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Bush  Presents Case Against Iraq in Nationally-Televised Speech - 2002-10-07

U.S. President George W. Bush make his case for action against Iraq in a nationwide speech Monday night. The President's speech came as the U.S. Congress is debating a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Bush wants Congress to give him the authority to send American troops to Iraq if he concludes that diplomacy alone is not enough to remove the threat from suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Mr. Bush says terrorists could use those weapons to attack the United States.

Both houses of Congress are expected to pass that resolution despite opposition from some Senate Democrats who feel it gives the president too much power.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle wants the resolution to focus only on disarming Iraq, not the broader authority the president is seeking to use force if Iraq threatens its neighbors or does not return Kuwati prisoners from the Gulf War.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says Mr. Bush will use his 25 minute speech Monday to explain to Americans why Iraq presents what the president calls "a grave and growing threat."

The Bush Administration is also pushing for a United Nations resolution that would allow any member state to use "all means necessary," including force, if Iraq fails to comply with weapons inspections.

Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction and has agreed to the return of U.N. weapons inspectors. Baghdad initially said those inspections could only be carried-out under existing rules which exclude access to presidential palaces. Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri Sunday said his government may be willing to accept a new resolution that would open those palaces to inspectors.

Britain and the United States support a new resolution that includes the threat of force against Iraq. That idea is opposed by China, Russia, and France, all of whom have veto power as permanent members of the Security Council.

President Bush says U.N. credibility is on the line over Iraq as it decides whether a decade of resolutions can be ignored without consequence. If the international community does not act, President Bush says he will lead his own coalition against Iraq.