Byline: JEREMY CAMPBELL;CHARLES REISS
GEORGE BUSH today readied his people for imminent war on Iraq and confronted the UN, telling his critics it was time to "show their cards".
The President promised he would try one more time to win backing from the Security Council for military action.
But in a threat that heralds a crisis for Tony Blair, he warned: "If we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need the UN's approval to do so.
When it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission."
The declaration, in a presidential press conference on primetime US television, was the clearest signal yet that, though Mr Bush maintained the final, formal decision had not yet been taken, conflict is inevitable and only days away.
However, new problems loomed for America, Britain and their allies as the UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, prepared to announce fresh evidence that the Iraqi regime is co-operating.
The latest report from Dr Blix, widely trailed in advance, will point to the recent moves, including the destruction of a number of long-range Al-Samoud missiles and a private interview with scientists, as evidence of Iraqi co-operation.
At the same time the inspectors were unveiling a 170-page report throwing huge doubt on Saddam's claim that Iraq has destroyed chemical and biological weapons and scrapped its nuclear weapons programme.
The report was seized on by Britain and others as a "shocking indictment" of Iraq's failure to comply with repeated UN demands to remove all its weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "Where is the hardware? Where are the documents showing what has happened to the hardware? Where is the anthrax?
Where is the sarin?
Where is the mustard gas? Where is the botulinum? Where are the shells, the Scud warheads, the spray tanks, the chemical and biological weapon bombs, the VX?"
Downing Street said all were still unaccounted for. …