Two Leaders Pitted Against Two World Threats
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2003 A poison plot uncovered in Great Britain. Another terrorist cell revealed today in Italy. This is the latest evidence that international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction endanger the world.
U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair today said these two key threats must not be allowed to come together. Yet, the potential for that to happen lies with Saddam Hussein.
Saddam's links with al Qaeda and other terrorist networks "portend a danger for America, for Great Britain and anybody else who loves freedom," Bush said following a meeting with Blair at the White House.
"We must deal with threats before they hurt the American people again," he said. " Saddam Hussein would like nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill and leave no fingerprints behind."
Blair echoed the alarm.
"I have no doubt at all that unless we deal with both of these threats, they will come together in a deadly form," he said. "We know these terrorist networks will use any means they can to cause maximum death and destruction. We know also that they will do whatever they can to acquire the most deadly weaponry they can."
The British leader said it's essential for the international community to deal with these twin threats and recapped the United Nations' efforts to do so. He said U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 gave Saddam Hussein a final opportunity to disarm and to cooperate fully in every respect with U.N. weapons inspectors. Earlier this week, the inspectors reported that Iraq is not cooperating.
"The judgment has to be at the present time that Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with the inspectors and therefore is in breach of the U.N. resolution," Blair said, "and that's why time is running out."
Bush said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will go before the U.N. Security Council next week to continue making the case against the "strong danger of an armed Saddam Hussein" and Iraq's links to terrorism.
"The war on terror is not confined to just a shadowy terrorist network," Bush said. "The war on terror includes people who are willing to train and equip organizations such as al Qaeda."
If the United Nations decides to pass a second resolution, Bush said it would be welcomed "if it is yet another signal that we're intent upon disarming Saddam Hussein." But, he added, another resolution is not needed.
"(Security Council Resolution) 1441 gives us the authority to move without any second resolution," he said. "Saddam Hussein must understand that if he does not disarm for the sake of peace, we, along with others, will go disarm Saddam Hussein."
This is a matter of weeks, not months, Bush noted. "Any attempt to drag the process on for months will be resisted by the United States," he said.
The responsibility for dealing with Iraq lies with the international community, not just the United States or Great Britain, Blair stressed.
"What is important is that the international community comes together again and makes it absolutely clear that this is unacceptable," he said. "And the reason why I believe it will do that is precisely because in the original Resolution 1441 we made it clear that failure to disarm would lead to serious consequences."
Bush called Iraq's invitation for the U.N. inspectors to return to Baghdad a "charade." He said the only way that Hussein can show that he is truly a peaceful man is to "disarm in front of the inspectors."
Blair said it's obvious that, as the pressure grows, the Iraqi regime wants to play the same games they've been playing all along.
"That's why it's important we hold to the path that we've set out," he stressed. "They have to disarm. They have to cooperate with the inspectors. They're not doing it. If they don't do it through the U.N. route, then they will have to be disarmed by force. "