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U.S.: Bush Says Hussein Must Decide On Disarmament

Washington, 12 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has dismissed as irrelevant the Iraqi parliament's rejection of a UN Security Council resolution and said he wants to hear from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on whether he will disarm peaceably or face force. Bush said in Washington today that the Iraqi parliament does whatever Hussein wants it to do. "If Saddam Hussein does not comply to the detail with the resolution, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. It's over, we're through negotiations, there's no more time, the man must disarm. He said he would disarm, he now must disarm."

The Iraqi lawmakers unanimously rejected the U.N. resolution that calls on Baghdad to disarm or face "serious consequences." Iraq has until 15 November to indicate its acceptance of the resolution. The final decision rests with Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, led by Hussein.

Bush has threatened to unleash U.S. and coalition forces if needed to force Iraq to dismantle its alleged weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. U.S. officials say the president has approved a tentative war plan involving some 200,000 troops.

In a related development, "The New York Times" reported today that Iraq has ordered large quantities of a drug that can serve as an antidote for nerve gas. The report raised concerns that Baghdad may be seeking to protect Iraqis if it uses chemical weapons to counter any U.S.-led attack. The White House has declined comment on the report.