Saddam Hussein, in an interview broadcast Tuesday, denied that Baghdad has a relationship with al-Qaeda or weapons of mass destruction, saying it would be impossible to hide such arms.
A retired British lawmaker, Tony Benn, conducted the 40-minute interview Sunday in Baghdad for a new television network called "Arab Television," a yet-to-be-launched Arab TV station with administrative offices in London.
"If we had a relationship with al-Qaeda, and we believed in that relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it," the Iraqi leader told Benn.
In the interview, Saddam denied that Iraq has any banned weapons and said the United States was looking for a pretext to launch a war against his regime. But he said Iraq does not want a confrontation.
"Iraq has no interest in war. No Iraqi official or ordinary citizens have expressed a wish to go to war," he said. Saddam said his international opponents were trying to justify war and that he had no objections to making sure Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction, as long as the U.N. inspectors don't have ulterior motives.
"If the purpose was to make sure Iraq is free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, then they can do so. These weapons do not come in small pills that you can hide in your pocket. These are weapons of mass destruction, and it is easy to work out if Iraq has them or not," he said.
"It is in our interests to help them (inspectors) reach the truth," Saddam said. "The question is whether the other side wants to reach the truth or whether it wants to find a pretext for aggression."
He said, "The superpower can create a pretext any day to claim that Iraq is not implementing U.N. Resolution 1441."
In the interview, Saddam said the United States aims to take over Iraq's oil supplies in a bid to "control the world" so it can dictate to other powers, including China, Russia, Germany, France and Japan.
"If you want to control the world, you must control oil, and one of the most important requirements for controlling oil is to destroy Iraq," he said. "One of the main reasons for the aggression that the American administration is engaged in is to control the world."
Saddam also claimed Washington was acting under Israel's influence. "The consecutive American administrations were led to a path of hostility against the people of this region, including our own nation," he said.
Saddam said the United States had no right to act alone and should work with other nations to solve international problems. He said he did not think it was wise for any leader — even one with the power of the United States — to try to "do without the rest of the world."
"If this person chooses to stay on this planet and ignore the rest of the world, then the least we can say is that this person is lacking in wisdom," he added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )