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U.S., Britain Increase Pressure on Iraq - 2002-09-26

The United States and Britain are increasing pressure on Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. This comes as U.N. weapons inspectors are making preparations to go back into the country. Our Chris Simkins with more on the debate over Iraq.

From London to Washington, growing calls for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to dismantle and destroy his country’s alleged lethal arsenal of biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons. British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday pressed the case by outlining why his administration supports military action against Iraq if the regime doesn’t comply with United Nations resolutions. In a speech to Britain’s House of Commons Prime Minister Blair unveiled a long-awaited report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons program. The 50-page analysis of intelligence information says Saddam Hussein continues to develop chemical and biological weapons and is trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Read it all and again I defy anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility on getting his hands on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

The report comes as details are being worked out for international arms inspectors to return to Iraq after a four-year absence. In Baghdad, Amir al-Saadi, an adviser to Saddam Hussein says arms inspectors will have unfettered access. He also dismissed the allegations contained in Prime Minister Blair’s report calling them baseless.

“His evidence is a hotchpotch of half truths, lies, shortsighted and naive allegations which will not hold after a brief investigation by competent and independent experts.”

After Baghdad’s defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, U.N. inspectors spent seven years in Iraq seeking out and destroying weapons stocks, but the United States and Britain say they did not find them all and that Iraq has now restocked its arsenal.

In Washington, President George W. Bush continues to try to build domestic and international support for possible military action against Iraq. Mr. Bush wants the United Nations Security council to adopt a strongly worded resolution for weapons inspections and backed up by military action if Saddam Hussein doesn’t begin dismantling his weapons of mass destruction.

PRESIDENT BUSH “Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace. For 11 years he has deceived the world. For 11 years he has ignored the United Nations and for 11 years he has stockpiled weapons.”

NARRATOR On Capitol Hill U.S. lawmakers are debating their own resolution supporting President Bush if military action is taken against Iraq. But there remains some opposition to the president’s plan. This time coming from Mr. Bush former political rival democrat Al Gore. The former vice president criticized the president’s policy on Iraq, calling it a distraction from the war on terrorism.

“I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from the urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than was predicted.”

Despite some criticism the Bush administration is trying to shore up support on the U.N. Security Council where some nations are divided about adopting a resolution. U.S. and British diplomats are putting together a draft resolution they hoped to present to their Russian, Chinese and French counterparts this week.

In the meantime planning and preparations for a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq continue. There are more than 20-thousand troops in the region and soon U.S. soldiers will be conducting military exercises in Kuwait. In Warsaw, Poland Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld briefed his NATO counterparts on the U.S. position on Iraq. Many NATO allies oppose unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq.