power if there were a war.
“We will disarm Iraq. And if we go to war, there will be a regime change and replacing this cancer inside of Iraq will be a government that represents the rights of all the people,” the president said.
Although the Iraq issue dominated the 50-minute briefing, the president also discussed the continuing nuclear standoff with North Korea and the continuing fight against Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.
“[T]hanks to the hard work of American and Pakistani officials, we captured the mastermind of the September 11th attacks against our nation. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed conceived and planned the hijackings and directed the actions of the hijackers,” President Bush said. “We believe his capture will further disrupt the terror network and their planning for additional attacks.”
On the North Korea issue, the president said the nations of the region needed to work diplomatically to end the standoff.
“[T]here’s a lot of countries that have got a direct stake in whether or not North Korea has a nuclear weapon,” he told a news conference, citing Japan, South Korea, Russia and China. “We’re working the issue hard and I’m optimistic we’ll come up with a diplomatic solution.”