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Annan dismisses claim that world is safer after Iraq


The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has dismissed George Bush and Tony Blair’s claims that the invasion of Iraq has made the world safer.

His comments are likely to further infuriate the US and UK governments, already irritated after he said the war with Iraq was illegal.

In a interview with the ITV1 Jonathan Dimbleby programme, to be broadcast today, Annan said: “I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq. ”

Annan also dismissed the US-led Iraq Survey Group’s (ISG) claims that France, Russia and China had been prepared to ease sanctions on Iraq in return for oil contracts, saying it was “inconceivable” that Saddam Hussein’s activities could have influenced policy in the countries concerned.

In its final report, the ISG claimed that Saddam had manipulated the UN oil-for-food programme to win support on the Security Council for the lifting of sanctions. Washington seized on the report as proof that sanctions and could not contain Saddam’s ambition to acquire WMD.

However, Annan said: “I think it’s inconceivable, these are very serious and important governments. You are not dealing with banana republics.”

While he accepted that Iraq was now on track to hold elections in January, he said he would speak out if he was not satisfied with them. He also warned the US that military action against Iran to stop its nuclear programme could be illegal under the UN charter.

“I don’t even want to contemplate it, because I think it would be very unwise”, he said.

17 October 2004