| An Iraqi teacher writes on the blackboard during an English lesson in a Baghdad secondary school on Wednesday. (AFP)
Washington, Oct. 2 (Reuters): US President George W. Bush said today Iraq had limited time to comply with UN resolutions demanding it end its weapons of mass destruction programs and said the use of force may become“unavoidable.”
Bush hailed a resolution endorsed by the leaders of the House of Representatives and by some US Senators authorising the use of force against Iraq, saying it was an important show of US unity to allies as well as to Iraq.
“In Baghdad, the regime will know that full compliance with all UN Security (Council) demands is the only choice and the time remaining for that choice is limited,” Bush said, flanked by Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
“Saddam must disarm — period. If however he chooses to do otherwise, if he persists in his defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable,” he said.
Iraq condemned US proposals for a tough UN resolution on arms inspections today, as much of the world stayed warily on the sidelines of a diplomatic chess game that could end in war.
Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in neighbouring Turkey that the new US draft resolution, which demands that Iraq open every inch of its territory to inspectors or face swift attack, was “unacceptable”.
But he assured Nato member Turkey, home to US airbases likely to be used to launch air raids against Iraq in any new war, that Baghdad’s forces would not attack Turkey itself.
“No, we are not going to retaliate against anybody in the region except American aggressors,” he said at a news conference, in comments apparently tailored to isolate Washington from international sympathy.
He told Turkish television a war would not bring Washington easy victory. “Iraq is strong, even if the Americans attack Iraq we will fight very effectively,” he said. After talks with chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and other UN officials in Vienna, Iraq agreed yesterday to let arms inspectors, who left in 1998, back into Iraq under existing UN agreements.
Washington was quick to reject any resumption of inspections before a new Security Council resolution is in place.
On the sensitive issue of inspecting “presidential sites”, which include palaces of President Saddam Hussein and are suspected of containing weapons or related materials, Aziz said an agreement reached with the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan was still in place.
That agreement stipulated special arrangements be made for any inspections of eight specific “presidential sites” — apparently falling far short of Washington's demand for “unfettered access”.