CRAWFORD, Texas – The Bush administration reaffirmed Thursday its demand that Iraq dispose of weapons of mass destruction as President Saddam Hussein warned that any attack on his country would end in certain failure.
White House spokesman Sean McCormack said any renewal of U.N. weapons inspections -- halted by Saddam in 1998 -- would only be a means to the ultimate end, and "that end is disarmament."
He did not specifically respond to Saddam's statement that Americans will "carry their coffins on their backs to die in disgraceful failure" should President Bush decide to attack.
Meanwhile, Sharif Ali, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, an opposition umbrella group, told a news conference he saw little possibility of any significant Iraqi resistance to a U.S. attack.
"The entirety of Iraq is opposed to Saddam Hussein," Ali said, specifically including the Iraqi military.
He said that in a meeting Friday with top State and Defense Department officials, the INC will present the administration with a "united voice" on achieving regime change in Iraq.
As the administration weighs how to achieve its goal of ousting Saddam, the Iraqi leader issued his threats in a speech on the anniversary of the end of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.
In Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott McClellan, said Saddam's speech did not alter Bush's view of Iraq in the slightest.
"The Iraqi government needs to comply with the responsibilities it agreed to at the end of the Gulf War," McLellan told reporters.
"The president has not decided on a particular course of action," he said. "We will consult with our friends and allies, as well as Congress, as we move forward."
The Iraqi opposition leaders are in Washington and scheduled to meet Friday with senior State and Pentagon officials to offer their ideas for cooperating with the administration on Iraq.
They include the head of the INC, Ahmed Chalabi.
The INC has had strained relations with the State Department, dating from the Clinton administration. As a result, some of the oversight of the INC that had been under the State Department's purview is being transferred to the Pentagon.
The administration proposed last May to allocate $8 million to the INC for humanitarian, communications and other activities for the June-September period, but U.S. officials have not received a response from the INC on how to spend the money.
One goal of the Friday meetings is to clear up disagreements between the State Department and the INC over the $8 million.
The United States has warned Iraq of unspecified consequences if it does not allow U.N. weapons inspections to resume. Iraqi diplomats have held three meetings with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan this year to discuss the issue and related topics.