President Bush is rejecting the suggestion that more time be given to weapons inspectors in Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and must be disarmed. The president says Saddam Hussein has had ample time to disarm, and is using old tricks to avoid compliance with U.N. demands.
"He is delaying. He is deceiving. He is asking for time. He is playing hide and seek with inspectors. But one thing is for certain. He is not disarming. And so the United States of America, in the name of peace, will continue to insist he does disarm and we will keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush says America's friends have learned the lessons of the past, a reference to the stand taken by France. The French foreign minister said Monday there is no current justification for military action and weapons inspectors should get more time.
The president says as far as his administration is concerned, time is running out for Saddam Hussein.
"I believe in the name of peace he must disarm," he said. "And we will lead a coalition of willing nations to disarm him. Make no mistake about that. He will be disarmed."
Mr. Bush spoke to reporters at the end of a meeting with a group of economists. When asked how long he might wait before making a decision on military action, he said simply "I will let you know when the moment has come."
Mr. Bush noted that many doubted his administration's ability to convince the U.N. Security Council to pass a tough resolution warning of consequences if Iraq did not disarm.
"...And we got a unanimous resolution out of the United Nations. And the United States has made clear our intention. And our intention is to work with the world for Saddam to disarm," he said.
Earlier, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer indicated the administration does not see the French comments at the U.N. as an impassable roadblock. He said the whole process of dealing with Iraq seems to go through phases, acknowledging a certain ebb and flow in support of the U.S. stand.
Mr. Fleischer said President Bush understands the need to keep trying to "put the spine into the United Nations." And he said Mr. Bush is determined to see that the world community does not backslide on Iraq.