Patrick McLoughlin / Reuters – 2004-10-14 21:08:19
STOCKHOLM (October 13, 2004) — Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix says the US-led invasion of Iraq had failed tragically in its aim of making the world a safer place and succeeded only in stimulating terrorism.
Blix, in implicit criticism of the main protagonists US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, said on Wednesday the action had also failed to deter any ambitions on the part of Iran or North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. “The acknowledged gain of the war was that a treacherous and murderous dictator (Saddam Hussein) was removed, but the rest has been tragedy and failure,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Many critics of the invasion argue it opened Iraq to Islamist militants involved in an insurrection against coalition forces, while distracting attention from a campaign against the al-Qaeda group blamed for September, 2001 attacks on the United States.
“Is the world safer? No. It’s not safer in Iraq,” he said in his native Stockholm. “If North Korea and Iran are contemplating going for weapons of mass destruction, then it hasn’t stopped them. It has not solved the Middle East conflict.”
Other Issues Neglected
Blix suggested Washington and London had lost perspective in focusing on Saddam who, it has since emerged, was not involved in developing nuclear arms. “Of course they were concerned with North Korea and Iran. But…they focused a great deal of their efforts on Iraq while other things were left simmering.”
Iran denies US accusations it is developing nuclear arms. Experts say North Korea has an arsenal of between two and nine nuclear bombs.
Blix, who retired from the UN last year and now chairs a Swedish-sponsored Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, also cast doubt on the Iraqi government’s comments on Tuesday that UN weapons inspectors were welcome to return. “The Iraqi government would need to offer guarantees of safety,” said the 75-year-old former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who led the UN inspections team until 2003. “But to go to sites which satellites have already found to be empty is perhaps not meaningful.”
Iraqi Science and Technology Minister Rashad Omar issued the invitation after an IAEA report on Monday said neither Baghdad nor Washington appeared to have noticed the disappearance of nuclear equipment and materials once closely monitored by IAEA.
Group Beheads Two Iraqi Intelligence Men
DUBAI (October 13, 2004 ) — An Iraqi group led by suspected al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has beheaded two Iraqi intelligence officers and posted a video of the killings on the Internet on Wednesday. The video from the Tahwid and Jihad Group showed a closeup of the two men’s identification cards which said they were Iraqi intelligence officers. Militants later cut off the two men’s heads.
The two men said in the video they were captured on Sept. 28 in Baghdad’s Haifa street, a militant stronghold, while trying to remove the body of a slain female colleague, Nadia Abdulwahhab Matlak. They admitted to working for Iraqi intelligence and warned other Iraqis to abandon working for the security forces.
“I advise my brothers, the sons of Iraq, who are working for the government agencies, in intelligence, the armed forces and the police to repent,” one of the men said.
Last month, Tawhid and Jihad said it had killed Matlak and abducted three of her colleagues during clashes with members of the Iraqi National Guard in Haifa Street.
Washington says Zarqawi is its number one enemy in Iraq and his group has claimed responsibility for some of the bloodiest suicide bombings and attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqi government officials. The group has also killed several foreigners it kidnapped. The latest hostage to be beheaded was Briton Kenneth Bigley who was abducted in Baghdad along with two American colleagues, who were also beheaded.
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