WASHINGTON (AP) – Edging closer to war, President Bush declared yesterday “the game is over” for Saddam Hussein and urged skeptical allies to join in disarming Iraq.
Bush said he would welcome a new U.N. resolution on Iraq if it made clear the world body was ready to use force if Saddam will not reveal and give up any weapons of mass destruction as demanded by an earlier resolution.
Britain is likely to introduce such a resolution authorizing force after top weapons inspectors return from Baghdad and report to the Security Council on Feb. 14, British and U.S. diplomats said yesterday.
Unlike Britain, France has balked at the idea of war, and Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, French ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday, “the time has not come” for a second resolution.
“The U.N. must not back down,” Bush said. “All the world can rise to this moment.”
“Saddam Hussein will be stopped,” Bush pledged, warning anew that the United States will act along with allies if needed. He spoke before cameras in the White House’s Roosevelt Room with Secretary of State Colin Powell at his side. Behind the president was a painting of Theodore Roosevelt, who led the United States into war with Spain in 1898, on horseback.
At the United Nations in New York, the Iraqi representative, Mohammed al-Douri, said of Bush, “It sounds like he wants a resolution for war.”
In Baghdad, an Iraqi arms expert submitted to a private interview with U.N. weapons inspectors, the first sign of cooperation in that area.
Bush ticked off a series of accusations that Powell had lodged on Wednesday in the U.N. Security Council, including authorization by Saddam to his lieutenants to use chemical weapons.
“Saddam Hussein was given a final chance,” Bush said, referring to the resolution approved unanimously in November by the Security Council that launched new U.N. inspections. “He is throwing that chance away,” the president said.
Pointedly, Bush did not renew past appeals to Saddam to reveal the chemical and biological weapons and the nuclear and missile programs the United States contends Iraq has.
In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac said that France’s position had not been changed by Powell’s presentation at the United Nations.
“We refuse to think that war is inevitable,” Chirac said through a spokesman. The evidence furnished by Powell “justifies continued work by the United Nations weapons inspectors. Iraq must answer their questions and cooperate more actively,” the French president said.
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged he could have trouble persuading many Britons to support a war against Iraq unless the idea first won U.N. approval.