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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
US Republicans split over Iraq attack
Iraqi schoolboys practise firing assault rifles at a summer military camp.
Saddam Hussein says Iraq "will never surrender"
Several prominent United States Republicans have warned against a military strike on Iraq, in what is seen as growing dissent within President George W Bush's party.

Brent Scowcroft. Picture: USIA
Scowcroft warns of the world's "virtual consensus" against an attack
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft said a strike on Iraq "could unleash an Armageddon in the Middle East".

Under the headline "Don't Attack Saddam", Mr Scowcroft said there was scant evidence linking Saddam Hussein to terrorist groups.

He said international opposition to any strike "would require the US to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy" and "would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign".

Mr Scowcroft's remarks follow repeated statements by President Bush that he wants "regime change" in Iraq.

Nuclear fears

Mr Scowcroft - who advised Mr Bush's father during the Gulf War - said any attack on Iraq would endanger alliances built after the 11 September attacks.

US President George Bush
Bush says he is consulting Congress and US allies

He said the US would be condemned for pursuing its narrow interests instead of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he described as the main obsession of the region.

"There is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time," he said.

He also said that if there were a conflict now, Israel could be sucked in and might feel the need to use nuclear weapons.

Growing chorus

Mr Scowcroft's warning came as several other prominent Republicans questioned the wisdom of an attack on Iraq at this time.

"Unless [Saddam Hussein] has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction and our intelligence is clear, I don't know why we have to do it now when all of our allies are opposed to it," Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State, told ABC News.

Other Republicans who have voiced concern include former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and Senator Chuck Hagel.

The BBC's Mark Doyle says that the US administration has said it is considering all of the options, and that it has not yet decided to go to war.

But our correspondent says the regular talk from the administration of the need for "regime change", even in the eyes of some Republicans, has fuelled the need for further debate.


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