President Bush says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein presents a "grave and growing" danger to America that must be stopped by forcing him to give up his alleged cache of weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush wants the United Nations to force Iraq to give up suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said the United States does not desire military conflict and will only go to war if it is essential to what he called "security and justice."
"We hope that Iraq complies with the world's demands. If, however, the Iraqi regime persists in its defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable," the president said. "Delay, indecision and inaction are not options for America, because they could lead to massive and sudden horror."
Mr. Bush says Iraq has "a horrible history of striking without warning." He says Saddam Hussein could help terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack the United States.
"Iraq has longstanding ties to terrorist groups, which are capable of and willing to deliver weapons of mass death. And Iraq is ruled by perhaps the world's most brutal dictator who has already committed genocide with chemical weapons, ordered the torture of children, and instituted the systematic rape of the wives and daughters of his political opponents," he noted. "We cannot leave the future of peace and the security of America in the hands of this cruel and dangerous man. This dictator must be disarmed."
If the international community does not disarm Iraq, Mr. Bush says he will lead his own coalition against Saddam Hussein. Congress is discussing a resolution authorizing the president to send U.S. troops to Iraq if he concludes that diplomatic efforts alone can not remove the threat.
Mr. Bush will give a nationwide address on Iraq Monday evening, trying to build public support for a resolution that has been approved by leaders of the House of Representatives.
Some Senate Democrats say that resolution gives the president too much power. They want to limit his use of force to countering weapons of mass destruction, not broader issues such as demanding the return of Kuwaiti prisoners from the Gulf war.
With a month to go before congressional elections, some Democrats say the president's focus on Iraq has come at the expense of domestic issues.
In the Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address, Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson said legislators have a duty to work with the president to protect the nation from terrorist attack, but they must not forget the Americans suffering from a weak economy.
"There is no reason why the Congress and the president can't work together to protect our nation against terrorism while still focusing on the challenges that Americans face. Our economy is in trouble," she said.
President Bush says he is concerned about American unemployment and wants Congress to pass a terrorism insurance bill that will create more construction jobs as developers find the insurance coverage to start building.