(CNSNews.com) - Saddam Hussein is a "murderous tyrant" who must give up his weapons or have them taken from him, President George Bush said Monday night in an address to the nation.
"The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time," the president said. "If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today - and we do - does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"
The president said Saddam may be planning to attack the United States or U.S. government and military sites overseas with biological and chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence has evidence that Iraq is building manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could target this nation with chemical or biological weapons, the president said.
The president said Saddam had "nuclear holy warriors" who are building a nuclear weapons program and could develop a nuclear weapon in less than a year.
"If we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed," the president told civic group leaders at the Cincinnati Museum Center. "Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression ... I am not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein," Bush said.
The president spoke as Congress begins a week of debate over a resolution to give the president the authority to wage war on Iraq if necessary. Votes are planned in the House and Senate on Thursday. The resolution the president backs is expected to pass both houses with wide margins. The president needs strong bipartisan support in Congress to help prod the United Nations to pass a tough new resolution forcing Saddam to disarm, by force, if necessary.
"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," Bush said. "Alliances with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints," he said.
"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, and VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September 11th. And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it has used to produce chemical and biological weapons," the president said.
"While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place," Bush said. "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousand of people."
"By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique," Bush said..
Although the president has focused almost exclusively on this topic in recent weeks, the White House apparently thinks the public isn't getting the message.
A new poll that came out Sunday suggests that may be true. The CBS-New York Times polls found that Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, want to give United Nations weapons inspectors a chance before any U.S. attack is launched. Other results: two-thirds of those polled want the Bush administration to get approval from Congress before attacking Iraq; 65 percent want America's allies to support an attack; and 51 percent said Congress is not asking enough questions about the Bush administration's Iraq policy.
This week, Congress is expected to vote on a resolution authorizing the president to use force in Iraq if he deems it necessary for the national security. The CBS/New York Times poll also found that 7 in 10 Americans would rather hear politicians talk about the economy rather than war with Iraq. Bush's approval rating remained high, at 63 percent. The poll included responses from 668 adults; it was conducted Thursday through Saturday; and the margin of error is plus or minus four points.
Read the full text of the president's address.