Published September 14, 2002
NEW YORK – Just two days after making his case to the United Nations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, President Bush on Saturday told America that Saddam has repeatedly failed to live up to his international obligations and poses a great threat to not only the United States but the world.
During his weekly radio address to the nation, Bush said other international leaders agree that "Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself."
Bush on Saturday was meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about what is perceived to be a growing danger posed by Saddam’s regime and the chance the United Nations Security Council has to confront it.
Bush cited not only support for his cause by Berlusconi, but also by British Prime Minister Blair, Prime Minister Aznar of Spain and President Kwasniewski of Poland.
Upon Berlusconi’s arrival at Camp David Saturday, Bush said the United Nations should "show some backbone" and confront Saddam, but made clear that the United States was willing to do it alone if necessary.
Berlusconi agreed, saying that the world body "cannot continue to see its image undermined and its resolutions flaunted."
Berlusconi has called preventive military action legitimate if Baghdad does not change its ways. But he also has said force should only be used by international agreement.
"He has broken every pledge he made to the United Nations and the world since his invasion of Kuwait was rolled back in 1991," Bush said in his radio address
The U.N. Security Council has passed 16 resolutions aimed at making sure Iraq sticks to its promises and does not threaten international peace and security. Bush said Saddam has violated every one, several times.
Saddam’s government continues to support terrorist groups and oppress civilians, Bush said, and refuses to account for missing Gulf War personnel, or to end illicit trade outside the U.N.'s oil-for-food program.
And Saddam’s regime "has broken every aspect" of a pledge it made in 1991 to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, Bush argued.
Therefore, Bush said, Saddam likely has stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, and is improving and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical and biological weapons. Saddam’s government also has the scientific expertise and the infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program, Bush said, and has illicitly sought to buy equipment needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. It would only take a year to build such a weapon.
Bush quoted the former head of the U.N. weapons inspection team investigating Iraq's weapons program, Richard Butler, who concluded that, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."
Just this week, Butler’s conclusions were challenged by former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter, who said Iraq is incapable of producing weapons of mass destruction, and that military action against the country could not be justified.
But Bush has stayed his course, calling Saddam’s regime "a grave and gathering danger."
"To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence," he said. "To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take."
Although U.N. approval of using U.S. military force to oust Saddam is not needed, international support definitely cannot hurt the cause.
Bush is calling the UN out on what their move will be, challenging it to act in a way that will not show the world it is "irrelevant."
He said in his address: "Saddam Hussein's defiance has confronted the United Nations with a difficult and defining moment: Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purposes of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?"
Bush addressed the United Nations this week and made his case for ousting Saddam. His speech got applause from everyone except the Iraqi delegation, although that doesn’t mean he has everyone’s support.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has begun work with the U.N. Security Council's four other permanent members, besides the U.S., on a resolution giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a deadline to disarm. Powell has predicted success in persuading the world that Saddam must be stopped.
Bush on Saturday said he welcomes next week’s scheduled congressional hearings on the threats Saddam poses to the United States and the world. But he has chastised Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota for suggesting Congress wait for a UN resolution on Iraq before it acts.
"Congress must make it unmistakably clear that when it comes to confronting the growing danger posed by Iraq's efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction, the status quo is totally unacceptable," Bush said.
"The issue is straightforward: We must choose between a world of fear, or a world of progress. We must stand up for our security and for the demands of human dignity. By heritage and choice, the United States will make that stand. The world community must do so as well."
Bush has picked up critical support from the four other permanent, veto-wielding U.N. Security Council members -- Russia, China, Britain and France -- on the need for a deadline, though not on a date. The foreign ministers of the Security Council's permanent members said jointly that Iraq's refusal to obey past U.N. resolutions "is a serious matter and that Iraq must comply."
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said "the Iraqi government will take responsibility itself for possible consequences" if Saddam refuses to cooperate with the United Nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has borrowed Bush's logic on Iraq in arguing that Russia has the right to take action against rebels he calls terrorists in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
During a press conference at Camp David Saturday, Bush sidestepped a question about whether he thought that action would be justified, but said he had "made it very clear to the Georgian government that we expected them to rout out the Al Qaeda-type terrorists" and said the United States is training Georgian troops for that purpose.
"I have told Vladimir Putin that they must give the Georgians a chance to achieve a common objective, an objective that's important for Georgia, an objective that's important for Russia, an objective that's important for the United States, and that is to get the Al Qaeda killers and bring them to justice."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.