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Bush Close to Agreement With Congress on Iraq Resolution - 2002-09-28

President Bush says he is close to agreement with Congress on a resolution authorizing him to use force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush says Iraq is a "grave" and "growing" danger to the United States.

President Bush says he is making progress with Congress on a resolution demanding that Iraq giveup what the president calls its "stockpile" of chemical and biological weapons.

The resolution would authorize the use of U.S. force in Iraq. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says his requirements will be met or they will be enforced.

"We know that the Iraqi regime is led by a dangerous and brutal man," the president said. " We know he is actively seeking the destructive technologies to match his hatred. And we know that he must be stopped."

If the international community does not disarm Iraq, President Bush says, the United States is ready to act on its own.

Mr. Bush says the danger will only grow worse if it is ignored. It might then be too late, he says, to protect U.S. interests and U.S. allies, if Saddam Hussein helps terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction.

"The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups and there are al-Qaida terrorists inside Iraq," Mr. Bush noted. " This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year."

Congress is expected to begin debate on the resolution next week. President Bush wants it passed before legislators leave ahead of Congressional elections in November.

Some Democrats say the president is politicizing his call for action against Iraq, as he campaigns for Republican candidates. Others object to authorizing the president to use force before he has explained what he intends to do. Still, the president seems likely to have more than enough votes in the Senate to pass the resolution.

Mr. Bush is also pushing for a U.N. resolution, which diplomats say would give Iraq seven days to comply with weapons inspections and agree to a disarmament plan, or face military action. The draft resolution would also give Iraq 30 days to disclose its chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told reporters in Baghdad Saturday that those requirements are not acceptable.

Iraq says it does not have weapons of mass destruction and has agreed to the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to prove it.