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Saturday, 5 October, 2002, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Iraq warns of US threat to region
Crew members prepare an F-18 fighter on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln deployed in the Arabian Sea
Bush wants approval to use force against Iraq if needed
Iraq has launched a diplomatic offensive among neighbouring countries to try to harden opposition to any United States-led military action against it.

The region is confronted with a dangerous threat to its future

Naji Sabri
Iraqi Foreign Minister
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, who is touring Gulf states, has called for solidarity against the US, warning that any attack would damage the stability of the entire Middle East.

But Washington is also keeping up the diplomatic pressure at home and abroad to try to win support for a tough new United Nations resolution on Iraq.

There are, however, signs that America may consider a French proposal for a two-stage process which would delay authorising military action.

President George W Bush, who is due to make a key address on Monday, used his weekly radio address on Saturday to warn of the "massive and sudden horror" that Iraq could unleash if not disarmed.

"The danger to America from the Iraqi regime is grave and growing", he said, adding that the US would help Iraq rebuild "should force be required to bring Saddam to account".

Speaking in Bahrain - a key US ally - Mr Sabri said Washington's threats against Iraq were directed at the whole Gulf.

"The region is confronted with a dangerous threat to its future," Mr Sabri warned, calling on Gulf states to show "solidarity and wisdom."

Home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, Bahrain would almost certainly be a key element in any attack on Iraq.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

Bahrain's King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, is reported to have welcomed Iraq's decision to let UN weapons inspectors back in.

But he is also said to have stressed to Mr Sabri that, for the sake of regional security, Iraq must now comply with UN resolutions.

Mr Sabri later flew on to Oman and will also be visiting Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States, which is trying to get backing from other UN Security Council members for a tough resolution on weapons inspections, on Friday won support from the UN's chief weapons inspector.

Pressure on Iraq

Dr Hans Blix, speaking after talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he welcomed a new resolution to support his mission in Iraq.

Dr Blix said there had been an "erosion" of the inspection regime and pressure needed to be put on Baghdad to comply with the UN-mandated checks.

Mr Powell has said the US continued to favour a single, strong, new UN resolution demanding action from Iraq.

UN security council
US draft resolution for UN
  • A UN member state can use "all necessary means" should Baghdad not co-operate with inspectors
  • Any permanent member of the Security Council can join an inspection mission and recommend sites to be inspected
  • Inspectors can declare no-fly and no-drive exclusion zones anywhere in Iraq
  • Access to all sites including presidential palaces
  • The Americans have circulated a controversial draft resolution which carries a clear threat of military intervention if Baghdad fails to comply with the weapons inspectors' mission.

    But opposition to the US line on Iraq has been hardening at the UN.

    The French have been pushing their own two-phase set of resolutions - the first outlines the inspectors' mission, and the second, only if needed, details action be taken against Iraq.

    Russian's President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that UN weapons inspectors had to go back to Iraq " as soon as possible".

    Mr Powell acknowledged there were other views but said he was confident that differences with Russia and France over policy could be resolved and agreement reached soon among the 15 Security Council members.


    President Bush, who is seeking congressional approval authorising the use of force, is expected to use his speech on Monday to try to win support from wavering American politicians and the public as well as UN members.

    CIA dossier on Iraq
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    Missile-development programme continuing
    Ahead of this, US officials have been producing what they say is more evidence against Saddam Hussein.

    The Pentagon said it had detected signs that Iraq was trying to conceal weapons of mass destruction programmes before any inspections take place.

    And the director of the CIA, George Tenet, briefed US senators on Friday about the situation in Iraq, releasing a dossier backing the view that Iraq has significant caches of illegal arms.

    Much of the declassified information covers areas already mentioned by a British Government report.

    The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
    "Saddam Hussein sent his Foreign Minister on a tour"

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