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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Bush delivers stark warning to Iraq
Anti-war protester argues with Bush supporters in Cincinatti
Most - but not all - Americans are behind Bush
US President George W Bush has issued a blunt message about the choices facing Saddam Hussein.


Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people

President Bush

He said that war was not imminent or unavoidable, but the Iraqi leader must either abandon weapons of mass destruction or face an American-led coalition that would disarm him.

"The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end," Mr Bush said.

The president, speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio, also made it plain that any of Saddam Hussein's generals who followed orders to launch a chemical or biological weapons attack would face war crimes charges.

'No fingerprints'

Mr Bush set out in stark terms the threat he believed Saddam Hussein - whom he described as a "homicidal dictator addicted to weapons of mass destruction" - posed to Americans.

George W Bush
Bush is seeking the backing of Congress
"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," he said. "Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

The president said the United States did not know how close Iraq was to building a nuclear weapon, but could not afford to wait.

Correspondents say many Americans remain uneasy about the prospect of military action, but this speech was aimed more at members of Congress who will vote this week on resolutions which would give the president authority to go to war.


You [Bush] are just like a beast which wants to eat small countries

Abdul Aziz Kailani
Iraqi official
Egypt has responded by criticising Mr Bush's "rewriting the rules in the middle of the game", referring to US attempts to force a tough new United Nations Security Council resolution threatening military force if Baghdad backs out of its pledge to allow arms inspections.

"The important thing is to resume the work of the [UN weapons] inspectors as soon as possible," said Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

An Iraqi official told Reuters the speech was "full of lies and full of unreasonable argument".

"You [Bush] are just like a beast which wants to eat small countries and while you should help them you want to destroy them," said Abdul Aziz Kailani, head of the parliamentary religious affairs committee.

Senate test

Congress is expected to pass a resolution authorising Mr Bush to use force, if necessary, against Iraq.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives has largely supported the strongly-worded resolution Mr Bush is seeking, and is expected to vote this week.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

The Democrat-controlled Senate, where Mr Bush's proposal has received a rougher ride, is expected to vote next week.

A recent public opinion poll suggests that Americans are behind Mr Bush's tough stand on Iraq.

The survey, conducted for TV network CBS and the New York Times, showed two-thirds of respondents supporting military action to topple Saddam Hussein.

However, that support sinks when the issues of major US casualties, Iraqi civilian deaths or a lengthy war are raised.

Tens of thousands of people attended anti-war rallies across the US on the eve of Mr Bush's speech.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"It was a direct appeal to the American people"
Click here to listen to
President George W Bush's full speech
Gary Samore, former advisor to Bill Clinton
"The speech was very much cast in the idea that war would be a last resort"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
 VOTE RESULTS
Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

Yes
 79.51% 

No
 20.49% 

61425 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Politics
07 Oct 02 | Americas
06 Oct 02 | Americas
05 Oct 02 | Middle East
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