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Bush: UN Must 'Not Be Fooled' By Saddam Hussein

President Bush says it is time for the U.N. to take action on Iraq. Mr. Bush spoke one day after Baghdad offered to admit U.N. weapons inspectors without conditions.

The president says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has tricked the world before, and cannot be permitted to do so again.

"We have got to understand the nature of the regime we are dealing with. This is a man who has delayed, denied, deceived," he said.

During a visit to a school in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr. Bush again called on the United Nations to take strong action to make sure Iraq complies with all existing U.N. resolutions.

"The United Nations Security Council must act, must act in a way to hold this regime to account. It must not be fooled. It must be relevant to keep the peace."

Earlier, Mr. Bush told a political gathering in Nashville that a great threat is posed by "barbaric regimes" that could one day provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. He put Iraq's Saddam Hussein at the top of the list.

"The United States remains strong in our conviction that we must not and will not allow the world's worst leaders to hold the United States and our friends and allies blackmailed or threaten us with the world's worst weapons," he said.

If one word could be used to describe the official White House response to the Iraqi offer, that word would be skepticism. Spokesman Ari Fleischer says, simply, Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted, and now is not the time to ease the pressure on Baghdad.

During the flight from Washington to Nashville, Mr. Fleischer told reporters traveling with the president that Secretary of State Colin Powell would continue to press other members of the Security Council to pass a strong resolution listing the steps Iraq must take to avoid action by the world body. He said strong resolutions from the U.N. and the U.S. Congress are now more important than ever.

Baghdad's offer to resume weapons inspections came in a letter delivered to the U.N. Monday. The inspectors were pulled out of Iraq in late 1998 on the eve of a series of bombing raids staged by the United States and Britain and have not been permitted to return.