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Senate Panel Debates Military Action on Iraq
Reuters ^ | July 31, 2002 04:21 PM ET | David Storey

Posted on 07/31/2002 1:34:55 PM PDT by Conagher

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former top U.N. weapons inspector told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday Iraq's weapons program is an active threat but the international community should give Saddam Hussein another chance to let inspectors in "before taking other measures."

Former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler testified at the opening of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on whether to move forcibly to oust the Iraqi president.

With the world on edge over possible U.S. action after repeated remarks by President Bush, Butler doubted Saddam would make sufficient conciliatory gestures to avoid an American attack.

The former head of the United Nations inspection agency assigned to eliminate Saddam's weapons in the 1990s said Iraq's biological and chemical weapons programs were still active and he may even be close to developing a nuclear bomb.

During the Gulf War Saddam had the equipment and knowledge but not the material for making a nuclear weapon, he said. "The question now is: Has Iraq acquired the essential fissionable material either by enriching indigenous sources or by obtaining it from external sources? And I don't know the answer."

Butler said it was important to make one more effort to persuade Saddam to allow U.N. inspectors back into Iraq, even though he believed the attempt would fail. Butler headed the agency established to supervise the dismantling of Saddam's weapons after the 1991 Gulf War, but inspectors left the country in December 1998.

"I think we've got to go a little further way if for no other reason than to make clear to the world that we went the full distance to get the law obeyed and arms control restored before taking other measures," Butler said.

Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opened the two days of hearings on whether and when to act militarily against Saddam.

The Bush administration declined to take part.

At issue was how to eliminate Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. "These weapons must be dislodged from Saddam Hussein or Saddam Hussein must be dislodged from power," Biden said.

But while the Delaware Democrat has said no U.S. attack was likely before next year, another expert testifying before the panel said time was running out to eliminate the deadly weapons.

Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert who spent years studying security arrangements in the Gulf region, told the lawmakers that with the Iraqi president still working intensively on weapons programs "the fact is -- the timelines move toward more and more risk."

Butler and Cordesman agreed there was no immediate threat to the United States from Iraq, but the former weapons inspector added, "If you defer, put off to another day, the solution to a serious problem it will only be harder and costlier in the end."

Cordesman also warned against minimizing the task of ousting the Iraqi leader, who heads a military-dominated administration that has cracked down ruthlessly on dissent.

THE COST OF VICTORY

Citing the fast victory by a U.S.-led coalition against Iraq's invading force in Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War, some have assumed Saddam's military could be easily overcome.

"To be careless about this war to me would be a disaster," said Cordesman, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "This is not a game and it is not something to be decided from an armchair."

He said Iraq's anti-aircraft missile system had been improved since the Gulf War and defenses around Baghdad and other urban centers were "among the most dense in the world."

U.S. newspapers have reported a number of battle plans and concepts were under discussion within the administration, ranging from a massive onslaught from three neighboring countries to more concentrated operations to cut off Saddam and neutralize his weapons of mass destruction.

Amid reports such operations could involve 250,000 or more U.S. troops, Cordesman said the number of troops was not as important as having an overwhelming force of heavy armor, warplanes, strike helicopters and other support.

He said 23 regional air bases were used to capacity in the Gulf War and at least that number would be needed in a future action.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bushadministration; georgewbush; iraq; josephbiden; richardbutler; saddamhussein; senate

1 posted on 07/31/2002 1:34:55 PM PDT by Conagher
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To: Conagher
The War on Terror is a complete and utter joke.

We need a new government that will fulfill its PRIMARY PURPOSE -- protecting its citizenry. I've had it with this corrupt FAKE government!

2 posted on 07/31/2002 1:43:11 PM PDT by SunStar
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To: SunStar
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/725415/posts for a grim laugh...
3 posted on 07/31/2002 1:43:46 PM PDT by epluribus_2
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To: epluribus_2
Iraq's anti-aircraft missile system had been improved since the Gulf Warnow just how in the H&%% was this allowed to happen? Those few Clintoon true believers should be asking what were we doing in the nineties with respect to this. If we lose any pilots do to AA over baghdad - Clinton should apologize.
4 posted on 07/31/2002 1:46:12 PM PDT by epluribus_2
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To: SunStar
The War on Terror is a complete and utter joke.

We need a new government that will fulfill its PRIMARY PURPOSE -- protecting its citizenry. I've had it with this corrupt FAKE government!

I have an idea. We'll fire them all and put YOU in charge! Now, Mr. Expert, what would YOU do? Hmmmm?

5 posted on 07/31/2002 3:22:37 PM PDT by teletech
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To: Conagher
According to Sen. Dashole, we need HIS permission to invade Iraq. We need to layout our plans WELL in advance so that HE, Dashole, has the proper amount of time to leak them to Iraq via The New York Times. No surprise, lay all the cards on the table kind of operation vs. a well planned attack with NO public timeline. I get it. He wants maximum loss of American lives. Like Sen. Lott said today "give me a break"!
6 posted on 07/31/2002 3:28:18 PM PDT by teletech
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To: teletech
I have an idea. We'll fire them all and put YOU in charge! Now, Mr. Expert, what would YOU do? Hmmmm?

Hit Iran and Iraq at the same time in an unannounced blitz, followed-up by Lebanon and Syria. Then, I'd install puppet governments in all four countries. I say, open this war up already!

7 posted on 07/31/2002 4:53:19 PM PDT by SunStar
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