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US Lawmakers Want Weapons Inspectors Back in Iraq

U.S. lawmakers have introduced a resolution calling on Iraq to allow United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country three years after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein expelled them. The move comes as the Bush administration is weighing whether to use military force against Iraq to press Baghdad to accept the return of the inspectors.

The non-binding resolution allows members of Congress to have their say on the issue at a time when the Bush administration is considering its options about how to get Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions.

Those resolutions demand that Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and allow the United Nations to resume inspections, which were broken off in December 1998.

Congressman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Congressman Graham said, "This debate is timely, appropriate; I think it is vital to our national interest that we, Congress, get involved and send a signal to Saddam Hussein."

Another co-sponsor, Republican Porter Goss of Florida, says the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism cannot be fully waged without addressing the situation in Iraq.

Congressman Goss is Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. He said, "I would suggest it is not possible to conclude that we have taken care of all things we need to take care of in fighting an international war on terrorism down to a level where we minimize the risk from terrorist threat until we have finished the business with Iraq."

President Bush last week fueled speculation that Washington would take military action against Iraq by warning Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to allow U.N. arms inspectors back into his country or face unspecified consequences.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said in a report Monday he has a team assembled and ready to organize any inspections as soon as Iraq allows their return.

Mr. Blix heads the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission set up two years ago by U.N. Resolution 1284, which offers to suspend sanctions against Iraq if it cooperates fully with the commission. Baghdad has rejected the resolution.