The GOP stepped up its attack Thursday on the arms inspection deal with Iraq brokered by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms said Annan "gave away the store" in making a deal with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went to the Hill to defend the deal against the growing chorus of GOP critics.
Helms, in an interview Thursday, proposed that the United States, as an alternative to bombing, impose a naval blockade on Iraq, cutting off all commerce, including food.
"Who knows?" Helms said. "Someone might do him in," referring to Saddam.
House Minority Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said he hopes Republicans won't try to make a partisan issue of the decrease in tension. "I am pleased with the accord ... It gets everything we wanted," he said.
The critics again overtook a hearing designed initially to deal with State Department spending as they blasted the Iraqi leader and, somewhat softer, the Clinton administration's acceptance of Annan's accord.
On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers reacted angrily to Annan's assessment of Saddam as someone he could do business with and blasted the Clinton administration for ceding its diplomacy to the United Nations.
At issue is whether Iraq will live up to its written promise to Annan to allow full inspections of sites suspected of concealing evidence of Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
According to a draft resolution obtained by The Associated Press today, Britain and the United States are pushing the Security Council to warn Iraq of the "severest consequences" if it breaks its deal with Annan.
At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday, a senior Democrat, Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, lined up with Republicans who have led the charge.
He said "that agreement cannot be enforced" and Iraq's disarmament cannot be guaranteed "unless you get rid of Saddam."
Only Israel, he said, was willing to wipe out Baghdad "kit and kaboodle" if Iraq landed one missile on Tel Aviv.
An even tougher line was taken by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., who said the Iraqi leader emerged from the agreement with a higher standing in the Arab world, U.N. permission to sell more oil and more time to build a bigger arsenal.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who spoke at the hearing, said she did not trust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and would put the accord to a test.
Albright insisted that Saddam had reversed course, agreeing to U.N. inspections even of sites never monitored before. She said triumphant declarations in the Iraqi press were meaningless since Saddam controlled the media in his country.
"I do not believe his word," Albright told the subcommittee. "The proof will be in the testing" of the agreement.
Cambell, while praising Albright's diplomatic efforts, was not convinced.
"We didn't create this problem," he agreed. "But we didn't create cancer either. You got to treat it or cut it out."
Albright replied even cancer cannot be cured quickly. But Campbell shot back: "Comparing him to cancer gives a bad name to cancer."
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