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Iraq Will Face Military Action Unless it Disarms, insists Tony Blair - 2002-09-10


British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will face military action if he does not disarm under United Nations supervision. Mr. Blair spoke about the Iraq crisis in an address to Britain's union leaders,

Prime Minister Blair said time is running out for Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions requiring him to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Blair said diplomacy is vital, but Saddam Hussein must understand that the threat of military force is real. "Let it be clear, therefore, that he must be disarmed," stressed Mr. Blair. "Let it be clear that there be no more conditions, no more games, no more prevaricating, no more undermining of the U.N.'s authority. And let it also be clear, that should the will of the U.N. be ignored, action will follow."

Mr. Blair said military force should be the last resort in dealing with Saddam Hussein. But he says it would be unconscionable to ignore the threat the Iraqi leader poses.

"If we do not deal with the threat from this international outlaw and his barbaric regime, it may not erupt and engulf us this month or next. Perhaps not even this year or next. But it will at some point. And I for one do not want it on my conscience that we knew the threat, that we saw it coming, and that we did nothing," said the British leader.

The prime minister told the trade union leaders the United Nations will be involved in dealing with the Iraq crisis. And he promised a debate in parliament before sending British troops to war.

Union leaders say Mr. Blair's speech allayed some of their fears. The Trades Union Congress had voted on Monday to oppose military action in Iraq unless it is sanctioned by the United Nations.

Mr. Blair met President Bush on Saturday to discuss Iraq, and his speech is being described as a prelude to what the president may say in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

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