WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to press the point that Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to the United States because he could provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.
"The attacks of September the 11, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes," Bush said. "We will not wait to see what terrorists or terror states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise."
The radio address came as the United States and Britain seek a new United Nations resolution setting a deadline of March 17 for Saddam Hussein to disarm and presumably opening the way for military force if he does not.
But as debate on the resolution begins in the Security Council next week, Bush faces growing opposition to his war plans across the world, at home and in the United Nations.
In the Saturday message Bush underscored that even without a U.N. resolution to use force, the United States has the right to remove Saddam as a matter of self-defense.
Bush at a news conference Thursday and again in his radio message stressed Saddam's immediate danger is that he might provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who in turn might strike the United States.
"Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes," Bush said. "He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists who would willingly deliver weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries."
In the 15 months of his effort to destabilize Iraq and remove Saddam, the president has found this the most difficult theory to establish because Iraq has not taken a direct action against the United States and does not have traditional weapon systems capable of reaching America.
Many of the president's critics argue this is an unlikely scenario and that the only nation in danger from Saddam is Israel, which was fired upon by Iraq missiles in the first Gulf War. The administration's assertions that al Qaida has connections to Iraq are criticized as being tenuous and unproven.
Bush Saturday hailed the capture of what he called "the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks against our country," Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Pakistan. "This is a landmark achievement in disrupting the al Qaida network, and we believe it will help us prevent future acts of terror." Bush said there are 90 countries aligned with the United States in the war on terror and as a result "3,000 terrorists who have been detained, arrested or otherwise will not be a problem for the United States."
Bush said the report of U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix showed the lack of compliance by Saddam with the demands of the United Nations.
"Iraqi's dictator has made a public show of producing and destroying a few prohibited missiles," Bush told the audience. "Yet, our intelligence shows that even as he is destroying these few missiles, he has ordered the continued production of the very same type of missiles."
He said "Iraqi operatives continue to play a shell game with inspectors, moving suspected prohibited materials to different locations every 12 to 24 hours. And Iraqi weapons scientists continue to be threatened with harm should they cooperate in interviews with U.N. inspectors."
The president said "these are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade. If the Iraqi regime were disarming, we would know it -- because we would see it; Iraq's weapons would be presented to inspectors and destroyed. Inspection teams do not need more time, or more personnel -- all they need is what they have never received, the full cooperation of the Iraqi regime."
Bush said "across the world" people are hoping and praying for peace, but he cautioned people "must also recognize that allowing a dangerous dictator to defy the world and build an arsenal for conquest and mass murder is not peace at all; it is pretense."
He said the "cause of peace will be advanced only when the terrorists lose a wealthy patron and protector, and when the dictator is fully and finally disarmed."