Thu, Jan 16, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Bush says he's `sick and tired of games of deception'

REUTERS , WASHINGTON AND BAGHDAD

US President George W. Bush warned Iraq his patience was running out for it to come clean over any weapons of mass destruction, and a top UN arms inspector demanded more cooperation from Baghdad.

"I'm sick and tired of games and deception," Bush said on Tuesday in one his sharpest attacks on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a huge build-up of US warplanes, ships and tens of thousands of troops in the oil-rich Gulf region gathers pace.

"I haven't seen any evidence that he has disarmed. Time is running out on Saddam Hussein. He must disarm," Bush said.

Britain, flexing its military muscle alongside Washington, said it was ready, like the US, to go to war against Iraq with or without a fresh UN resolution.

The dollar fell to fresh three-year lows against the euro and oil prices rose as financial markets got a case of jitters on Tuesday, anxiously watching for clues as to if and when there might be a war. London Brent crude futures at one stage touched $31.25, the highest level since December 2000.

Iraq, the world's eighth biggest oil exporter under tight UN sanctions but whose proven oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's, said on Tuesday it had nothing to hide. "Saddam Hussein is a courageous leader and will ... fight until the last Iraqi bullet," said Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz.

UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei made clear he and fellow top UN inspector Hans Blix were going to Baghdad this weekend for some tough talking on whether Iraq has chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

"We still need further cooperation on the part of Iraq," the International Atomic Energy Agency chief said in Moscow.

Washington and London have threatened war to back up their intelligence that Iraq does have arms of mass destruction, and US officials have signalled that any failure by Baghdad to cooperate with the inspectors could trigger military action.

This weekend's talks in Baghdad will be key to a major report that Blix and ElBaradei are due to make to the UN Security Council on Jan. 27 on Iraqi compliance.

Blix repeated remarks that his teams had uncovered smuggled weapons-related material but said it was unclear if it was linked to arms that breached UN resolutions.

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