Blair told the annual meeting of the Trades Union Congress in the northwest English town of Blackpool, ”Let it be clear that he must be disarmed. Let it be clear that there can be no more conditions, no more games, no more prevaricating, no more undermining of the U.N.’s authority.”
Blair has been one of the few world leaders to publicly support the Bush administration’s stance that a pre-emptive military strike against Saddam may be necessary if Iraq does not allow U.N. weapons inspectors free and unfettered access to their facilities.
The prime minister said he believed it was correct to deal with Iraq through the U.N., but defended both himself and President Bush from recent criticism for threatening military action against Saddam without a U.N. Security Council resolution.
“He [Saddam], not me or George Bush, is in breach of U.N. resolutions. If the challenge to us is to work with the U.N., we will respond to it,” Blair said.
Calling Saddam an “international outlaw,” Blair added that military action should be a “last resort” and reiterated his concerns about the potential of Iraq’s biological and nuclear weapons capabilities.
“We’re not talking about some mild variants of everyday chemicals, but anthrax, sarin and mustard gas – weapons that can cause hurt and agony on a mass scale beyond the comprehension of most decent people,” he explained. “And I do not want it on my conscience that we knew the threat, saw it coming and did nothing.”
President Bush met with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien Monday to discuss his case against Saddam as well as border security between the neighboring nations.
After the meeting, Chretien told reporters he still wasn’t convinced military action was necessary in Iraq.
“He [President Bush] did not come with a document to present to me,” Chretien told reporters. “He explained to me their position, the possibility of [Iraq] having nuclear armaments and so on.”
Chretien said he told Mr. Bush that the U.S. and Canada should “follow the United Nations” in urging for arms inspectors to return to Iraq.
Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham said Tuesday that he was encouraged that Washington was taking its case to the U.N. through President Bush’s planned speech to the general assembly Thursday.
“I’m very encouraged by the way the United States is presently proceeding. I think it’s a very responsible stance they’re taking — ‘Let’s go to the United Nations, let’s work with the U.N.’,” Graham told Canadian Television.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told a news conference in Amman, Jordan Tuesday that U.S. and British claims of Iraq’s weapons capabilities were lies and said U.N. weapons inspectors could return to the country only as part of a larger deal with the U.N. to end the current crisis.
“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.”
Ramadan also urged Arabs to strike U.S. interests in the Middle East if there is a strike on Baghdad saying, “…all Arab citizens wherever they might be have the right to fight by all available means the aggression through its representatives on their land.”