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IN THE NEWS - September 21, 2002: Iraq Update - 2002-09-20

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program In The News.

President Bush asked the United States Congress Thursday for power to do whatever he considers necessary against Iraq. The president sent Congress his version of a proposed resolution on Iraq. He asked the lawmakers to act before they prepare for congressional elections in November.

The resolution would let the president use force against Iraq to make it obey United Nations Security Council demands to disarm. Congressional leaders generally support the proposal. However, some lawmakers say it gives Mister Bush too much power and must be changed.

Iraq agreed to a series of Security Council demands when it accepted a permanent cease-fire after the Persian Gulf War. The best known of these requires Iraq to destroy, remove or disarm all biological, chemical or nuclear weapons it possesses. Iraq agreed to let a U-N team supervise the destruction of these weapons. The Council also barred Iraq from getting, developing or using such weapons in the future.

U-N weapons inspectors have not been in Iraq since nineteen-ninety-eight. The inspectors left because they were not permitted to visit all the areas they wanted to examine. Iraq denies that it has any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. It also says it is not attempting to develop them.

Last Monday, Iraq offered to let the U-N inspectors return without any conditions. Other nations welcomed the Iraqi offer. Russia said there now is no immediate need for a new U-N resolution on Iraq. Russia has veto power in the Security Council.

On Friday, President Bush urged Russia to support the American position on Iraq. He met at the White House with Russia’s foreign and defense ministers. Earlier in the day, Mister Bush spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials say Mister Putin called for the earliest possible beginning of U-N inspections.

Another Council member, China, says any attack on Iraq must have U-N approval. Several Arab countries also oppose American intervention.

President Bush says the Security Council and the international community should not be fooled by Iraq’s offer. He says it is just a delaying effort. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also dismissed the offer. He says the goal is not inspections, but Iraqi disarmament.

The Bush administration and British allies are developing a resolution to present to the Council. The new proposal calls for use of force if Iraq does not obey U-N resolutions. The measure is expected to include a new guide for weapons inspectors and a time limit for Iraq’s disarmament.

The Bush administration has suggested that countries other than Britain would support the United States if it took action against Iraq. Mister Bush has said that, if the Council does not deal with the problem, the United States and its friends will.

This VOA Special English program was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.