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Bush: US Prepared to Act Against Iraq With or Without UN Resolution - 2003-02-08

President Bush says the U.N. Security Council must stand behind its resolutions demanding that Iraq disarm. The president again said he would welcome a second U.N. resolution, but is prepared to act without one.

Having made its demands clear, President Bush says, the Security Council must not back down when those demands are "defied and mocked" by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In his weekly radio address, the president said he would support a new U.N. resolution restating demands that Iraq cooperate with weapons inspectors. "Yet, resolutions mean little without resolve. And the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, will take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime," warned president Bush.

Britain supports a second resolution, and says it will join in a fight against Iraq. The Security Council's other permanent members Russia, China, and France say U.N. inspectors should have more time to search for suspected weapons of mass destruction.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is warning against unilateral action to disarm Iraq. In a speech Saturday at a university in the state of Virginia, Mr. Annan said it is not an issue for any one state, but for the international community as a whole.

He urged the Security Council to take a united stand and "face up to its responsibilities" if Iraq fails to comply with U.N. resolutions. He reminded Baghdad of the United Nations' support for the use of force during the Gulf War, and said the same may be necessary if Iraq does not disarm. "Thus, if Iraq fails to make use of this last chance, and continues its defiance, the council will have to make another grim choice, based on the findings of the inspectors - a choice more complex, and perhaps more fateful, than the one that faced it in 1990," he said.

Iraq says it has no illegal weapons and that it is cooperating with inspectors. Iraqi officials say President Bush is determined to attack their country, regardless of what U.N. inspectors report, because, they say, he wants to control the country's oil fields.

President Bush says Iraq must be disarmed because it has failed to account for chemical and biological weapons uncovered by U.N. inspectors before 1998. "Saddam Hussein was required to make a full declaration of his weapons programs. He has not done so. Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the disarmament of his regime. He has not done so," the president said. "Saddam Hussein was given a final chance. He is throwing away that chance."

The president is trying to rally domestic support for possible military action in Iraq at a time when some polls show more Americans concerned about a weak economy.

In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said Mr. Bush is focusing too much on Iraq, while ignoring domestic needs, such as the economy and education. "We must not lose sight of the fact that we need to protect our security at home," he said. "In order to remain strong in the world, we must remain strong at home. Today, those securities are at risk."

President Bush attends to both foreign and domestic affairs in the coming week in meetings with the leaders of Australia and Ecuador, a rally with U.S. troops, and a speech on his plan to revive the economy with a $670 billion tax cut.