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U.S. Committee Debates Iraq Plan

September 26, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ As yet another nation lined up in opposition to U.N. sanctions against Iraq, U.S. congressmen called for a better policy to deal with President Saddam Hussein.

``We have to have a policy based on the reality in the world,″ Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn., said at a House International Relations Committee hearing.

Committee Chairman Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, R-N.Y., criticized what he called ``the gravity of the threat posed by Saddam and the inadequacy of our nation’s response to that threat.″

The hearing took place as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the other side of Capitol Hill that she was ``very concerned″ about recent unapproved Russian and French flights to Iraq and that she was trying to persuade Jordan not to follow suit.

In Jordan, Culture Minister Mahmoud Kayed told The Associated Press, ``The plane will leave tomorrow″ whether it has U.N. approval or not.

The development drew attention again to crumbling international resolve 10 years after the United Nations imposed sanctions for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Speaking to the House committee, former Iraq weapons inspector Richard Butler said division among members of the U.N. Security Council is largely to blame for the stalemate in Iraq.

``The (U.S.) administration must make clear to Russia that its ... policy of giving support and comfort to regimes such as the Saddam regime is simply not acceptable,″ he said, also noting efforts by France and China to chip away at sanctions against Iraq.

Butler is an Australian who once headed the now-defunct U.N. Special Commission for weapons inspections in Iraq, an initiative that broke down at the end of 1998 after Iraq refused further cooperation with Butler and his team.

While France, Russia and China have launched a new campaign to try to chip away at the sanctions, the United States and Britain are determined to maintain the embargoes until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.

Butler said ``evidence available strongly suggests″ that while Iraq has thwarted weapons inspections for two years, it has ``embarked again on the business of making more weapons of mass destruction.″ He said the regime is working to extend the range of its missiles, has recalled its nuclear weapons design team and rebuilt its chemical and biological warfare factories.

``In the Security Council our closest friends and allies abandon us regularly,″ Gejdenson said. ``In virtually every country in the region ... there are editorials attacking us for sustaining the embargo.″

And it’s ``highly unlikely″ that the Iraqi National Congress, an opposition group supported financially by the United States could ``lead a revolution to overthrow Saddam militarily,″ he said.

``What we have to do is figure out a policy that we can get broad international support for,″ Gejdenson said.

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