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US Senator to Bush: Let UN Inspectors Finish Working - 2003-01-23

California senator Dianne Feinstein has called on President Bush to let U.N. arms inspectors finish their job in Iraq, and let the United Nations decide on a response. Senator Feinstein criticized what she calls the "unilateralist" approach of the President.

The California senator said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein may well, in her words, "be up to his old tricks, moving weapons or other incriminating evidence from place to place." She told a Los Angeles audience that the Iraqi leader's history "is a sordid one." But she urged President Bush to await Security Council action following release of a report by arms inspectors January 27.

Ms. Feinstein is a member of the Senate intelligence committee, and says she has seen no evidence that Iraq is now produces or possesses weapons of mass destruction. Yet the President has ordered more than 100,000 ground troops to the Persian Gulf. "The massive increases of United States troops in the Persian Gulf appears to be an indication that regardless of the findings of United Nations inspectors, the President may well intend to use military force to bring about regime change in Iraq," she said. "I find this deeply disturbing."

Senator Feinstein says the administration has worked with U.S. allies since North Korea recently restarted its nuclear program. But she accuses the president of "beating the drums of war" against Iraq, an approach she says is costing the support of U.S. friends and allies. "The real leadership [role] that the United States has always played is one of moral persuasion, is the ability to work with allies, is the ability to bring people together and to lead a coalition," she says. "And I think that's what has slipped in this administration."

The California senator says U.S. troops in South Korea have kept peace for more than 40 years. She suggests stationing arms inspectors in Iraq for 10 to 20 years, if it averts a war. Administration officials have said they do not believe Saddam Hussein can be restrained by ongoing monitoring.

France and Germany have called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Iraq. But an administration advisor has said "time is running out" for Saddam Hussein. President Bush repeated the remark Tuesday, as he signaled frustration with the position of some U.S. allies.