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Iraq Attack May be Avoidable, says Senator


A leading U.S. senator says it is still possible to get a strong U.N. resolution on Iraq, and prevent military action. Senator Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says the U.N. must set new stronger rules for weapons inspections. He was one of several prominent lawmakers interviewed about Iraq on the Sunday television news programs that air in the United States.

Senator Biden says he has not given up on the diplomatic approach. He told CNN's Late Edition that, while he thinks military action is still a possibility early next year, he remains optimistic an alternative can be found.

"If the [U.N.] Security Council passes a new resolution with tougher and unfettered access, Saddam Hussein will yield," said Sen. Biden, "and if he doesn't yield, we will be at war, and he will be brought down." So I think this is something that is workable. I have not given up at all on the prowess of [Secretary of State Colin] Powell to be able to get a very tough resolution out of the Security Council."

All the same, Senator Biden said, the president must begin to prepare the American public for the possibility of war. Earlier in the day, he told the CBS program Face the Nation that Mr. Bush needs to spell out all the costs.

"And I think that the president now, having made the case at the U.N., has to begin to make the case to the American people, not only about the ability to do this, but the commitment we are going to be making as a nation," Mr. Biden said.

The Delaware Democrat said he believes the president has not yet decided on a course of action. He said the president's decision is likely to be affected by the willingness of other countries to provide direct support to the United States.

"For example, if the Turks don't sign on, this a very difficult military undertaking, not able to use Turkey or fly over Turkey," he said. "If the Saudis don't sign on, it is not impossible, but it makes it very different."

Also appearing on Face the Nation was Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He agreed military action against Iraq could come in a matter of months. And he predicted the proposed resolution on Iraq that the president submitted to Congress will pass easily.

"I believe the Bush resolution is going to pass the House and Senate by overwhelming numbers," predicted Mr. Shelby.

The resolution sent to Capitol Hill would authorize the president to use all means at his disposal, including force, to compel Iraq to comply with U.N. mandates, counter the Iraqi threat to U.S. national security, and ensure peace in the region.

The suggested legislative language details Iraq's defiance of promises made at the end of the Gulf War to disarm, destroy all weapons of mass destruction, stop persecution of ethnic minorities, and provide information on prisoners of war.

It is simply a proposal, and lawmakers can alter the language as they see fit. Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says they should. The Michigan Democrat told the Fox News Sunday program that the president's proposal is too broad, and should be changed to put more of a focus on getting the United Nations to act against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"I want him to look down the barrel of a gun with the world behind it, so it is not just the United States versus Saddam; it is the world versus Saddam," said Mr. Levin.

Meanwhile, in an appearance on N-C's Meet the Press, Senator John McCain spoke of the clear and present danger Iraq poses to the United States. The Arizona Republican said there is no doubt in his mind that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons, and it is only a matter of time, until Baghdad will get them and use them. When asked about the likelihood of war, he said the use of force is virtually inevitable.