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Bush: Action Must Follow Iraqi Compliance with UN Weapons Inspections - 2002-11-16

President Bush says Iraq's decision to comply with U.N. weapons inspections must be followed-up by action. The president says he will use force to disarm Saddam Hussein, if he violates the latest U.N. resolution.

President Bush says the Iraqi leader must follow through on his promise to allow U.N. inspectors unrestricted access to suspected weapons sites.

"We've heard such pledges before and they have been uniformly betrayed. America and the world are now watching Saddam Hussein closely," the president said. "Any act of defiance or delay will indicate that he is taking the path of deception, once again, and, this time, the consequences would be severe."

The U.N. resolution says violations would lead to a Security Council discussion of the consequences, but it does not prevent Mr. Bush from acting against Iraq on his own.

The president repeated that threat Saturday in his weekly radio address.

"Our goal is not merely the return of inspectors to Iraq; our goal is the disarmament of Iraq," he said. "The dictator of Iraq will give up his weapons of mass destruction, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm him."

In an open letter to the Iraqi parliament, Saddam Hussein says he agreed to the U.N. resolution because of what he called a U.S.-Zionist alliance to wage war on the Iraqi people.

Weapons inspectors arrive in Baghdad Monday. The Iraqi leader said he hopes they will show the world that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

In Washington this week, Senate Democrats criticized the president for making slow progress in the war against terrorism, because they say the administration is focused more on possible military action against Iraq.

President Bush says disarming Iraq is part of the war against terrorism, because Saddam Hussein could help terrorists use chemical or biological weapons to attack the United States.

Mr. Bush says he is working with more than 90 countries to disrupt terrorist networks. So far, he says, the alliance has frozen more than $133 million in terrorist assets.

"We've cracked down on charities that were exploiting American compassion to fund terrorists. We have captured and interrogated thousands of terrorists, while others have met their fate in caves and mountains in Afghanistan," president Bush said. "We've deployed troops to train forces in the Philippines and Yemen, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and other nations where terrorists have gathered. We're sending a clear message to the enemies of freedom, no terrorist will escape the patient justice of America."

Because, he says, wars are not won on the defensive, Mr. Bush says the best way to keep the country safe is to continue going after terrorists around the world.