British Defense Secretary Expresses Support to U.S. Military Strike on Iraq
An American-led military attack on Iraq will be backed by Britain "in the right conditions", British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Friday.
Hoon insisted that no decision to unleash military action against Saddam Hussein's regime had yet been taken. But his comments were being seen as part of a concerted effort by British ministers to prepare public opinion for a new phase in the global war against terrorism, the London-based The Express reported on Saturday.
"I am confident that if the right conditions were set out we would support the United States," conveyed Hoon.
Hoon stressed that Britain's concerns about Iraq focused on its efforts to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, rather than as a sponsor of terrorist groups like Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
He said Iraq would do much to lift the threat of attack if it agreed to the return of United Nations weapons inspectors.
"Absolutely no decisions have been taken about any prospect of an attack. What is important to recognize is that there is a range of different responses for dealing with Iraq,” he declared, adding "We have followed a diplomatic-political approach which we continue to try. Nevertheless, ultimately it is something that we would have to recognize if Iraq continued to provide that kind of threat.”
Earlier on Friday, Iraq has challenged Britain to prove it is developing weapons of mass destruction, saying it was ready to receive "right now" any British team in the country, an official spokesman said.
"Iraq is ready to receive right now any British team sent by (Prime Minister Tony) Blair and accompanied by the British media to show the world where and how is Iraq developing such weapons," the unidentified Iraqi spokesman was quoted as saying by the official al-Thawradaily.
Hoon, speaking to the British Broadcasting Corp. Friday, said: "They (Iraq) have consistently refused to allow U.N. weapons inspections and that must mean we are deeply suspicious about is what is going on. They are a concern that we have to address," Hoon said.
"That is what we have to learn from the appalling events of Sept. 11, that we cannot afford to ignore issues that can provoke a threat to our own security," he added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)