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US Lawmaker Seeks to Bar Funds for Military Action Against Iran


A U.S. senator has introduced legislation that would prohibit President Bush from spending money on unilateral military action against Iran without the consent of Congress. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

Senator James Webb, a Virginia Democrat, introduced the legislation on the Senate floor Monday:

"The major function of this legislation is to prevent this administration from commencing unprovoked military activities against Iran without the approval of the Congress," said James Webb.

Webb and other congressional Democrats have expressed concern that President Bush may be trying to create a pretext for using military action against Iran.

The president, who accuses Iran of helping instigate violence in Iraq, a charge Tehran denies, ordered a second aircraft carrier to patrol the Persian Gulf late last year.

But administration officials insist there are no plans to attack Iran, and say the show of force in the Gulf is aimed at maintaining regional stability.

The administration has urged Congress not to approve legislation that would restrict the president's powers as Commander in Chief.

Senator Webb argues his bill does no such thing, and would allow for U.S. military action against Iran in some cases:

"I would like to emphasize that this bill will not take any military options off the table, nor will it tie the hands of the administration if our military forces are actually attacked from Iranian soil or its territorial waters, or by forces that retreat into Iranian territory," he said.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Senator Webb, a Vietnam veteran who served as Navy Secretary in the Reagan administration, praised the administration's decision to take part in an Iraq-led regional conference that Iran and Syria have been invited to attend.

Webb has long argued that Iran must be part of a regional solution to end the war in Iraq.

Still, administration officials say the United States will not directly engage with Iran until it ends its nuclear program, which Washington argues is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, but which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.