Herald Sun (AU)
BRITISH premier Tony Blair warned today Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network had been trying to develop a “dirty” nuclear bomb, and said the world must confront the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Failure to deal with such dangers could bring about a “living nightmare”, the prime minister said.
Blair told a conference of his ruling Labour party in the Welsh city of Swansea: “We know Al-Qaeda has been trying to develop a so-called dirty bomb, a crudely made nuclear device.”
He added: “The belief I have is this: that if we do not take a stand now against the growth of this chemical, biological and nuclear weapons threat, then at some point a state or a terrorist group, pursuing extremism with no care for human life, will use such weapons.
“And not just Britain but the world will be plunged into a living nightmare from which we will struggle long and hard to awake.”
Blair said that almost daily he saw evidence of “terrorist plotting around the world, desperately seeking a chink through the security infrastructure that protects our nation and others.
“And I see a growing desire on the part of these repressive states to acquire weapons of mass destruction and a growing willingness on the part of others to help them.”
On Iraq, Blair called on the United Nations to pursue the logic of resolution 1441, passed by the Security Council in November, which warned of “serious consequences” if President Saddam Hussein fails to disarm.
“All we ask now is that the UN means what it said and does what it meant,” said Blair, the staunchest supporter of America’s hard line on Baghdad.
The prime minister was speaking after returning to Britain from Madrid where, after holding talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, he voiced confidence that the UN Security Council would back military action to disarm Saddam.
Returning to the combined threat of terrorism and weapons and mass destruction, Blair told Labour party activists: “I know many of you find it hard to understand why I care so deeply about this.
“I tell you: it is fear. Not the fear that Saddam is about to launch a strike on a British town or city tomorrow or the next day. Not a conventional fear about a conventional threat.
“But the fear that one day these new threats of weapons of mass destruction, rogue states and international terrorism combine to deliver a catastrophe to our world; and the shame then of knowing that I saw that threat, day after day, and I did nothing to stop it.”