- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

The United States has "no choice but to eliminate" the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday and that "probably" means war with Iraq.
"I believe there probably will be a war with Iraq," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat. "The only question is, is it alone, is it with others, and how long and how costly will it be?"
Meanwhile yesterday, the chief arms inspector for the United Nations said he will not accept an invitation to meet with Iraqi officials until Baghdad agrees to resume full U.N. inspections.
"I think [the Iraqis] have to say that they accept the return of weapons' inspectors according to the resolutions of the Security Council," said Hans Blix, head of the U.N. inspection program.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Biden was asked about the danger posed by Saddam's biological and chemical weapons and the potential that Iraq might develop nuclear weapons.
"We have no choice but to eliminate that threat," Mr. Biden answered. "The question is the means by which we eliminate the threat and the means by which you build support to be able to do that."
Conceding that "it's highly unlikely" Saddam will curtail his weapons programs, Mr. Biden said, "I think Saddam either has to be separated from his weapons or taken out of power." But he emphasized the need to build support among the American public and with foreign allies.
"We're talking about the United States pre-emptively moving upon a country with tens of thousands of [troops]," Mr. Biden said. "The American people must be brought along. The world must understand why we must do it. And ultimately, that is going to be a responsibility that rests with the president, to be able to make that case."
Some Republicans in Congress and some members of the administration have suggested that because of evidence of ties between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network a Sept. 14 congressional resolution authorizing military force against the nations responsible for the September 11 attacks can be used to justify war against Iraq.
But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday that he "would certainly vote for" a resolution, introduced by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, requiring separate congressional authorization for a war with Iraq.
"This is an issue that I believe ought to deserve the debate in the Congress," Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said on ABC. "And clearly I don't think the president has any ability to launch a full-force effort without some real bipartisan and bicameral and complete response from the part of the Congress, too."
That view was echoed by Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican. Appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," Mr. Specter said that "the resolution which we passed on September 14th to act against al Qaeda does not apply to Iraq unless there is some evidence that al Qaeda and Iraq are tied together, and that hasn't been forthcoming."
On CBS' "Face the Nation," one Republican said the Pentagon may be planning to use a quarter of a million troops against Iraq.
"Some of the numbers we heard are 250,000, 200,000," Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, said on CBS. "But as I said this week, if you think you're going to drop the 82nd Airborne [Division] in Baghdad and finish the job, I think you've been watching too many John Wayne movies."
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he doesn't believe President Bush has made a "final decision" to attack Saddam.
"I think the senior military leadership wants us to be much more cautious than some of the civilians in the Defense Department, so I do not believe that that final decision has been made," said Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat. "A lot will depend on the events, as to whether the intelligence concludes that [Saddam] will attack anyway, in which case surely there's justification."
But Mr. Biden dismissed such speculation, saying that attempting to divine Saddam's plans "is like reading the entrails of goats." What matters is his capacity to unleash the weapons, whatever his intentions, Mr. Biden said.
Arms inspections were a requirement of the 1991 cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf war. Inspectors complained their work was hindered by Iraqi officials, and the inspectors eventually left in 1998.
Mr. Blix said he did not want to "build expectations with no foundation" by accepting last week's invitation from Baghdad to hold "technical talks" with Iraqi officials.
"The situation would be much worse if I went to Baghdad and then talks broke down. We don't want that," Mr. Blix told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper.
The offer was made Thursday after Mr. Blix was interviewed by al-Hayat, and U.N. officials said yesterday that Mr. Blix's statements were not a definitive rejection. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet with the 15-member Security Council today to discuss the Iraqi letter.
For its part, Iraq urged U.N. members yesterday to accept Baghdad's offer and painted the U.S. rejection of the proposal as colonialism.
"All members of the United Nations must fulfill their responsibilities and stand up to this destructive, aggressive American tendency and strongly back Iraq's new initiative to eliminate all doubts and reveal the fabricated American-British lies," said Iraq's state-run al-Thawra newspaper in an editorial yesterday.
Iraq's Babel daily, owned by Saddam's son Uday, said: "The declared American-British position towards the Iraqi move proves that what they are trying to achieve has nothing to do with inspections or nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
"They are trying to hide behind a worn-out curtain of false claims to achieve despised colonial goals that are rejected by the international community."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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