US outlines goals on Iraq, Congressional support wavering
Iraq, International, 2/13/1998
While international diplomatic efforts are still ongoing to resolve the Iraqi crisis with regards to weapons inspections, support for the US within the US congress seems to be diminishing, as a proposed resolution of support for President Clinton was not acted on, leaving it for consideration after the congressional recess.
US Senator Arlen Specter, who recently made a regional tour to many Arab states as well as Israel said, "This issues would be debated by the Senate and the House of Representatives," and "Congress is speaking loudly by not speaking at all," referring to congressional inaction on giving support to the president.
Specter continued, saying he cannot see how there could be support without the president explaining the goals of the mission to see if there is support from the US public.
As ArabicNews.com reported yesterday, there is growing concern in the US congress that such a resolution would give too much power to the president, and the congress is interested in limiting that.
Other senators spoke publicly in support of an expedient use of force if need be, such as Senator John McCain of Arizona. "Russia can do very little to stop us" if the US wants to act in its national interest.
Responding to questions by reporters on the volatile nature of the Russian response to US threats of military action, US President Bill Clinton said, "'Nyet' is not 'no' for the US under these circumstances," Clinton said.
"I have talked at some length with President Yeltsin," Clinton said and "I have bent over backward to find a diplomatic solution."
"It is not acceptable for Iraq to walk away from its obligations," Clinton said.
Sandy Berger, the US national security advisor today outlined the goals of the policy toward Iraq, stating that "We will significantly reduce his [Saddam Hussein's] threat" of potential military capabilities.
Berger continued, "Either Saddam Hussein acts or we will."
Berger said he is skeptical that a diplomatic solution will be reached, "but not hopeless," and he said the US "will pursue it [diplomatic action] until the end."
Berger said that after an attack on Iraq, if UNSCOM is not allowed to complete its work, "I have full confidence that we have the ability" to verify if Iraq is cheating without UNSCOM.
Berger said there are many buildings that would not be accessible to UNSCOM under the proposed plan to open so-called Iraqi "presidential sites," pointing to illustrations of the large size of some of those sites. This statement by Berger contradicts our and other reports of Iraqi officials who as recently as yesterday said all sites would be available for inspection without exception.
"We will not accept a diplomatic solution that does not preserve the integrity of UNSCOM," Berger said, voicing support for the UN teams, echoed by President Clinton. Clinton said the inspection system works and must be allowed to continue and the US will support the oil-for-food program if the Iraqis cooperate. Clinton did not say the US will support lifting the sanctions if the Iraqis cooperate.
"Sanctions are aimed at the Iraqi regime, not the Iraqi people," Berger said.
Berger also said, "We've been in close consultation with the Israelis" and "We'll cooperate closely with the Israelis."
Iraq responded almost immediately to Berger's statements, with Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Riyad al-Qaysi saying, "The issue is the exercise of that right" as determined by the UN Security Council, referring to the right of access to the different sites, adding that the access of UNSCOM should be a "functional" right to enable it to fulfill its responsibility.
Statements made by Berger about Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, "contradicts UNSCOM reports" the Iraqi official said. Iraq's al-Qaysi challenged every one to read them for themselves.
Iraq to open all sites for inspection, time is not restricted
Iraq calls US bluff and will allow inspections
The failure of US foreign policy in Iraq
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