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Bush: UN Passage of Iraq Resolution 'Final Test' for Saddam - 2002-11-08

President Bush says passage of the U.N. resolution on Iraq is a "final test" for Saddam Hussein to disarm without delay or negotiations.

President Bush says the U.N. vote gives Saddam Hussein "clear and fair" notice that he must now fully disclose and destroy all weapons of mass destruction.

"His cooperation must be prompt and unconditional or he will face the severest consequences," Mr. Bush said.

Those consequences initially led some U.S. allies to question the president's plan because it sought to authorize any U.N. member to use force against Iraq if it did not comply with the resolution.

The president ultimately won unanimous support for the plan Friday by agreeing that a U.N. response to Iraqi violations would first be discussed by the Security Council.

But Mr. Bush made clear that compromise does not limit his ability to lead his own coalition against Iraq if weapons inspections fail.

"The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach with the Security Council but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country. If Iraq fails to fully comply, the Untied States and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein," the president warned.

If Iraq agrees to the new resolution, U.N. inspectors will return to the country to search for banned weapons at any location, including presidential palaces.

President Bush says those inspectors must have immediate and unrestricted access to every site, every document and every person they choose. He says history has shown that when Iraqi officials interfere with weapons inspectors, it means they have something to hide.

"Iraq can be certain that the old game of cheat-and-retreat, tolerated at other times, will no longer be tolerated. Any act of delay or defiance will be an additional breach of Iraq's international obligations and a clear signal that the Iraqi regime has once again abandoned the path of voluntary compliance," he said.

Mr. Bush says the outcome of the "current crisis" is already determined. Iraq will be disarmed, he says, the question for Baghdad is how. Mr. Bush says he would prefer that Iraq meet its U.N. obligations voluntarily, but he says he is prepared for the alternative.

The president has had some hard words for the United Nations over the past few weeks as delegates debated the resolution. He said it was time for the group to "grow some backbone" and stand up to Saddam Hussein or risk becoming irrelevant.

With the vote, Mr. Bush said the Security Council acted with courage in passing what he called a "historic" resolution.

"The United Nations has shown the kind of international leadership promised by its charter and required by our times. Now comes the hard part," president Bush said. " The Security Council must maintain its unity and sense of purpose so that the Iraqi regime cannot revert to the strategies of obstruction and deception it used so successfully in the past."

Under the resolution, Iraq has seven days to agree to the plan and 30 days to make a full accounting of its weapons program.