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Friday, February 7

Understanding conflict with Iraq: A timeline

By Staff reports

Here is a timeline of key events in the U.S.-led effort to disarm Iraq and get rid of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction:

Sept. 11, 2001 
Terrorists kill thousands on U.S. soil. There is no evidence of Iraqi involvement, but President Bush says the United States ``will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbored them.''

Jan. 29, 2002
In his State of the Union speech, Bush lists Iraq, Iran and North Korea and says, ``States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.''

Sept. 12, 2002:
Bush urges the United Nations to confront and disarm Saddam and back previous U.N. resolutions ordering disarmament.

Oct. 10-11, 2002:
Congress votes to give the president authority to use force against Iraq. House vote was 296-133; Senate was 77-23.

Nov. 8, 2002 
U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1441, calling on Iraq to comply with previous resolutions by disarming and readmitting weapons inspectors.

Jan. 27, 2003 
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix tells the Security Council that Iraq has not genuinely accepted demands to disarm and should cooperate more.

Jan. 28, 2003 
In his State of Union address, Bush has a message for the Iraqi people: ``Your enemy is not surrounding your country - your enemy is ruling your country.''

Feb. 5, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell presents evidence to the U.N. Security Council that he says shows that Iraq is concealing weapons of mass destruction. Opponents of a U.S.-led war are unconvinced.

Feb. 14, 2003 
In his second report to the Security Council, Blix gives Iraq's response to weapons inspections mixed reviews but says the country has taken some positive steps.

Feb. 15, 2003 
Millions turn out in cities worldwide to protest the United States' threatened war with Iraq. Bush would later say the size of the protests is irrelevant to his decision.

March 1, 2003 
Iraq begins destroying banned Al Samoud 2 missiles. Turkish parliament votes not to allow U.S. troops to use Turkey to open a northern front against Iraq.

March 5, 2003 
In advance of a Security Council meeting March 7, France, Germany and Russia issue a joint statement declaring, ``We will not let a proposed resolution pass that would authorize the use of force'' against Iraq. They call for more active cooperation by Iraq and the acceleration of ``increasingly encouraging'' inspections.

March 6, 2003 
In a rare, prime-time news conference, Bush said weapons inspections have become a ``willful charade'' and makes clear the United States would act to disarm Iraq even if the U.N. Security Council votes against a resolution authorizing force. Still, Bush said he would seek a council vote to put countries on record to ``let the world know where they stand'' on Saddam.

March 7, 2003 
Deep divisions at the Security Council hardened following a Blix report that Iraq is improving its cooperation. Blix says disarmament could be done in months.

March 16, 2003 
Bush meets with allies from Britain, Spain and Portugal in Azores, Portugal to finalize the endgame on democracy in Iraq. Bush announces “a moment of truth for the world” is at hand.

March 17, 2003 
Bush addresses nation and warns Saddam to leave Iraq within 48 hours or face war. The president’s prime-time speech comes hours after the administration withdraws proposed Security Council resolution seeking war authority, following persistent promise from France to veto any use-of-force authorization. Bush tells Americans, journalists, weapons inspectors and foreigners in Iraq to leave immediately.