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Debate Over Iraq Heats Up in Washington - 2002-09-01

In Washington, the debate continues over how aggressive the United States should be in seeking to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Vice-President Dick Cheney has been taking the lead recently in arguing that action must be taken against Iraq. In remarks last week, Mr. Cheney said there is no doubt that the Iraqi leader is amassing weapons of mass destruction, which threaten the United States and its allies.

But Lawrence Eagleburger, who served in the administration of President Bush's father, says there must be clear evidence that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is preparing to use weapons of mass destruction.

"And my question really is, if we are so clear in our own minds that this is a real danger, why can't we convince our NATO allies of that fact?," Mr. Eagleburger asked. "Why have we not been able to go to them and demonstrate to them why we feel this way about it, and convince them of the same thing?

Mr. Eagleburger made his comments on the NBC television program Meet the Press.

Also appearing on Meet the Press was Republican Senator Fred Thompson, who said a number of countries have a financial interest in not toppling Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Our allies and friends are getting cheap oil on the black market from Iraq. Russia, as indicated, says they're going to do a trade agreement with Iraq," Senator Thompson said. "China is helping them be more accurate in shooting our airplanes in the no-fly zone with a fiber optic system. These are our friends and allies that we're now supposed to go to and convince that this is a good idea. We are the Number One threat. We have to go in and clean up any action that takes place in the future. They feel like they're not directly threatened."

Germany's ambassador to the United Sates, Wolfgang Ischinger, who was interviewed on the ABC program, This Week, said Germany, as part of the European Union, would like to see efforts made to return weapons inspectors to Iraq. Germany opposes military action to oust the Iraqi leader.

In an interview with CNN's Late Edition, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, denied that Iraq is working on developing nuclear weapons or has chemical and biological weapons.