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Bush 'Doubtful' Saddam Will Comply with UN Weapons Inspections - 2002-09-13

President Bush says he is "highly doubtful" that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will meet the president's demands to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Mr. Bush says action against Iraq will be "unavoidable," if it is not forced to disarm.

President Bush says he hopes Saddam Hussein will give up his weapons of mass destruction, but he is not counting on it.

"The reason I'm doubtful is he's had 11 years to meet the demands and for 11 long years he has basically told the United Nations and the world that he doesn't care," the pesident said.

Mr. Bush said he expects quick action on a U.N. resolution against Iraq, with firm deadlines for Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspections. The president says it is essential for world security that those deadlines are a matter of days and weeks, not months and years. Joined by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with permanent members of the Security Council Friday to work on that resolution.

The president says the Iraqi leader is a threat because he could help terrorists acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

In a meeting with Central African leaders, Mr. Bush said the credibility of the United Nations is on the line as it decides how to deal with a man who the president says is ignoring world opinion.

"How we deal with this problem will help determine the fate of a multilateral body which has been unilaterally ignored by Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said. " Will this body be able to keep the peace and deal with the true threats, including threats to security in Central Africa and other parts of the world or will it be irrelevant?"

Mr. Bush wants Congress to pass a resolution endorsing action against the Iraqi leader, but some Democrats say they still have questions about the president's plans for what happens in Iraq after Saddam Hussein.

The president wants that resolution before Congress takes a break before of November elections. He says legislators must not wait for the United Nations to act before they decide what to do in Washington.

"Seems like to me that if you are representing the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what is best for the United States," the president said. " If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I would explain to the American people say, 'vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

President Bush says he can not imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around waiting for a U.N. resolution. Mr. Bush says the Iraqi leader is a threat that must be dealt with as quickly as possible.