Blair: action must be taken against Iraq
Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has broken his silence over the Iraqi issue, saying the world must act to stop Saddam Hussein acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
The British leader, speaking for the first time since returning from his summer break, stressed Saturday no decision had been taken over whether there would be an attack - and whether Britain would join in.
"Nothing has changed over the past few weeks. Nothing has changed and my views have not changed," he said. "The issue of weapons of mass destruction is an issue where the world cannot stand by and allow Iraq to be in flagrant breach of all the United Nations resolutions. "Doing nothing about Iraq's breach of these UN resolutions is not an option. That's the only decision that's been taken so far. What we do about that is an open question."
Blair went on to reject suggestions that international support for an attack was waning. Asked if he was concerned that many states had expressed opposition to an attack on Iraq, Blair urged reporters to "wait and see what happens."
"I point you back, there is a track record we have," he said. "In Kosovo and Afghanistan, we acted in both in a calm and measured and sensible way and ... with the broadest possible international support."
"There are lots of reasonable questions. All these questions will be answered when the answers are there," he said.
Earlier, Foreign Minister, Jack Straw said an attack on Iraq was unlikely in the near future. Straw warned Saddam Hussein that he could "reduce the threat" of attack if he let in UN weapons inspectors.
"Military action is neither imminent, and it can be made far less than inevitable if Saddam Hussein complies with the clear United Nations Security Council obligations upon him," Straw said.
"The option of using military force has to be there if there is a failure by Saddam Hussein to comply with the obligations."
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)