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White House: U.S. doesn't need U.N. permission on Iraq

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would disarm Iraq even if the United Nations is unwilling to do so.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would disarm Iraq even if the United Nations is unwilling to do so.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said Sunday that the United States can act unilaterally should Iraq be found to have violated the resolution passed last week by the U.N. Security Council.

"The U.N. can meet and discuss, but we don't need their permission" before taking military action, Card told NBC's "Meet the Press."

In a vote Friday, the Security Council passed unanimously a resolution to send inspectors back to Iraq to ensure the country has no weapons of mass destruction.

In a related development, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ordered an emergency session of Iraq's parliament as the days tick down to Friday's deadline to comply with the U.N. disarmament resolution. Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo, Egypt, said they welcomed the resolution. (Full story)

The burden is on Saddam to comply with the inspectors or face "serious consequences," Card said.

"He is in the position now where he has to say, 'Yes, yes, yes, yes' -- no noes."

Should Saddam fail to comply, "the U.S. and our allies are prepared to act," Card said.

Card said President Bush is not looking for an excuse to go to war, but "if we have to go to war, we will."

Either way, Saddam's government is not likely to survive the disarmament, Card said. "I think regime change will be the result of disarmament, and regime change may have to be the means of disarmament," he added.

Should chief weapons inspector Hans Blix complain of the Iraqis' noncompliance, the Security Council would convene immediately to consider what should be done, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

But if the council is unable to agree on a second resolution authorizing the use of force, the United States would not be restrained in its response, Powell told CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."

"I can assure you that, if he doesn't comply this time, we'll ask the U.N. to give authorization for all necessary means, and if the U.N. is not willing to do that, the United States, with like-minded nations, will go and disarm him forcefully," Powell said.

Blitzkrieg possible

U.S. Army Apache helicopters practice refueling in northern Kuwait.
U.S. Army Apache helicopters practice refueling in northern Kuwait.

Card's and Powell's comments Sunday were just the latest in a series of developments that indicate the United States and its allies are ready to act against Iraq.

This weekend, Bush administration officials said that the Pentagon is preparing for the possibility of war if Saddam refuses to disarm. Bush has not approved a final war plan, but several scenarios are under consideration, officials said.

One plan involves what Pentagon officials and military analysts call a 21st-century blitzkrieg -- referring to the surprise attacks involving aircraft and fast-moving armor that Germany used at the beginning of World War II.

Under that strategy, sources said, the United States and its allies would launch a ferocious opening air assault involving hundreds, or possibly thousands, of all-weather, satellite-guided bombs and cruise missiles combined with covert missions and psychological operations.

Fear of chemical weapons

The goal, the sources said, would be to demoralize Saddam's generals and discourage them from following orders to unleash chemical or biological weapons.

Officials are concerned that the Iraqi president could order the use of chemical or biological weapons if he feels that his regime is threatened.

Analysts said the current plan targets the "centers of gravity" that keep him in power -- his weapons of mass destruction, the Republican Guard and his presidential palaces.

Officials estimate that invading Iraq would involve 80,000 to 250,000 U.S. troops, which will have to come from the United States and bases in Europe.

There are currently about 27,000 U.S. troops in the region.

Pentagon sources said it was unlikely that the necessary troops and their equipment could be moved into position before February. This time frame would give U.S. assembly lines more time to replenish the military stocks of highly accurate J-DAM 2,000-pound bombs that have been effective in the war in Afghanistan.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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