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Time running out for Iraq

The United States cannot let Saddam Hussein get away with preventing U.N. inspectors from examining sites suspected of containing weapons of mass destruction.

Diplomacy is the preferred option, and President Clinton is wise in gaining as much support as possible from allies in an effort to pressure Saddam into seeing that complying with U.N. resolutions is in the best interests of all involved.But if diplomacy fails, air strikes may be required to get Saddam's attention. Allowing him to hold U.N. inspection teams at bay while Iraq produces or hides biological and chemical weapons, is unacceptable.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was right when he said the allies need to make it absolutely clear to Saddam that he will not be allowed to develop weapons of mass destruction. And if he doesn't allow U.N. weapons inspectors to investigate their selected sites, then he will have to be forced to do so.

With Saddam, seeing is believing. He cannot be trusted. For him to say Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction is meaningless. It has to be proven. And that requires unfettered access to any site inspectors deem appropriate.

Inspectors must have first-hand knowledge that all of Saddam's biological and chemical weapons have been destroyed. Regrettably, history has shown that if he has these terrible weapons he uses them. He has used poison gas against the Kurds and the Iranians. Reports indicate he has experimented with anthrax, a germ agent so lethal it can be fatal in even microscopic amounts, on prisoners of war.

Despite comments by Russian leader Boris Yeltsin that an attack by America on Iraq might provoke global warfare, the United States and allies such as Britain need to make Saddam comply with U.N. res-o-lutions that have been in place since the end of the Persian Gulf War more than six years ago. The entire world needs this.

Warfare must always be the last resort. It has tragic consequences and can lead to international complications. That is why all non-military options need to be thoroughly explored.

Saddam must be made to understand that warfare is the least acceptable alternative for his people, as well. He must understand that capitulating to U.N. demands is preferable to bloodshed.