With embattled British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his side, US President George W. Bush on Thursday stood by his assertion that Iraq was trying to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program and declared: "We won't be proven wrong."
A White House press conference intended as a celebration of the US-British special relationship and the swift overthrow of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was marked instead by questions about post-war chaos in Iraq, disputed intelligence and British terror suspects held in a US military jail.
Blair defended British intelligence on Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction which they used to justify invading Iraq, saying he believed it was "genuine."
Bush called it "sound" and lashed out at "the skeptics," who have focused on a now-discredited line in his State of the Union speech about Iraq's attempt to get uranium from Africa. The White House says it should not have been included in Bush's address.
"He [Saddam] possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons," Bush said. "I strongly believe he was trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program and I will remind the skeptics that in 1991 it became clear that Saddam Hussein was much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than anybody ever imagined."
"He [Saddam] was a threat. I take responsibility for dealing with that threat," Bush said, adding: "We won't be proven wrong ... We will bring the information forward on the weapons when they find them and that'll end all this speculation."
In an impassioned defense of the war before a joint session of Congress, Blair said that toppling Saddam was justified even though weapons of mass destruction have failed to materialize.
"Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering," Blair said in what was billed as one of the most important foreign speeches of his six-year premiership.
"That is something I am confident history will forgive," he said.
Blair and Bush are under fire for allegedly overstating the threat from Iraq's banned arms to justify the conflict. What should have been a period of triumph after a quick military campaign has turned into a nightmare for the allies.
Political chaos grips parts of Iraq, troops are under attack and public trust in Blair has slumped while Bush's approval ratings have slipped since the war ended.
"We're being tested in Iraq," Bush said. "Our enemies are looking for signs of hesitation. They're looking for weakness. They will find none."
Blair alluded to the atmosphere at home as he thanked the US lawmakers, who gave him 17 standing ovations.
"I'm deeply touched by that warm and generous welcome," he said. "That's more than I deserve and more than I'm used to, quite frankly."
Also see stories:
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted