Blair Warns Saddam on Defying U.N.
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LONDON (AP) _ Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Saddam Hussein Friday that he’ll face military action if he disobeys the new U.N. resolution on weapons inspections.
``Defy the U.N.’s will and we will disarm you by force,″ Blair told reporters at his 10 Downing St. office. ``Be in no doubt whatever over that.″
Blair said the resolution would not necessarily bring war.
``Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is,″ he said.
The resolution, which the Security Council approved unanimously, said Saddam must disarm or face ``serious consequences″ that would almost certainly mean war.
The vote came after eight weeks of tumultuous negotiations and was seen as a victory for the United States, which drafted the resolution together with Britain.
Blair said the world community had chosen ``disarmament through the U.N., with force as a last resort.″
The prime minister has been Bush’s staunchest overseas ally on Iraq, pushing along with the president for a tough resolution. That stance has cost Blair some support at home, where opinion on a possible war is mixed.
Earlier, Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution did not make war inevitable. He accused Saddam of defying the world body in the past and trying to hinder inspectors since the first U.N. resolution requiring him to disarm after the Gulf War.
``The Security Council has clearly stated that the U.N. will tolerate no longer this defiance,″ Greenstock said.
``As it makes crystal clear, Iraq is being given a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations, a final opportunity to remedy its material breach. ... The regime in Baghdad now faces an unequivocal choice between complete disarmament and the serious consequences spelled out.″
He said, ``Because of the strength of this signal, there is at last the chance that Iraq will finally comply with its obligations and that military action can be averted.″