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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
'Moral case' for deposing Saddam
US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
A moral case for regime change in Iraq?
A top official in the Bush administration says there is a "very powerful moral case" for deposing the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In an exclusive interview for the BBC's 11 September anniversary radio series With Us or Against Us the US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice outlined the case against the Iraqi leader.

She said the Iraqi leader had "developed biological weapons, lied to the UN repeatedly about the stockpiles... and had used chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbours.

"He has invaded his neighbours. He has killed thousands of his own people.

"He shoots at our planes... in the no-fly zone where we're trying to enforce UN security resolutions. And he, despite the fact that he lost this war - a war which he started - negotiates with the UN as if he won the war.

"I think it's a very stunning indictment."

Saddam a 'global threat'

Saddam Hussein
US wants Saddam toppled
Dr Rice added: "This is an evil man [Saddam Hussein] who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbours and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us.

"It is a very powerful moral case for regime change."

Dr Rice rejected criticism that any action against Iraq would worsen the situation both within the country and the Middle East region.

She said it was "rather hard to imagine a more miserable life for the Iraqi people than they currently have", but also stated that any action would be accompanied by an obligation to improve life for ordinary Iraqis.

She said: "I would think that at the end of any action that we might take toward regime change, it would be an obligation for all of us to make certain that things are better for the people of the country and the people of the region."

Attack on Iraq imminent?

Dr Rice's comments come amid speculation that a US attack on Iraq is imminent, despite rumours that the Bush administration cannot agree on what action should be taken.

She says President Bush has not yet decided how to deal with the Iraqi leader, but that Saddam is considered to be too great a security risk to leave in power.

Dr Rice said: "We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing...if Saddam Hussein is left in power, doing the things that he's doing now, this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way.

She also hinted that some form of action would be taken against Iraq sooner rather than later.

Condoleezza Rice
US 'concerned' about Iran
"History is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world. We just have to look back and ask how many dictators who end up being a tremendous global threat, and killing thousands, and indeed millions of people, should we have stopped in their tracks."

US relations with Iran

Dr Rice told the BBC that the US also had continuing security concerns about Iran, saying: "It's very clear Iran is not on the side of peace.

"Iran is on the side of the terrorists in the way that it has been, that these unelected few have been, carrying out the policies of the Iranian Government.

She said: "I don't think there's any doubt that we are concerned that Iran is a place where an unelected few are really crushing the aspirations of their people."

Indicating that the US is preparing to take a tough line on all countries suspected of harbouring or supporting terrorists, Dr Rice warned: "We have all - particularly those who have decided to have diplomatic relations with Iran - to be very clear with the Iranian Government that they cannot have this both ways."

Dr Rice added: "So what we are saying to the Iranians is act like elected leaders, and that these unelected few should not be permitted to hijack the aspirations of the Iranian people."

With Us or Against Us is a new four-part series and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and from this website, weekly on Tuesday 27 August 2002 at 2000 BST (1900 GMT).

The programme will also be broadcast weekly on the BBC World Service under the title The Diplomatic Jigsaw at 1030 BST (0930 GMT) from Friday 6 September 2002.

See also:

09 Aug 02 | Middle East
17 Jul 02 | Middle East
08 Aug 02 | Politics
12 Jul 02 | Middle East
15 May 02 | Politics
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