(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders says he would support an international military action against Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give United Nation weapons inspectors total access to that country.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Sanders comments are the strongest statement that he’s made concerning a possible war against Iraq since the issue has taken on new urgency by the Bush administration.
Sanders says he hopes that Iraq will give weapons inspectors from the United Nations “unfettered” access to investigate allegations that Iraq may be developing biological or nuclear weapons. But if those inspectors are not allowed to do their job, Sanders says he would support military action against Iraq as long as it’s sponsored by the U.N.:
(Sanders) “If Saddam Hussein does not adhere to the United Nations resolution, if he stops the U.N. inspectors from doing what they have to do – which is determine if and where he has weapons of mass destruction – then I certainly think you could look at military force through an international body. And I think the United Nations would be prepared to support that. That is a different position than President Bush saying, ‘Well, I really don’t care what the rest of the world thinks, I don’t care what the United nations thinks, we’re going to do it alone.'”
(Kinzel) Republican U.S House candidate Bill Meub said he was surprised by Sanders’ position in support of military action because Meub says Sanders has generally opposed the president’s policies towards Iraq.
Sanders is speaking at a Summit for Peace at the University of Vermont this Saturday and Meub challenged Sanders to debate him on this issue at the Summit:
(Meub) “And I know that he has said that our economic sanctions against Iraq have been wrong. He’s been critical of the government and he’s going about doing the things that he’s doing. I say, he’s saying one thing and doing another. I’m anxious in the presence of this group that he’s going to be speaking with on Saturday to find out exactly what his positions are.”
(Kinzel) Meub also criticized Sanders for voting against this year’s defense budget – a budget that included $7.3 billion for anti-terrorism programs. Sanders says he supports money for the war against terrorism but he argues that several other parts of the defense budget represented excessive or inappropriate spending and did not deserve to pass.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.