Powell: 'The clock continues to tick'
Democratic leaders urge diplomacy
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration offered a dual message Friday, following a progress report from U.N. weapons inspectors on Iraq: It urged Security Council members to stand together and force Saddam Hussein to disarm, even as it declared it was ready to strike Iraq no matter what the world body decides.
"As the president has said, if the United Nations will not disarm Saddam Hussein, it will be another international organization, a coalition of the willing that will be made up of numerous nations that will disarm Saddam Hussein," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, following a presentation by top U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei in New York.
Secretary of State Colin Powell led the diplomatic effort at the United Nations, calling on Security Council members to face their responsibility and disarm Saddam. He made it clear that the Bush administration does not believe further inspections will do any good or that the Iraqi leader will comply with U.N. demands to give up weapons of mass destruction and the means to make them.
"We must not walk away," Powell said. "We must not find ourselves here this coming November with the pressure removed and with Iraq once again marching down the merry path to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening the world."
The administration's two-pronged message is not new, but it became even starker Friday as Powell told the United Nations that 'the clock continues to tick."
Powell said he was pleased to hear of some cooperation from the Iraqis, but "sorry" to hear it had come grudgingly and "primarily under the threat of force." Iraq's response remained "a catalog still of noncooperation," he told the Security Council.(Full story)
U.N. Resolution 1441 calls for full and immediate compliance, Powell said, "and we must hold Iraq to its terms."
Powell's comments echoed those he made after last month's presentation by Blix and ElBaradei. He said he welcomed signs of progress in the "process," but said Iraq remained defiant of the fundamental goal -- immediate and complete disarmament.
"The intent of the Iraqi regime to keep from turning over all of its weapons of mass destruction, seems to me, has not changed," Powell said.
Powell's comments were in line with President Bush's remarks Thursday night when he expressed pessimism that Saddam would comply with U.N. resolutions to disarm, even as he said he would press ahead with another Security Council vote on the matter. (Full story)
"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote," Bush said, calling on other nations to "show their cards."
Democratic leaders continued to question the administration's policy on Iraq.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a speech delivered before the U.N. briefing, said the United States should delay any military action against Iraq.
"I do not believe that going to war now is the best way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction," the California Democrat said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. (Full story)