| Tony Blair at the Sedgefield Community College in Durham. (AFP)
Sedgefield (England), Sept. 3 (Reuters): British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a stark warning to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today — comply with UN resolutions on weapons of mass destruction or face “regime change”.
Blair, Washington’s close international ally, described Iraq as a real and unique threat to the world and said the Western policy of seeking to contain Saddam since the 1991 Gulf War was no longer an effective option.
“Either the regime starts to function in a completely different way — and there's not much sign of that — or the regime has to change,” he said, using some of the strongest language yet to try to win over sceptical Britons.
Blair said no decisions had been taken by Washington or London on what kind of action should be taken against Saddam’s “despicable and loathsome regime”.
But he said he would unveil in a few weeks a long-promised dossier to highlight the danger he said the Iraqi leader posed.
Facing calls from within his ruling Labour Party not to back US military strikes against Iraq without explicit United Nations authority, Blair said he hoped the UN could play a role but that it should not be used to block action.
“The important thing... is that the UN has to be the route to deal with this problem, not a way of people avoiding dealing with this problem,” he told a news conference in his northeast England constituency of Sedgefield.
US President George W. Bush has made “regime change” in Baghdad a priority and his administration has used the last few weeks to set out its case for military action against Saddam, whom it accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction.
Blair, who pledged to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Bush after last year’s September 11 attacks, said some European criticism of the US president was “a parody of the George Bush I know”.