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Bush Wants 'Quick Action' on UN Resolution on Iraq Weapons Inspections - 2002-09-16

President Bush took his call for action against Iraq to the American public Monday, saying the country is threatened by weapons of mass destruction. The president wants "quick action" on a United Nations resolution that would force Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with weapons inspections.

President Bush traveled to Iowa Monday for political fundraising and a speech on the U.S. economy. But the loudest applause came for his threats against Iraq.

Mr. Bush repeated his call for a U.N. resolution holding the Iraqi leader to firm deadlines on weapons inspections. If Saddam Hussein refuses and the U.N. does not force him to disarm, the president again said the United States will act. "If Iraq's regime continues to defy us and the world, we will move deliberately, yet decisively, to hold Iraq to account," he said.

The president told workers at an Iowa factory that Saddam Hussein is a danger because he could help terrorists acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. "One of the most dangerous threats America faces is a terrorist network teaming up with some of the world's worst leaders who develop the world's worst weapons," he said.

Mr. Bush said he has still not decided whether to use force in Iraq. He again called on the United Nations to move quickly to show that its resolutions demanding weapons inspections can not be ignored without consequence. "[the U.N.] can show us whether or not it is going to serve its purpose to help keep the peace, or whether it is going to be irrelevant," he said. "We, of course, want the United Nations to be relevant. We want them to be part of a framework of peace as we head into the 21st century."

Iraqi officials say they would consider a return of weapons inspectors to avoid a possible U.S. attack if 12-year-old U.N. sanctions are removed.

U.S. opinion polls show growing public approval for the president's aggressive stance against Iraq. He is trying to rally that support as part of campaigning for Republican candidates in November Congressional elections.