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Bush Challenges UN Security Council for Action on Iraq - 2003-03-15


President Bush leaves for the Azores Sunday for a meeting with the leaders of Britain and Spain to discuss their U.N. resolution against Iraq. With that measure facing a French and Russian veto President Bush says he is ready to attack Iraq, regardless of what the United Nations decides.

With little chance of passing their U.N. resolution, the question for the leaders in the Azores is whether to push ahead with a symbolic vote, or go to war without one.

In his weekly radio address, President Bush said "crucial days" lie ahead for nations to show whether they will act to enforce U.N. resolutions demanding that Iraq disarm. "Governments are now showing whether their stated commitments to liberty and security are words alone, or convictions they are prepared to act upon," he said. "And for the government of the United States and the coalition we lead, there is no doubt: We will confront a growing danger, to protect ourselves, to remove a patron and protector of terror, and to keep the peace of the world."

The president says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a threat because he could help terrorists use weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush says Iraq has failed to account for biological and chemical agents, including mustard agent, botulinum toxin and sarin. Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction and that it is taking steps to comply with U.N. disarmament demands by destroying missiles that exceed U.N. limits.

President Bush says the United States, Britain and Spain want the Security Council to confront Iraq, because they have seen where U.N. failure to act decisively over the last decade has led to tragedy in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo. "And we must recognize that some threats are so grave, and their potential consequences so terrible, that they must be removed, even if it requires military force," said President Bush.

The U.S. military Friday used a long-range bomber to hit two radar sites in western Iraq, as the military build-up in the region continues with more than 250,000 U.S. and British troops.

President Bush says there is little reason to hope that Saddam Hussein will give up his weapons peacefully. So Saturday, he again tried to reassure the Iraqi people that, in the event of war, they will not be the targets. "The people of Iraq can know that every effort will be made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule," he said. "And plans are in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies, in the event of hostilities."

In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, California Congressman Robert Matsui said Americans already unsettled by prospects for war are anxious over a stream of bad economic news.

He says the president's tax plan would add to the national debt, while failing to stimulate the economy or help boost a sagging stock market.

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