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Bush 'Optimistic' UN Will Pass Iraq Resolution Friday - 2002-11-07

President Bush says he is "optimistic" that the United Nations will pass a resolution Friday forcing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to give up suspected weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration's resolution has been revised several times to reflect the concerns of U.S. allies.

President Bush continued to lobby for the resolution Thursday, telephoning Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac. Following those calls, Mr. Bush told reporters that he is "optimistic" the Security Council will act against Iraq.

"The resolution we put down is a tough new resolution. It talks about material breach and inspections and serious consequences if Saddam Hussein continues to defy the world and not disarm," he said.

President Bush says the Iraqi leader is a threat because he could help terrorists use chemical or biological weapons to attack the United States or U.S. allies.

Mr. Bush says U.N. credibility is on the line as members states decide whether Iraq can ignore a decade of resolutions without consequence.

State television in Iraq Thursday quoted President Saddam Hussein as saying the United States and Britain must be stopped before they start imposing what he calls "evil intentions" around the world.

Britain is backing the U.S. resolution. Russia and France insist that Iraq be given a chance to cooperate with weapons inspectors before the U.N. authorizes the use of force.

Those votes are crucial as Russia and France, along with China, Britain, and the United States hold veto power in the Security Council. The revised U-S resolution appears to address those concerns by calling for an immediate Security Council meeting to discuss further action if arms inspectors report serious Iraqi violations.

President Bush says he hopes the United Nations will disarm Iraq. But if the international community does not take action, Mr. Bush says he will lead his own coalition against Saddam Hussein.

"I think a lot of people are saying, you know gosh, we hope we don't have war. I feel the same way. I hope we don't have war. I hope this can be done peacefully," he said. "It is up to Saddam Hussein however to make that choice. I also want to remind you that should we have to use troops, should it become a necessity in order to disarm him, the United States with friends will move swiftly with force to do the job. You don't have to worry about that."

The president already has authority from the U.S. Congress to use force in Iraq if he concludes that diplomacy alone is not enough to remove Iraqi threats.

The president says he is taking a different approach to North Korea, which last month admitted to pursuing a nuclear weapons program in violation of a 1994 accord with the United States.

Mr. Bush says each threat must be dealt with separately. "With North Korea, we are taking a different strategy, initially, and it is this: that we are going to work with countries in the neighborhood to convince North Korea that it is not in the world's interest that they develop a nuclear weapon."

The president says he is working with Japan, South Korea, and China to pressure North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bush says he will also discuss the issue with Russian President Putin during his trip to Europe later this month.