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Bush calls NATO allies to arms

President Bush sought allied military support in his campaign for Iraqi disarmament by challenging NATO nations Wednesday to meet their "duty to help."

He also threatened Saddam Hussein with "the severest of consequences" unless Iraq discloses its weapons of mass destruction by Dec. 8.

Bush issued his plea and his latest warning to Baghdad in an address to European university students shortly before joining leaders of the 19-nation military alliance for the opening dinner of the first NATO summit convened in the capital of a former Soviet Bloc nation.

Assured of winning allied political backing for Iraqi disarmament, Bush pursued specific commitments of military support from individual nations in the event the United States leads an attack to force Iraq to comply with the U.N. Security Council.

"Free nations must accept our shared obligations to keep the peace," Bush told students in a 23-minute address. "International stability must be actively defended _ and all nations that benefit from that stability have a duty to help."

Bush held separate private meetings with the leaders of the Czech Republic, Britain, France and Turkey _ the only NATO nation that borders Iraq. Bush told Czech President Vaclav Havel in a photo session that "if the decision is made to use military force, we will consult with our friends and we hope that our friends will join us."

Havel replied that NATO "should give honest and speedy consideration" to allied action against Iraq if necessary.

A senior U.S. official said the Bush administration had already asked 50 allied nations _ including nations represented here _ to provide personnel and equipment to the U.S. war on terrorism and possibly for operations against Iraq, Hearst newspapers reported. The official said it was prudent to make preparations with allies before making decisions about military operations, Hearst newspapers said.

Denmark approved the participation of its soldiers and equipment in any international force to enforce Iraqi disarmament. British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said his government hasn't decided how to respond to the U.S. request.

NATO Secretary General George Robertson said the allies were united behind the U.N. Security Council's insistence that Iraq disarm but left open the possibility that some allies might not contribute to any U.S.-led offensive to enforce Iraqi disarmament.

Bush escalated rhetorical pressure on Hussein, demanding that the Iraqi dictator disclose his "arsenal of terror" by the Dec. 8 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council. Iraqi officials insisted last week that Iraq did not have the outlawed chemical and biological weapons and ingredients for nuclear weapons alleged by Bush.

"Should he again deny that this arsenal exists, he will have entered his final stage with a lie," Bush warned. "And deception this time will not be tolerated. Delay and defiance will invite the severest of consequences."

Bush recalled the horrors of World War II here in the heart of formerly Nazi-occupied Europe in a bid to rally backing for a U.S.-led crackdown on Iraq.

"Great evil is stirring in the world," Bush warned his student audience. A "unique and urgent threat" lurks nearby with a dictator who could "blackmail and/or terrorize" Europe with weapons of mass destruction, Bush said.

In addition to Iraq, terrorism also poses a threat, Bush said.

"We're threatened by terrorism, bred within failed states," Bush told the students. "We're threatened by the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons which are produced by outlaw regimes and could be delivered either by missile or terrorist cell."