President Bush, preparing the nation for the possibility of war, accused Saddam Hussein of trying to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors and must be held accountable by America's allies. "I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons," Bush said.
At a prime-time news conference, Bush said the issue will come to a head within a matter of days as the U.N. Security Council decides whether to approve a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing force against Iraq.
Bush said Saddam was stalling. "He's trying to buy time. I can understand why. He's been successful for 12 years," the president said.
Bush said that Saddam was trying to mislead the world by destroying a few of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction while building others. "These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade," the president said. "Token gestures are not acceptable."
Bush opened his news conference with a lengthy statement, more than 10 minutes long, accusing the Iraqi leader of refusing to comply with demands for him to disarm.
Bush said he would act against Saddam regardless of whether other nations are willing to support the U.S. move.
"The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow that inaction will make the world safer, is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people," the president said.
Turning to another hot spot, Bush said the best way to deal with rising tensions with North Korea is to involve other nations in the region, such as China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.