Amman, Sept. 10 (Reuters): Iraq called on Arabs today to strike US interests in West Asia if Washington attacked Baghdad, and the foreign minister denied his country was trying to produce nuclear bombs.
As US President George W. Bush prepared to present his case for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to the United Nations, Iraq portrayed Washington as the aggressor and said the US and Britain were spreading lies about Iraq’s capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Iraq today that “action will follow” if it ignored international demands to disarm and let United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country.
Describing President Saddam Hussein as an international outlaw, Blair said unless the world faced up to what he said was the threat from Baghdad, it would sooner or later “erupt and engulf us”.
European Commission President Romano Prodi joined other European leaders in warning Bush that launching a military attack on Iraq without the backing of the UN Security Council could destroy his global anti-terror alliance. Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan said US and British claims that Iraq was rebuilding its banned weapons programmes were lies, and reiterated the Iraqi position that UN weapons inspectors could return to Iraq only as part of a comprehensive deal with the United Nations.
“We call for confronting the aggression and aggressors not only by the Iraqi capability but we call on all the Arab masses... to confront the material and human interests of the aggressors...” Ramadan told a news conference in Amman.
“Iraq has a religious right to defend itself and... all Arab citizens wherever they might be have the right to fight by all available means the aggression through its representatives on their land,” he added.
“The West, and Britain and America in particular, are used to lying,” Ramadan said. “We don’t deny (these reports) or otherwise, we say the truth is that there are no weapons of mass destruction.”
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said yesterday that Iraq could build a nuclear bomb soon if it acquired enriched uranium with foreign help, but that its ability to use other weapons of mass destruction had dwindled.