President Bush was asked January 14 when time would run out for Saddam Hussein. "Hes been given 11 years to disarm," said Bush. "So the world came together, and we have given him one last chance to disarm. So far, I havent seen any evidence that he is disarming. Time is running out on Saddam. . . . Im sick and tired of games and deception. And thats my view of timetables."
The Presidents statement came four days after chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix told the Security Council that, as the New York Times put it, his "inspections were not effective because Iraq has not produced information for them to verify, showing that prohibited weapons from the past have been destroyed." On the question of whether the inspectors had been given adequate access to Iraqi weapons-program scientists, Blix said, "We do not feel the Iraqi side has made a serious effort to respond to the request we made."
Under the plain language of Security Council Resolution 1441, passed unanimously in November, that should mean Saddam had blown his "final opportunity" and that "serious consequences" were imminent.
Instead, Blix said he would extend his inspections until the end of March. Here is the key language from the UNs November resolution that has now been punted:
The Security Council . . .
1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolutions 687 (1991), in particular through Iraqs failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA. . . .
2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council. . . .
4. Declares that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraqs obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment. . . .
13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations. . .
14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.