Dean says Iraq doesn’t pose immediate threat

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(Host) Former governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean says he remains unconvinced that Iraq poses an immediate threat to the United States.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Dean has been dubbed as the “peace” candidate by the national press because of his opposition to a congressional resolution authorizing the president to take military action against Iraq.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a special presentation to the United Nations Security Council outlining the Bush administration’s position that Saddam Hussein is hiding hundreds of tons of chemical weapons. Speaking from Washington, D.C., Dean said Powell’s evidence was not compelling. Instead of taking military action, Dean said he supports the deployment of more weapons inspectors to Iraq:

(Dean) “I’m convinced more than ever that we need to disarm Saddam Hussein, but I’m still in favor of seeing if we can do it with other countries cooperating with us. And also see if it can be done without resorting to war. Now maybe that’s not possible, but I think we ought to try.”

(Kinzel) Dean also called for much stronger renewable energy programs in the United States. He wants to include SUV’s in car mileage requirements and Dean proposed greater development of ethanol as a fuel. Dean says these steps are needed because Americans are funding terrorist activities when they purchase oil produced in Saudi Arabia:

(Dean) “The president really cannot conduct a war on terrorism in the way it ought to be conducted because we’re so beholdened to the Saudis in particular, who are financing not just terrorists in the Palestinian territories and Israel but also financing fundamentalist schools which teach kids small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews. It’s the next generation of suicide bombers and terrorists and it’s our oil money that’s being used to fund that. The president has done nothing about that.”

(Kinzel) Dean says the country’s dependence on foreign oil could be cut by at least 10% if his proposals are put into place.

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

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