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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
US presses case for attacking Iraq
US jet
US F-16 warplanes patrol the northern no-fly zone
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has given one of the clearest signals yet that the Bush administration intends to depose Saddam Hussein.


If you strike Iraq, and kill the people of Iraq while Palestinians are being killed, this will lead to a dangerous situation - not one Arab leader will be able to control the angry outburst of the masses

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Mr Cheney, a leading hawk, said a policy of containment was no longer an option because doing nothing was riskier than acting against the Iraqi leader.

He said that time was running out, adding that there was no doubt that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and was determined to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.

But in a sign that regional opposition to military action was hardening, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned of Arab fury unless some form of peace was reached first between Israel and the Palestinians.


What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or wilful blindness

Dick Cheney
"If you strike Iraq, and kill the people of Iraq while Palestinians are being killed, this will lead to a dangerous situation," he told students in a televised speech in Alexandria. "Not one Arab leader will be able to control the angry outburst of the masses."

Mr Mubarak added he thought there was not a single Arab state that wanted a strike.

The speech came as the tiny Gulf state of Qatar stated its opposition to a strike, and joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in denying the US use of its military bases.

The issue of Iraq is also expected to top the agenda when President George W Bush holds talks with the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Clear message

Speaking to army veterans in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr Cheney attacked the "deeply-flawed logic" of those who oppose military action.

"What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or wilful blindness," he said.

Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney issued his most hawkish speech so far
He inferred that if President Bush did not manage to bring about a change of regime in Baghdad, he would regard it as a failure of his presidency.

"We will not simply look away and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve," Mr Cheney said.

For the first time, he also described America's goals for a post-Saddam Iraq, saying the US wanted to see the country remain intact territorially and governed by a democracy.

However, US officials are stressing that no decision has yet been made on what to do or when.

Several senior members of Congress have urged the president not to act without broad-based domestic backing.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said that the decision to launch military action "should not be treated like a technicality".

And Harry Hyde, Republican chairman of the House International Relations Committee, also stressed the role Congress had to play.

"Any policy undertaken by the president without a popular mandate from Congress risks its long-term success," said Mr Hyde.

Qatari efforts

Speaking in Baghdad, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Al-Thani said his country wanted a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.

Sheikh Al-Thani
Sheikh Al-Thani: Warning of "new tragedies"
The sheikh is believed to have gone to the Iraqi capital to persuade Saddam to accept the return of international weapons inspectors.

The UN withdrew its inspectors four years ago complaining of Iraqi obstruction.

President Bush has accused Iraq of supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq has denied the allegations and said any talks with the United Nations on the inspectors' return should also focus on lifting 12-year-old sanctions and the US and British-enforced no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq, imposed since the 1991 Gulf War.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"For some observers this is the clearest signal yet that a decision is coming soon"
US Vice President Dick Cheney
"Should all his ambitions be realised, the implications would be enormous for the Middle East"
Former US secretary of state James Rubin
"This is a very strong indication that the Bush administration is in favour of a military strike"

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27 Aug 02 | Middle East
26 Aug 02 | Middle East
16 Aug 02 | Middle East
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
24 Aug 02 | Middle East
22 Aug 02 | Americas
07 Aug 02 | Middle East
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