Dean says Bush must prove Iraqi threat

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean says President Bush must present convincing evidence to the American people that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction before sending any U.S. troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Dean, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, says the United States must also be prepared for a long-term commitment in Iraq if military action is taken against that country.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Dean, who is campaigning in Iowa this week, thinks the issue of Iraq clearly differentiates his candidacy from most of the other potential candidates – particularly those who are members of Congress who have voted to support the president.

Dean says it’s critical for the United States to work with the United Nations concerning any military action against Iraq. Since U.N. inspectors have not revealed evidence of biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq, the governor says it would be wrong for President Bush to launch a military attack without presenting compelling evidence to the American people:

(Dean) “Look, we’re going to have our kids and our grandchildren dying in Iraq when we send our people over there. The president owes it to the American people to stand up before the country and say, this is the evidence that Saddam has these weapons, and this is why we have to go in. And then he owes it to the American people to say, ‘And when we go in, we’re going to be there for 10 years to get the job done right.’ Because if they go into Iraq and they leave after a year or so, who’s going to fill that vacuum? Al Qaeda. There is a worse scenario than Saddam Hussein and that’s al Qaeda in Iraq.”

(Kinzel) Dean also has serious concerns about other aspects of the president’s Middle East policies including a decision by the administration last week to allow North Korea to send missiles to Yemen:

(Dean) “I think the president’s Middle East policy is rapidly becoming unraveled. Imagine – intercepting twelve scud missiles headed for an authoritarian regime and letting them keep the missiles. What I would have done is taken the missiles paid the enemy for the missiles. I would not try to seize them on the high seas. Imagine the president of the United States allowing more arms, dangerous long-range arms, to be introduced to the most volatile region on the face of the earth. I can’t imagine what these people must be thinking.”

(Kinzel) Dean is assembling a campaign team in Iowa this week and hopes to start a serious fund raising effort next month when federal matching funds will become available.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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