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Bush Keeps Pressure on UN to Act on Iraq - 2002-10-31

President Bush is keeping pressure on the United Nations to act on Iraq, as he campaigns across the United States in advance of next Tuesday's elections for Congress, state and local offices. Mr. Bush told a rally in the state of South Dakota that if the U.N. does not act, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Bush says the United Nations has a job to do.

"The message to the world is that we want the U.N. to succeed," the president said. "We want the resolutions you have passed to be listened to. You have told Saddam Hussein he must disarm. Do your job. And Saddam Hussein, you have said you will disarm. You need to do your job."

Mr. Bush told a group of cheering Republican Party supporters in South Dakota the Iraqi leader poses a "true threat." And he once again warned that, if the U.N. fails to take strong action, the United States will.

"If the U.N. won't act, and if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, for the sake of peace, for the sake of a free future for our children, we will lead a coalition of nations and disarm Saddam Hussein," he said.

American diplomats have been trying for seven weeks to convince skeptical U.N. Security Council members to pass a strong resolution that puts a tough weapons inspection regime in place and warns of consequences if Iraq does not comply.

There are indications negotiations in the Security Council are now focusing on just a few words, with some members raising concerns that certain language could be used by the United States to trigger military action. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with the president that the Bush administration wants a tough resolution. When asked about the negotiations now under way, he said the United States does not want to be "handcuffed" by a resolution that prevents Washington from acting on its own or with others to disarm Saddam Hussein.

Mr. McClellan said this is a test for the United Nations. He said there are serious discussions going on in the Security Council, and the world body must prove it can be effective and deal with Iraq's continued defiance.