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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Won't Let UN 'Handcuff' U.S. Policy

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush told the United Nations on Thursday its job was to force Iraq to disarm.

If it refuses "we will lead a coalition of nations and disarm Saddam Hussein," he said.

Bush delivered his lecture to the world organization while campaigning in South Dakota for Republican candidates. "You need to do your job," Bush said.

Bush already has accused the United Nations of risking irrelevance if it does not agree with the United States on a tough resolution. But for seven weeks American diplomats have been unable to swing France, Russia and China, all of whom have veto power, behind the U.S.-British draft.

"We want the UN to succeed," Bush said. "We want the resolution you pass to be listened to."

A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, backed up the president's stern line, declaring the United States would not let the United Nations "handcuff" it from disarming Iraq by force.

The United States must be free to act either on its own or with UN support, McClellan said. "We need a tough resolution that includes a tough inspection regime and provides for consequences if [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein continues his defiance," he said.

But German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer cautioned on Thursday that using force against Iraq would be risky and could produce a catastrophe in the Middle East.

"We won't be part of a military action," he said over breakfast at the residence of German Ambassador to the United States Wolfgang Ischinger.

However, he denounced Saddam's government as "a terrible regime" that must give UN inspectors unfettered access to search for weapons of mass destruction.

Looking for hidden weapons through renewed UN inspections could take months, Powell said Wednesday. In the meantime, he said, Bush will reserve the right to use force against Iraq.

Refusing to cooperate with inspections is "an immediate red line," Powell said, as he showed little inclination to shade the strong stand the United States has taken against Saddam.

With agreement on a new inspections resolution still eluding diplomats in New York, the United States is bracing for further delay with the expectation there will be no agreement before next week's congressional elections. Even then, Powell said, the UN Security Council could wind up considering rival resolutions.

France's resistance to a provision in a U.S.-British draft resolution that could trigger an attack on Iraq if it foils UN weapons inspectors is the biggest hurdle to an agreement, a U.S. official said.

The United States, Britain and a few other nations want to threaten Iraq with "serious consequences" if it does not cooperate with inspectors.

Powell said the United States is agreeable to holding talks in the Security Council immediately after inspectors encounter resistance.

But at any point along the way, Bush retains the authority to use force against Iraq, Powell made plain in a joint news conference with Fischer.

"There is nothing that we would propose in this resolution or we would find acceptable in a resolution that would handcuff the president of the United States in doing what he feels he must do," Powell said.