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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 13:58 GMT
Carter warns against 'catastrophic' war
Jimmy Carter speaking in Oslo
Carter helped broker the 1978 Israel-Egypt peace
Former US president Jimmy Carter has warned of the potentially "catastrophic consequences" of a pre-emptive US war on Iraq.

Carter achievements
Brokered and signed the Camp David Accords in 1978 between Israel and Egypt
Persuaded former North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung to open discussions with South Korea
Mediated in Haiti in 1994
Helped broker ceasefire in Bosnia
Made 2002 landmark visit to Cuba, calling for dialogue
The comments came in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo.

Mr Carter did not mention either country by name, but said: "For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventative war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences."

The Bush administration has changed US defence doctrine since the 11 September attacks to one of taking pre-emptive action before threats materialise.


In an interview with the BBC, the former US president refused to criticise George W Bush's handling of Iraq.

George W Bush
Mr Carter's ideals are in sharp contrast to Mr Bush's
"The government has decided that action should be multilateral. The US has taken a completely appropriate multilateral position," he told the BBC's HARDtalk programme.

BBC diplomatic editor Brian Hanrahan points out that former presidents do not consider it appropriate to criticise the incumbent.

Mr Carter also insisted that Iraq must "comply fully with the unanimous decision of the Security Council that it eliminate all weapons of mass destruction".

Danger of disparity

The former president addressed a number of other issues as well.

"The greatest challenge the world faces ... is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth," he said.

Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation

Nobel Prize committee
He described the disparity as the "root cause of most of the world's problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/Aids".

He called for "the abolition of land mines and chemical weapons; an end to testing, proliferation and further deployment of nuclear warheads; constraints on global warming, prohibition of the death penalty, at least for children; and an international criminal court to deter and punish war crimes and genocide".

Those positions put him in sharp contrast with the Bush administration.

He told the BBC that he had criticised the previous Democratic administration of Bill Clinton for failing to support the same initiatives.

Bush criticism

The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee caused an uproar in October when he said granting the award to Mr Carter should be interpreted as a criticism of Mr Bush's Iraq policy.

Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Gunnar Berge
The committee chair sparked a row
Two other members of the committee rejected the comment by Chairman Gunnar Berge, and Mr Carter told the BBC that as far as he knew, "the Iraqi issue was not even discussed" in committee deliberations.

As president, Mr Carter helped broker the 1978 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, an accomplishment the Nobel citation described as "in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize".

Since losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Mr Carter has worked on conflict mediation, election observation, poverty reduction and environmental issues through the Carter Center, which he founded in 1982.

He is the third US president, after Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, to win the Nobel prize.

Mr Carter has said he will donate the $1million prize to his Carter Center.

Former US President Jimmy Carter
"It's very gratifying to me to see our folks at the Carter center so recognised"
The BBC's Fiona Werge
"He was often prepared to go where world leaders couldn't"
Jimmy Carter's biographer Professor Douglas Brinkley
"Since leaving the White House Carter has worked tirelessly"
See also:

10 Dec 02 | Americas
11 Oct 02 | Americas
12 Oct 01 | Europe
10 Dec 02 | Entertainment
01 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Sep 02 | Americas
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