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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 17:55 GMT
Saddam must go - Thatcher
Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher is renowned for speaking her mind
Former Conservative prime minister Lady Thatcher has called for the removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power.

In an newspaper article the former Conservative premier gave backing to US President George W Bush's comments about Iraq being part of "an axis of evil".

It is best that the United States ... deploy its energies militarily rather than on social work

Lady Thatcher
She wrote that Saddam Hussein was "the most notorious rogue" and said force must be used if necessary to ensure he falls from power.

Writing in the New York Times, Lady Thatcher argued that the war against terrorism required a second stage after the action in Afghanistan.

The "centres of Islamic terrorism" should be hit, she said.

"This will require first-rate intelligence, shrewd diplomacy and a continued extensive military commitment," she wrote.

Missile developments

A third stage would involve dealing with "those hostile states" which she named as Iran and Syria.

"Both have energetically backed terrorism: the former has just been caught out dispatching arms to forment violence against Israel.

"Iran is also making strides toward development of long-range missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads."

Lady Thatcher also singled out Libya suggesting it "still hates the west and would dearly like revenge against us".

She said that Sudan was guilty of genocide and North Korea "is as mad as ever".

Lady Thatcher went on to write that Iraq had the worst regime.

"Saddam Hussein will never comply with the conditions that we demand of him.

"His aim is, in fact, quite clear: to develop weapons of mass destruction so as to challenge us with impunity.

"How and when, not whether, to remove him are the only important questions.

Backing for Bush

"America's allies, above all Britain, should extend strong support to President Bush in the decisions he makes on Iraq."

Lady Thatcher had words of support for President Bush's belief that the US should not get involved in "nation-building" or peace-keeping.

"It is best that the United States, as the only global military superpower, deploy its energies militarily rather than on social work," she said.

"Trying to promote civil society and democratic institutions in Afghanistan is best left to others - and since those others now include the British, I only hope that we, too, are going to be realistic about what can (and cannot) be achieved."

The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"Iraq, she argues, is the proof"
See also:

04 Feb 02 | Americas
US renews attack on 'evil axis'
06 Feb 02 | Americas
US softens line on 'evil axis'
01 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher statue unveiled
07 Oct 01 | Conservatives
Drop Thatcher, Duncan Smith urged
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher comments 'encourage' racism
06 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Move on from Thatcher - top Tory
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