Vice President Dick Cheney says the United States cannot wait while Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein develops more weapons of mass destruction. The vice president continues to take the lead in Bush Administration efforts to rally popular support for attacking Iraq.
Vice President Cheney said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is expanding his chemical and biological weapons programs at the same time he is pursuing nuclear arms.
"These are not weapons designed for the purpose of defending Iraq. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam Hussein can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses in his own region or beyond," Mr. Cheney said.
In Texas Thursday, Mr. Cheney told a meeting of U.S. veterans of the Korean war that there is no graver threat to world peace than Iraq with nuclear weapons.
He said Saddam Hussein would use those weapons to take control of Middle East oil and dominate the region.
Mr. Cheney said there must be concrete action to disarm Iraq but he says President Bush will move cautiously in deciding how to respond to those threats.
The president openly supports a change of government in Iraq but said he not yet decided whether to attack the country.
At a Republican fundraiser in Arkansas Thursday, he said there are still other options for protecting the world from countries that might help terrorist acquire weapons of mass destruction.
"We have got a lot of pressures we can bring to bear. We have got friends in the world. But for the sake of our children, we are going to deal with the problems now presented. For the sake of freedom, we will not allow these tyrants to hold the United States or our friends and allies blackmail with weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Bush said.
As the Bush administration tries to lay-out its case for military action in Iraq, more and more allies are expressing their concern that the United States may go it alone.
French President Jacque Chirac Thursday said any unilateral action against Iraq would be contrary to the rule of law. He said military action must be a decision for the U.N. Security Council.
Germany and Sweden say Washington should not do anything to undermine U.N. authority and should consult with its allies before acting.
China Wednesday joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Russia in urging President Bush to use restraint in dealing with Saddam Hussein.