Bush to U.N.: We will not wait
U.S. sending more troops, ships to region
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Alleging that Saddam Hussein has authorized the use of chemical weapons in the event of a war, President Bush on Thursday challenged the United Nations to back its words with actions in the face of what he labeled Iraqi defiance and mockery of the U.N. resolution calling for it to disarm.
"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have," Bush said. (Full transcript)
"We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons," Bush said.
The day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council cataloguing what the U.S. calls a sustained attempt by Iraq to evade and deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, Bush repeated many of the charges Powell made linking Iraq to terrorist groups and possessing weapons of mass destruction.
"The Iraqi regime's violations of Security Council resolutions are evident, and they continue to this hour. The regime has never accounted for a vast arsenal of deadly, biological and chemical weapons. ... to the contrary, the regime is pursuing an elaborate campaign to conceal its weapons materials and to hide or intimidate key experts and scientists, all in direct defiance of Security Council 1441," Bush said in a televised statement from the White House.
"The United States would welcome and support a new resolution which makes clear that the Security Council stands behind its previous demands. Yet resolutions mean little without resolve, and the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, is resolved to take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime, " Bush said.
Thursday was a day of numerous developments:
• In a BBC interview, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that, if one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council were to veto a second resolution on military action to disarm Iraq, he would still support an attack.
• By the time chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix arrives in Baghdad on Saturday, he expects three key inspection issues to be resolved, including interviews of Iraqi scientists and the use of U-2 spy planes, a senior U.N. official said. The third issue is Iraq's enforcement of legislation prohibiting companies from making weapons of mass destruction.
• Powell continued to make the White House case against Iraq at a hearing Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said he expects the standoff with Saddam Hussein's regime to reach "an endgame in a matter of weeks." (Full story)
• Senate committee members praised Powell's U.N. presentation at Thursday's hearing, but Sen. Joseph Biden, the panel's leading Democrat, questioned why U.S. warplanes have not bombed a camp in northern Iraq run by a group that U.S. officials say is linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network. Powell had said in his Wednesday presentation that the group was making ricin and other poisons there. Powell said he did not want to discuss possible military actions in an open session.
• An Iraqi official said U.N. inspectors were holding their first private interview with an Iraqi scientist linked to previous banned weapons programs. Iraq also dismissed U.S. allegations and said it would send a detailed letter to the Security Council to refute Powell's claims. (More Iraqi reaction)
• The State Department warned U.S. citizens abroad of the heightened threat of terrorist acts against Americans, including suicide bombings, assassinations, and the growing threat of the use of chemical and biological agents
• The Pentagon is considering cremating remains of troops who may die in a chemical or biological attack in a possible war with Iraq, officials said Thursday. (Full Story)
• The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, announced it had received deployment orders Thursday assigning it to the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq. Military officials in Washington said later the orders have not actually been signed but soon will be. (Full story)
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was to sign orders Thursday alerting aircraft carriers USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz to be prepared to deploy to the Middle East on short notice. (Full story)
• In Ankara, the Turkish parliament agreed to allow the United States to upgrade some of its bases and ports. It is scheduled to vote February 18 on another measure that would allow U.S. troops to use the bases as a northern front in a possible war. (Full story)
• In a diplomatic move designed to put pressure on France, Germany and Belgium to commit to protecting fellow NATO member Turkey in the event of a U.S.-led war on Iraq, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson set a Monday morning deadline for NATO's 19 allies to formally hand military planners a list of defensive tasks. (Full story)
• Britain said it is preparing to send more than 8,000 Royal Air Force aviators to the Gulf region, along with more aircraft and helicopters.
• French President Jacques Chirac said Powell's presentation to the Security Council, while powerful, was not enough reason to turn from inspections to war. France has Security Council veto power.
• Russia, another permanent Security Council member with veto power, insisted that U.N. weapons inspectors should continue their work.
• Germany, which holds the council presidency, maintained its steadfast opposition to the possible use of force against Iraq.
• Chief U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday before heading to Baghdad this weekend. Blix and ElBaradei are due to report back to the Security Council on February 14. (Full story)
• Inspectors visited numerous sites in Iraq Thursday, including the Ibn Haytham missile research center, which Powell mentioned in his speech as an example of Iraq's failure to cooperate with the inspections. (Full story)