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Rice Urges U.N. Unity on Iraq

With the U.N. Security Council locked in a debate over a new resolution demanding that Iraq disarm or face war, the Bush administration's mantra continues: War is the president's last choice, but Saddam Hussein has very little time left.

The message was delivered again by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in an interview with NPR's Juan Williams for Morning Edition. Her remarks held out faint hope for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, if the Security Council acts.

"The Security Council needs to stand up," she says. "Give him a very clear message that he needs to disarm -- that he has days, not weeks, to disarm -- and perhaps, just perhaps we'll still have a chance to do this peacefully."

"This entire process has been to try to find a diplomatic solution to this problem," she says, later in the conversation. "We've lost ground in trying to find a diplomatic solution because the world has not spoken with one voice."

Britain -- the staunchest U.S. ally on Iraq -- has suggested a March 17 deadline for disarmament, but now says that deadline might be extended a bit.

On that subject, Rice says the United States is "looking at" an extension, but quickly adds: "We think he's had 12 years, that March 17 is plenty of time for him to do what he needs to do."

"Is there a hard and fast date beyond which you won't go?" Williams asks.

"We're going to bring this to conclusion very quickly," she responds. And later, she adds: "What we know is when democracies wait too long to confront tyranny, more people die."

Rice rejects the notion that Saddam Hussein can be contained, and makes a plea for the welfare of the Iraqis themselves:

"We forget the Iraqi people have lived under sanctions for 12 years because the U.N. Security Council has been unable to deal with this tyrant who continues to defy the Security Council," she says. "It is time for the Iraqi people to be able to return to their normal life, as well. It's not possible to contain Saddam Hussein. He's demonstrated that."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juan Williams
Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a news analyst, appearing regularly on NPR's Morning Edition. Knowledgeable and charismatic, Williams brings insight and depth — hallmarks of NPR programs — to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.