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Bush: Signs that Iraq will disarm 'not encouraging'

Iraq must present weapons inventory by Sunday

Bush and Rumsfeld during the signing ceremony for the 2003 defense spending bill Monday.
Bush and Rumsfeld during the signing ceremony for the 2003 defense spending bill Monday.

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Deadlines for steps Iraq must take to be in full compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441:
December 8: Iraq must provide a "currently accurate, full and complete declaration" of any weapons of mass destruction program.
On or before January 27: Inspectors must report back to the Security Council.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Monday the signs are "not encouraging" that Iraq will comply with new U.N. disarmament efforts and demanded it provide a declaration of its weapons programs "as directed and in full" by Sunday.

"Any act of delay, deception or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance and has rejected the path of peace," he said.

His comments came during a signing ceremony for the 2003 defense spending bill, less than a week before Iraq is required by U.N. Security Council resolution to present a full inventory of its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs to U.N. weapons inspectors.

The new round of U.N. weapons inspections that began last week will work only if Iraqi officials fully comply with inspectors, Bush said.

"So far, the signs are not encouraging," he said. "A regime that fires upon American and British pilots is not taking the path of compliance. A regime that sends letters filled with protests and falsehoods is not taking the path of compliance."

Iraq has denied having any weapons of mass destruction -- a claim the Bush administration calls unbelievable. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said U.S. intelligence believes Iraq has chemical and biological weapons and missiles with a range farther than 150 kilometers (90 miles), all in violation of U.N. resolutions ending the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Iraqi officials have told U.N. weapons inspectors they have tried to buy aluminum tubes to use in building conventional rockets, CNN has learned, but they denied U.S. accusations that the tubes were meant for use in efforts to develop enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

A senior U.S. official also reacted to that explanation with skepticism Monday.

"At some point maybe Iraq will come to the realization that half-truths are the same as lies," the official said. "They are not supposed to be trying to acquire this technology, period."

The administration has been deliberately vague on the issue of where it draws the line for declaring Iraq in violation of its new agreement with the United Nations. Some U.N. Security Council members have complained that the administration has a lower threshold for military confrontation than other council members.

Monday, Fleischer said the process after the Sunday deadline will involve weapons inspections and other assessments -- a process he said is just beginning.

"They will continue to increase their numbers and their efforts, and the president has not reached any conclusions. It's too early to reach any conclusions," he said.

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