MANDELA IN FURIOUS WARNING OVER IRAQ WAR
By Mark Ellis, Foreign Editor
FURIOUS Nelson Mandela yesterday charged President Bush with risking a holocaust for the sake of Iraqi oil.
The Nobel prize winner and former South African president also said Bush "cannot think properly", accused the US and Britain of undermining the UN and suggested they were racist.
Mr Mandela declared: "It is a tragedy what Bush is doing in Iraq. All he wants is Iraqi oil. We must expose this as much as possible. He is making the greatest mistake of his life by trying to cause carnage."
He was equally damning about Tony Blair, sneering: "He is the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer Prime Minister of Britain."
Mr Mandela's astonishing attack stung the Bush administration and Downing Street.
A spokesman for Mr Bush - who will meet Mr Blair today - condemned "people more comfortable about doing nothing than about a growing menace".
Mr Mandela has repeatedly slammed Bush's stance over Iraq - but never in such harsh terms.
He told a conference in Johannesburg: "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight and who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.
"Why does the US behave so arrogantly? Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction. But because it's their ally they won't ask the UN to get rid of them."
The US has said it will, if necessary, strike Saddam Hussein without UN support if Iraq does not disarm weapons of mass destruction. Britain is expected to join in.
Mr Mandela suggested the two leaders would not be treating the UN with such contempt if the organisation had a white leader.
He said: ''Both Bush and Tony Blair are undermining an idea (the UN) sponsored by their predecessors.
"Is this because the Secretary General (Kofi Annan, from Ghana) is now a black man? They never did that when Secretary Generals were white...
"Are they saying this is a lesson that you should follow. Or are they saying we are special, what we do should not be done by anyone?''
Mr Mandela said he would support without reservation any action against Iraq agreed by the UN. But action without that support was unacceptable and set a bad precedent.
The world statesman went on to launch a withering attack on America's human rights record.
Referring to the US wartime atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagaski, he said: "Because they decided to kill innocent people in Japan, who are they now to pretend they're the policeman of the world?
"lf there is a country which has committed unspeakable atrocities, it is the US...they don't care for human beings.''
He went on to appeal to the American people to vote Mr Bush out of office and protest at his policies.
Washington, which was needled by South Africa's close ties with Libya and Cuba during Mandela's presidency, hit back.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The president understands there are going to be people who are more comfortable doing nothing about a growing menace that could turn into a holocaust.'' Mr Blair will ask Mr Bush today to delay a strike on Saddam until he gets fresh UN backing.
He said as he flew to the US: "I don't think it's a question of pushing the Americans to do something they don't want to do.
"We have a strategy that lays down clear demands on Saddam to disarm. If he breaches it, we have further discussions and a new resolution issues."
Mr Blair and Mr Bush are expected to finalise an invasion timetable at their Camp David council of war today.
They could agree to give UN weapons inspectors a few more weeks to see if Saddam wants to disarm. If not, strikes will be launched at the start of March. Mr Bush has been given a five-page memorandum outlining the key risks of attacking Iraq.
The risks include the use of WMD and Saddam blowing up oil wells. US Defence chief Donald Rumsfeld said: "If he uses WMD anybody connected with that will wish they hadn't been."
Former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Yamani also claimed last night the US wanted to attack Iraq to secure oil supplies, as the Mirror revealed last week.
He told Newsnight: "The Americans want to eliminate any dependence on Saudi and Gulf oil. So the best thing to do is occupy Iraq."