Friday April 11, 2003

Malaysia demands proof of Iraq's WMDs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Thursday demanded proof that the collapsed regime of President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the reason the United States gave for going to war.
Malaysia reiterated its belief that the US-led invasion was illegal in terms of international law and the UN charter and called for the UN to take a leading role in post-war Iraq.
And the statement by Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while couched in diplomatic language, puts Washington on the spot to prove its claims that Iraq had chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes.
"Malaysia underlines the importance of resuming weapons inspections by independent and impartial UN weapons inspectors, particularly in the verification of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
The United States has admitted that so far its drive through large swathes of Iraq Baghdad, where Saddam's regime appeared to have collapsed, failed to find any such weapons.
In justifying the need for military action against Iraq, the US and its staunch ally Britain had alleged that Iraq possessed large quantities of chemical gas and biological agents such as anthrax and was working to develop nuclear weapons. Abdullah a vociferous critic of the US-led invasion, said Malaysia "is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives, sufferings and destruction wrought by the military action". While the war was "in contravention of international law" and the UN Charter, the world body could provide legitimacy to the rebuilding of Iraq, the statement said.
"Malaysia firmly believes that all measures related to the future of Iraq must be undertaken on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of Iraq as well as for the wellbeing of the Iraqi people.
"Efforts to establish the future political structure of Iraq must be accorded high priority. Transitional authority must rest in a body composed of Iraqis. The government to be formed must reflect the genuine will of the Iraqi people, free from external influence and coercion."
Abdullah said Iraqis "must have full control over their natural wealth and revenues, to be used in a manner which would promote their well-being." Mahathir has warned that the attack on Iraq will inflame Muslim anger around the world and lead to an increase in terrorism.