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Blair Seeks Support For Action Against Iraq - 2002-04-10

Speaking at the House of Commons Wednesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to overcome opposition to British backing for a proposed U.S.-led military strike against Iraq. While saying that the world would be a safer place without Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in the House of Commons that Britain would not be rushed into any new offensive against the Iraqi leader. But he added doing nothing would not be an option.

There has been growing concern here about what course Britain might take against the Iraqi leader. On the one hand, Mr. Blair stressed that he was commited to a regime change in Baghdad, but he also emphasized that Saddam Hussein could "avoid the wrath of the United States and Britain by allowing United Nations weapons inspectors to return to his country."

Mr. Blair also stated that no decision has been made yet and that events would eventually determine which course of action would be taken. "The time for military action has not yet arisen," he said. "However, there is no doubt at all that the development of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein poses a severe threat not just to the region, but to the wider world. And I would simply draw the House's attention a few days after the 11th of September, in my very first statement to the House, I made it clear that the issue of weapons of mass destruction had to be dealt with and should be. Now, how we deal with it will be a matter for deliberation and consultation in the normal way."

That may have calmed some in the House, but not all. Nearly 150 parliamentarians here, most from Mr. Blair's own ruling Labor party, have signed a motion expressing their "deep unease" about possible military action against Baghdad.