- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

President Bush now has the overwhelming approval of Congress to use force against Iraq. But the drive for U.N. approval is meeting stiff resistance from France.
After days of debate, the House and Senate passed and sent to the White House yesetrday a resolution authorizing the president to use military force, if necessary, to compel Iraq to get rid of its biological and chemical weapons and disband its nuclear weapons program.
"The days of Iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end," Bush said.
But at the United Nations, even an offer to compromise failed to win France's support for a tough Security Council resolution proposed jointly by the United States and Britain.
Responding to the reluctance of France, and Russia, to have the Council approve war with Iraq, U.S. diplomats offered to remove from the resolution a threat to use "all necessary means" to compel Iraq to disarm, a U.S. official told The Associated Press today.
The resolution simply would threaten consequences, but not call for an automatic, forceful response. Still, the United States would be able to interpret "consequences" as meaning force, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In southern Iraq today, U.S. warplanes bombed a mobile surface-to-air missile launcher near Tallil, about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command headquarters said in a brief statement. It was the latest in a long string of U.S. attacks that Central Command says are in response to Iraqi provocations in the "no fly" zones patrolled by American and British aircraft.
France continues to insist on two resolutions. The first would authorize new international weapons inspections of suspect sites in Iraq. Any consideration of using force would depend on the result of the searches and require further debate.
A revision of France's initial resolution does not change this stand, the official said.
On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today he believed the Security Council could reach common ground on Iraq and did not rule out Moscow's agreeing to a new U.N. resolution on the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq.
"We don't exclude the possibility of reaching some coordinated decision in the shape of a U.N. Security Council resolution," Mr. Putin said after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The president, who has stressed that he has made no decision on launching a military strike against Baghdad, prevailed despite lingering Democratic concerns about the risks of a pre-emptive, unilateral strike on Iraq.
"The Congress has spoken clearly to the international community and the United Nations Security Council," Mr. Bush said today in a statement. "Saddam Hussein and his outlaw regime pose a grave threat to the region, the world and the United States. Inaction is not an option, disarmament is a must."
It was a major national security policy victory for Mr. Bush, and it occurred less than a month before midterm elections that will decide control of the House and Senate.
The House approved the resolution by a strong 296-133 margin yesterday. The Senate vote, coming early today, was 77-23.
The resolution emphasizes the need to work with the United Nations and exhaust diplomatic measures before resorting to force but allows the president to act with or without the United Nations. There was a sense that war was inevitable.
All but six Republicans in the House and one in the Senate - Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island - backed the president, but Democrats were far more divided, with many voting for the resolution only after more restrictive alternatives were voted down.


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