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Iraq threatens U.S. with 'suicide attackers'

Iraqi vice president predicts 'a fire in the whole region'

From Stefanie Halasz
CNN


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BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told a German newsmagazine published Saturday that Iraq is prepared to deploy "thousands of suicide attackers" against the United States if Iraq is bombed.

That report came one day after President Bush said a new United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing war would be welcome, but not necessary if Iraq fails to prove it has disarmed itself of weapons of mass destruction. He also said the issue needs to be solved in "weeks, not months."

In an interview published Saturday on the Web site of Der Spiegel, Ramadan was asked how long Iraq would be able "to fight the biggest military machine in the world."

"As long as it takes," he responded, "but why don't you ask the other side how long they will be able to endure. We will be happy when they start their air bombardments against our ground troops. They will meet hard resistance everywhere.

"We don't have long-distance missiles or many bombers, but we will deploy thousands of suicide attackers ... the martyrs," Ramadan said. "... Those are our new weapons and they will not only be deployed within Iraq.

"The Arab people will stand by the people of Iraq in the fight for its independence and freedom. This will be a fire in the whole region."

On Friday, Bush addressed the threat of attacks against the United States after meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Bush said the attacks of September 11, 2001 showed that containment of terrorism was not an appropriate policy "because we now recognize that oceans no longer protect us; that we're vulnerable to attack.

"And the worst form of attack could come through somebody acquiring weapons of mass destruction and using them on the American people [or] on our friends in Great Britain."

Bush said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will present evidence to the Security Council on Wednesday that the Iraqi regime has ties to al Qaeda.

"Saddam Hussein would like nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill and leave no fingerprints behind," Bush said.

Before the meeting with Bush, Blair told CNN that he supported a second U.N. resolution before launching military action. Bush said he would agree if it would put additional pressure on Iraq.

"It would be welcomed if it is yet another signal that we are intent upon disarming Saddam Hussein," Bush said.

The Bush administration is debating how much intelligence from electronic intercepts the secretary of state should disclose Wednesday when he tries to convince the Security Council that Iraq is not complying with disarmament resolutions.

U.S. officials had said previously that Powell was to present such information. The debate centers on how to reveal enough information to make the U.S. case while still protecting methods and sources of intelligence.


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