BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
    You are in: World: Europe  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 23:11 GMT
Pope warns against Iraq war
Pope on Christmas day
The Pope looked frail as he addressed pilgrims
Pope John Paul II has made a Christmas plea to avoid a war in Iraq, where UN weapons inspectors have carried out more searches of suspect sites.

In his traditional Christmas Day message, Urbi et Orbi, the pontiff also called for all religions to end the conflict in the Holy Land, describing it as a "senseless spiral of blind violence".

They are in Baghdad to work and they will work their butts off as long as they are there

IAEA spokesman on UN inspectors
Without mentioning Iraq by name, the Pope told pilgrims in St Peter's Square that with everyone's efforts the "ominous smouldering of a conflict" could be extinguished.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says there was no mistake about which conflict he was referring to.

The Vatican has made clear its opposition to what US officials refer to as a preventive war against Iraq, saying it would not qualify as a just war, our correspondent says.

The Vatican also fears that war against Iraq might trigger an anti-Christian backlash in the Muslim world.

Inspections

UN weapons inspectors visited at least five suspect sites in central and southern Iraq on Wednesday.

They included a liquid gas company inspected by biological-weapons experts and a paper factory visited by a team of chemical experts.

UN nuclear experts also searched an explosives factory.

US MILITARY BUILD-UP LATEST
USS Constellation in the Gulf
1,000 US troops due in Israel for an exercise to test Patriot missile defence system
3,000 US army troops end large-scale manoeuvres in the Kuwaiti desert
USS Constellation and USS Harry Truman battle groups deployed in Gulf and the Mediterranean in mid-December
A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mark Gwozdecky, said the UN nuclear agency would keep up its work in Iraq throughout the Christmas holiday.

"They are in Baghdad to work and they will work their butts off as long as they are there," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

On Tuesday the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, used a Christmas message to warn the United States that Iraq was ready to fight a holy war.

A day later, he warned the media against reproducing the opinion of "adversaries".

After chairing a cabinet meeting on whether to lift the ban on satellite television, the Iraqi leader said: "Quoting the opinion of others and their different points of views while they are in the camp of the adversaries and not the camp of friends is sabotage regardless of the intentions."

"America doesn't allow a line from the address of Saddam Hussein in an American newspaper," he added.

The United States has deployed 65,000 troops to the Gulf and 50,000 more are due to arrive in January. Washington has threatened to disarm Iraq by force if necessary.

Environmental threat

The World Resources Institute in the US has also warned of the likely impact of another Gulf war.

The Washington-based institute said that if the Americans and their allies did decide to go to war, those in command should be armed with a plan to minimise the likely environmental damage.

In 1991, Iraqi troops fleeing Kuwait set fire to hundreds of oilfields, causing enormous damage to the Gulf ecosystem.

"Today Saddam [Hussein] could deliberately create another catastrophe if attacked," WRI president Jonathan Lash said.


Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
 VOTE RESULTS
Iraq: Is war inevitable?

Yes
 58.14% 

No
 41.86% 

74035 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

25 Dec 02 | Middle East
25 Dec 02 | Europe
24 Dec 02 | Middle East
22 Dec 02 | Middle East
22 Dec 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes