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Bush: 'A disappointing day' for peace

Document 'not encouraging'

"Yesterday was a disappointing day for those who long for peace," Bush said.

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CNN's Richard Roth interviews Hans Blix, the Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector, about Iraq's failure to account for its weapons of mass destruction (December 20)
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Meeting with Russia, the European Union and United Nations, U.S. President George W. Bush demands Iraq disarm. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports (December 20)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush Friday said the Iraqi arms declaration "was not encouraging" and that the United States "will fulfill the terms and conditions" of the U.N. resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to disarm.

"Yesterday was a disappointing day for those who long for peace," Bush said.

Thursday, the United States declared Iraq in "material breach" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 because of "flagrant omissions" in that nation's declaration on weapons of mass destruction.

"The world spoke clearly that we expect Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm," Bush said during a meeting attended by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other top international officials.

"Yesterday's document was not encouraging. We expected him to show that he would disarm, and as the secretary of state said, it's a long way from there."

Military sources earlier in the day told CNN Bush had essentially signed off on a plan to deploy 50,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf region in early January, bringing the total number of American forces there to more than 100,000.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, met with Bush and his national security team for a second consecutive day. At the top of the agenda was to put the troop deployment plans in place, and to discuss which troops will head first to the region and what targets are to be selected for any possible war on Iraq, the sources said.

Targeting is among the most sensitive matters to resolve, with questions about how, when, and under what circumstances to bomb selected sites throughout Iraq and its capital, Baghdad.

But even as the Bush administration continued to criticize the Iraqi weapons report, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the declaration contains "no troubling definitions which might qualify as violations by Iraq of the U.N. Security Council resolution," according to the Interfax news agency.

Blix asks for intelligence

Meanwhile, two key U.N. weapons inspectors appealed for intelligence from Security Council members to help them determine whether Iraq's nearly 12,000-page submission to the world body is truthful.

"We would like to have clues as to where the United States' and other countries' intelligence feel they know Iraqis are storing weapons of mass destruction," chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told CNN. "Then, we can send in the inspectors."

"I think now is the time for countries that have information that contradicts Iraq's declaration to come forward with this information," concurred Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency that investigates the uses of nuclear material.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the United States is prepared to supply information to the inspectors.

"It is highly in the interest of the United States and of this government to give the inspectors the tools that they need to do their job and we will do so, and we will do so in a way that does not compromise sources and methods," Fleischer told reporters.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously in November, called for Iraq to declare any weapons of mass destruction programs in its borders.

ElBaradei said he was "somewhat disappointed" with the weapons declaration that Iraq gave to the United Nations on December 7, saying it "is very long on old details, very short on new evidence."

Iraq insists that it has been forthcoming and truthful and that it has no weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi officials maintain the nation has not committed a material breach of the U.N. resolution, and that they're happy to provide any more information the Security Council is looking for.

POWELL PLAN:
  • Continue to "audit and examine" Iraqi declaration
  • High priority to interviewing scientists outside Iraq
  • Inspectors should intensify "efforts within Iraq"
  • Continue to consult with allies on how to "compel compliance"
  • Thursday, when Powell called the document a "material breach," he did not say military action was imminent. He said the United States would continue to examine the document and encourage U.N. weapons inspectors to take steps that could help them find evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

    U.S. officials have said that if a material breach is found, the United States may call for a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the possibility of launching military action. And no matter what the council decides at such a meeting, the United States has said it may join with its allies to disarm Saddam by force.

    "We're serious about keeping the peace, serious about working with our friends at the United Nations so that this body ably led by Kofi Annan has got relevance as we go into the 21st century," Bush said Friday.

    Bush has rescheduled his upcoming January trip to Africa due to international and domestic considerations, Fleischer said Friday.

    A senior administration official said the situation with Iraq and domestic issues, like appropriations bills that have not been passed and the selection of a new Senate majority leader, figured in his decision. (Full Story)



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