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[casi] Blair dossier on Iraq 'nuclear arms threat'

The following appeared in the Evening Standard earlier this week.

Blair dossier on Iraq 'nuclear arms threat'.

TONY BLAIR is preparing to publish a devastating dossier of
Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities as the West gears up
for military action against Iraq.

The Prime Minister is determined to provide clear evidence of
the enormous threat he and President George Bush believe
Saddam's regime represents.

It is expected that the dossier, built up by the intelligence
services, will be published ahead of Mr Blair's trip to Washington
next month to discuss the next phase of the war on terror with Mr

The document is thought to reveal Saddam's attempts to amass
a rudimentary nuclear capability, including the power to make
"dirty" nuclear bombs - basic devices capable of wreaking havoc.

Intelligence sources believe Saddam is also developing
biological and chemical weapons capable of killing thousands.

Mr Blair warned that the West had to be ready to act against Iraq
- and possibly other regimes belonging to what Mr Bush calls an
"axis of evil" - before it was "too late".

Citing the example of Afghanistan, he said nothing had been
done to prevent the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda for the 10
years prior to last year's 11 September atrocities.

It was important not to make the same mistake again, the Prime
Minister told Australian television during his trip to the
Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

His comments represent a deliberate attempt to raise the
stakes ahead of his talks with President Bush.

The US and Britain aim to use stronger rhetoric to try to force
Saddam to let banned United Nations weapons inspectors back
into Iraq. However, both Washington and London are clear that
they must be ready to back up their words with military force if
that proves necessary.

Military advisers are understood to have told Mr Blair the best
time for a full-scale attack would be the autumn, after the fierce
summer heat has abated.

Publication of the dossier will represent a major step in the
Prime Minister's drive to persuade doubters in his own party that
Saddam must be defeated.

Many Labour backbenchers, including former defence minister
Doug Henderson, are highly sceptical about the need for military
action and warn that it could easily go wrong, strengthening
Saddam's position.

There are also fears that taking on Saddam could mean the end
of the international coalition against terrorism painstakingly built
up after weeks of jet-setting diplomacy by Mr Blair and senior US
politicians following the 11 September attacks.

Action against Afghanistan was strengthened by support from
Islamic nations including Pakistan and Iran - which could fall
away rapidly if Iraq comes under direct threat.

But Mr Blair told Australian television: "If chemical, biological or
nuclear capability falls into the wrong hands, we know what
some of these people are capable of. These are not people like

"They are not people who are democratically elected, they are
not people who abide by the normal rules of human behaviour. If
these weapons fall into their hands, and we know they have the
capability and the intention to use them, then I think we have got
to act on it. If we don't act, we will find out too late the potential for

Source: EVENING STANDARD 04/03/2002

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